Waties Island Nest Count

Friday, September 26, 2014


 CCU Turtle Club members joined us for the inventory of nest #7 this morning.  Before getting to nest 7 we found a dead hatchling on the beach.  The result of one of the many dangers these hatchlings face as they make their way to the Sargassum sea weed some 40 miles off our coast.    
Here Karen explains what we will be doing.
Three of the Turtle Club members put on their gloves before opening up the nest as Karen Fuss, of CCU, and Sean Miller, of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, looks on.
A smaller than usual egg is found.  Barb Demusz explains to the students that Leatherback Turtles will often lay small eggs, called spacer eggs when laying their nests.  This is unusual for our Loggerhead Turtle nests.
Looking on as the eggs are counted are Linda, Steve D., Paulette, Sean Miller of SCDNR, and Karen Fuss of CCU.
As the turtle club members pull out the eggs, Barb D. and Jingle sort and count the hatched and unhatched eggs. 
One barely alive hatchling is pulled from the nest.   He made it to the waters edge, but  for as long as we watched him, he was never able to make it beyond the surf.
Barb and Jingle give us the final count:  93 hatched, 20 unhatched + 1 for the DNR study for a total of 114 eggs.  One live hatchling.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Could We Have Another Nest? Time Will Tell.

We had a wonderful sunrise this morning as we made our way to check on Nest 7 and Nest 8.  There was nothing new with either nest.      
 As we walked back to the entrance, Dave suggested, since it was such a beautiful morning, that we check the false crawl that was below mm 2.
This is what we saw when we got there...just to the front and to the left of the pole we saw what just may be a depression. 

This false crawl was found on July 19th, 63 days ago.  Which would be right, if in fact we actually have a nest. 

Time will tell.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Inventory of our Wild Nest

This nest was first discovered on the lower end of the island when shells were spotted on the sand at the edge of a dune along with a hatchling partially in its shell in the clutches of a Ghost Crab.  Because the nest would be definitely and heavily  washed over due to the expected high tide and its location, it was decided to relocate it.                                  

While Steve H. and Flossy dug up the nest, they found some of the shells in a hole that continued to the right.  Probably a Ghost Crab.

The relocated nest had 67 viable eggs in it.  Only 2 unhatched eggs were found at inventory today.  65 hatched!! These totals were added to the numbers collected over the past 11 days since we first discovered the nest to make up the totals below.
These totals were submitted to SCDNR today: 
106 eggs were laid in the original nest.
91 hatched and 15 were unhatched, for 80% success rate!!
We teased Dave that he was personally responsible for 65 of these turtles making it to the water!!
In addition to the new gate where the horses turn off to the left, we have another sign and two poles with a line stretching across the entrance to the beach.
Donna Lewis, from the Coastal Educational Foundation, met us at the shed this morning and joined Steve H., Flossy and Bill, Paulette, Karen (a new walker), Dave and I on the beach for the inventory.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

CCU Family Weekend on Waties Island on Saturday

Many thanks to Barb, Steve, Valerie, Flossie, Bill, Lyndsey and Kristin for helping with Family Weekend visitors on Waties Island yesterday. Despite the heat and unsettled weather, they did a great job teaching families about the Waties Island sea turtle monitoring program! Bill also showed his tremendous driving skills by getting the last van of the afternoon unstuck from the sand!

CCU students and volunteer monitors, Lyndsey and Kristin, share their knowledge with visiting families.

Flossie explaining to the group about nest #9 emerging again on Friday night and showing them the hatchling tracks.

About 11 a.m. a lone hatchling from Nest #9 decided to make a run for the ocean - such a treat to see for the visitors and us!

Almost everyone had phones out taking photos of this hatchling making a grand escape to the water!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thursday Morn. Great to be Back

Not a good day for Nest #9! Lot's of Ghost Crab holes/tracks, empty shells

Great Sunrise on the causeway

Even better on the beach

Love being........


'The Girls' going out

A Mollusk by any other name


See Ya!
Bill Chapman

Monday, September 8, 2014

1 of 3 Nest Inventories on Sunday

Nest #6 had the following inventory results: 110 hatched, 6 unhatched, 1 dead and 3 live hatchlings

Inventory being conducted on Nest #6
Tara and David pulling egg shells out of Nest #6
1 hatchling is swimming away while 2 others make their way to the water.

2 hatchlings moving toward the water

Friday, September 5, 2014

Wild Nest # 9 / Nest Number Dave!

 Our walk today would have been fairly uneventful were it not for the fact that Dave felt a little under the weather this morning and decided not to go the long-end. However, in the time that it took us to get to the final remaining nest on the upper stretch Dave went for a stroll towards the inlet, and discovered something no one was anticipating...

A scattering of eggshells indicated that there had indeed been a wild nest that we didn't know about that was actually laid BEFORE (south of) marker 1.

However, close examination of these eggshells (the color, texture) seemed to indicate that this nest was not yet ready to hatch. In fact, nest robbers (ghost crabs) seem to be the main perpetrators of the discovery.

This is the hole we believe leads into the egg chamber, because it was on the sand as opposed to the many crab holes on the bank. They all had eggshell fragments around them.

Startlingly, if there was any doubt of crabs thieving behind the scenes, it was erased by the sighting of this crab in the grass atop the dune. He had climbed up the precipitous sand bank (a product of severe erosion) dragging a turtle that was still in the egg with its yolk sack still attached. Unfortunately, it was too late for this hatchling. 

Another reason we believe this nest may be premature for hatching is that this turtle is clearly not fully developed.

His flipper was also badly torn from the drag (you can see the blood mixing with the yolk in the picture above).

The hatchling was buried near the supposed nest site.

^^^As evidenced by this erosion of dunes, you can see this is a precarious location for this nest.

If the wild nest was not enough, Dave also found us an injured seagull at the point who is a current resident of our bathtub at home. We jokingly named the nest "nest number Dave", but this makes a ninth nest for the season.

Thanks to Valerie for  taking so many good pictures, to Dave for an impossible knack for finding things, and to Paulette for being prepared for literally ANYTHING. :)