Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Turtle Walk #9

Arriving at the beach at 6:15 AM, the sky was just beginning to get a pink color. The wind was blowing, so I was relieved not to need bug spray. The noseeums aren't usually a problem if there is enough air movement.

The first thing I learned this morning was that.....P loves R...... :-)

The tide was up pretty high this morning.

There was a huge hole with a big pile of sand on one side. Looks like a grave digger had been there and left behind an empty cracker box, two water bottles and part of a cigar. So, an adult must have been supervising this excavation project. It is right in the area of the beach where a sea turtle would nest. It's a shame that adult person wasn't adult enough to fill the hole in.

There was an abandoned canopy frame left behind in the dunes, because it was broken. How easy it seems for some beach visitors to carry things out, but too hard for them to carry them back with them when they leave. Now, this has to be reported and another call made to the city. Then they have to send a city employee out to find and take this thing away.

We were told by our Permittee yesterday, that there was a dead sea turtle in our zone and it had already been reported to SCCF but it hadn't been marked yet. SCCF goes out to mark them and do a report.

I was also told by a friend who was staying at Ocean's Reach, that they saw one there, a couple of days ago, right in front of their condo. It had already been marked. That location is quite a way to the West of where this one is. I don't know if the high tide and rough water we've had the last couple of days could have moved that one or if there are two. We saw it this morning and it's always a sad sight to see.

There was also, what we think was a 'False Crawl' in our zone this morning. You can see the tracks where the turtle came from the water, near the dead sea turtle, went up onto what really looked like a big pile of sand that was already there, turned around and went over to another area in the dunes, turned again and went back out to the water. If the pile of sand was from a nest that the turtle covered, it didn't have the normal appearance of all the other nests we've seen. We marked it and called it in to our Permittee, who will check it out. It was exciting to see the fresh tracks, but also disapointing that the turtle obviously wasn't comfortable about making it's nest there. It seemed strange that it came in right beside the dead turtle, which you can see in the upper left corner of this photo.

It seems we have had a lot of False Crawls already this season. It makes you wonder why. Could be because of too many lights can be seen from the beach? There sure seem to be a lot of them in our zone. Or could it be because of so many holes and such on the beach in this area? There are always many sand holes on this east end, along with chairs and other things that have been left on the beach. Another possibility might be too much activity going on during the dark hours, which there seems to be an abundance of, on the east end beach area. If those things have anything to do with it; what a shame we are crowding the sea turtles away from their own nesting ground.

Better watched in HD on YouTube by clicking the screen below.

This was the only peek I saw of the sun this morning, until a few minutes before the walk was over, when the sun finally worked it's way on up above the heavier clouds.

Best watched in HD on YouTube by clicking the screen below.

More sand holes. Walking at night on the beach anywhere near Sanibel Arms West, could be a dangerous adventure because there were many holes like these.

One sandcastle, painted pink, looked pretty in the morning light.

This beautiful thing below, is a Portuguese man-of-war. It's the first time that I have seen one, or I should say 4 of them, because that's how many we saw today. At the time, I wasn't certain that's what they were. Another lady we see walking on the beach during each turtle walk, always picks up trash as she walks along. Today we met her the second time as we were walking back toward the Buttonwood Lane Access. She had one of them in her trash bag. She saw it and thinking it was a piece of cellophane or something like that, picked it up. It had stung her on the arm. She had a red and painful area on her forearm about the size of two quarters, side by side. And not knowing what it was, she just thought it had caused some type of skin irritation and was going to hurry on home to wash her arm. I sure hope she is ok and didn't have a bad time with it. I had looked down at the first one I saw, thinking it was trash also, then saw it move and realized it was something alive.

The Man-of-War (also called the Bluebottle) is an invertebrate that many people mistakenly think is a jelly fish. It isn't a jellyfish, it's not even an "it," but a "they." Man-of-War is an animal made up of several organisms that work together. It is made of four separate polyps. The upper polyp, a blue to pink, translucent gas filled bladder, is about 3 to 12 inches long, floats on top of the water. That ruffled looking part at the top, works as a sail to move it along in the water. Long, thin tentacles are the man-of-war's second organism. They can extend 30 to 165 feet below the surface and are covered with poisonous stingers that can be used to paralyze and kill their prey. They eat small fish and other small sea creatures. The third polyp contains the digestive organisms, and the fourth holds the reproductive organisms. Many fish and sea turtles consider the Man-of-War, good food. Even though they look soft and beautiful, their sting is excruciatingly painful. Stings are rarely deadly. Even dead man-of-wars washed up on shore can still sting. So, I am really glad I didn't touch it!

The high tide was up nearer to the Snowy Plover Nesting Area as we walked back. Even though there wasn't a lot of room between there and the water, the Plovers were still scurrying around, looking for food. There were at least two new, tiny ones this morning.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Even fake Loggerheads don't have an easy life. There is a reward for the return of this one. I wonder if the 'Vanilla Couple' who live in that area, know anything about this? :-)

Sea Turtle With Artificial Flippers

I found this story about a sea turtle, that was fitted with artificial flippers, an interesting read. I just don't understand how it could possibly be released back into the wild.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Walk #8

Today was our 8th turtle patrol of the season. There are still just 2 nests in our zone and there was no new turtle activity to report. (There were two bags of trash, however.) It was a little warm with a slight breeze. The only thing that saved us from a meltdown was that the sun didn't show for the entire walk. The low for the day was 82 degrees and the high ended up at 90. The Gulf temp is also 90.

A mermaid and a sea turtle.

YES, Pooky had been there.

Along the way, I found a little drill and a juvenile horse conch.

By the time our walk was over, the sun was trying very hard to peak out from behind the clouds.

This video was taken in front of Sanibel Moorings.
Best viewed in HD on YouTube by clicking the screen below.

I am pretty sure I saw is a Sea Cucumber on the beach this morning. It's the first time I've seen one, but someone had described them to me before. I looked it up and learned several new things about them.

They are related to the starfish and the sea urchin and there are hundreds of different species found throughout the world. Sea cucumbers are usually a dull, dark colour and often warty. They have leathery skin, embedded with bony particles and have several rows of tiny tubular feet along the length of their body. The tube feet are hollow, muscular projections that are used to move themselves along. The species that don't have the little tube feet, move by muscular movements of their body. Some sea cucumbers hide in grassy beds and some dig into the mud and sand. They have a mouth at one end of their body that has tentacles to gather food. The other end is the anal opening that is used for both respiration and discharging wastes. It feeds on tiny marine animals and organic matter.

When a sea cucumber is threatened, it can shoot sticky threads from its waste hole. Enemies, such as fish and crabs, get caught in the threads. They can continually grow new sets of these threads. Some sea cucumbers can mutilate their own bodies as a defense mechanism or out of fear. They violently contract their muscles and spew some of their internal organs out of their anus. (That is what I think the stuff you see on the sand near the end of the sea cucumber, probably is.) Some scientists think they also do this to protect themselves from building up too much waste in their bodies. They they can grow new innards in about six weeks.

Another tidbit of information I found was that scientists have determined that the sea cucumber uses the same ordinary processes to repair its brain that it does to heal small injuries. They feel that the Sea cucumbers will probably provide them with the key to deciphering how to regenerate our tissues, or at least find out what is needed to do this.

The one I saw this morning was still alive, so we put it back out in the water.

Is The Loggerhead Turtle Lost?

A loggerhead turtle walked up the beach at Ponce Inlet, Florida, leaving tracks up to the pavement. This was after the high tide, around 2:30 this morning. Volunteers have been out searching, with hope of finding it before it is out in the heat too long. Read the full story.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Voluntourism Vacation Opportunities

Does that sound like something you would be interested in; maybe a vacation to help save the sea turtles? President Obama said we all need to help one another make a better future. I believe that also includes saving our planet, which includes the wildlife. I just happened to run across this article that I found interesting, maybe you will too.

Kermit Released

Kermit, a green sea turtle was released this afternoon and you can now track him online. He was rehabilitated at The Virginia Aquarium, after being found on the beach with trash lodged in his throat. People just don't realize how dangerous the trash left behind, can be. Kermit was the second turtle found, in a one month period of time, with pieces of fishing line, hard plastic, soft plastic, and balloon pieces lodged in their throats. If these turtles hadn't been found they would have died. To read the full story....

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sea Turtles In The Pacific Are At Risk

The Fisheries Service has admitted that loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles in the Pacific face a significant risk of extinction unless we reduce the number of turtles killed by commercial fisheries. Unfortunately, rather than take action to better protect sea turtles, the agency is proposing measures that would actually increase the number of turtles killed.

To read more about this topic and to perhaps help the turtles get greater protection, not less; the Fisheries Service is accepting public comment on the proposal for 45 days.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Update on Gulf Fishery Management Council Decision

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council met yesterday to consider new laws that would combine seasonal restrictions on longline grouper fishing and a gradual reduction in the number of fleets that will be allowed to operate.

The council decided to leave the current moratorium in place until they have time to review newly released data before making a final decision. They also want to be sure they have time to make the best plan that is available.

Unless the council takes action, the moratorium will expire in October, but the regulators have a one-time option to continue it for another six months if no permanent management plan is approved by that time.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Turtle Walk #7

Today is another very warm one, with almost no air moving. There was only a very slight breeze on the beach, early this morning and it was very humid as the temperature was climbing.

It was already light out as we walked out onto the beach. I could see a lot of people already out, in both directions.

There was some Manatee Grass at a high tide line, but you can easily avoid it. Where it was in a deeper pile, it did have a little odor, but not enough to be a bother. The noseeums were, "The Bother", today. I had bug spay on and still had to keep moving or they would find me. Grrrr! How can such a tiny little black speck cause so much misery?

The water was very calm today and clear. There were small shells that were scattered on the beach, near the water's edge and you could see some shells through the water.

We hurried on down the beach, to see the new nest that was found in our zone a few days ago. The tracks left as it made it's trip from and back to the water were still plain to see. :-) The nest is toward the back side of a Snowy Plover nesting area.

Best viewed in HD on YouTube by clicking the screen below.

The low tide had left some nice long tidal pools.

The sunrise was making the sky beautiful with bright shades of blues and pinks.

There were a lot of holes on the beach this morning, from 1 to 2 feet deep.

There was something on the beach that I hadn't seen before. Shelling and pulling a cart along, with a plastic box on it. I suppose that would be handy if you found lots of shells. You could then pull it back to your abode and simply spray the shells with water to get the sand off, without needing to take them out. Then you could dump them into a bucket for soaking or just let them dry. There would have to be LOTS of shells to make it worthwhile for me to drag it around. No more than I pick up, these days I can simply stick them in my pocket.

There was a fishing boat floating, just off shore. A man waded out and climbed onboard, while his wife waved goodbye from the beach and wished him good luck.

Sanibel Stoopers were out in force.

We saw the Plover family with the 3 chicks. Mom and Dad were still keeping a very watchful eye on them. The other Plover family that had the 2 chicks seemed to have lost both of them.

The temperature today has reached 91, but as of 3:00 this afternoon, it has dropped a couple of degrees. Hopefully the evening will be much more pleasant.