In an inventory of what remained of a sea turtle nest, Mike Anderson found a surprise: two hatchlings that hadn't been able to dig themselves out.
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium's supervisor of sea turtle nesting dug them out at sunrise Thursday. Most of the loggerheads had hatched earlier in the week on Treasure Island's Sunset Beach. Anderson found 86 eggs had hatched, including the pair that hadn't been able to dig out on their own. Six eggs didn't hatch and two were partially hatched but didn't survive, for a total of 94 eggs.
One of the hatchlings started crawling toward the gulf as soon as Anderson extricated it, but the other took a little while to pull itself together. Anderson took them to the edge of the water where they scurried into the sea.
Loggerheads lay an average of 100 to 120 eggs, Anderson said. The aquarium watched more 230 loggerhead nests this year, making it a record year. Eight nests didn't hatch after high tides inundated them.
It has "been great that it was a quiet year for storms," he said.
Anderson said more than 15,000 hatchlings came out of the nests this year. The aquarium oversees sea turtle nesting on 26 miles of Pinellas County beaches.