Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Walk #17

Today was our 17th and final turtle walk of the season. We only have 1 nest left in our zone that is due and should be hatched and dug by next week. I believe there are 10 nests left in the area from the eastern tip of Sanibel to the Tarpon Bay Beach. From there to the West end of Sanibel is monitored by SCCF, using their beach vehicle. There are nests still to hatch in that area. I will put the statistics for the 2009 turtle season on my Turtle Talk blog, as soon as it's available.

It was about 75 degrees this morning when we did our walk but it got up to 93 later in the day. We had afternoon thunder storms that brough us a little more than a half inch of rain. There is a 40 to 50 percent chance of rain each day for the rest of the week.

There was a pink glow in the east this morning as we walked out to the beach.

An osprey was standing watch at the top of a tree.

There was hardly anyone on the beach for a while.

Gradually people began coming out onto the beach to walk under the pink cotton candy clouds, waiting for the sunrise.

It was so quiet and peaceful out, even the birds seemed relaxed and in no hurry to fly away.

It took a while to see the sun, because it had to climb up from behind clouds.

The only shells were small ones.

This bird seemed to be taking a rest, and just sat there watching me as I took it's picture.

Just before leaving the beach, there was an area at the high tide line, where some sea weed was lying beside a little pool of water that had been left. I spied a Bubble shell and as I bent over to pick it up, I saw a couple more, then a few more. After picking them up, I moved a little more of the sea weed and saw two Top shells, some Apple Murex, a Nutmeg, Augers, Drills, a couple of Whelks, Shark's Eyes and Top shells. Then I saw four, tiny white Wentletraps. I got distracted for a moment and looked away. When I looked back, I could only find two of them. I looked and looked and never could spot the other two again. But, I was content with my handful of shells. :-)

I'm pleased to say that there was hardly any trash on the beach this morning, and no new sand holes. I will post the statistics for the 2009 nesting season as soon as it's available.

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

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Will Sea Turtles Avoid Hurricane Bill

I find the sea turtle, satellite tracking very interesting. It is amazing how many miles the turtles travel. I have posted before about Tour de Turtles, which was started by the Caribbean Conservation Corp., an environmental group, with help from partners and sponsors. A 10 turtle marathon is done by releasing sea turtles that have satellite tracking devices placed on them and monitoring them to determine which turtle travels 1,628 miles first. The race is to study sea turtle migration and raise awareness about turtle conservation.

If you watched the Tour de Turtles, last year, you know that a Loggerhead, Bree Varda was one of the turtles in that marathon. Bree Varda was released last month from Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge. She has been closely monitored since that time.

It is not expected that storms would be harmful to sea turtles, but research is being done to see what impact they might have on the turtles' migrations and behavior.

With Hurricane Bill moving north-northwest with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph, on Thursday, Bree Varda, was paddling due south at a maximum sustained speed fast enough to put her in third place in the 10 turtle marathon. She swam well west of Hurricane Bill on Thursday. She had traveled about 314 miles in 19 days and was heading south toward Grand Bahama. It seems as though she is moving as fast as she can, to stay away from Bill. There are 2 Leatherbacks leading the marathon and those two seem to be heading toward the hurricane. I am curious to see how this plays out.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Help For A Diamondback Terrapin

The Diamondback Terrapin is a turtle that I knew very little about. I was reading an article about the National Marine Life Center, which is getting the addition of a new hospital. This will enable them to assist more animals and save more lives. In reading that, I read about Patty, a Diamondback Terrapin turtle, which is a species on the endangered list as threatened in Massachusetts and is considered a "species of concern" in Georgia, Delaware, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Virginia, but it holds no federal status. Patty isn't a saltwater turtle, but Diamondback Terrapins do live in brackish water, which has more salinity than fresh water, but not as much as seawater. Patty was found barely alive and was taken to the National Marine Life Center, where she is being treated and will hopefully, soon return to the wild.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Good News and Bad News About Leatherback Sea Turtles

More than 40 little Leatherback Sea Turtles were found still in a nest on South Ponte, Vedra Beach, Florida this morning. Leatherback nests may be on the increase. There is a heart warming article and a cute video about these little guys.

The bad news was also about a Leatherback turtle. A large 600 lb female was discovered wash­ed up on a Wainscott, Long Island beach.

On the Treasure Coast of Florida, Hurricane Bill could be bad news for sea turtles. This weekend, even if the hurricane is over 700 miles off shore, it could still send some, possibly, 8 foot waves that could cause a lot of erosion. Leatherbacks, loggerheads and green turtles , all have active nests on the beach. The heavy surf could wash out nests and also make it difficult for turtles that will come in to nest later.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sea Turtle Tracking

I was just reading Two Turtle Trackers Blog today, which reminded me of something I posted a while back. A Loggerhead turtle had returned to Keewaydin Island for its 21st summer of nesting. Another came back for its 15th summer. Transmitters were put on them for tracking. I failed to follow through, and was happy for the reminder.

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida put transmitters on four Loggerhead turtles, all of which had nested on Keewaydin Island this summer. The transmitters are for collecting information as to where the turtles go when nesting season is over and if they return to the same places to nest. You can log on to follow their adventures. If you have never done sure to check it out. It's amazing!

Full story about this on News-Press.

By logging in at you can follow these and other turtles as they go on with their daily lives.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Walk #16

Today was our 16th turtle walk of this season, at first light we were on our way to the beach. The hatch date for the only sea turtle nest left in our zone, was yesterday. I went off with high hopes that there might be hatchlings on their way out of that nest.

This photo looks very dark, but if you will click on it to enlarge it, you will see why I took it.

The temperature during the night had gone down to 73, so it was still cool and a little windy. It was a nice change, but later in the day it was 89.

There was a big change in the amount of people walking on the beach when we first got there. As the sun came up, more people were coming out, but not anywhere near as many as there has been this summer. I've noticed that there is hardly any traffic on the streets and some of the business owners have already noticed a drop in their sales. The island will probably be pretty quiet for a while now, since kids have gone back to school and summer vacations are over. This is a great time to plan a visit. :-)

This ghost crab hole caught my attention because the sand that it dug out was a pile of little sand balls. It doesn't usually look that way; I guess it is because the sand there was wet.

Three Men In a Tub, came to mind. So, what do you think this was; Three Babes In a Bowl?


This one is self-explanatory.

Very artsy, I think.

An example of 'The Sanibel Stoop'.

Viewable in HD on YouTube.

This was laying all alone. Diver down! ???

Sea Anemones , I think. I saw about 10 of these mixed in with the sea weed at the tide line.

The Snowy Plovers were busy running around as they gathered their breakfast. There was a large group of them again this week.

Now, I had a problem here. I knew someone who used to leave something at the walkway of the condo they were staying in, so that when his wife got up and walked out to the beach, she would know which way he went. This was laying about half way up on the beach and looked like sand had washed over it......but it was pointing. I looked in that direction and didn't see anyone, so that and the plastic bag, went in with the other trash I had picked up.

There wasn't great shelling here this morning. This is the way it looked through much of the one mile strip.

Somebody definitely blew out a flip flop. I just hope they didn't step on a pop top.

This group of laughing gulls didn't seem too happy, they were all just standing very still as I walked by.

Some small shells were scattered here. I saw a couple of very small paper figs, but they were broken.

I spotted this little sandman taking it easy, next to a sea horse.

I just happened to notice two Bubble shells and as I reached for them, I saw a lady walking pretty close to me. I asked her if she had found any Bubble shells this morning. She looked at them and said that she hadn't. She thought all the shells that were on the beach were called Tulips. I told her that there are many different kinds and gave her the Bubble shells. She thanked me and went away happily looking for more shells. Just after that, I found one more; that being the only one I carried away.

Someone I know has a real thing about feathers. So, this photo is for you. :-) I've also heard a discussion about whether it is illegal to pick up bird feathers and take them. In the US, it is illegal to collect bird feathers. All native migratory bird species are protected by federal law and it is illegal to have in your possession any protected bird, its nest, its eggs, or even its feathers, without the required federal and state permits. Penalties upon conviction can be severe. Even if a sympathetic jury finds that you meant no harm in picking up and taking a feather. There are legal fees and there is no way to prove how you got it. Seems to me that it is best to take a hands off approach...look but don't collect.

What's left of the big whale shark, sand masterpiece, is still there. :-( The tide hadn't been high enough to wash any of it away yet. But, it served a purpose during the last couple of days. There was a pile of small shells that got caught there.

This walk was uneventful. The sea turtle nest still looked perfectly intact. There were no surprises today.

Next stop was the Sanibel Cafe. I mentioned before about the island being a quiet place now. As we drove in to Tahitian Gardens and walked toward the Cafe, there sat the owner waiting to welcome us. Yes, they know this is a ritual for us on Tuesday mornings. :-) If you have plans to come to Sanibel, don't forget to drop by the Sanibel Cafe for one of the best breakfasts or lunch, you will find here. Be sure to say 'Hi' to Richard and Bonnie, who will no doubt be there to personally take care of you.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Walk #15

This morning, the humidity seemed very high, and there was no breeze at all. I was afraid it was going to be one of those turtle walks that makes you feel like you might melt into a puddle in the sand. And of course without any breeze, I always have a fear the noseeums might eat me alive.

After arriving at the Buttonwood Lane beach access,just before sunrise, I was met by a chorus of tree frogs singing. This is the first time I've heard them in that particular place. It was really kind of comical and got me started off with a smile.

After walking to the end of the boardwalk, I was happy to feel a nice sea breeze from the southeast. The temperature was near 80, but it didn't feel too warm until a few minutes before finishing the walk.

The approaching sunrise was making a pretty pink reflection on the water in a tidal pool, as two fishermen standing in waist deep water, were busy trying to make a great catch.

I'll have to say, I was amazed to see only one new hole in the sand today. It was a little over a foot deep.

I was surprised to spy an octopus trying to crawl back into the water. :-) Especially a pink one.

There were some small shells ,but mostly small white arks.

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

I saw this small juvenile horse conch as I was walking, and that made it a 'Good Day', of course.

My plastic grocery bag was getting full of small pieces of plastic, paper, straws, cups, plastic water bottles, a pair of flip flops that were mostly buried in the sand, a beer can full of sand, a broken sand toy, and the prize of the day.....a stuffed pamper. On the way back there was another bag full.

There was one more little horse conch! Woo~Hoo!

I've mentioned Sanibel's Snowy Plovers before. The snowy plover is a state-listed, threatened species. The SCCF is working to preserve an important nesting population of Southeastern Snowy Plovers with a monitoring program here on the island.

The stakes around the nesting areas in our zone have now been taken down. I noticed last week, that all of the Plovers in our zone seem to be hanging out together. They had been in separate little family groups of the parents and their babies. I tried to count them, but they scamper around so fast, making that difficult. My count was l6, so it's safe to say there was just under 20. One of them has only one leg and I always watch for it. :-) It is on record as nesting here during a previous year. So, it seems that it is not an easy catch for a predator. I watched it hop along on one leg, for quite a while and it kept up with the others pretty well. When it seemed to be having a little trouble, it would flap it's wings to help. I tried to get a photo, but it doesn't show up very well.
A long tidal pool was full of water.

The water had made a trench almost a foot deep, from the pool, back to the Gulf. There was a strong, stream of water running through it, moving sand and shells along the way.

At the speed the water was moving, it shouldn't take long to drain the pool.

I had to laugh when I started hearing the frog noises again, just before reaching the Buttonwood board walk again.

The frog chorus seemed to be rehearsing in the Sea Hibiscus. :-)

It was a pleasant beach walk, but there was no sea turtle activity to report.

A nest that was dug a few days ago, produced 17 baby Loggerheads. We went to the beach that night, to watch them as they were released. Our St Louis visitors had just got to the island that day and they were happy to be a part of their send-off. It was the first time they had seen sea turtle hatchlings.