BRADENTON BEACH -- A loggerhead sea turtle came ashore in Bradenton Beach late Saturday or early Sunday and established the first nest of the season on Anna Maria Island, according to the local turtle preservation group.
Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch & Shorebird Monitoring said the turtle nested between 25th Street North and 26th Street North in Bradenton Beach.
Volunteers Sunday morning taped off the location of the nest and the tracks showing where she came ashore and how -- after the 45 minutes to an hour it can take for a turtle to lay a nest -- she crawled back to the Gulf of Mexico.
The extra attention is designed to help train the organization's newest volunteers to recognize turtle crawl tracks and what a nest looks like.
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Anna Maria Island has become a popular sea turtles nesting location. In 2012, volunteers counted 362 nests -- a record broken the next year when there were 370 nests.
The first 2013 nest was found May 13. and the final nest of the season Aug. 17, according to Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch & Shorebird Monitoring officials.
At 7:45 a.m. Monday, volunteers will return to the nest to verify the turtle actually laid eggs. They will dig just deep enough to see eggs before filling the hole again with sand. They will then stake it out with bright yellow-painted poles and pink ribbon.
On average, a loggerhead sea turtle will drop about 100 eggs into a nest.
And on average, the babies -- who must likely will never see their mother -- will hatch in about 55 to 70 days, before crawling to the Gulf.