For those who love the surf, sand, and sun, a trip to scenic Anna Maria Island promises to please. However, if you happen to be traveling this was with a passion for wildlife intact, it’s also an amazing destination to view sea turtles! Visitors are often amazed to find that not only a few, but hundreds of turtles actually choose the sands of Anna Maria Island to nest year over year. If you need to know when these turtles will be turning up and how best to observe them safely, it’s an event that’s not only thrilling but entirely unforgettable.

Anticipating the Annual Arrival

Summer is a prime time to enjoy the best turtle-watching season on Anna Maria Island. While the entirety of the nesting season runs between May and October, it tends to be the summer months that see the greatest number of turtles making their way ashore to lay their eggs. To better protect these nesting sites while still offering Anna Maria Island visitors a chance to witness this incredible moment, volunteers begin heading out to the shoreline as early as mid-May. This team of helpers is dedicated to placing flags in frequented nesting holes. Flags are used to mark these vital spaces and increase visibility to keep human interaction in the area from interrupting the sea turtle nesting process or damaging the site.

Turtle Watching Season Regulations

While sea turtles are incredible creatures, they, unfortunately, hold a place on the threatened species list. Because of this, sea turtles are protected by both state and country legislation and those who are heading to Anna Maria Island to enjoy turtle watching season will want to be well aware of associated rules and regulations before they arrive. Turtle-watching visitors are asked not to use cellphones or lights and flashes of any type around turtle nesting sites. Turtles depend on the darkness, natural surroundings, and the moonlight in order to find their way back to the water upon hatching. Any added lights can not only distract but disorient turtles entirely putting their survival at risk. The same can be said for stray beach umbrellas, chairs, or sand accessories that are left out on the shoreline overnight. During turtle watching season, it’s more important than ever that Anna Maria Island visitors leave nature as they found it. While it’s possible to get a great look at turtles as they lay their eggs and hatch, it’s important to note that turtle watchers must also maintain a distance of at least 50-feet from both nests and turtles at all times. In addition to these regulations put in place to protect sea turtles during this busy time of year, groups like Island Turtle Watch work hard to monitor beaches and nesting sites, answering visitor questions along the way.

How Digging Holes Affects the Turtles

When kids come to the beach some of their favorite activities are building sandcastles, burying their siblings in the sand, or just digging holes, whether for a pool for their toys or just for the fun of digging a hole in the sand! While all of that might be good fun, kids and their parents need to make sure that any hole that was dug during their time at the beach gets filled in. This is not just to keep the beach looking good but it’s also for the turtles! Turtles tend to fall into the holes left on the beach, but they aren’t able to get out. So, while filling in beach holes might seem like a trivial task it’s very important to keep in mind, especially during the turtle watching season.

What Turtles Can You See on Anna Maria Island?

It may be surprising to learn that there are in fact no less than five species of sea turtles that call Anna Maria Island home between May and October. While turtle-watching season guests are likely to get their eggs on a multitude of Loggerheads, there’s also a robust population of green sea turtles in this area as well! These turtles can be located across the entirety of the island, but there are a few prime places to check out when you want to make the most of turtle watching season activity. One of the most popular stops happens to be Bean Point. This nesting destination is found at the north end of Anna Maria Island and its remote location makes it ideal for sea turtles looking to carry out their nesting plans in peace—particularly in the middle of the night. Those who visit in the daytime hours are likely to set their sights on a variety of nesting holes as well as a collection of unhatched eggs. In fact, sea turtles tend to lay anywhere between 3 and 6 nests each season. Within each nest, you’re likely to find upwards of 100 eggs! These eggs incubate over the course of two months before small sea turtles emerge in the nighttime and utilize the light of the moon to find their way back to the water to begin their own journey. Even when a sea turtle egg doesn’t hatch successfully, it plays a vital role within the greater ecosystem of Anna Maria Island. These unhatched eggs break down to provide essential nutrients to the dune ecosystem including everything from phosphorus to nitrogen.

Your Anna Maria Island Adventure Today

There’s never been a better time to book your trip to Anna Maria Island. Whether you’re here for turtle watching season or you’re enjoying a getaway another time of year, the team at Anna Maria Life Vacation Rentals has the Anna Maria Island vacation rentals you need to top off your stay in style. Reach out today to learn more about our beautiful property options and how we can help you start planning your next adventure!