Drum Roll...... 41 NESTS!
We are very excited to have forty-one nests by the 31st of May! This may be the most nests recorded for the month of May. Last year we had 40 by this time, so we are hopeful for another record-breaking season. This past Monday we had six nests and this morning we had another three. Our turtle volunteers are beginning patrol tomorrow, I know they are eager to get out on the beach!
This morning I was a little nervous going out on patrol as I was worried about our nests. I care a lot for each one and I want them to be safe! We had three nests that were washed over but only slightly (no sitting water). I think the most of tropical storm Bonnie has passed, which i am thankful for.
In other news, I order some personal business cards for my blog that can be handed out to campers and other curious tourists! They look great :) and they are made of recyclable material.
This morning through the blizzard of no-seeums, we found two nests to make our total 29. Later this morning, Jon called me after coming across a potential nest on the beach. We were done our morning patrol early this morning, so she could have come after we were done. However, I figure we must have missed seeing her crawl. She came up into really soft sand, hiding her tracks, and she must have come up during high tide. Her body pit was very much disguised as well.
Jon came across it while driving the beach and notified me. Nicole and I relocated the nest extremely carefully and Jon made the new egg chamber on higher ground. There is a potential tropical storm that may hit us Sunday and this nest was already on the high tide line, so a relocation was necessary.
We are definitely going to be driving much slower and keeping our eyes peeled on the dry sand for tracks. It was upsetting missing a nest but I am thankful we now have it protected.
We had two nests this morning that needed to be relocated. They were situated right on high tide line and were at risk of being washed over too many times. We moved them up to the dunes on higher ground.
We are up to 25 nests and 20 false crawls! Looking through last year's data we had 40 nests by the end of May. We will see how we compare next Tuesday!
Unfortunately, nest 24 was predated by a raccoon. This time the raccoon devoured the entire 129 egg nest, prior to us getting there.
We also have one possible nest on our beach. The sea turtle came up into the dunes and made a bit of a body pit but after hours of us searching in the morning and then again I searched in the evening, there were no eggs to be found. If there are eggs, this turtle definitely outsmarted me! We listed this as a possible nest and roped it off, so that we can keep on eye on it when it is close to hatching (45-60 days).
Starting next week our volunteers will be joining us on morning patrols! See below for photos from the last couple days on the beach.
This morning we packed enough supplies for the typical two-nests a morning average that we had been getting. Today was our busiest morning yet with six nests, two of which had to be relocated, and two false crawls.
The interns and I plan on going for a night walk tonight to see if we can spot a nesting sea turtle. Tonight is the full moon as well so hopefully it will be bright enough without red flashlights.
Check out the photographs below from this morning's patrol.
Last night I had a dream that we had to relocate a nest and sure enough the first nest was below the highest tide line.
This was great practice for our interns and I got to get updated photographs for our night walk. It is best if the turtle's nest can stay in situ, however, if the nest is below the high tide line it may not make it. The indicator of the high tide line in the photograph is the washed up cord grass.
When relocating we carefully pick up the eggs and make sure not to rotate them. We place them one by one into a relocation pail. We measure the old egg chamber and then make a new chamber on higher ground. We do our best to duplicate the one dug by the turtle.
Once our new egg cavity is dug, we place the eggs in one by one. When we relocate we also count the eggs. The nest we moved this morning had 121 eggs. This is an average clutch size for a loggerhead sea turtle.
Our second nest we came to was predated by a raccoon. This is the first time I have seen a nest on EBSP be predated before we were able to mark it off. We counted the 87 predated eggs and buried them back in the marsh. There were 52 eggs that were not predated. Therefore this turtle had a clutch size of 139! We moved these eggs away from the previous nest and in a new egg chamber.
We had two false crawls this morning as well.
This morning I had both the interns accompany me on the morning patrol. We had one nest this morning. It was more of a ‘textbook’ nest in that she left us a significant clue as to where she hid the eggs. She crawled up above the high tide, laid her nest and then turned to head to the ocean. She did not crawl over top of the egg chamber.
The thrown sand and the high point of the nest is a good indication to where the eggs are hidden. Our intern, Nicole, found the eggs this morning! We are very excited that we already have nine nests on Edisto Beach State Park.
This morning Hilary and I were busy with 3 nests and a false crawl. We are now up to eight nests and six false crawls.
We had a very rainy day yesterday, which I think increased the intensity of the no see ums. As you can tell I swell from their bites. But you got to keep going and find those turtle eggs! This photo was too funny not to share. I'm thankful the bug bites have gone down in size!
See below for more photos from today's nests!
Hilary, our intern, had her first patrol on Sunday. Unfortunately there was no turtle activity but on Monday we had our share of turtle work!
On Monday morning we encountered three false crawls and two turtle nests. The two nests were no textbook turtle nests either. Both of the sea turtles laid their eggs and then proceeded to crawl over the body pit, hiding the location of the eggs. After a lot of searching, Hilary found the eggs for nest #02 and I found the eggs for nest #03. These turtles did a great job of pulling themselves up the steep escarpment to find a safe area to nest so no relocation was necessary.
Today we had another busy morning. We came across a false crawl and two nests. We had better luck in quickly locating the eggs! This brings our nest count to five.
We are looking forward to what the rest of the week has in store.
Our other intern, Nicole Lynch, will be arriving tomorrow!
This past Friday our first intern, Hilary Kordecki, arrived from Atlanta. She goes to Ohio State for Animal Biology and she is very excited to be involved in our turtle project this summer.
We had a DNR training program held at the Edisto Beach State Park Environmental Learning Center this past Saturday. Volunteers and permit holders involved in turtle patrols in Edisto all came out. It was great seeing our lovely volunteers and catching up since last turtle season.
A beach session followed the classroom presentation. Fake egg chambers filled with ping-pong balls allowed volunteers to practice probing and nest relocation.
We are excited for this 2016 season!
While on our morning patrols looking for sea turtle nests, we are also picking up garbage. We input our litter findings into a database through the Ocean Conservancy.
This morning I found several pieces of garbage, one being a bunch of balloons. It may seem sentimental to let balloons go but they often find their way to our oceans. Sea turtles may mistake balloons and other garbage for jellyfish, one of their food sources. Let’s try to reduce our use of garbage to help with cleaning up our beaches and oceans.
Yesterday I got to witness five loggerhead sea turtles be released back to the ocean. The sea turtle hospital in Charleston has rehabilitated and released 187 threatened and endangered sea turtles back to the wild so far.
The release took place at the Isle of Palms County Park. I arrived early to find a decent place to take photographs and already there were a lot of people there. It is great to see all the support the public gives to these sea turtles.
You can click to read more about the sea turtles and watch a video of the release below.
This morning I was out on a turtle patrol with Jon Greider, the manager here at the state park, and we were eager for a turtle nest. We spotted a crawl up the beach but when we approached it was clear that this was a false crawl.
This turtle had a particularly long crawl on the sand. She turned around after she hit the steep escarpment that has formed on the beach from the high tide and erosion. I am hopeful she will return tonight to nest.
The sea turtle wants to find the best place to lay her nest to ensure success for her hatchlings, since they are on their own after she lays the eggs.
There was no indication of lights or human activity so her false crawl must have been from the naturally occurring escarpment.
This morning I loaded up all the necessary supplies into the turtle patrol golf cart and went searching for nests at sunrise. I came across a camper who mentioned about turtle tracks up the beach! Sure enough, near the end of the campground access, I found loggerhead turtle tracks leading up to a nest. Using a probe, I located the eggs and removed one for DNA research.
Hello Turtle Friends!
We have officially begun our 2016 sea turtle nesting season as of May 1st. Every morning we have been patrolling our 1.5 mile beach in search of sea turtle nests. As of yet, there have been no nests found but we know they will be here soon.
The species of sea turtle most commonly found on our beach is the loggerhead sea turtle (caretta caretta). Below is a photo of a loggerhead sea turtle heading back to sea after nesting. They nest at night, but every once in a while you get to see them in the early morning heading back to sea.
Click on the tab at the top of the page to read more information about the loggerhead sea turtle.
I will be posting all turtle season so stay posted for more photographs and turtle news!
Sea Turtle Specialist