The Charleston Sea Turtle Hospital had another release yesterday. There were two loggerheads released back to the ocean, marking their 200th release!
The turtles released were Marsh & Moon.
Marsh is a juvenile, weighing approximately 140 lbs. Marsh had an unfortunate encounter with a hungry shark. There were several bite wounds to all four flippers, with about a third of the front left flipper missing. Marsh had a speedy three-month recovery in the turtle hospital.
Moon is a juvenile, weighing approximately 70 lbs. Moon had a case of Debilitated Turtle Syndrome - emaciated from not eating for months, a heavy load of epibionts and algae (indicating Moon may have been floating for quite some time), and extreme lethargy. Moon was in the hospital for 5 months and responded well to treatment!
The information provided about the sea turtles was found on the South Carolina Aquarium website. You can ready more by clicking the link below:
If you would like to read a news article about the release you can find it by clicking the link below:
I had the pleasure this year of going on the DNR Discovery Cruise! The cruises were held the 24th & 25th of August this year. It is an ACE basin appreciation tour. We take a nice cruise in Edisto and then a trawler net is pulled behind the boat. After 15-20 minutes, the net is pulled up to see what we caught.
On my tour there were plenty of shrimp, fish and jellyfish. A neat fish, which I have not seen before is the Hog Choker. Another cool find was the box jellyfish! It is a small but very venomous species.
All in all it was a beautiful day to be cruising in the creek! See below for a few photos.
We are well into our hatching season! We have inventoried 64.5% of our nests already.
At night when the hatchlings emerge from the sand they are headed to the brightest point, which on a naturally dark beach would be the horizon. Therefore they would all head in the direction of the ocean. However, other light sources can confuse the hatchlings causing them to disorientate or misorientate. This could drain them of their energy needed to swim to the Sargasso Sea or they could be predated as they are spending unnecessary time on land.
Disorientation is when a light source causes the hatchlings to meander and circle. A misorientation is when the hatchlings are led in the wrong direction. Below are a few examples.
This is something that can easily be avoided to save our hatchlings. Make sure house lights (or camper lights) are turned off at dusk! Also, if you happen to be walking the beach at night then only have red flash lights. NO WHITE LIGHTS! Even red lights can be so bright that they cause the hatchlings to be confused. If a nest has hatched and they are drawn towards your red light - turn it off and stay still to allow the hatchlings to re-orientate themselves and head into the water safely.
Please help us save our hatchlings by following the LIGHTS OUT rule!
Blog post by: Hilary Kordecki, Sea Turtle Intern
Go Babies Go!
We are well into our hatchling season having inventoried 125 nests (over halfway through all of our nests!) and well, the hatchlings got me thinking. It’s a miracle how they start off as a tiny, fertilized egg and about 55 days later, emerge as beautiful hatchlings that fit in the palm of your hand. So how do they get from a tiny embryo to a hatchling starting its two-day journey to the Sargasso Sea? I did some digging, and this is what I found.
Follicles are fluid-filled sacs found in the ovaries that contain immature eggs. During ovulation, the follicle ruptures and releases the egg into the coelom, a fancy word for the body cavity, where it then travels through and then down into the infundibulum. Sperm is mixed into the folds of the infundibulum and fertilize egg as it passes through into the oviduct. The oviduct is where the real magic happens. It has two different regions, all lined with secretory cells that add different layers to the embryo. The first region is the anterior glandular region which is responsible coating the embryo with albumen. This aids in maintaining the proper osmotic pressure (and subsequently gas exchanges) within the shell. The second region is the shell-forming segment which is responsible for forming the shell membrane, or chorion, around the albumen layer. This layer offers nutrients and also aids in the gas exchange. Natural levels of aragonite (more commonly known as calcium carbonate) result in crystals forming around the shell membrane. When fully formed, around the seventh day after ovulation, the large cohesive group of aragonite crystals make up the outer, leathery shell that we see. Pretty neat right?
In short, the egg follows this flow chart:
Ovary --> Coelom --> Infundibulum --> Oviduct (--> anterior glandular region --> shell-forming segment)
+ aragonite crystals at the end
Lastly, here are some fun facts about our mother turtles!
Bolten, Alan B. & Witherington, Blair E. Loggerhead Sea Turtles. Smithsonian Institution. 2003. Print.
Spotila, James R. Sea Turtles: A Complete Guide to Their Biology, Behavior, and Conservation. John Hopkins University Press and Oakwood Arts. 2004. Print.
During the patrol on August 10th we were checking nests to see if they have hatched, when we came across Possible Nest #4. This nest was listed as possible because no eggs were found during the morning patrol on June 30th but it had the characteristics of a nest. The area was roped off so when it came time for that nest to possibly hatch, we could record it.
Well when we drove by, we noticed a very large depression in the sand. The nest had hatched the night before! Unfortunately, when the nest hatched the raccoons were ready and partially predated the nest. We found two hatchlings in the dune grass away from the egg chamber. They were both albino! They must have stuck out to the raccoons. It would be near impossible for an albino hatchling to survive in the wild!
Here is a photo of one of the albino hatchling's found near Possible Nest #4.
Once our little turtles hatch out of their nests and make it to the water, they have a long journey ahead of them. Their destination is the Sargasso Sea. The hatchlings begin their swimming frenzy for several days until they reach the Sargasso Sea (www.seeturtles.org/). The Sargasso Sea is an area in the Atlantic Ocean, running along the Gulf Stream. The Sargasso Sea is made up of a floating seaweed called sargassum seaweed (class Phyaeophyceae). This seaweed has air pockets on its stem that allows it to float on the surface of the water. The seaweed provides the hatchlings with shelter from predators and a food source. Many small invertebrates live on the seaweed, which the hatchlings will eat. Sea turtles have lungs and must surface to breath. Since little hatchlings must stay at the surface to breath, the floating seaweed hides them from fish and flying predators that could eat them. These little hatchlings can spend 10 to 12 years in the sea, growing from hatchlings to juveniles (seeturtles.org). Once they are juveniles and can hold their breaths for deep dives to benthic food sources such as echinoderms, they will start to move closer to the coastline. Once they’re adults and start laying eggs themselves, their own little hatchlings will make the same journey to the Sargasso Sea.
Blog Post By: Nicole Lynch, Sea Turtle Intern
It's been a little bit since I've made a blog post, so I thought an update would be great!
We have currently inventoried 94 nests! Our success rate for hatching is very similar to past years of 75.5% and emergence success 71.3%. Every night we have nests hatching, so we have been very busy keeping up with the inventories!
Tomorrow night we have another public inventory at 6:30pm. We will have 4 and possibly more nests to inventory (depending on timing). It is a free program with park admission. The chances of seeing a hatchling are pretty great with the amount of nests we will be excavating tomorrow, so come on out!
Sea Turtle Biologist