Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Walk #1 of 2009 Sea Turtle Nesting Season

Sanibel and Captiva are nesting areas for the threatened Loggerhead sea turtles and the endangered Green turtles. More than a hundred volunteers help with the Conservation Foundation’s Sea Turtle Research and Monitoring Program, from the first of May until October.

Around 18 miles of beach on Sanibel and Captiva are divided into zones and a volunteer walks their assigned zone, usually one morning a week. They begin at dawn and report any turtle crawls or new nests to their assigned permittee at the end of their walk, around 7:30 AM. Permittees are volunteers who have had special training connected to the Sea Turtle Program. We also mark and report any thing left on the beach that could be harmful to sea turtles or interfere with their nesting. Volunteers also pick up any trash that has been left on the beach. Some stretches of the beach from the west end of Sanibel are monitored by SCCF beach vehicle.

Nests are marked in order monitor and protect them . Nests hatch in about 55 days, around 3 days after, a post hatch dig is done to check for stragglers and to count the empty egg sacks to record the number of hatchlings.

As volunteers, today was our first morning to do a turtle walk this season. That means a walk each Tuesday morning, for us, until October. We have zone 2, which is on the east end of Sanibel, beginning at Buttonwood Lane and ending, about a mile west, at The Sanibel Inn. We then turn around and stroll back to where we began.

Those of you who followed along on our walks last season, may recognize some photos taken at Buttonwood Lane beach access. We began at this same spot last season, when we had Zone 1, only we went east and around the tip of the island.

This is how the sky looked this morning walking on the boardwalk beach access. I am a night person, but I have to tell you that I LOVE early mornings here too. There isn't anything more beautiful than seeing that pink glow behind the silhouettes of the palm trees.

This scene was familiar, as I looked toward the lighthouse, with it's light glowing.

Just after starting out, we saw a make-shift beach hut, without any inhabitants. :-) It was constructed in a pretty large hole. The posts had already been tagged by previous turtle walkers. If it isn't removed in a couple of days, someone will take it down.

There are still several areas marked to protect Snowy Plover nests. They are endangered and also monitored by SCCF.

Just another ..... thing??

It's really hard to find a better word to describe this sunrise than beautiful!

This was a wonderful morning for a walk. The temperature was around 75 and there was a strong breeze from the south. It's nice walking along, bare foot in the 82 degree water. There were a lot of people out this morning.

This one's for you Kaki, my friend. I hope it doesn't make you too homesick. I'm just trying to encourage an Air Tran ticket purchase. :-)

I guess this poor beach bunny had been hopping along, got tired, kicked of it's crocks and layed down for a while. About the same time that I said hello to the rabbit, a lady jogged by, looking like she was hunting a place to fall over too.

I saw something way out in the water and I kept watching until I realized it was a man swimming toward shore. Hmmm, a Cuban maybe?

Just kidding; obviously someone with tons of energy and an urge to exercise. :-)

Turtle tracks? I saw a lot of these today. :-)

There were egg casings laying all over the beach.

There were two men using what I call 'heavy equipment', taking pictures. Both of their cameras had huge, long lenses. Sure made my little, picture taking, cell phone look pitiful.

As we reached the Sanibel Inn, I noticed a Madagascar Screw Pine, like the one I saw at West Wind Inn and have done a post about, on my 'Lazy Days' blog. I had to do a lot of searching to figure out what kind of tree it was. Since then I have seen several more of them on the island. I think they are kind of unique looking with the balls of seed pods, hanging on them like ornaments.

This will be the landmark to show the end of zone 2.

1 comment:

Snowbird said...

It was great to see your first post of the season. The beautiful sunrises makes getting up very early well worth it. I hope you have lots of nests in your zone this year.