Waties Island Nest Count

Thursday, June 29, 2017

More Nesting Today

Nest #10 was found this morning just before Marker 4. Not too many photos were taken; everyone was busy taking care of the business of data collection and marking the nest. Nest was up on the dunes in a fine place and no problems finding the eggs either. 

Thanks to Harry, Elaine and Jack for all their assistance this morning!

Lots of ATV tracks on the beach lately
The ever changing lower end of the island

A live knobbed whelk

Another beautiful sunrise

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Nest #9 & Crab Activity on Nest #6

We lost another egg to the Ghost Crabs.  This morning there were many Ghost Crab holes.  Some very big and some smaller ones.  Seems like the word is out amongst the crabs.  We checked for crabs, found no evidence that they were still in the holes, and covered them up.  We also placed the new trap on the edge of the nest and took away the crab trap that was pulled off by the crab (s). 
A picture perfect nest between MM 1 & 2 and between Nests 3 & 6.  This time it is up in the dunes.
Note the drag marks.

 This nest was not quite as shallow as some of the others, but it was shallow.

 Emily and Justin took the egg for the DNA sample.
Everybody chipped in and we got the nest done.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Nest Number Eight!! (and a Serendipitous Encounter)

Watercolor skies presented a beautiful, unassuming backdrop to Friday's walk, which seemed perfectly ordinary until the walkers on the long end saw a line in the sand. From a distance, it's always hard to tell if it's the tell-tale tracks of a mother turtle's crawl, or just leftover prints from an ATV. But excitement still builds as we get closer, and closer, until that moment which was no different than a child catching Santa on Christmas Eve--

"She's still here."

Walkers remained a respectful distance back as the mother turtle completed her nest. Then she moved her enormous body back towards the ocean, escorted by ecstatic Friday walkers as she plunged back into the waves. There's certainly no part of this creature's life cycle that isn't miraculous, but to see the enormity of our cause up close is something none of us will ever forget.

Once the mother was gone, we surveyed the crawl and phoned Barb to come out to the island to probe for the eggs. As all experienced walkers know: in spite of witnessing the turtle's return to sea, we can never be 100% certain there are eggs until we probe the body pit. Fortunately, after seeing exactly where the turtle's back flippers were working the sand, we had a pretty good idea of where to probe.

Carefully we begin probing the pit near the suspected egg chamber

  It took a few tries, but the probe gave towards the middle of the body pit, about where we estimated her back flippers were working. We began digging down, and a comparatively short distance from the surface...

Eureka! The egg nearest to the surface was extracted for DNA.

Now all that's left to do is cover the eggs back over, just like momma turtle did, and plant a sign to mark the spot. 

Nest Eight is currently the furthest one up the long end, behind the tide line but not all the way back to the dunes. Of course, it wasn't the only nest we had to worry about.

Popping over to the short end to position another crab trap on nest number six revealed yet another unexpected guest, though he's more infamous than famous. After evading capture and stealing yet another precious egg, this cradle-robbing ghost crab is no longer at large.
After being pulled out of the hole by hand, the ghost crab will live out his life being chased by net-wielding children all summer at the currently nest-free hog inlet.

Remember, don't be crabby. Thanks so much to the Friday walkers for all their hard work and contributions (including all these great photos). This mother turtle can swim easier knowing her nest is in good hands. Blessed to be a part of such an amazing day.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

New Ghost Crab Trap, Prints and Diamondback Terrapin

Nest #6 lost another egg today for a total of six eggs.  We are trying a new type of Ghost Crab Trap.  A PVC pipe about 12 inches long and closed on the bottom end;  installed away from the nest site and dug in so that it is even with the sand.  It is hoped that the crab will fall in and not be able to get out.  This has been used in Garden City.  Hopefully this will work.

 Eggs were visible from the surface and the Ghost Crab was still there this morning.

These prints have been visible along the whole beach.  At times three sets can be seen together.  The prints of a dog and coyote are very similar so we have not been able to positively identify these although a coyote has been spotted.

This shell was spotted on the beach yesterday and was identified as a Diamondback Terrapin.  Terrapin is a species of turtle native to the brackish coastal tidal marshes of the eastern and southern United States and in Bermuda.

Saturday, June 17, 2017


Saturday seems to be the day for nests.  Looks like this mamma turtle tried two times to nest before finally depositing her eggs.  At the second site, we saw three Ghost Crab holes but they did not find the eggs this time! 

 The eggs were found by Pat and Jackie almost 2 ft. down.  Hopefully their deep enough to prevent the crabs from getting them.  Again, this nest was laid between the high tide line and the dune.
 Those pesky Ghost Crabs did get back into nest #6 again.  They managed to get one more egg for a total of 5 eggs lost so far.  They must be extra hungry this year!

We also saw the remains of a pretty good size fish.
 Check out the size of those gills!
And the size of that spine!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Under Attack!

Both Nest 1 and 2 had ghost crab activity yesterday, but this morning, Nest 1 was under major attack by those predators. A new larger ghost crab trap has been put in place and we'll see if it works. Let the battle begin!

Nest #1

Testing a new larger ghost crab trap

Barb and Steve

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Nest #6

We had no trouble identifying this as a nest.  Unfortunately as soon as we got to the nest there was a Ghost Crab hole with an egg on the surface.
 As a result of this we did not have to probe and only had to dig a few inches to find the nest.  This nest is similar in many ways to nest 3 in that the crawl had a drag mark, it is located between the high tide line and the dune and it is a very shallow nest.  It will be interesting to see the DNA results between Nests 6 & 3.

 Note the drag marks between the flipper prints.

 We also saw what looks like a mole was tracking under the sand.
 Foot print shows the size.
 It looks like what ever it was, came out and went back in.

We also have Ghost Crabs at Nest #1 & #2.
 Emily found an egg shell near one of the Ghost Crab holes.  We need to be watching the nests and reporting changes.  Pictures are great!!  Thanks Emily.