We had a busy night walk last night! Without going far down the beach we had a sea turtle crawling to find a good place to nest. We waited patiently as she crawled all the way up to the dune grass. Unfortunately she came across a lot of roots and was unable to nest. She tried to make a body pit but was fed up with the location and returned to the ocean. We got to see her make her crawl back towards the ocean. She didn't make a direct route however, and we don't know exactly the reason but it may have been the bright lights coming from the pier/road.
Then we continued to make our way down the beach to search for possible hatchlings or an adult that is nesting. I checked on several nests with no signs of hatching activity. I then spotted nest 9 and it had a tiny hatchling head poking through the sand. You could see a very caved in area as well as tracks already headed towards the ocean and some headed behind the nest. I was expected a few stragglers to emerge but what we got was a 2nd boil for nest 9! There were approximately 40 hatchlings emerge from the nest all at once and were making a made dash towards the ocean (or so we thought). It is best to few this without any lights as a red light can be enough to confuse them.
Individuals on the night walk mentioned they saw them crawling to the right and behind and sure enough we found approximately 15 hatchlings disorientating/misorientating.
A disorientated turtle is one that is doing circles and is confused because of the artifical lighting. A misorientated turtle is one that is headed in the direction opposite of the ocean - clearly headed straight for a brighter light than the horizon.
Unfortunately, there were house lights left on in some of the homes across the marsh and it was a very dark night so those lights stood out! Also, the moon had not yet risen so the horizon was not as bright. The beach also had a natural downward slope to the marsh which may have been confusing as well.
The following morning I joined Annie & Nona on patrol to document nest 9. I need to take pictures of a dis/misorientation of a nest as well as collect other data.
This morning we had two nests and 5 false crawls. We had some strange false crawls with many going parallel to the ocean instead of crawling above high tide. I guess many turtles had troubles last night with knowing where to go.
If you would like to adopt a nest that was found this morning, please click the button below to be taken to our adoption page. The unique ID's to adopt nest 141 & 142 are: 206849 & 206857. The proceeds from this nest adoption helps our South Carolina turtles! Check out the slideshow below for some more photos taken from the patrol this morning:
Sea Turtle Biologist