Blog Post By: Christine Segnari, Sea Turtle Intern
The summer has come to an end! From Dawn Patrols to Night Walks, the Sea Turtle Interns have been very busy during our time here in Edisto. As part of our internship through Edisto Beach State Park, we participated in (and led), Dawn Patrols, Public Inventories, Night Patrols, Night Walks, and worked at the Environmental Learning Center. I’ve had a fantastic time at Edisto this summer! At the time of writing this post, we have 349 nests in the state park (only 3 nests away from breaking the record)!
During Dawn Patrols, we documented new nests and false crawls, took genetic samples, checked for any predator activity, and protected new nests by covering them with predator screens. Later in the season, we also set up light screens, completed nest inventories, and released any hatchlings found during these inventories. Light screens prevent hatchlings from going into the marsh instead of the ocean. Sometimes the lights behind the marsh are brighter than the moon, and the hatchlings get disorientated and head into the marsh.
Public Inventories began near the end of July. Every Wednesday and Friday night, we went out and dug up nests that had emerged 3-5 days before. We sorted the contents of the nest into 5 different categories: alive, dead, pipped, hatched, and unhatched. (If you want more information about our inventories, see my previous blog post.)
During Night Patrols, we monitored and recorded information about who was on the beach and what type of light they were using. Only red lights are allowed at Edisto Beach State Park due to a local ordinance, and we inform those who may not know about that ordinance. Sometimes, we do get lucky enough to see hatchlings or an adult Loggerhead.
Night Walks started at the beginning of June and went until the end of July. During this program, we would give a presentation on Loggerheads before taking 30 members of the public out to, hopefully, see a nesting turtle (or hatchlings depending on the month). This summer, we were around 85% successful at seeing turtle activity during this program.
At the Environmental Learning Center, we took care of the many animals, led educational programs, and answered phone calls. We fed the animals and gave them time to soak up the sun. Some of the programs we led or assisted in were Turtle Talk, Ravenous Reptiles, What’s on the Menu, and Gators of the Lowcountry. As part of the animal care, we ensured their tanks were clean and healthy.
We definitely stayed busy this summer and enjoyed meeting you all on the beach!
Sea Turtle Biologist