Thursday, June 23, 2011

Turtle Walk #8

When we started out this morning, I wasn't too optimistic about finding a new nest, because two more had been found since we last walked.  I thought since there are already more nests in this zone than last year, we had just missed out again.  But, it's always fun being out on the beach before the sun comes up, so off we went! 

Some pretty clouds to look at.

A beach noodle....

A turtle crawl!!!!  You can see from the tracks that it came onto the beach,  must have seen or heard something, then turned and went back out.  A false crawl again. :(

But, it came back later, as you can see from it's tracks that crossed over the top of the previous ones. YAY :)

This time she made a nest; the first one we've actually found. :)  The nest is just beyond the flag that we left for our Permittee, who came out to measure and mark the nest. 

Shortly after we found it, a couple walked by with their daughter.  After we left, I saw the father taking her up to look at the nest and I could tell he was explaining to her about the tracks etc.  I think it's great that she had the opportunity to see it.  Getting young people interested and educated, is our wildlife's best hope of survival.

A piece of balloon, often mistaken for food, is a common item found in sea turtle's intestines.  Along with other garbage, this can cause blockage and kill wildlife.

Gotta LOVE this island. :)

This osprey was screeching as other birds flew past and also as someone walked below it.

One of two new nests that are in our zone since our last walk.

A broken canopy (turtle trap) frame left behind.

The other new nest. The turtle had to climb a pretty steep incline to that location. I imagine it was like climbing a mountain to a sea turtle.  It is very difficult for them to move when they're out of the water.  If you are curious as to what it would be like, lay down in the sand, put your hands on your shoulders and not using any other parts of your body, drag yourself with your bent arms, through the sand.  The sea turtles can soar through the water, but it can take hours to pull their bodies across the sand, dig their nest and lay eggs.

This ghost crab looks scary to me, but I wonder how big and scary I must look to the poor crab.

Another umbrella left out over night.  I guess some people just don't read rules when on vacation.

I think all cigarettes should be collected at the Sanibel Causeway entrance. :)

John from Philadelphia with his catch of the day.

He was happy that we came along at just the right time to take his picture with the Snook.  He quickly released it, then we made arrangements to send him the photos in an email.
A super nice catch!

As we were leaving on the boardwalk, I noticed this plastic bag that was caught in the trees with the sea breeze filling it.  It reminded me of the song that asks if you have ever felt like a plastic bag floating in the wind.

It has been estimated that over a million sea-birds and one hundred thousand marine mammals and sea turtles are killed each year by ingestion of plastics or entanglement.

We picked up 2 bags full of trash in just our 1 mile zone, in one day, so you can imagine the amount of trash that accumulates. 

What we picked up seems minimal in the whole scheme of things, but if each of us would carry a bag when we are on the beach, picking up what we see, it could make a difference.

We also need to look around, before leaving the beach, making sure the only thing we are leaving behind is footprints. 
A friend just did an interesting presentation on this topic for a  class in the Florida Master Naturalist program.  Have a look. :)

Amanda Bryant, Biologist and SCCF Sea Turtle Program Coordinator sent out this report:

This week our first hatches occurred on Sanibel & Captiva. Both were from the first loggerhead nests laid on the islands. This is about two weeks earlier than 2010 and 2009.

As of June 24, 2011:

Sanibel East- 19 loggerhead nests, 36 loggerhead false crawls
Sanibel West- 142 loggerhead nests, 1 Kemp’s Ridley nest, 2 green nests, 210 loggerhead false crawls, 1 hatch
Captiva- 50 loggerhead nests, 30 loggerhead false crawls, 1 hatch

Previous years for comparison:
As of June 24, 2010:

Sanibel East- 7 loggerhead nests, 25 loggerhead false crawls
Sanibel West- 160 loggerhead nests, 1 green nest, 139 loggerhead false crawls
Captiva- 27 loggerhead nests, 63 loggerhead false crawls

As of June 24, 2009:

Sanibel East- 8 loggerhead nests, 1 leatherback nest, 26 loggerhead false crawls
Sanibel West- 95 loggerhead nests, 122 loggerhead false crawls
Captiva- 43 loggerhead nests, 40 loggerhead false crawls

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