Waties Island Nest Count

Monday, July 29, 2013

Nest #2 - Maybe it will emerge tonight??

Lots of ghost crab activity at Nest 1 and 2 this morning.  These nests are 63 and 58 days old respectively. At Nest 2, those pesky crabs actually took out two eggshells.  The crabs seem to know when there is something happening down in the nests and they are right there to take advantage of it.

Nest 2 gets invaded

Maybe the Tuesday volunteers with see something other than ghost crab tracks!  We'll let you know.

Barb and Steve

p.s. - just a few bags of trash readied for their ride to the dump - thanks to everyone who was able to join us on Saturday for the cleanup/happy hour.

Steve and Steve on the way to the dump

Friday, July 26, 2013

Nests #1, #2 & #3

Here are two pictures that will give you a better look at Nest #2.
 In this second picture of Nest #2 you get a better look at how the sand is piled up around the depression.  Lots of crab tracks, but nothing that looked to us like hatchling tracks.  We will need Barb and Steve's expert opinion on this one.

 Nest #1 is quiet.

But this picture of Nest #3 shows that it was completely washed over during the high tide Wednesday night.  Time will tell if this had a negative affect on the nest.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

High Tide Line

As we entered the beach this morning, the first thing we noticed was how far up on the beach the high tide line was.  As we walked, we checked the nests to make sure none were washed over.

Nest #2  is 54 days and looked as though a crab (?) had started to dig.  But they don't usually change their minds, especially when a nest is close to hatching.  Unless we scared it away.  Lots of crab tracks.  In any event, this bears watching along with nest #1 which is due any day.  Temperature and moisture affect a nest and we have had a mild summer and lots of rain which can delay a nest.  Only Mother Nature knows!

Nest #9 was the only nest we saw as we walked this morning that the tide line just barely hit the nest site. 
Good news!  Steve D. was able to remove the crab trap on Nest #12.  Looks like all is back to normal.  No crab activity at that nest this morning.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Crab Hole in Nest #12

While Friday's group worked on nest #13, Steve D. and Sarah went to nest #12 to take care of the crab hole by inserting a crab trap.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Lucky Number Thirteen!

Another exciting day on Waites begins under watercolor skies. Humid weather and clouds won't stop the sea turtle patrol from searching this beach...
...and making this discovery! My mother's dance of joy kind of says it all. It's a crawl! a crawl by a dedicated mother turtle....
She starts off straight from the water,
...then turns up around this big patch of ferns...
...makes her nest here, in the shelter of the dunes and the sea oats...
...and finally crosses her original track to make her way back to sea. Amazing.
Linda, Mom, Chris and Arlene all stand around the tracks of our "loopy" turtle, calling in the rest of the troops.
Then Arlene leads us, riding off into the sunset. Okay. Fine. Walking off into the sunrise.

 Rejoined by the rest of the Friday walkers (who were busy taking care of things on the short end of the island) we climb down from the back of Barb and Steve's truck and move on to the treasured task of finding the eggs. Steve had already probed by the time we got there, but made everyone wait for the rest of us before digging the nest.

.Flossie and I proceed to the nest, with gloves on...

...and begin digging for the egg chamber with plenty of caution, and even more excitement.
Egg chamber! And now, we debate whether or not the egg we uncovered is unusually warm by passing it back and forth. You can call it healthy curiosity, or science for the insane. However, regardless of the warmth of the yolk, or the unique conversations one can only find on Waites, this "chosen" egg shall be used for the DNA research.
Me, ecstatic? Whatever gave you that idea?
After a quick pose with Steve and the turtle egg...
...I move on to the popping of the shell. Not cracking, but popping. If you can imagine a water balloon made of thin leather, that's about the same idea as a sea turtle egg. You don't break it so much as you squeeze.
After a few moments to figure this out...I managed to pop it open.
And here lies the yolk...may it rest in peace. Or be eaten by seagulls...as that's what's most likely.
With Steve's help, I push the eggshell down into the test tube,
...and this portion of our job is complete. 
Meanwhile, the others are hard at work closing up the nest and marking it for future observation.
So here it is: Nest Thirteen! A team effort and a day well spent. Much thanks to the Demuzes and everyone else who has to be "on call" for miraculous events such as this!
Chris, Dave, Sarah, Linda, Arlene, Flossie, Valerie and Mom...it just wouldn't be turtle day without you. :)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Number 12!

Steve and Steve heading down to the crawl
Wednesday's volunteers were rewarded with a beautiful morning on the beach, a beautiful crawl at the Hog Inlet end of the island which turned out to be Nest #12 for this season.

Looks just about perfect!
We had lots of help today from some visiting grandkids from New Jersey and Virginia and returning visitor Betty from Pennsylvania.

The nest was about 18" deep which is about average.  We found that the top egg in the nest was already broken so it was used for the DNA sample.

Steve H with his new NMB Sea Turtle Patrol shirt
Izzy and Mary with the eggs

128 minus 1 for the DNA sample were reburied

Definitely a group effort this morning - measuring tracks, taking GPS readings, counting the eggs as they were moved, collecting the DNA sample, installing markers, taking more measurements and recording all the data in a notebook.  Thanks to everyone for helping make this a successful morning.

It really is Nest #12 (corrected after this photo)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Rain or Shine?

Today posed a surprisingly complicated question: to walk or not to walk? At the shed today, volunteers AND guests showed up to walk the beach, but the rumbling of thunder discouraged everyone from going out. After looking at some grim radar courtesy of Valerie...who is always watching out for the other volunteers...everyone decided it was too risky. Dejectedly, we headed back to our houses, preparing for a day of set in rain.

We were halfway home when the sky began to look as if it was clearing, and mom couldn't ignore the "turtle vibe". She consulted with Valerie, and decided to call Barb to ask if we could walk, or if Steve would want to drive the beach. Steve volunteered for the job, but needed someone to go with him in case of a nest. So...back to the island.

Despite the "turtle vibe" my mother and Alyssa earlier discussed, we did not find any turtles as we hurried up the beach. However, I did discover that there are mosquitos the size of hummingbirds flying around in the forest. It's the stuff of science fiction novels. They must be living well off of volunteer blood. ;) But tons of credit goes to all the walkers who came willing to go out in rain or shine...and to Steve, our intrepid leader, for kicking it into four wheel drive for the sake of the turtles.

The day certainly wasn't a total waste: here are some gorgeous shots of Waites under these fickle-weather skies.

Ominous, but lovely. 

Every cloud has a silver lining, or in this case, a blotch of golden sunlight. Thanks again to Steve for being on call...we probably wouldn't have made it back in time to escape the thunderstorm if it weren't for his being there to shuttle us back in his truck!

Turtles or no turtles, it's always interesting on Waites. Good luck Saturday volunteers! :D