Waties Island Nest Count

Friday, June 10, 2016

June 10: TWO NESTS!

 You heard it right, folks. The Friday walkers, who hadn't yet had a nest on their day this season, discovered two sea turtle nests in one day.
The first crawl seen today was found at marker four. As you can see from the low-tide long tracks left behind, this turtle was on the beach later in the morning than we're used to seeing. Her track was 33 inches wide, and impressively straight.  
The second nest on the long-end walkers trek was found just above mile marker six. Her track was 36 inches wide, and very short in wet sand. She was likely on the beach at midnight or just before. Also, she seems to have run into our infamous shipwreck remainder on her way back to sea. There was an obvious body pit where she appeared to have laid her eggs, well past the high-tide line and tucked against the bank. The well-worked appearance of the sand cresting this crawl is just as promising as the first.

That's a good sign, pun intended.

Steve found the pit almost immediately at the second crawl, and thanks to the turtle's excellent placement, there was no need to relocate this nest. Paulette supervised and recorded the position of the nest (as seen above) and we were able to chalk up one more for Waites Island. This marks the Mile Marker 6 crawl as Nest number 7! And we're not done yet, folks.

From Left: Linda, Deb, Samantha, Keela and Jingle showcasing nest seven. Pic by Paulette

Though quickly proven to also be a nest, not a false crawl, Nest 8 would prove to be a more complicated challenge for the walkers. The location was prone to the high tides, so it would need to be relocated. Steve located the pit once again with very little difficulty. I got the honor of digging.

Like most things, I dug into the pit sideways. Fortunately Steve was there to help, and together we emptied the nest chamber by carefully counting and placing the eggs in a bucket filled with "home sand" from the original nest to be transferred to the short end of the island.

There were 95 eggs in the nest, counting a set of "identical twins"--two eggs joined by a thin cord-like connector of shell. (Unfortunately I didn't get a shot of this phenomenon, but our bucket of eggs was safely transported to the other side of the island where they will spend the rest of their incubation time.

Another hole was dug using heart cockle clam shells, simulating the mother turtle's flippers as best as we could. One egg was taken from the clutch of 95 for DNA testing (pictured below) leaving the nest with 94 eggs.

Pictured Below: Paulette (aka chief of our Turtle Justice League) creates the hole for the sign marking Nest 8, just below mile marker two. She is helped by Arlene--left hand corner--and Linda on the right.

It was a very exciting morning on Waites, to say the least! Everyone gathered together for a group photo. We're holding up two fingers to symbolize two nests--not a peace sign. 
(Then again, who's to say sea turtle conservation can't lead to world peace?)

 Thanks again to all the Friday walkers!

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