Waties Island Nest Count

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Waties Island Beach Sweep

We held the final beach cleanup of 2019 this morning. It was cold but out on the beach the sun quickly warmed us up.

And a big turnout too: 33 volunteers, students and friends turned out to help this morning. The beach didn't look too bad at first glance, but that proved not to be the case, especially near the middle and upper reaches of the island. At least 25 large bags of trash were collected along with assorted "stuff" - crab traps, lumber, pvc pipe, a cast net, a traffic cone and so many things that were hard to identify.

It was pretty cold to start!
And sunglasses and goggles galore!

A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who was able to join us this morning!

Where does this stuff come from?

Some of the volunteers

Leslie's truck is almost full

Steve's truck is full

The whole crew! 

Monday, September 30, 2019


September 30th.  The day was HOT, but we were anxious to get to the island for the last time this year.

When we got to the beach, it was gorgeous!  Couldn't have planned a better day!  Not too hot and not too cool!  What a pleasant surprise.

We set up and enjoyed a very interesting and enlightening summary of the data on our nesting turtles which was collected and presented by Paulette.  She brought the turtles to life with the information she gave us.

We heard from Dr. A. Hannides our new Permittee & Liaison from CCU and got to meet his lovely wife, Cecelia. 

  Waties, a place where turtles can come ashore and continue to lay their nests without interruption from man.

 Jackie, far left and one of the owners of the island, joined our group.  Always a pleasure.

Good Food!  Good Company!  Wonderful afternoon!

A big THANK YOU to Barb & Steve for all their time and energy keeping us organized, informed and for keeping us on track; and for arranging another delightful afternoon/year.  No easy task even though they make it look easy.

Two CCU Students who will be graduating soon and who joined us on our early morning walks to check for nests and to help with inventories. We wish you both the very best!! (Thank you Kinsey for stepping in for me and lightening the load for the others.)

Ohhh!  It was hard to leave knowing we won't be back till next Spring!  But it was a wonderful year!  27 nests!  Close to our record of 28 nests.  

Saturday, September 28, 2019

The Last Nest...

Our last walk, last nest, last inventory of the 2020 season.

What a great turnout this morning! We had lots of members of the Coastal Sea Turtle Club along with us to observe this inventory of Nest #24. This was a nest that was laid back on July 21 and it took an extra long time to emerge; 66 days.

Lots of regular walkers and students too

The CCU Seniors took charge of digging up the nest while instructing the club members about what was happening the procedures to follow when conducting an inventory.

Nest should be right under that reed

Love that Karen Beasley pink tee shirt!

Digging down

Starting the sorting process

 When it was all said and done, there were 46 hatched eggshells, 46 unhatched eggs and one egg taken for the DNA sample in July. About a 50% hatch success ratio.

Almost finished

A small exit hole in this eggshell

Sarah showing students what's inside an unhatched egg

This one was a partially formed hatchling

This Saturday walkers  :)
Thanks Val for sharing your photos today!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019


It was already day 66 for Nest 24.  We had already set an inventory date for day 70.  The day we would normally do an inventory when there were no signs of an emergence.  We took our time enjoying the morning.

As we usually do before we get to a nest, we automatically start to look for the shadow of tracks which we can sometimes see before we even get to the nest.  Nothing.

As we got to the nest, we saw all the hatchling tracks and I got the oddest feeling...it looked like all the tracks went toward the dune.  Instantly, I thought to myself, this does not compute.  It took me a second to realize that the tracks were actually coming from the dune and that the tide line which was just behind the sign had washed out the tracks leading to the ocean.

We checked the tide times and found that the highest tide was actually around 4 pm yesterday, Tuesday.  The next high tide was lower and there were no tracks between the two tide lines.  Thus we were able to determine that the hatchlings actually emerged sometime before the highest tide on the day before because the nest was checked prior to that high tide.

We took lots of pictures trying to show exactly what had happened.

In the picture below towards the bottom left, you can see one patch of dry sand with a hatchling track.  Again the emergence took place prior to the highest tide.

The bottom picture shows the the highest tide line from Tuesday and the next tide line after that.
Angelos, you said you remembered that the nest was below the dune.  You were right!!  It was in the bottom of the dune above where the circle was drawn.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019


We entered the beach before the sun came up.  The morning was cool and quiet.  We took pictures, chatted and took our time, enjoying the morning.  

Today is day 59 and there were no signs that we could see that anything was or had happened with Nest #24.  Tomorrow we will check again.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019


We continue to walk each morning to check on Nest 24 which is 58 days today.

Because of the King Tide and then Hurricane Dorian we only have a general idea of where our nest is.  So we checked a wide area for any signs.  Nothing today.  Hopefully tomorrow!

For the first time this year we have had two nests opened up due to predators other than Ghost Crabs.
We are watching for tracks.  We found these running along the base of the dune behind our sign.

On our trip back, a piece of art made by a Ghost Crab. 

As we exited the beach we saw the tracks below.  Different from what we have been seeing.

In comparing them to the picture below, could it be we now have a Raccoon?

Monday, September 16, 2019

Sunday Evening Inventory of Nest 22

Nest 22 up close to the jetty was laid by our Special Needs Turtle back in July. It was above the high tide line, a criteria for moving a nest, but it was close enough that it did get washed over at least 8 times during the incubation.

After discovering a number of hatched eggshells on the surface and also unhatched eggs, we decided that the emergence must have occurred during Hurricane Dorian when we were not out there.

Last evening we conducted the inventory. Final outcome was 22 hatched eggs, but 87 unhatched. Some of those were pipped, with the dead hatchlings fairly developed but still inside the egg. The emergence and hatch success rates were 19 to 20%.

Eggs were barely below the surface


 One exciting thing we did see on the way back out was an alligator in the road between the beach and the CCU gate! A pretty good sized one too; about 5 feet long. Unfortunately no pictures. Maybe next time...

Thanks Valerie for your pictures,

Barb and Steve