AMI rain no problem for tourists, but 2 turtle nests swamped

cnudi@bradenton.comJuly 3, 2013 

ANNA MARIA ISLAND -- Heavy rains over the last several days created problems for nesting sea turtles and drivers have to dodge standing ponds of rainwater as they travel down Gulf Drive.

But visitors to this island paradise have not been discouraged into changing vacation plans by a few drops of liquid sunshine.

Since Friday more than 3.3 inches of rain has fallen at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport weather station, according to meteorologist Mike Clay at Bay News 9.

Rain isn't causing havoc for nesting sea turtles, but steady storm winds blowing waves onshore do.

"The high waves are from a reverse summer pattern that happens about three times a season," Clay said. "The onshore winds are a persistent 10 mph to 20 mph."

Winds push waves farther up the beach and inundated two turtle nests, said Glenn Wiseman, a volunteer with the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch organization.

The two nests too close to the surf were moved closer to the dune line, Wiseman said, including one on Coquina Beach and one on the North Shore beach area near Gladiolus Street.

The retired Michigan teacher also tracks and protects nesting sea birds.

"The rains are not really a threat to the least terns," said Wiseman, a volunteer for about 15 years, "It's the crows and sea gulls stealing their eggs."

He roped off a least tern nesting area Tuesday afternoon just south of the BeachHouse Restaurant in

Bradenton Beach to prevent beachgoers from disturbing the birds.

Wiseman also posted signs warning it is a criminal offense to harass the birds punishable by a $5,000 fine.

If sea birds were not bothered by all the rain, motorists sure were.

Large puddles straddled Gulf Drive and flooded many island yards.

Tom Woodward, public works director for Bradenton Beach, said all the rain from last week soaked the ground and gave this week's rain nowhere to go.

"But no roads were closed," Woodward said, "and none were washed out."

The S curve on Gulf Drive near Coquina Beach is always the worst portion to flood, he said, but it was still passable.

Woodward said some beach spots lost sand to the tides.

"There was nothing serious but the beach nourishment project scheduled for 2014 will help out," he said.

The stormy weather does not seem to be keeping vacationers away.

"I don't think people are going to change their plans because of the weather," said Kelly Klotz, communication manager for the Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Besides we still have lots to do inside and out."

Island visitor Danielle Voss, visiting from Atlanta with a party of eight, agreed.

"We knew about the rain before we left (on Saturday)," Voss said, "and we decided to keep our reservations."

Five of the eight are children, she said, and they went to see a movie Monday during the all-day rain and later stayed inside playing board games.

"We made the best of it," Voss said.

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