ANNA MARIA — Volunteers with Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch on Saturday morning excavated a loggerhead sea turtle nest, looking to count how many eggs hatched earlier this week and to rescue any baby sea turtles still buried in the sand.
During the delicate digging, volunteers recovered 78 egg shells. Most of them hatched earlier this week, but volunteers also found nine baby turtles in need of a little help to make it safely to the Gulf of Mexico for the next stage of their lives. Volunteers were planning to release them into the wild later Saturday night.
So far this nesting season, sea turtles have laid 120 nests on Anna Maria Island and a handful have already hatched. The season runs from May 1 to Oct. 31.
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The nest excavated Saturday, at the end of Willow Road in Anna Maria, was the first nest laid this season.