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.

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