Thursday, May 6, 2010

First Turtle Walk of 2010 Nesting Season

Most of you already know this, but for those of you who don't.....

As a part of approximately 100 volunteers, we will be helping the SCCF (Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation)again this year, with their continuing Sea Turtle Research and Monitoring Progam. The beaches here at Sanibel and Captiva Islands are a nesting area for the endangered Loggerhead Sea Turtles, one of the worlds oldest creatures. Each day just before dawn, volunteers check designated zones of beach. Some areas of the beach are patrolled by beach vehicles and persons who are are a part of the research team. As volunteers, our job is to look for a turtle crawl. When a turtle comes up on the beach, it leaves tracks in the sand as it looks for a nesting spot. If the turtle does make a nest, a volunteer places a flag near it, then calls a permitee, who is authorized to go out to mark off the nest to help protect it. It is then monitored. Later in the season the hatches are recorded to add to the statewide collection of data. For more interesting information and statistics about the sea turtles, check out the link for SCCF, where more interesting information can be viewed about sea turtles.

We walk approximately a 1 mile stretch of beach, before turning to retrace our steps. We do this on Thursday morning, each week during the turtle nesting season which begins May 1 and ends in October. We are to look for signs of nesting, watch for any beach furniture that may have been left out overnight (putting a sticker on it, notifying owner to remove it), also be aware if any lighting is directed toward the beach that might be confusing to the turtles. And of course, pick up any trash that might be laying on the beach. Many turtle deaths have been attributed to mistaking plastic bags and other kinds of trash for food.

The temperature was down to a pleasant 73 degrees last night, so I thought it would be a nice morning for our first walk of the season. It was beautiful out, as it always is before sunrise. But it was really muggy because of the high humidity and there was no breeze at all, not a leaf stirring.

If we stopped moving, the noseeums were a little bothersome, so that meant no stopping. That made it a little difficult trying to pick up shells on the way back. But there was a slight breeze beginning a little while before we finished.

Small shells were scattered around, almost everywhere.

I saw a bird that I hadn't noticed here before. I think it's a Black Bellied Plover.

It is Snowy Plover nesting season too.

There are already baby plovers running around. They are really hard to spot because they are the same color as the sand. There is one below, right in the center of the picture. The reason I saw them was because I heard the mother fussing at them or trying to warn us to stay away. Two babies were running (and they run fast) in one direction and this one was going in another. Momma saw us coming and didn't know which way to go. She just stopped in the middle and we moved away, so that we wouldn't bother them. They are the cutest little puff balls with long legs. :)

I enjoy looking at beach art.

Every sunrise is special and this morning it reminded me of something someone said to me. She said to let the radiance in each sunrise remind me of the radiance I saw in my daughter's face as she bravely fought breast cancer.

As we walked along, there was a pod of dolphin swimming around as they were having their breakfast. I sure can't get photos quick enough with my phone to catch a good shot of them.

Not sure what happened here. :) Must not have been a good day to be a Fighting Conch.

Below is a photo of my choice of 'Inconsiderate Person of the Day'. That would be the man you see walking with a black dog on a leash. The dog was a black Pit Bull with massive amounts of foaming slobber running out of both sides of it's mouth. Now you see the sandcastle, that most likely, children constructed? Now common sense tells me that those same children will be back to, once again, dig in the little trench to repair and continue building. Right? Well...that man stood there and let his dog pee all over it. He then continued on, to let it stop and pee on each of the next two similar sand castles. Is it just me, or is that not a nice thing to do?

Yes, the hole diggers continue. We've got to remember to bring a shovel to fill these in next time. It takes quite some time to fill them in with your feet.

Someones cast off shells by a beach access, which is at the end of our zone.

We saw a sign marking zone 2 for the first time. Our Permittee told us there were signs, but we had never noticed them before.

This information buoy marks the idle zone. I sure hope it is! :)

Somebody loves Dan, wonder if that's Lt Dan.

These flowers were folding up for the day. These are larger and a little different looking than beach morning glories. I'm pretty sure they're called 'Beach Moonflower' or 'Sea Moonflower' and they bloom at night.

An uneventful walk, except for picking up a few shells on the way back.

The following is a part of an email sent today by

While we’ve not had any excitement on the beach, yet, we had a little excitement on the water today!

After two days of calls regarding a sea turtle in distress in San Carlos Bay, we were finally able to rescue the turtle. It was reported as swimming on its side and resting near the water’s surface for long periods of time. Yesterday afternoon Lee Co. Sheriff Dept. and a local boat captain searched for the turtle with no luck. This morning, a call came in regarding the same turtle and the fisherman stayed with the it to ensure we could find it.

Staff from the marine lab and wildlife habitat management got it aboard the boat and to shore. Once docked, the turtle was transferred to Collier County staff (they were on island dropping off a sea turtle at CROW) who passed it on to FWC. The turtle’s final destination is Sea World in Orlando where it will receive treatment. Attached are photos of the turtle and rescue. You’ll be able to see just how large it is, which is why the turtle did not go to CROW.

Last night I was reading about the oil spill in the Gulf. At the end of the article, I read the comments; big mistake! I was shocked to read one after another which had to be written by very stupid people. I'm sorry, but you have to call it as you see it. The general consensus of these people was that all the money being spent on saving the sea turtles is a huge waste. They feel that if they can't eat turtle soup, turtle eggs, or use any other part of them, what good are they? A reply to that comment was, 'Well, Turtle Wax, DUH! One person said that when a homeless person goes to a shelter for food and there is no food, just tell him that you gave it to a turtle. Many of those people thought that way too much time and money is being spent to save sea turtles. No doubt, these are the same people, who's trash I'm picking up from the beach. We sure can't depend on those people to help save our world.

I struggled for a while, trying to come up with a comment that might put them all in their place and perhaps, at least give them a clue. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that all my effort would be wasted on them anyway. Just like they had said, my time would be better spent somewhere else. I think I would be much more productive trying to help save sea turtles.

WHY should we save our sea turtles?

There have been over
30 turtle deaths in the Mississippi Gulf area. Testing is being done to find out if these are caused by the oil spill.

What's being done to defy the odds in Marco Island?

Florida officials finishing up spill protection plans.


bobbie said...

As always, your turtle walk photos are beautiful. Another season begins.

There will always be those who just don't get it. Let's pray they confine their ignorance to comments. Thank heaven there are people like you who are out there doing your best to help save these creatures.

Snowbird said...

I think I actually saw that sea turtle when we were crossing the causeway yesterday. It was huge. I really couldn't tell if it had just surfaced for a breath or was in trouble.