Blog Post by: Annie Gentry
As we approach the close of the first half of my summer as a sea turtle intern, our work is just getting started! We are up to 101 nests and the turtle mamas keep coming (and will continue to do so into August!). That being said, we also have reached the incubation period for several of our nests at 45 days! On average, the eggs incubate from 45-60 days prior to hatching, but every turtle is different! Because we have reached this period, our morning patrols and turtle staff duties have increased! Each morning when we venture on to the beach for our patrol, we must mark all the nests that have reached the 45-day incubation period and check on all the nests that have already done so! They could be hatching any day now! In addition, we continue our regular morning patrols including searching for new nests and crawls along the beach. What we are looking for when we check the nests are tiny little turtle tracks leading out from under the protective netting and a caved in area where the nest used to be. When the weather is bad and rain pelts the beach, it can be difficult if not impossible to see the little turtle tracks, so the caved in area will most likely be the telltale sign! Once our first nest hatches we will also start conducting inventories on the beach to measure the success of the nests!
I cannot fathom how quickly this past month has flown by, and to think that there is only one left to go. We have a busy few weeks ahead of us and I am curious to see what curveballs the turtles throw at us next!
We had another night walk without a turtle sighting. It seemed like the perfect night! The walk was beautiful with the moon lighting our path, enough for us to see without lights. The tide was not too high or low and the breeze helped to keep bugs away.
The next morning our intern, Annie and our volunteer, Nona, were on patrol. They found only one nest and two false crawls so our chances were slim on seeing one.
If you want to adopt the nest that was found this morning, you can click the button below to be taken to the adoption page. The ID for nest 108 on our state park beach: 202050
We are now at 108 nests on our state park beach. Last year at this time we were at 177 nests. It was expected to have a slower year this year and we are happy we still have lots of turtles nesting on our beach.
Let's see what July brings!
We had another successful night walk but she made us work for it! We made the walk to the inlet and caught a glimpse of a turtle that was returning to the ocean after she false crawled. This turtle did not like all the shells she came across and decided to head back to the ocean and try again later.
We were almost back to the white office building when I spotted loggerhead tracks heading up the beach. When I located the turtle I noticed she was already laying her eggs so she was safe to view with the group. We then watched her cover her chamber and return to the ocean. Everyone was so excited to have the opportunity to see this amazing event!
This was the first nest we came across in the morning, so it is marked as nest 97 on our beach. If you would like to adopt the nest, click the button below to be taken to the adoption page and then select the nest ID of: 201189
We were busy during our morning patrol the following day. We had four new nests, which means we made it to 100 and we found two false crawls. We also located the egg chamber from a body pit from the previous day. This means we are now at 101 nests on our state park beach.
We had another successful night walk! Unfortunately we did not see one nest but we did see one that had just finished nesting and was returning to the ocean. We also saw two turtles that were headed into the ocean but they did not nest. Apparently they didn't like the real estate they crawled too! But hopefully they came back as there were three nests found during the morning patrol.
The turtle we saw that nested is nest 94 on our beach! If you would like to adopt the nest, click the button below to be taken to our adoption page. The adoption ID is: 200910
By: Amanda Csipak
After helping out with several night walks I have been able to learn a great deal about the Loggerhead Sea Turtle, especially from the presentation Leah gives in the beginning of the night. One piece of information that is included in the presentation is how these sea turtles are able to rid their bodies of excess salt. I was able to look into this in more detail and it became even more fascinating. When people witness a turtle on land while she is laying her eggs they may see what looks like a tear coming from her eye. Many people have in mind that the turtles are crying because they are leaving their babies and she will never be able to see them again. This tear coming from her eye actually does not have to do with her being upset about leaving her eggs, it is actually how she gets rid of the excess salt that she has ingested. It is also a way for them to protect their eyes from the sand that will inevitably get in their face as they crawl onto the beach. Due to the fact that all plants as well as animals need water to survive, the sea turtle has adapted to its life in the ocean and they are capable of living without any fresh water. This salt secreting gland in their eye allows them to drink the salt water in order to stay hydrated while still maintaining a balanced level of salt in their bodies. The nesting process for a Loggerhead Sea turtle takes approximately an hour to complete which is a rather long time out of the ocean considering that this is where they spend a majority of their lives. This gland also assists in keeping the turtle’s eyes from becoming too dry as they complete their nesting process. I was not aware that something as small as a gland in the turtle’s eye could play such a large role in its life as well as its success while being on land, they are truly amazing creatures!
There is a new Miss Murtle video out! We went to a sea turtle release for Sully & Cove at the Isles of Palms County Park. It was such a fun event and we had a great time.
Check out her new YouTube video:
We had another successful night walk last night as we got to see a loggerhead sea turtle lay her eggs, cover and then return to the ocean. Everyone was amazed at her size, her carapace (shell) measured 38 inches in width and 40 inches in length. Before we saw this turtle, we just missed a turtle heading back to the ocean after nesting. On our way back from seeing the turtle nest there was another closer to the white building who had already finished nesting and was returning to the ocean.
The next morning on patrol our intern, Amanda, and our volunteer, Nona, found three turtle nests and one false crawl. The three we had seen during our walk were the only nests of the night! The nest we saw last night is nest 88 on our beach.
If you would like to adopt nest 88, the ID number is: 199205
Click the button below to be taken to the adoption page!
We had a nesting turtle last night on our night walk! She made us work for it as we walked all the way to the inlet with no nesting activity. On the way back and nearing the white office building we saw the tracks. She had finished nesting and was covering her egg chamber. So we got to see her carefully protect the eggs and then turn to go into the ocean.
The next morning, I was on morning patrol with our intern, Annie and our volunteer, Dawn. The nest we saw last night was the one and only nest of the morning so we were very fortunate to see this turtle. This nest marks nest 78 on our beach! If you would like to adopt the nest then click the button below to be taken to the adoption page. To adopt nest 78, use the ID code: 198591
We had our first night walk without a turtle sighting but we did get to see a horseshoe crab, sargassum seaweed and bioluminescence in the sand. We could have walked all night and we wouldn't have seen a turtle as the next morning there was no new turtle activity on our beach. Everyone still left having a good time and with some new fact they didn't know prior!
We have another night walk tonight, here's hoping we see one!
I had morning patrol with our new interpretive ranger, Laura. She is more of a night owl but she woke up early with excitement of turtle nests. We had two nests and one false crawl in the morning and Laura even found the eggs to the second nest!
After morning patrol I had some much needed coffee and breakfast and then I went for my 4 mile run to support the Loggerhead Marine Life Center in Florida. I was a virtual runner for the Run 4 the Sea race that was happening in Juno Beach, Florida. I was happy to be able to donate and get active for something I am so passionate about. The picture below is of my post-run excitement!
Miss Murtle and I have been working on creating mini educational videos for her YouTube channel. We are excited to release our first episode from our visit to the South Carolina Sea Turtle Hospital and the Aquarium. We even got the chance to interview Sherry, one of our EBSP volunteers who also volunteers at the aquarium! Be sure to share this turtle-ly great video as Miss Murtle plans on releasing a video every other week - we have lots in store just you wait and sea...
Last night on our night walk I spotted sea turtle tracks around 0.7 miles down our beach. As I followed them up into the dunes I spotted a nesting loggerhead! She was still digging her egg chamber so I sat still and listened to her digging. Once she starting to lay her eggs I grabbed the night walk group and we all watched her lay approximately 120 eggs. Everyone was amazed at how she covered her egg chamber just so to protect her eggs.
Afterwards, we followed her as she made her crawl back to the ocean. It was a long journey back as she went above and beyond to find a high place for her nest. It was mentioned during her nesting process about the smell, which at that time I wasn't picking up. The next morning when I went to take pictures of this nest I realized what individuals were smelling...a dead bird not far in the dunes. I was wondering what it was I've never known a turtle to emit any strong odours.
The following morning I went for a walk at sunrise to see the nest and to take photos as my intern, Amanda and our volunteer, Nona, worked the patrol shift. They found the egg chamber and took one egg for DNA research. This nest is number 72 on our beach! There were two nests and one false crawl found in the morning. If you would like to adopt the nest we saw last night, the nest ID is: 197172. Just click the button below to be taken to the adoption page!
We had a fun morning on the 15th! I was on patrol with Sherry and one of our new volunteers, Kelly. She was eager to learn about what we do to help protect our nests here on the beach.
We had quite the morning - we had four nests and one false crawl. The first nest was very straight forward and it was easy to find the eggs.
As we were driving down to look for more tracks, Kelly asked if the turtles know to avoid the other nests. I explained how last year we had one turtle take out another nest and lay her eggs a couple feet from the other. Well, as we were pulling up to a set of new tracks we saw this turtle did the same thing!
She had plowed through nest 37 to lay her eggs. So we needed to find both the old egg chamber of 37 and the new egg chamber. They were only a couple feet apart so we protected them with two screens.
Our third nest was below the high tide line so we needed to relocate it. The false crawl had somewhat of a body pit so we spent a good amount of time probing and digging but did not come across any eggs. The last nest was way around the inlet!
Kelly had a busy morning patrol but she loved every minute of it. I think she's caught the turtle fever! See below for photos from our nests:
I saw on instagram that the Loggerhead Marinelife Center is hosting the 6th annual Run 4 the Sea Run at Juno Beach, Florida. This is a 4-mile run/walk. One thing that caught my eye is that they allow virtual runners - individuals who are not able to attend the race in Juno Beach. That means you can run anytime/anywhere, donate $40 to the sea turtle hospital and get a cool t-shirt and a medal!
"Race proceeds benefit Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s mission to promote conservation of Florida’s coastal ecosystems with a special focus on threatened and endangered sea turtles." - www.marinelife.org/program-events/run/
I wanted to pass this information on for anyone who wants to help out the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, get a cool shirt and get active!
I will be a "virtual" runner this Saturday running 4 miles! See below for the link to the race information.
Last night we walked all the way to Jeremy's inlet without seeing any signs of a turtle. I had a good feeling about our walk back and sure enough I spotted turtle tracks! The group waited as I got closer to the sea turtle to see what stage of nesting she was at. She was still digging her egg chamber so we waited patiently until she started laying her eggs.
Once she was laying eggs, we got a closer look at her. Once she finished, she continued the nesting process by carefully covering her egg chamber and hiding any evidence of her nest.
Everyone was so thrilled to be able to witness the nesting process of a sea turtle well over 30 years old! Her carapace was 42 inches in length and she was 38.5 inches wide.
The next morning, I was on patrol with one of our new volunteers, Lea. It was her first dawn patrol and first sea turtle nest! She found the location of the eggs with the probe too! That was our only turtle activity in the morning, so we were very fortunate to have seen her the night before.
To adopt nest 67, click the button below to be taken to the adoption page. The unique ID for the nest is: 196498
We had so much fun on our night walk last night! We had a full house of 30 individuals signed up. After walking a mile down our beach, we got to see a loggerhead sea turtle finish covering her egg chamber and then head to the ocean. Everyone was so ecstatic, the turtle even got a round of applause after she left!
I was on morning patrol the following day with two volunteers, Ray and Ashby, and we were busy! It started with a difficult nest right next to the Finn's pier. Her body pit was massive as she did many turns and made it hard on us. After a little while, Ashby found the egg chamber!
We had to relocate this nest as it was too low and would get washed over many times, which could impact the success of this nest. So, we relocated it to a higher location. By the time we were relocating, the church group was setting up for their Sunday service! The nest even got serenaded by the guitarist!
We had a total of 5 loggerhead sea turtle nests and one false crawl. The nest from the night walk is number 59! In order to adopt the nest, click the button below to be taken to the adoption page. The unique ID for the nest is: 195314
More pictures from the morning patrol:
Last night on our night walk we had many turtle tracks and turtles to see! Unfortunately, none of them nested, when we saw them they were headed into the ocean after false crawling. A false crawl is when the sea turtle crawls ashore but does not like the area to lay her eggs so she returns to the sea without nesting. The first turtle seemed to not like the washed up cord grass it came across, the second turtle hit the sand fencing and made a U-turn and the third turtle went for a long trek through the dunes without attempting anything. We got a closer look once they had crawled past the high tide line and were heading back.
Although we didn't see any nesting, everyone on the tour enjoyed the beautiful (almost full-moon) night! Without red lights you could make out the turtles far in the distance. I have included some photos below from our morning patrol the following day. We had 2 nests and 6 false crawls, with one nest coming up close to the office! She was one determined turtle - perhaps some of the ones we saw false crawl came up later to lay nest 52 and nest 53!
If you would like to adopt either nest 52 or 53, you pick their adoption code on seaturtle.org, which is: 194588 or 194607. To go to the adoption page click the button below! So happy everyone enjoyed the walk last night.
Blog Post by: Annie Gentry
Hey there! My name is Annie Gentry and I am a student studying Biology and Spanish at Wofford College in Spartanburg! Like Amanda, I am an intern with Edisto Beach State Park this summer working under Leah with the loggerhead sea turtle conservation efforts here at Edisto. I’ve been familiar with Edisto ever since I was a child as we have a house on the water, and over the passed few years I have become increasingly more interested in the wildlife we have here. While searching for summer employment, I came across this internship, and I jumped at the opportunity to get involved. I have been here for a little over a week now, and my expectations have long been exceeded.
I served my first day on dawn patrol the morning following my arrival on the island. Waking up at 5:30am never felt so hard! We began with trash cleanup with a neat app called ‘CleanSwell’ where you record the type and amount of each trash item you find, and then the info is sent to a database. This helps us to figure out what types of trash are the biggest problems in what areas so we can take steps to prevent it from happening! Highly recommend. We came across the first nest of the morning with a perfect set of tracks leading to the mama turtle’s body pit (pictured below). Leah and I probed around and she let me feel around for the eggs. I ‘eeped’ a little whenever I knew that they were there! Perfectly round and surprisingly pliable, these little guys are laid in nests of approximately 120 eggs. It was such a rewarding experience. Over the past week I have gotten better at locating the precise location of the nest, as well as deciphering between a nest and a false crawl. My first patrol without Leah by my side is Saturday, I’ve learned so much already!
Throughout this week, I also had my first nightwalk experience/encounter with a loggerhead, my first Turtle Fest, my first day working at the education center, my first Edisto rain of the summer, and my first pimiento cheeseburger ever! It looks like it will be a summer of firsts, and I am absolutely stoked to see what else the sea turtles and the island itself have in store for me!
We had our first sea turtle night walk program last night! We were worried the rain and thunderstorms would keep us from walking but the night cleared up to be a beautiful one. We walked a little over a mile down the beach to find a sea turtle crawling back to the ocean!
The next morning I went to see if she nested but unfortunately no egg chamber was found! Hopefully she will return tonight - or perhaps she was the one nest we did find in the morning from a turtle that came up much later that night.
See below for a couple photos from this morning, we found one nest and three false crawls.
Blog post by: Amanda Csipak
I was very excited to attend my first night walk in the hopes of being able to see a nesting Loggerhead Sea Turtle. The night began with Leah’s presentation about the Loggerhead Sea Turtle which enlightened us all about the biology of the Loggerhead, the many experiences she has had with them, conservation efforts and much more. After the presentation, flashlights were distributed to each person for the walk on the beach. These are not regular flashlights, instead they have a dimmed red light that allows for us to view the turtle without disturbing it with a bright white light. The reason for using these dimmed red flashlights is due to the fact that red is the first wavelength that is absorbed in the ocean which means that the turtles are not able to see it very well. It is very important for people to be aware of the things that can disturb the Loggerhead Sea Turtle such as searching for the nesting turtle at night, especially when using a regular flashlight. Unfortunately, when people use regular flashlights to look for turtles at night they can disturb the turtle which will cause the mother to false crawl. It is good to know that the turtle should be given plenty of space when she is trying to find a place to lay her eggs. Although it is very exciting to see them on the beach, we have to respect these amazing creatures and give the mothers the space they need so they can feel relaxed and lay their eggs. If they are disturbed by people crowding around them, talking very loudly, taking pictures with flash, or simply shining a bright white light on them, the mother can feel threatened and crawl back into the ocean without nesting. Her goal is to find a place that she feels will be safe for her babies and it is very important not to disturb this process as only 1 in 1000 hatchlings survive.
With that being said, Leah and I both had a radio on us that was on a low volume so that we could communicate since Leah was walking about 30 feet in front of the group. Leah walks ahead so that she can search for tracks in the sand in the hopes that there will be a nesting turtle. When she found tracks as well as a turtle that was beginning to dig her nest she called back on the radio so that the group would stay where we were. We do so in order to give the turtle plenty of space so that she can begin to lay her eggs. After being told that the turtle had begun laying her eggs, we were able to walk over quietly to view this beautiful process. I was in absolute shock and amazement being able to see such an incredible creature for the first time in her natural habitat. I could hear the mother letting out breaths of air as she had worked very hard to crawl to the spot she felt was correct on the beach and continued to work hard to lay her eggs. After she had laid her eggs, we were able to watch her knead and pack down the sand as she filled in the egg chamber with the surrounding sand to protect her babies. It was incredible to see how much time she spent covering and packing down the sand to ensure their safety. As she finished the entire process of laying her eggs, we were able to watch her crawl back to her home in the ocean. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to attend such an amazing event and I will never forget what I was able to see and learn.
We had such a fun time at our Turtle Fest event this year! We had many difference activities like crawling through a Turtle Excluder Device, discovering how we find eggs in a nest, learning about our inventories by digging up a ping pong ball nest, and many more!
At the end of the event I asked the individuals, which was their favourite part and each one said something different. It was great to see so many people out celebration our turtles. We estimated a couple hundred individuals attended our event this year!
See below for some pictures taken at the event:
As of June 2nd we have 43 nests! We are 12 nests short from last year's record but you never know what the next few days can bring. We have also been picking up a lot of garbage from our beach ... 86.90 lbs of trash was collected in MAY!
See below for some turtle patrol pictures from the last couple weeks:
The interns and I made it out to the sea turtle release yesterday where the South Carolina Aquarium released 7 sea turtles at the Folly Beach County Park. We got to see two of our volunteers, Sherry and Jacquie who also volunteer at the Sea Turtle Hospital, walk two juvenile green sea turtles to the water. We are so proud, thanks for all the work you do!
After the release, the Post and Courier talked to Murtle! See the below news article for the write-up on Murtle and for a picture of Sherry holding BB8!
Sea Turtle Biologist