Waties Island Nest Count

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Nest #14R's Inventory

We all arrived at the beach to do the inventory on #14R.  Sprained ankle and all.

Some of us watch while others put on the required gloves.

After digging, Jingle finds the first live hatchling.

 A short while later we hear, "There's another one!"
The hatchlings are taken closer to the water to make their walk down the beach and into the water.

 WOW!  Another!
He too makes his way down the beach and into the water

A total of 5 hatchlings.  The students are thrilled as each one takes over seeing that no predator gets the hatchling as it makes it's way to the water.

Surprise!  This last little one climbed out of an egg after being counted as unhatched.  Even though his shell was still curved, he had absorbed the egg sack which he would need in order give him enough energy to make it to the jet stream approximately 40 miles off the coast.

As the last hatchling to leave Waties Island for the season makes his way toward the water, Paulette explains how we do the inventory and answers any questions they have.

Barb answers questions about what is recorded for South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

The unhatched eggs and shells are returned to the opened nest.

The nest was laid on 8/2/13.  There was a total of 83 eggs.  One egg was broken and was taken for the DNA study.  The remaining 82 eggs were relocated to higher ground.  66 eggs hatched.  16 unhatched.  There were 6 live hatchlings with no dead hatchlings.

May our imprint on these turtles be a lasting one. :) 

Monday, September 30, 2013

What a Difference a Day Makes

Yesterday, nothing at Nest 14, not even a ghost crab hole. But overnight, out they came!

The exit crater
Footprints in the sand

The volunteers continued on up the beach for a while and then returned to check the nest site again. This time they saw a lone straggler leaving the nest and they were able to see it make its way down the beach and into the ocean.

Posing for a photo

And off it goes!
This is our final nest of the season on Waties; an inventory will be held on Thursday morning.

Thanks to Donna for sharing her photos.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Ospreys, Eagles, and Nest 14

 Another breathtaking day on Waites! Still no activity on Nest 14 (the final nest of the year) but we did see this beautiful sunrise.
 Some clouds have a silver lining. This one has gold.

And it's finally up! You know you get up early when the sun seems to be a late-riser.

As you can see, not really very much going on.
 But we had an incredible show at the short end, where we were privileged to witness eight ospreys diving and scouring the waves for fish.

This shot's a little blurry, but you can see the large wingspan and the determined arc into the sky. Also (though unfortunately we were not quick enough to get a picture) we glimpsed a bald eagle flying overhead. :)
You can't really get any closer to a perfect day. Still waiting on Nest 14...but hey...this is a pretty good way to wait.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Part of Waties Island is an environmentally sensitive area with restricted access given to Coastal Carolina University by Anne Tilghman Boyce.

As we arrived on the island this morning we saw two deer at the waters edge that appeared to be drinking from the ocean.  I know in the north, I have heard of people putting out "salt licks" for the deer, but hadn't thought that deer actually drank from the ocean.  

 Because we got to the beach prior to sunrise this morning, we got to see another beautiful sight as the sun came up over the horizon. 
This lady felt that I was intruding as she stomped her hoof and snorted at me.

As I waited for the inventory to start I wondered along the tide line picking up shells and checking the area around the nest. 60 feet north of the nest, I found a hatchling that did not make it.

Nest #13 was laid on July 19th and hatched on September 17th.  The inventory was done yesterday, Friday September 20th.
 Karen and Flossie arrived with students from Coastal Carolina Universities Turtle Club to help with the inventory of Nest #13.

 While Karen and Flossie watched, the students started their dig.

One young lady was very excited as she lifted a live hatchling out of the nest and was able to carry it closer to the waters edge and watch it make its way to the ocean.

As the eggs shells were pulled from the nest, other student brought them to Flossie to separate and count.

Here, Flossie explains to the students how she counts and inventories the nest.  The results:       86 hatched, 4 un-hatched, plus one taken when the nest was found for the DNA study, for a total of 91 eggs laid in this nest.  A very successful nest!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Nest #12R Emergence

Saturday morning one lonely track
was found from nest #12R,
but Sunday walkers saw a depression
in the sand with dozens of baby turtle tracks.

Unfortunately there was one turtle that
did not survive the trip and it looks like the majority
of its flipper were completely taken off.
Probably by a ghost crab! >:(

This nest emerged after 60 days, and since
temperatures are cooling it will take the other
two nests a few extra days to emerge.
The inventory for this nest will be held on
Wednesday morning, September 18th.
We will meet at the shed at 7:15am.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Possible Drop On Nest 13

 Happy Friday the thirteenth! Not much to report today, besides this vividly pink sunrise. However, there is a possible drop at Nest Thirteen--perhaps today's date is a sign.

At first glance, there isn't much activity, but if you look closer...
...you'll see that the upper crust of sand has slid down, forming a small but substantial pit. There is a possibility that this could just be the effect of the wind, but given how near it is to the stick marking the egg chamber, it could easily indicate activity beneath the surface.
Other than a few tracks, however, this nest does not have the tell-tale sign of increased ghost crab activity. But that isn't to say the crabs aren't still showing their faces around the island.
Today the low tide gave us the opportunity to poke around in some tidepools, and we encountered this lonely blue crab searching for something to pinch. He's no harm to turtle nests...so we were quite happy to let him go on his way.
Meanwhile, this ribbon fish (which must have been dropped by a sea bird) was being chiseled away at by a ghost crab. All in all, the crustaceans on the island are pretty well fed.
And last but not least, we met this squishy little anemone living in a tiny pool of water atop one of the rocks at the jetty. A lovely day, but the question remains:

Drop or no drop?

(The possible nest near the former location of Nest Six was monitored: no signs of activity.)