Waties Island Nest Count

Friday, July 8, 2016

July 8: Nest #19 Discovered--Tricks, Turtles and Tips from Ghost Crabs

     Excitement builds on Waites as we close in on what looks to be a record breaking season. Today Nest 19 was found between markers 5 and 6, on the long stretch of the island. The day began with a pink-gilded cloud-scudded sky, but this sunrise after last night's thunderstorm wasn't the only pleasant surprise awaiting us.

A topsy-turvy crawl from the ocean marked where today's turtle came ashore. There appeared to be an obvious body pit close to the dune wall (pictured below)...but why did she leave it, crawl parallel to the shore for about five yards, then go back out to sea?

Fortunately for turtles and walkers alike, Paulette and Steve Huggins have a detective's eye. After probing the "more obvious" body pit and coming up empty...
they noted a crab hole in the unusual sideways crawl fifteen feet away.

Though no sand was kicked up, and there was no clear body pit like in the originally probed space, Paulette and Steve thought it was unusual enough to give it a shot.

This is one of those very rare incidents where a ghost crab actually helps instead of hinders...even if its goal was to score one of the turtle eggs hidden beneath the sand. After probing and digging in with care, Arlene discovered the egg chamber under the surface.

Young Shane gets his first "crack" at aiding in DNA research, collecting the sample egg to be sent off for testing.

After assessing the situation, it was decided that the turtle nest did not need to be relocated. The track was measured at 34 inches (see below) the same as one of our previous turtles. Another interesting fact (noted by turtle detective Paulette) is that there are marks left in the track by barnacles that appeared in previous crawls..meaning this is likely the same turtle that came ashore earlier this week.

This turtle just lives to confuse us!

In the end, however, it's hard to confuse Steve and Paulette. They've seen it all.

From Left: Samantha,Arlene, Shane, Gail, Jingle, Lorraine and John, Larry and Paulette

Nest number 19 is marked, now on to nest 20! Oh, and that's not all. We even had a live turtle sighting...

...back at the shed. Hey, box turtles are cool too!

Thanks so much to all the Friday walkers, and special thanks to Steve and Paulette for making this possible! See you next week!