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Longboat Key turtle season affected by beach renourishment, storms

In the age-old question of nature versus nurture, turtle patrollers along Longboat Key beaches tried to strike a delicate balance this year.

Nature took its toll on nests as storms and red tide rolled close to a shoreline that itself was changing throughout the summer as the town's renourishment work progressed. And humans, as they often do, didn't always follow the rules.

So, volunteers and scientists worked to make nesting turtles' paths as easy as possible. And the turtles came.  

“The nourishment project, obviously, was huge, but for how big it was, things went well,” said Melissa Bernhard, a Mote Marine senior biologist in sea turtle conservation and research. “We didn't have any major issues, or anything crazy memorable. It was just like, ‘Oh, we moved nests, we put them here. We did that again the next day.’ As far as nesting numbers go, it's on par with other recent years, which are all the highest years that we've had. Overall, not just for Longboat, but for all five of the islands we look at, it was the fourth-highest nesting that we've had in our 40 years.”