Sunday, August 31, 2008

No More Turtle Walks This Season For Me

This is an email we received from our Permittee today. I believe they are still going to watch those nests that have the markings still intact. Even though it is doubtfull they will hatch after being washed over with water and sand, we can still hope.

Due to Gustav, all remaining East End nests were washed over to some extent and have hard packed sand on them.

As a result, and because the nesting part of the turtle season is over, it is NOT necessary to walk your Zones anymore.

What we do ask, is that those of you who have nests with a possibility of hatching, visit those nests until they do hatch or are dug.

The status of the Nests, by Zones, is as follows:
Zone 1, none
Zone 2, Nest #28; this is located at Sanibel Moorings in front of the westernmost walkway
Zone 3, none
Zone 4, none
Zone 5, Nest #21; located at Gulfside City Park, 40 yards east of the easternmost walkway
Zone 6, Nest #27; located at White Sands, 10 feet west of their boardwalk and Nests #20 and #29, both of these are at Pointe Santo de Sanibel, one at the easternmost building the other at the westernmost building.

As bad as this seems, earlier nests did have large clutch sizes that hatched!

Lost Turtle Nests

About mid-afternoon, the waves got very high. The tide was up exceptionally high. It had washed sand and shells all the way up into the dunes.

We saw 3 turtle nests that have been washed over, near access # 2.

Our last remaining nest in Zone 1, is gone; we couldn't even find the stakes. ;-(

I hope I am wrong, but I seriously doubt there will be a nest left on the island.

There is a high surf advisory here for 24 hours.

I looked back through the figures that had been sent to us and it looks like there were 266 nests on Sanibel;124 of those had hatched. If that figure is correct, then there would have been 142 nests still to hatch. I don't have the figures for Captiva, but it seems to me, that at one point I was thinking there were over 350 total nests adding both islands together.

Bokeelia Island’s First Sea Turtle Nest

Southwest Florida's sea turtles usually lay their eggs on barrier island beaches. But this season a loggerhead nest has been found on Bokeelia Island, off the north end of Pine Island. This will be the island's first nest on record.

Walk #18

Went to start the turtle walk at 6:20, and it was still dark out, very windy and dark rain clouds were lurking overhead. I planned to walk as fast as possible so I could finished before it started raining. Going out the boardwalk, I felt a few sprinkles. After getting just a little way up the beach, it started raining lightly.

There were a couple of piles of trash to pick up, each consisting of 7 or 8 corona bottles and empty wrappers from snacks, also a plastic waste paper container and a 5 gallon bucket. At the Light House Beach parking area, I was on my way to the dumpster with all this stuff, when I slipped and fell down. I got all muddy, scratched one leg and then had to gather up the trash for the second time. (I was talking to myself and saying bad words by that time!) There was also a large aluminum frame for a sun shade or cabana type thing, lying on the ground by one of the boardwalks.

Went back out on the beach and walked into the water to wash my hands and legs off. Ok, I’m still in one piece so I had better get this finished before it starts pouring down rain.

Just about the time I reached the one remaining turtle nest in our zone, it started raining harder. The nest had one stake broken and the yellow marker tape was broken and blowing in the wind. I walked in, underneath some sea grape bushes so that I could take a picture out over the water, and also wipe the rain off my glasses.

Hurried off again, walking in the water to go around bushes etc. Just before I reached the fishing pier, it started pouring down rain. There were several people on the pier fishing, and they were under the roof. They looked at me like I was crazy, as I went around the boardwalk and kept hurrying on. By now I could hardly see for the water running off my hair and over my glasses. The birds even knew better than to stay out, because I didn’t see any of them around after it started raining. The only birds I had seen were just after I started walking. Other than those people on the fishing pier, I had only seen one couple walking past as I started my walk.

I had put my cell phone in one of the extra trash bags I had in my pocket, so I couldn’t really take pictures. The only good ones today would have been of me on the ground, anyway. I just kept thinking that we had been fortunate to avoid the rain numerous times before, and you can’t expect that to happen every time.

Now, the next best thing to happen was….when I went from the beach, I slipped and fell once more. This time I had my wet glasses in my hand because I couldn’t see with them on. I fell on top of them and both lenses came out. I just grabbed them up and then picked myself up, shook my head and went on. I had to get in a vehicle soaking wet, muddy and disgruntled. But, when I think of it now, it’s pretty comical. At least there was no lightning.

Till next week…….I’ll try to stay dry!

There were practically no shells on this part of the beach this morning.

Now, wouldn't you know that it quit raining and the sun came out, 20 minutes later!

Did you know?
Sea turtles spend almost all their lives submerged but must breathe air for the oxygen needed to meet the demands of vigorous activity. With a single explosive exhalation and rapid inhalation, sea turtles can quickly replace the air in their lungs.

Loggerhead sea turtles dive for about 4 to 5 minutes and surface to breathe for 1 to 3 seconds. A female loggerhead tracked at sea made up to 500 dives every 12 hours.
Turtles can rest or sleep underwater for several hours at a time but submergence time is much shorter while diving for food or to escape predators.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

SCCF Nesting Statistics, as of 08-30-08

SCCF Turtle Nesting Statistics For This Week

On Wednesday, 8/27, nests 22 and 23 hatched. They were dug today and yielded:

#22 – 36 empty shells, 33 pipped dead in shell, one dead in nest and 74 unhatched
#23 – 75 empty shells, 6 unhatched, 2 pipped dead in shell and one live (released)

Still watching:

Zone 1 – Nest #26
Zone 2 – Nests # 28 and 33
Zone 3– Nests # 30
Zone 4 – no nests
Zone 5 – Nests # 21 (due) and 31
Zone 6 – Nests # 19 (due), 20 (due), 24, 25, 27, 29 and 32

Nest #19 will be dug in the morning, as a 70 day nest.

Baby Sea Turtle Named Eric

A 12 year old boy was digging in the sand and found a baby loggerhead turtle. That tiny 2" turtle brought out an entire Stranding Team and a truck load of biologists. This cute story can be seen at the Virginian-Pilot.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Belle Had Overnight Sitters

Have you been keeping up with the sea turtles progress in 'Tour de Turtles'? It is so interesting tracking the turtles as they make their journey. Belle o’ Brevard is one turtle in the race. This story tells about her having sitters overnight before her release.

Belle is currently in third place. She has traveled 501 miles in 26 days. Watching the turtles progress is amazing!

Another turtle that I find interesting to watch is 'Little Crush', the turtle that was rehabilitated at the Living Seas. It seems the little turtle doesn't want to leave, as it just keeps going back and forth in the area it was released. I think the poor little turtle didn't want to leave Disney World. It is currently in 6th place, even though it doesn't seem to be going anywhere.

Read what Walt Disney World is doing to help save our sea turtles. There is also a link in the side bar on that site to a more involved story about Belle.

Hatchlings Escape on the Fringes of Tropical Storm

South Carolina, sea turtle volunteers rescue four hatchlings as Tropical Storm Fay approached. Read the full story at Myrtle Beach Online.

Sea Turtles Get a Send Off From Honeymoon Island

Three young sea turtles were released from Honeymoon Island State Park, after their rehabilitation at Clearwater Aquarium. Read their story in The Sun Coast News.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Snap, Crackle and Pop left Virginia to go home

Tuesday morning three Kemp's ridley turtles, named Snap, Crackle and Pop, were released back into the wild. They were rescued earlier this summer from an intake canal at a New Jersey nuclear power plant. A nice story.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tropical Storm Fay destroyed fewer loggerhead sea turtle nests on Georgia beaches

I suppose this could be considered better news than the losses reported from Southeast Florida.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources biologists and sea turtle patrol volunteers conducted surveys on all of their beaches except Blackbeard Island. There were 106 nests lost, which wasn't as bad as they had expected. To read the article.

Thousands Of Sea Turtle Nests Damaged By Fay

Tropical storm Fay caused damage to Southeast Florida sea turtle nests due to high surf and beach erosion. Over 1,000 nests of loggerhead and green turtles were lost, just on Juno Beach. Read the full story on West Palm Beach News.

Two Headed Hatchling

I don't know if I should say this is a unique story or a sad one; but is is interesting to say the least. A little two-headed turtle was the last hatchling out of a nest at Kiawah Island, South Carolina. You can see it and read the stories about how it made it's way to the ocean and why a little girl gave it two names; Hope and Faith. (Two links to two different stories.)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Turtle Traffic

OK, this is by far, my favorite! You'll see what I mean. :-) Just click on the turtle.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Walk #17

After checking the weather and seeing that a thunder storm was headed our way; we decided to get started a little early, with hope we could get through before it got here. Not being all that sure, I put an umbrella in my back pack.

Evidently the weather wasn’t keeping everyone away. A couple with several small children walked past, carrying a flashlight and heading for the beach.

Walking out the boardwalk, all I could see was huge white clouds just west of us. I’m sure there were probably more, but those were the only ones close and low enough to see. I took a picture, but it was still dark enough that you can barely see the white cloud with some palms in front of it. You may have to use your imagination a little bit.

The waves had been big yesterday, but today wasn’t as bad. It was still very windy. As I looked up and down the beach, I could see some dark things by the water. Walking on to get a closer look, we found they were crab traps. By the time we reached the light house, I had counted over one dozen of them. The rough water had brought them on shore.

There was a lot of seaweed washed up along with some pen shells, and some other ordinary shells. Most everything had barnacles all over it or was broken. (Please keep in mind; I am only referring to the shelling conditions on the section of beach where I was.)

The tide had been really high, but had started going back out. There were several people out looking for shells. I imagine they anticipated finding good shelling this morning, after the big waves yesterday. But that really wasn’t the case. All I saw was a lot of yuck and it smelled bad, not something I would want to dig through. I did spot one angel wing that was not broken, but it had lots of barnacles on it, so I threw it down again.

There was foam left on the sand, from the waves, in several places.

Someone had left two nice beach chairs out. It’s surprising that they hadn’t washed away. We carried them up to a walkway that led to some condos, thinking they probably came from there.

There was a lot of trash that had been left in a pile, but it had blown all over the place. Left over scraps of food that was covered with ants and 2 pampers neatly rolled up. UGH! Parts of that mess had blown up into the dunes. By the time we finished picking all that up, we already had a large trash bag full and had to go throw it in the dumpster at the parking area.

A little further up the beach, we found a cute sea turtle and a sea horse.

There were a lot of shore birds this morning; I guess the smell must have attracted them.

Right about here, a lady stopped me and asked if I could tell her where you go to find the good shells. I told her about the bad weather we had, the rough seas for the last couple of days, and that was the reason for all the mess on the beach. I had also read that someone said they had been finding shells in an area between middle and west gulf, so they might want to try there. But, unfortunately they had just arrived last night and didn’t know their way around because this was their first trip to Sanibel. Then I told her not to get discouraged because later today or tomorrow the shells could start rolling in, you just never know.

I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to be here on vacation and not able to find good shelling. When you see advertising connected to Sanibel Island, you always see photos of shell covered beaches, not the way it looks when there are only a few or none. This island is known as the shelling capital of the world, so people come here expecting to see mounds of shells on the beach; sadly Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate.

A little close up of what Mother Nature had to offer this morning.

This appeared to be a clothes basket with a rope handle tied onto it. It had probably been used for bait; at least it smelled like it. Yuck!

It’s nice to see that people appreciate a neat, clean picnic area. With a dumpster within 20 yards, they bagged their trash and left it sitting there. Go figure....

I saw a few paper fig shells, but they all had broken places on them.

I’m not sure who this guy was, but he was out swimming. The fellow you see in the background was using a cast net and the birds were all flocking around him. He was swinging his arms at them, trying to scare them away, but they kept going right back again. I think he finally gave up, because after we had gone around the pier; he threw his net up on the boardwalk.

The sun was finally coming up! But, in the other direction there were clouds lurking and you could hear thunder.

Birds were looking around, trying to find something edible on the beach. There were a couple of dead fish mixed in there, but they didn’t seem interested in those.

Pelicans were bobbing up and down with the waves; having a relaxing Sunday morning.

The wind and waves brought some things ashore that someone might miss. Like, how will they know where the ‘swim area’ is?

The water was up higher than it had been on any of our other walks. So, we would have to watch for a place to go around soon.

As I looked at pelicans, hanging out on a pier; I noticed the water was a reddish brown color, which is usually associated with Red Tide, but I don’t think that is the reason for it here. I say that because anytime there is Red Tide anywhere near, I start coughing because it really bothers me a lot. I had no problem with that today, so I am guessing that it just has something to do with the rain and rough water we have had.

At this point we had to walk over to a different street because there wasn’t any room to walk the last bit of our zone. At the end of the street, I stopped to take a picture of a huge, agave. There are many of these on the island and some of them are even bigger. I guess after living in a colder climate all my life, I notice these more than some people would. I think they are beautiful.

We made our walk without getting rained on. Many times, it seems as though the clouds spread apart and go around the island. It is very strange.

Until next week.....

Did you know?

Hatchlings often eat sponges, jellyfishes, sargassum weed, small gastropods and crustaceans. Juveniles, sub-adults and adults feed upon conch, clams, horseshoe crab, as well as other crustaceans. They have powerful jaws that enable them to easily crush the hard shells of their prey. During migration through the open sea, loggerheads eat jellyfishes, pteropods, floating molluscs, floating egg clusters, squids and flying fishes. It commonly noses around coral reefs, rocky places and old boat wrecks for food.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Turtle Nesting Statistics as of August 23, 2008

No new nests this week, and sadly not a great result with the digs.

Last Sunday, Nest #7 was dug; false crawl


Nest #12 was dug with 86 hatches, 45 unhatched, 6 live in nest (and released) and 2 piped (means the turtle had pecked through the shell but could not get out) dead in shell; Nest #13 was dug with 68 hatches, 9 unhatched, 1 live in nest (and released) and 4 dead in nest;

Nest # 15 was dug with 97 hatches, 23 unhatched 4 live in nest (released) and 9 piped dead in shell.Tuesday nothing.


Nest # 18 was dug with 38 hatches, 67 unhatched and 23 live in nest (released)---this was an unusual situation wherein the nest hatched the 14th but wasn't dug until the 20th due to the storm etc.


Nest #8 was dug and 114 unhatched eggs were found---the nest had probably been inundated with water.Friday Nest # 22 was dug with 1 hatch and 99 unhatched---this nest had been inundated with water.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sanibel-Captiva Sea Turtle Nests in Good Shape!


As Tropical Storm Fay threatened Southwest Florida Monday, sea turtle monitors worried because a storm surge could wipe out sea turtle nests along the Lee County beaches.

The storm came in south of Lee County and moved inland. So there was no surge, keeping our nests safe.

Amanda Bryant, coordinator of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation's Sea Turtle Program, said that our nests are in really good shape and as far as she knows, we haven't lost a nest to the storm. However, some of the nests on lower beaches were washed over. So, time will tell if that did harm to the turtle eggs. For now, it is just a relief the storm passed us by and no nests were washed out.

Sea TurtlesVisit Italian Restaurant

60 newly hatched sea turtles lost their way during their trip to the sea and walked right into an Italian restaurant instead. Diners were curious and amused at first, but quickly called coastal authorities to rescue the group. Poor little guys, I have visions of them covering their eyes with tiny flippers and screaming, "bright lights, bright lights"! The stranded turtles, which had hatched on a beach in the southern Italian region of Calabria, were released into the sea.

Another example of why we need to keep lighting away from beach areas.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Lee County Turtle Nests Safe

Eve Haverfield, president of Turtle Time sea turtle monitoring program, says that the sea turtle nests in Lee County are safe, for now. There was much concern that the tides and rain associated with Tropical Storm Fay would cause the nests to be washed over. Read the article on Newstime Press.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Walk #16

This morning arriving at the beach access at 6:15 was a little too early, so we waited a few minutes. Bug spray was applied because I had noseeums bothering me last week until it got more light out. I stuffed my little back pack with extra trash bags and we were off!

There was a full moon, but it still wasn’t very light out because clouds were covering it most of the time.

You can barely see the moon between clouds and palm trees. Rember click on all pictures; they are much better.

I could see lights twinkling on Ft Myers Beach and the light was blinking on the light house; other than that the only lights were on a few boats.

There was a nice cool breeze from the east, which would keep the noseeums away. It was very quiet; you could hear only the gentle lap of the waves, until a boat went by, then after it past, all was peaceful again. It’s really nice to be out so early to enjoy the quiet, while you watch wildlife and people begin to come out for the day.

The sky began to take on a light pink color that was coming up from behind clouds. It would be a while before the sun could work its way above them.

There wasn’t much on the beach, just the usual deep holes dug here and there and a beach chair left by someone to carry up to a boardwalk. Hopefully it belongs to someone in one of the condos and they will find it later. I’m not sure but they must have had one of the Olympic Games here yesterday because I could see the remnants left by Ronz Team. J I have not heard of that country.

The beach was pretty deserted this morning; we had only seen a very few people before reaching the light house.

The tide was a little lower today, so we could walk part of the way around on the beach, and then had to cut through the picnic area again.

. Just as we started to leave the beach there was a whole bunch of Happy Sixteenth Birthday, helium filled balloons laying in the edge of the water. I carried them up to the dumpster and put them inside, putting the lid back down on top of them. I had to laugh, when I thought of how funny it would be when they came to dump it, because when you raised the lid up, the balloons came floating up.

Walking back out onto the beach, you could see the sun getting brighter behind the clouds. I guessed we would eventually have a sunny day after all.

Only a few fishermen were on the pier and it didn’t look like there was much action going on either.

There were a lot of big birds out on the beach this morning, more than we usually see. I suppose that was because there were fish jumping up from the water now and then.

A sand sculpture was left near the pier. Some little person had spent much of their time carrying buckets of wet sand and had placed a white seashell on the top of each little mound. There was also a row of mangrove seed pods all arranged in a nice little row as landscaping.

As we walked along the bay side, you could see the full moon ahead, while the sun was coming up behind us.

A heron caught my eye as he stood all alone on a dock. He was on the top edge of a bench; maybe waiting for his ship to come in.

Well, our adventure for this Sunday morning is over. It’s hard to believe that as beautiful as this day is, there could possibly be a hurricane coming here in a matter of hours. If it does, many of our remaining turtle nests could be washed away. So, please send positive thoughts this way.

Till next time……

Did you know?

From the time of nest emergence up to 24 to 72 hours after entering the ocean, hatchlings remain in a state often referred to as frenzy. During this period, hatchlings remain in a swimming state. It has been suggested that this may serve to get the hatchlings away from shore and coastal predators, out to deeper waters. Very little is known about sea turtles from the point that hatchlings enter the ocean until at least 20 years later when the females become sexually mature and come ashore again to nest.