Miss Murtle and I went to a preview night at the new Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery Center, if you have not seen it yet then you need to go! See below for a video of our experience:
There has been some very interesting research done regarding the communication of turtle species. It was discovered that turtles can communicate while still inside the egg! To read more, click the button below to be taken to an article about the research.
Now I'm not preaching to my blog readers, because chances are you are already great at picking up your belongings and cleaning up the beach. If you see any trash during a walk on the beach, please take it with you and dispose of it properly. I came across this bag of trash this morning sitting on top of a sea turtle nest that could have emerged that night. The hatchlings would have had a terrible time dealing with that bag. Lets help our sea turtles out and clean up our beaches.
Our public inventories run on Wednesday & Friday evenings, up until the 13th of September. We have been having great turnouts at our events. Our hatching season is starting to slow down as we only have 42 nests left on our beach with 7 of those hatched and awaiting an inventory. That means only 35 nests need to hatch before our season comes to an end. See below for some photos taken this past week during patrols:
Click the button below to be taken to a web article on the two-headed turtle. It is amazing that they found this! I saw a couple albino hatchlings last season but unfortunately they had been predated. Perhaps we will find an anomaly in the last 50 nests we have left on our beach!
The South Carolina Aquarium is a part of "In Our Hands", a campaign focused on reducing ocean and fresh water plastic. I created an image using the graphic generator to show my support for wildlife. If you want to create your own graphic, click the button below to go to the web page. At the bottom of the page is a button to create your own!
If you have been on the beach nearing a new moon, you know just how dark the beach can become. When hatchlings emerge from the nest they are using light cues to guide themselves to the ocean. Unfortunately the horizon isn't always the brightest point during dark nights. House or business lights if left on can draw hatchlings in the wrong direction. We had one nest near development that was predicted to emerge close to the new moon and with all the lights behind the nest, the chances of them going the wrong way were high. Even with a light screen, they can turn and go the opposite direction.
The solution was to use a catch bucket. This is a last resort option but it is effective. It is a bucket without a bottom that is situated over the nest. When the hatchlings emerge, they are in the bucket until our turtle team releases them. I started night patrols on day 48 of incubation. The night patrols consist of checking on the nest at 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. but I did check it more consistently nearing day 50, 51 & 52 of incubation. The hatchlings emerged on day 52 at 10:30. We were thankful we were there when they emerged so they could get to the ocean quickly. We relocated them to a darker area of the beach so the lighting would not confuse them.
In the early morning there were two stragglers that made it up later. I released them before sunrise and got some photos!
I am thankful these hatchlings made it safely and that I can now get some sleep. The sleepless nights were worth it to know they have a better chance! This is the only nest that we will use the bucket on. This was the first time this bucket was used on our state park beach (as far as I know).
Our nest 100 hatched with only 49 days of incubation! It must have gotten pretty warm to have incubated the eggs that quickly. This nest hatched on August 16th and we performed the inventory on August 19th. We wait 3-5 days to inventory a nest as there may be stragglers that emerge the following nights. Waiting 3 days ensures that any hatchlings that are still able, can make it out on their own at night. This gives them the best chance at surviving. Hatchlings have about a 1 in a 1000 chance to survive to adulthood, so the road ahead of the little ones is a tough one.
You can see in the above photo that we used washed up cord grass to create a light barrier for this nest. Hatchlings go towards the brightest point, which should naturally be the horizon but if a light is left on a house, they may go towards that instead. You can see many nests on our beach with cordgrass to ensure our hatchlings go in the right direction - to the OCEAN!
This nest had a great success rate. There were 105 hatched eggs, 8 unhatched eggs and 7 alive hatchlings found. This gives it a hatch rate of: 92.1% & an emerge rate of: 85.9%.
See below for some pictures taken from the inventory.
Last year I ran my first race, a 5km Turtle Trek race hosted by the South Carolina Aquarium and sea turtle hospital. The funds raised went to the new exhibit that they just recently opened. Last year, you helped me raise over $1000! If you haven't seen the new exhibit yet, you must go!
This year I am running the race on September 23rd. I am raising money again to go towards our South Carolina Sea Turtle Hospital. Check out the link below to donate. I am trying to raise funds over $1000 like I did last year.
The sea turtles & I thank-you for your support!
Our last nest was found more than a week ago, chances are we won't have another nest this season. With 152 nests on our state park beach, we have been busy with inventories! When we inventory a nest we are counting the hatched eggs, unhatched eggs and checking to see if there are any live stragglers that got stuck below.
Last night during our public inventory program we had around 150 people attend! We inventoried one nest close by and then another 3 that were half a mile down the beach.
After submitting my data this morning from the inventoried nests, it shows we have conducted 72 nest inventories already (47.3%) with only 80 left incubating. This summer has went by so quickly, it's hard to believe in a little over a months time, all the sea turtle nests on our beach will have hatched and then season will be wrapping up.
If you are around Wednesday or Friday evenings for the month of August or first couple weeks of September, come on out to our public inventory program. We start the program at 6:30 p.m. at the white office building in our day use area of the park. The latest the program runs to is 8:30 p.m. It is a lot of fun and always brings a crowd!
Blog Post By: Annie Gentry
This passed January I was given the opportunity to study the conservation efforts that are in effect on the Hawaiian Islands ranging from energy, to water, to food. I am a Biology major, but up until that trip, I had no idea what I wanted to do with it! Upon my return to the mainland, I began the search for summer employment. I was looking for a job in wildlife conservation because I had already studied conservation of resources. In my research, I came across this internship and it seemed too good to be true. It would be close to home, working at the beach, and getting hands-on experience with the loggerhead sea turtle. I sent in my resume and anxiously waited on a response. I was extremely honored to have been selected for this opportunity, and I have learned so much about a variety of topics and a lot about myself in the process. I arrived in late May and began with patrols, searching for nests, and marking new turtle activity. This was followed by nightwalks, work at the Learning Center, seining lessons, a turtle release, inventories, hatchings, leading my own nightwalk, and meeting so many wonderful people along the way! Through this internship I have gained valuable experience in working with the public, leading programs, public speaking, and exercising responsibility. I applied for a job working with loggerhead sea turtles, but I gained so much more than that! Because of my experiences here this summer, I have been able to narrow down my wide range of interests to one field: Wildlife Conservation. I always knew that I had a passion for animals, I just wasn’t sure how to go about embracing it! I will take all that I have learned here with me as I continue my studies in Biology and hopefully return to the turtles next year to thank them for helping me figure out my future! This summer is only the beginning; a huge wave of gratitude to Leah and the EBSP staff for being so welcoming and amazing throughout my time here.
An adult loggerhead has strong crushing jaws as it loves to feed on hard-shelled invertebrates. It can bite down with a force of almost 500 lbs!
Resource: Our Sea Turtles: A Practical Guide for the Atlantic and Gulf, from Canada to Mexico, 2015.
Blog Post By: Amanda Csipak
I remember getting an email that confirmed that I had been chosen for the sea turtle internship this summer and I could not be more excited! Only a few days after finals were over my parents and I made the 12 hour drive down from New Jersey and I was not sure exactly what this summer was going to have in store for me. Although I was a bit nervous, once I had arrived I was so pleased to find out how welcoming everyone was which made me feel much more comfortable. The morning after I arrived I was able to go on patrol with Leah and since then I have been hooked on sea turtle conservation. I have learned a great deal of information during my time here and I am very grateful for all of the hands on experience I was able to gain. I was also able to improve my public speaking skills as I was given the opportunity to give the presentation for the night walks. Having Leah there to guide me through it all and teach me so much about the Loggerhead Sea turtle made giving the presentation much easier. I have been inspired by not only Leah but also all of the volunteers that help with the sea turtles on the state park beach. Everyone's dedication to the turtles is incredible and it was a pleasure being able to work with such motivated and knowledgeable people. Leah does an amazing job as the sea turtle specialist and I feel very lucky to have been able to work along side her and learn so much. This internship has allowed me to grow in many ways and it has exceeded any of the expectations that I had coming in this summer. Waking up at dawn to look for turtle nests, assisting on night walks and conducting nest inventories has truly been a privilege that I am so happy to have had. I can honestly say that this has been the best summer I have ever had and my motivation to pursue my degree in Conservation and Wildlife Management has only grown greater. I look forward to being able to work with others that share my passion to conserve our beautiful endangered species.
We had our last sea turtle night walk program on July 29th. It looked like a clear evening all day up until we were getting ready for our night walk. Then as Amanda was giving the presentation a storm passed by, bringing lots of rain and lightning. We tried to wait out the storm but even after 25 minutes, the lightning was far too close to walk on the beach.
It was disappointing that we were unable to go out on our night walk - but when the weather acts that way we listen! The following morning there were three nests that had hatched. The chances of seeing an emergence is slim but the following morning we conducted inventories on two nests. One group from the night walk made the early morning walk and they weren't disappointed! Our first nest had no stragglers but a very good success rate. The second nest we inventoried had three straggler hatchlings stuck near the bottom and we got to cheer them on to the ocean!
Sea Turtle Specialist