Waties Island Nest Count

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


While walking and enjoying the sunrise, Chelsea spotted the alligator.
  At first we were not sure whether it was alive or not.
Upon closer inspection, we could see that he/she was breathing and the eyes were open.

The alligator was about 3 ft. in length and as you can see, let us get quite close to it.  I was ready to jump in a flash if need be.

Later we came upon what appeared from a distance to be a stranded very young turtle.  When we got closer we discovered it was a Diamond Back.
Bill found this dead female Blue Crab.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

First Nest of the Season!!

Finally, after three false crawls, our first nest of the season on Waties.  You'll see it down on the lower end of the island below Marker 1.  There was lots of vehicle traffic on the beach from yesterday, but luckily this turtle came up after they were gone.

Nest #1 on lower end of the beach

Turtle crawl over the ATV tracks

ATV tracks on the beach overnight.

Testing the sand before probing
There they are
Paulette and Kat looking for eggs

Happy volunteers Dave, Steve, Barb, Kat and Paulette.
Photographer Valerie behind the lens.

The eggshell for DNA analysis
The most essential item of the morning!
Those no-see-ums today were fierce!  I mean they were BAD...  And this spray was sitting at home on the shelf.
Keep checking the site; more photos may be posted later today.

Barb and Steve

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Live Loggerhead Found on Waties Today

About 10 a.m. this morning, Debbie and Bobby Scott, sea turtle volunteers on NMB and Waties, were out fishing in Hog Inlet when they spotted a stranded loggerhead turtle up on the shore of Waties Island.  Initially they thought it was dead - very ill turtles can sometimes appear dead - but then realized that it was still alive.  It had been on the shore a while and was dry, so they got it down to the edge of the water to keep it cool.  Great job, guys!

We arrived with the kiddie pool to collect the turtle.  After speaking with SC DNR, it was decided to get it to the Sea Turtle Hospital as quickly as possible.

We covered the turtle with damp towels to keep it cool and drove to Georgetown where we were met by Lisa Scarano (a former CCU student and Waties Island volunteer) who is working for SC DNR this summer.

The yellow thing is a "turtle lifter" - it is easier on the turtle to be lifted with this than by picking it up by the carapace.  Lisa got the turtle settled in the crate and put ice in the corners to keep it cool for the ride to the hospital.

The next 24 to 48 hours will be important for this turtle.  Lisa will be checking with the hospital and let us know if the turtle gets a name and makes it to the blog site for the Hospital.

Thanks, Lisa!

Barb and Steve

Monday, May 23, 2011

First Stranding of the Season

It's been a quiet stranding season for us on Waties which is the good news.  The bad news is that we did have our first stranded turtle this morning.  It was a small green turtle found floating in the surf.  No injuries that we could see, but it had the usual load of barnacles and "critters" on it.  You can see the serrated lower jaw that this turtle would use to feed on sea grasses and seaweed.

The other discovery of the day was a short U-shaped false crawl at Marker 3.  The turtle didn't even make it to the high tide line but returned to the ocean.  Maybe she will return tonight.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

The cycle of Life and Death

As an eerie fog crept over the beach, the sun slowly rose to start the day.

The short side walkers rejoiced at new life, with scattered ..bird eggs..or at least we are pretty sure they are bird eggs.

The long side walkers, we not so lucky.  Near the end of the walk, it was a valley of death.  First a fish, next to a ghost crab hole.  Then we stumbled across a dead rodent and a dead dog.

When we regrouped, we found another bird egg (if you guys want to see it live, check out the grasses right in front if marker 3, we moved on to there).

We also looked closer at one of the Portuguese man of war (there were several on the beach) and found this little guy to still be alive.  In fear of being stung, we left it to its untimely demise.

(Sorry if the entry was to grim for some of you.)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

False Crawl #2

We were hoping for a nest this morning, but no such luck:  a false crawl again.  Almost missed this one with the wind blowing a lot of the ingoing tracks away.  These photos are of the outgoing track.

The crawl was at the western most end of the island very near Hog Inlet.  If this turtle goes any further west, she will lay a nest on North Myrtle.  Hope the Friday walkers will hit the jackpot and find a real nest.  Good luck!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

First Crawl of the Season

The Tuesday team of Valerie, Dave, Bruce and Rita reported the first crawl of the 2011 season this morning.  This crawl was on the western (lower) end of the island, about 100 feet below Marker #1.  It certainly looks like a loggerhead turtle - track width was 3' 2" with alternating flipper strokes.

To see more detail, click on the photos.

The probing
After evaluating the crawl and doing some probing, it was declared a false crawl.  The turtle wasn't on the beach long and there was no evidence of a nest site.  She did however make her way along the dunes apparently looking for the "perfect" spot.  Not finding it, she may return again tonight.

Rita and Bruce celebrating

Is it here???
Checking the track width
A fair sized turtle; we'll keep a lookout
for turtle with similar track widths

This is the earliest crawl we have documented on Waties since we started surveys six years ago.  South Carolina currently has 17 nests and North Carolina has 1 so far this season.  We're off to a very good start!

Thanks to Valerie for sharing her photos.

Barb and Steve

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thursday Beachcombing

It was COLD this morning, but at least it was sunny and dry.  The water was warmer than the air.  This poor live spider crab was just out of the water and probably not very happy about it.  We put it back in to keep warm.

We also saw two dead loons on the beach.  Loons often winter here in South Carolina.  These two could have been on their way north.

Our new volunteer, Christine, found a baby leopard SHARK on the beach too (this one was born in China).  And the usual beach "stuff" - fish hook, underwear, a towel, fishing line, a nice olive shell, sea pork and whelk egg cases.  This moon jelly has a spider crab caught up in it too (click on the photos to see more detail).