Saturday, September 6, 2008

An Email From Eve Haverfield

With the loss of so many nests here on Sanibel and Captiva,due to the high surf associated with TS Fay; I couldn't put the disappointment aside. I had questions as to why we couldn't have done more to save them. I read several news articles about nests being moved or dug on the east coast, after a threat of high surf, so that had me wondering.

I've been a reader and regular visitor to TurtleTime.Org and had read a lot of articles about Turtle Time's Founder and Director, Eve Haverfield. I decided to send an email to her asking for answers to a few of my questions.

I received an immediate reply from her. I sent another email asking permission to post her message on my blog. She gladly gave her consent. I have posted it below:

Hi Tootie,

I struggle with the same sentiments regarding intervention during times of obvious detrimental weather events. Many years ago ( I have been monitoring sea turtles on Sanibel for 29 years now...yikes!!), we did intervene on Sanibel in advance of hurricanes but now, the State no longer condones those kinds of measures. I can understand the reasoning, although sometimes the results are tragic. Unfortunately, well-intentioned mitigation may cause more harm than good. Sea turtles have tolerated many natural events over the eons and have survived. Even following Hurricanes Charley, we documented ‘miracle nests’….nests that were submerged for hours. I stood on Bonita Beach looking for the GPS coordinates for the nest since all markers had been washed away. Lo and behold, I looked down and there at my feet a tiny flipper was waving at me from beneath a thin layer of sand…it gives me goose bumps just writing about that experience….but back to the question why we don’t do more:

One huge factor is that the Bureau of Protected Species Management (FWCC)…the bureau that issues our marine permits so that we may work with endangered sea turtles…has issued guidelines for us that we are expected to follow. They frown on individuals ‘doing their own thing’….and rightfully so. The 70-day dig applies to nests that give no indication of having hatched; those nests that clearly have hatched are dug 3 days post-hatch so that everyone who is robust can emerge on their own. The more vigorous a hatchling is, the more chance for survival. On the beaches that Turtle Time monitors, we do relocate all nests that are below the mean high tide line, simply because the beaches have been so compromised by irresponsible raking practices…unlike on Sanibel and Captiva.

Take heart that under normal conditions, Sanibel and Captiva have provided the Gulf and Atlantic Ocean with strong healthy female turtle babies (sex is determined by sand temperature) for ages! Lighting regulations have facilitated their reaching the Gulf! Conditions definitely have improved. Thinking/writing about the more positive aspects of sea turtle conservation makes me feel better! : < })

Thank you for caring!!
Cheers, Eve


Snowbird said...

Very interesting. Thanks for posting her letter to you. It does answer a lot of questions.

MariBy said...

A very interesting email. I'm just getting into reading your blog on a regular basis, so had no idea of some of the complexities - many of them legalities - that are involved.

But I knew this from Day One of reading your blog, Tootie: It is due to volunteers like you and Eve Haverfield and the countless others who give freely of their time and expertise that have made a difference to these turtles.

Thank you all so much and keep up the very good work! :)

gpc said...

That made me feel a little better. It's still hard to accept that we can't 'fix' everything, but good to be reminded that things have gone along well enough without us. Certainly the hurricanes must be less of a danger to the sea turtles than plastic bags and polluted waters . . .

Mare said...

Tootie, I am so happy that you shared that letter. My daughter and I are new readers, and she was asking a lot of questions that I really couldn't answer. This post helped tremendously! =)