Nesting sea turtle killed in Anna Maria Island car accident, conservation group says

A female loggerhead sea turtle was killed after a car hit it on Wednesday, the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring group said in a social media post.

The environmental conservation organization said Gulf Drive’s streetlights illuminating a crosswalk caused disorientation to the nesting sea turtle.

According to the group’s Facebook post, sea turtles use light to navigate back to the water after nesting, going away from dark shadows and toward the brightest horizon, often the night sky’s light over the water.

Disorientation occurs when sea turtles head toward artificial light instead. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will take the female loggerhead for a necropsy, which is an animal autopsy.

“The good news is that she laid eggs before heading towards the road, so her legacy will continue,” said Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring Executive Director Kristen Mazzarella said in the post.

The group said the turtle’s nest in the beach dunes is in danger of disorientation if the nearby lights are not modified before hatching.

The Endangered Species Act federally protects sea turtles, while local ordinances prohibit lights that can be seen from the beach to protect sea turtles.

“Lights can be turned off, use a red or amber (turtle-friendly) LED bulbs and can be shielded from the beach to prevent them disorienting sea turtles,” the Facebook post said.

The group said 105 of the 404 nests on Anna Maria Island were disoriented.

In addition to the group’s response, Manatee County, Mote Marine, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and Bradenton Beach Police Department assisted.

If you see a sea turtle in distress on Anna Maria Island, please call Anna Maria Island Turtle and Shorebird Monitoring at (941) 301-8434 or FWC’s wildlife alert hotline at 888-404-3922. For more information or ways to help protect nesting sea turtles, please visit www.islandturtlewatch.com.

A female loggerhead sea turtle was killed after a car hit it on Wednesday, the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring group said in a social media post. Mote Marine releases a loggerhead sea turtle in this 2021 Bradenton Herald file photo
A female loggerhead sea turtle was killed after a car hit it on Wednesday, the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring group said in a social media post. Mote Marine releases a loggerhead sea turtle in this 2021 Bradenton Herald file photo