Waties Island Nest Count

Friday, September 28, 2012

Nest 7 Inventory

Barb providing guidance before the digging begins.

Karen's friend, Whimpy, finds a live hatchling.

Krisin holds the 2nd hatchling found in nest. 

This one took an interesting route at first!
Amanda holds the 3rd and 4th live hatchlings found in Nest 7.
All of them made it to the ocean!

The final count of eggshells revealed 107 hatched eggs, 3 unhatched (a very good outcome!), along with the 4 live hatchlings and 1 dead. Only 1 nest left - Nest # 8.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Nest #7 Update

Quite a morning on the island - first, a message in a bottle - and a beautiful sunrise.  Lots of shells on the beach too.

Then some beautiful endangered wood storks were feeding in the marsh.  Lyndsey took some great photos and was kind enough to share them.

The most exciting discovery this morning was finding a hatchling just struggling out of the nest.  There was one set of tracks leading out of the cage (or maybe two sets, hard to tell).  We could see more hatchlings in the nest, but they were just resting.  Thought they would emerge overnight.

BUT -- we told Merrill Boyce about the event as we were leaving the island.  He came upon the scene of a major hatch!  The first photo shows lots of the hatchlings spread out over the beach - if you click on the photo you can see more details.

All spread out on the way to the ocean

No ghost crabs in sight...

No birds either....

These little turtles picked a good time to make their way out.
On the way - still sand covered

Heading out to sea

Big crater and lots of tracks

Merrill wrote describing them as "scrappy little rascals making their way down the beach, carefully separated so as not to all get eaten at once and moving with such determination on those oversized flippers" - sound just right!  Thank you for sharing these great pictures!

Barb and Steve

Monday, September 17, 2012

CCU Family Weekend

Chelsey explaining the Waties Island sea turtle monitoring program to freshmen and their families.

Steve, Chelsey and Barb talking with families.

Valerie explaining the loggerhead's life cycle.

Barb's afternoon visitor!

This butterfly was attracted to the loggerhead.

Monday, September 10, 2012


Nest #6 inventory was done this morning.  121 eggs were laid on July 9, 2012.  One egg was taken for a DNA Sample.  120 eggs were relocated due to the nests proximity to the high tide line which put it in danger.   It hatched in 57 days.  Inventory was done today, three days after hatching to give all hatchlings a chance to get out of the nest.

After removing the cage and poles, the nest is dug up carefully watching for any hatchlings that may have not been able to get out of the nest.

As the eggs are removed, any shell fragment 50% or more are counted, along with piped and unhatched eggs and live and dead hatchlings

We found one dead hatchling not completely out of its shell and counted as piped, and

three live hatchlings

These hatchlings took a very long time to reach the water and had a difficult time making it into the waves.  Because of their  lack of energy/strength, it is doubtful that they will make it.  But we gave them a fighting chance.

Barb and Steve H. document the results of the inventory for entry into the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources' data base.          Relocated eggs = 120; Unhatched or piped eggs = 13; Hatched eggs = 107; Live hatchlings = 3;  Hatching Rate = 88.4%;  Emergence Rate = 86%

Thursday, September 6, 2012

More From Nest #6

Nest #6, Depression 9/6/12

                                     Nest #6
                                        That wasn't there Tuesday

Monday, September 3, 2012


 During the week as they walked, Truman and Dave spotted what they thought could be a depression.  We decided to check this out while we were on the beach. 
While Dave and Truman looked on,Truman's grandson and two others dug up the nest.

While digging, they came across a dead hatchling.  We all cheered as we thought we had another nest.  As it turned out, we did not.  We are thinking that maybe a ghost crab caught one of the hatchlings and dragged it to it's hole.

Barb did take the hatchling to see if a DNA study would determine to what nest this hatchling belonged.


  Nest #5 was laid on Saturday, July 7th. around mile marker #7.  It was laid on a little shelf of sand with a wall of sand behind it. When the nest was discovered there was one broken egg which was taken for the DNA sample.  On Sunday, Barb and Steve decided that the nest would not survive and relocated it to an area around mm #2.  During the relocation they found 4 more broken eggs near the middle and bottom of the nest.   Total eggs laid = 125; minus one broken egg for the DNA sample and 4 additional broken eggs.  This left a total of 120 eggs that were relocated.  

Nest #5 had hatched during the night of August 30th/31st which was counted as Day 55.  Today, Monday, we had a large crowd come out for the inventory.  Before Dave and Paulette removed the cage, we noted some additional hatchling tracks from the night before.

 Barb  passed out gloves to the three who would be digging up the nest.
While digging up the nest Jingle hollers, "I've got a live turtle in a shell."  After much discussion between Barb and Ann Wilson, a Ranger at Myrtle Beach State Park who came up for the inventory, it was decided that the hatchling was ready to be released.  During the discussion the hatchling climbed out of the shell and there was no sign of the egg sack present on the plastron, or under side of the hatchling, and it seemed ready to go.

The hatchling was brought down to the beach.  After a moment in which one of his flippers did not seem to be moving, he then headed for the water and hopefully the sargassum where the currents meet.

Ann, Paulette, Nancy and Barb continued the inventory.  The final results:  90 hatched eggs and 30 unhatched eggs.