Saturday, July 31, 2010

Baby Turtles Here and There

Baby Sea Turtles Here and There

Here on Sanibel Island, we have had a few nests hatch in the past couple of weeks. Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation's Amanda Bryant, Biologist and our head turtle lady, along with a large group of volunteers, do everything they can to help the new hatchlings survive. Nests are dug 3 days after they hatch by an SCCF permittee, who counts the shells and rescues any stragglers. Most of the time a few stragglers are found, still in the nest. Those babies are usually kept in a bucket,damp and dark, until they are released at their nesting site, later that night. The cover of darkness, when there are less preditors, provides them a better chance for survival.

Many volunteers are working to save the sea turtles all along our coastlines.

Volunteers helping save baby turtles on Bonita Beach.

Volunteers helping sea turtles on Anna Maria Island.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Thirteenth Turtle Walk of 2010

This morning was our 13th turtle walk of the 2010 Sea Turtle Nesting Season. We were out and on the beach well before daylight. We started our walk at the Buttonwood Lane beach access. As we walked across the boardwalk, the eastern sky was a deep red color. There had been no air moving when we left the house and I was really hoping that there would be at least, a breeze near the water. But, there was none. After the rain we had last night, it was very humid and I knew that the noseeums would be a problem. I was right! We couldn't slow down, let alone stop, without them biting us. It was also hot out, but I made the first mile ok, on the way back, it bothered me more. I was thankful I had taken a bottle of water with me.

The lights on Ft Myers Beach were glowing in the red sky.

There were mostly ark shells where we first started walking. The tide was pretty low and the waves were very calm. It could have been a relaxing walk, if the noseeums hadn't been so pesky!

There were several chunks of Sea Pork on the beach today.

In a short time, we started seeing more shells, but I didn't slow down to look closely at them.

There was hardly anyone else on the beach, at first.

I had been walking along, looking down. When I looked up, I saw this tiny little hand waving at us. Now, that's about the best greeting I've had on the beach for a LONG time! This little girl had the most beautiful, big smile and she was still waving as we went on.

A cute little castle, could be where the pretty little princess came from.

A neat octopus! This is right up there among my favorite sand art pictures. It has the right amount of limbs, eyes and mouth. They have 3 hearts, but I couldn't tell if they were all there. :) Did you know that Octopi are probably the most intelligent of all invertebrates? (Note: Erin I know, Octopi must be one of your favorite words; at least it made me think of you.)

Tools left from the day before.

One Flip, one Flop!

Very pretty pink clouds, but we were getting close to the disaster area, of trash, holes and chairs.

Someone spent quite a bit of time on this, but sadly I couldn't make out what it was, I think because it had been rained on. In the background you can see six holes.

We had already been picking up trash in this area again, and then found these chairs. At least we know who they belong to now. The high tide had washed one of them up into the dune area. The chairs had been left out for at least two nights, because they had already been tagged by another turtle walker, that's the green sticker.

You would think someone from this establishment would come out to make sure things were all taken in, at the end of the day.

As the sun came up, you could see people walking out to the beach, from the condos.

A diver down?

This is the only turtle I saw this morning, but it was a cute one.

There were a lot of Morning Glories blooming today. The looked all perky and fresh, from last nights rain.

As I was looking at them and taking pictures, I found more trash! We already had 2 bags full and I had just put those in a trash can at the Sanibel Inn.

Getting the thrill of picking up someones cigarette butts, always makes my day! :)

The Ghost Crab hole is still at the only turtle nest in our zone.

I saw this cute, crabby guy, near the water. He just sat there long enough for me to take his picture.

Yes, it's a 'fish out of water.'

Birdie breakfast time!

Chestnut turban

Shark's eye

Sea Pork

A crumpled green sticker that someone pulled off a beach chair that must have been tagged yesterday. You can now understand what kind of person it belonged to, since they took the chair and threw the sticker on the sand and left it.

Can you see the two little Snowy Plovers? This was the only area I saw them today, and it seemed like they were all hanging out together. I tried counting all of them, as I stood there watching. Several times I counted 10 and a few times I counted 11. Those little guys just run sooo fast! I think it is near the end of their nesting season and there are only a couple more to fledge. I wonder if they will all fly away then? You can read the results of the 2010 nesting season here on Sanibel.

A reject or misfit pile?

We picked up a few small Apple murex, a couple Keyhole limpets, a Sunray venus, one Nutmeg, three tiny Chestnut turbans, a White nassa, and a small Florida cone that wasn't in the best condition. I know we could have found more, but it was just too hot and humid for us to stay longer.

Is that a Polar Bear on our beach?

I was surprised to see this animal shaped rubber band on the beach this morning. There was an article in a paper last night, about how kids are going crazy over these stretchy, colorful bands. They are called by many different names like, Silly Bandz, Crazy Bands, Zany Bandz, Groooovy Bandzzzz, Silly Bracelets, Goofy Bands, just to name a few. They come in sets of different catagories. There are several different types of uses for them, such as a hair styling item, bracelet, ankle bracelet, and any of the regular rubber band uses. Kids are trading them, collecting them and creating with them and it seems to be good, clean fun. But, there's a time and place for everything! Some teachers have had to ban them from classrooms because they have been a distraction. It is becoming such a craze, that some schools are banning them from their campus, while other schools are using them as fundraisers and teachers give them out as rewards. If you haven't seen them yet, this is just one place out of thousands that offer these for sale. Disney has also jumped in the mix! How many do you want? I hear the monkeys are considered the most popular and possibly, the highest ranking to trade. Now I'm thinking that SCCF should have some sea turtle bandz made and sell them to help save our turtles. :) What do you think?

There was no new turtle activity in our zone this week. But, there was a hatch today on the east end, near Gulfside City Park. It was a surprise, because it hatched around mid-day. I haven't heard the entire story, but there were 6 hatchlings from that nest, released tonight, after dark.

Late this afternoon, we were driving through our neighborhood, when something small and dark colored came out on the road in front of us. When we got close enough to see it better, we looked at each other and said, "BABY TURTLE!" It had really been going fast, until it saw us coming up the street, then it just stopped. We pulled over, got out and picked it up to move it out of the road. It was really small and cute! :) As soon as we put it down, it hurried away to hide among some trees and bushes. I hope it knows where it's going and doesn't try to cross the street again.

It is a Florida Softshell turtle hatchling. Florida Softshell Turtles typically has a dark brown to olive green, leathery carapace with a white or cream colored underside. The young ones are olive-yellow with grey spots and a yellow lined carpace, and have yellow and orange markings on the head and a gray plastron. These marking disappear as it gets older.

So.....we had turtle activity afterall.

Driving across the Sanibel Causeway this evening, I saw a feeding frenzy going on. A lot of Pelicans were diving into the water in one small area, and the gulls were all around them, just waiting for them to drop a fish.

By the time we drove back across, the sun was getting low, making the sky look like an oil painting. Life is good.