Waties Island Nest Count

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.)

Sunday, September 8, 2013


Yesterday morning we dug up the contents of Nest 6 at the upper end of the island. Laid on June 23, we did not see this nest emerge. We did see ghost crab activity, but in the absence of absolute proof of an emergence, we are required to wait until at least 75 days to conduct the inventory. We found 93 hatched egg shells, 42 unhatched, no dead and no live hatchlings, for a total of 136 eggs laid (one for DNA research taken when the nest was laid).

Three nests remain on the island: #12R at the lower end (53 days old), #13 between Marker 3 and 4 (51 days old), and #14R between Marker 2 and 3 (37 days old). There is still a "possible nest" on the upper end near the rusty box on the beach (57 days old); if it is a nest, we should see activity this week. No need to walk any further up the beach unless you want to.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


When we started to do the inventories on both nest 10 & 11 this week, we found hatchlings at the top of the nest.  This, sometimes, is a sign that the nest has not fully hatched.  We then cover the nest back up and wait another three days to do the inventories.  As we made our way from the truck to the beach, I looked up and saw this beautiful sight.
 When we got to the beach, I looked north and could see the fog hanging over the water with just a glimpse of the sun peaking through.
 To the south, the buildings on Cherry Grove were just barely visible.

 As we arrived at nest #10, we could see that a Ghost Crab had started his own inventory.  Surely not for the numbers, but for what he could eat.
Barb explains to the Coastal Carolina University Students, who will be doing the digging,  how the inventory will be done as Anne, a friend of Barb's, watches and listens.
A discarded nest marker signifies the beginning of a new journey for the  Loggerhead hatchlings.  The males will remain in the ocean never to return to the beach.  Only the females will return to the shore to nest in about 30 to 35 years.
 Lou and Flossie, separate the contents of the nest as they are removed.

Nest #10 was laid on July 5th and emerged on August 30th after 56 days.  The original inventory was done on September 2nd.  The second inventory was done today, September 5th.  Results:  98 hatched, 17 un-hatched = 115 eggs.  Plus one taken for the DNA study for a total of 116 eggs laid. NOTE: Two dead hatchlings were found at the bottom of the nest.

On the way to nest #11, I came across the remains of a hatchling that did not make it to the ocean.  It was caught by a predator.  Could have been a Ghost Crab, a bird, or ?.  A reminder that the journey taken by these hatchlings is not without its' dangers.

 As we arrive at nest #11, it is hot and humid.  The sun has come out from behind the clouds and the fog has lifted from the beach, though still over the ocean.
 The nest is opened up.
A hatchling, at first thought to be dead, is moving. 
A dead hatchling is found still in its' shell.
 Lou and Flossie count and Paulette records the numbers.
Nest # 11 was laid on July 7th.  It emerged on August 29th at 53 days.  The original inventory was done on September 1st.  Results:  63 hatched, 10 un-hatched = 73 eggs.  Plus one egg taken for the DNA study when the nest was found for a total of 74 eggs laid. 
NOTE: One piped egg was found and counted as un-hatched (hatchling died as it was leaving the egg) and one live hatchling was found deep in the nest.  See pictures above.
Thank you Paulette for the details on each nest!

The hatchling that barely moved, takes off once it reaches the water.  Its chances are slim, but a chance its got.