Another Three Nest Day

HOORAY! Another 3-nest day! That makes two 3-nest days in a row. One of today’s nests was another Leatherback, which brings us to three Leatherbacks so far. (Our record is 4 in one season.)

Unfortunately, one of our nests today is in front of a seawall. The problem with nests in front of seawalls is that if we get a storm where the tides are high enough to hit the wall, erosion will occur and we could lose the nest.

Totals as of June 1
MN005 – Our leatherback nest. It is a relatively small disturbance for a leatherback, but that can happen!
MN005 – Again we found a green liquid discharge in the tracks.

MS011

MS011 – This is an abandoned body pit. She didn’t like that spot and moved further west to nest.
MS011 – A close up view of the body pit.

Three Nests Today!

BIG DAY FOR US! THREE new loggerhead nests and one more loggerhead false crawl.

Most of the turtles continue to make the wise choice of nesting south of Mickler’s, where the beach is more natural, but one today chose a very bad spot north of Mickler’s.

The nest is right up against a seawall and very near a drain pipe that is draining from the top of the wall to the beach. The nesting turtle encountered seawall construction debris that had been buried and is now mostly exposed, including uncut bolts, broken pieces of vinyl sheeting, hazard flagging, and hardened concrete. We will hope for the best for this nest, and just be grateful the nesting turtle did not injure herself (we found no blood).

South of Micklers (1.7 miles) is still winning in nests, 8 to 4, even though the section north of mickler’s is a half mile longer (2.2 miles). North of Mickler’s is still winning in false crawls, 6 to 2. The false crawl on the north end today is a perfect example of why we get more false crawls north of Mickler’s.

Totals May 31 – 3 nests today really helped when you look at the averages!
One of three pieces of broken vinyl sheeting we uncovered while retrieving an egg for the two research studies in which we participate.
MS010

Egg Processing and the Importance of Genetic Study

Sadly, we had no new crawls yesterday morning, but we did process our first batch of fresh eggs on Friday. For those of you who don’t already know, we extract a fresh egg from every new loggerhead nest for two very important research projects. The first is a genetics project by Dr. Brian Shamblin at the University of Georgia. Northeast Florida beaches, with only a few exceptions, have been participating in this study since 2016. Georgia and the Carolinas have been doing it for at least 10 more years than us.

Dr. Shamblin is able to track every nest of a female in every season she has nested. He has also been able to track the nests of daughters and granddaughters. There are many valuable research uses of his data, including the enhancement of other research projects, including that of the Florida FWC, the other study in which we are participating.

Dr. Simona Ceriana, with FWC, is able to determine where a turtle is foraging when she is not nesting. Dr. Ceriana’s research depends on Dr. Shamblin’s genetic analysis. Dr. Shamblin is able to extract the mother’s DNA from the inside of a fresh egg, and Dr. Ceriana does her isotope analysis using the separated yolk and albumin. Here are our prepared samples.

The egg shells go in these vials.
Admin · Yesterday ·  

The yolk and albumin are separated into identified cups and frozen.

A Leatherback Yesterday – A Loggerhead Today

As of yesterday, we entered double digits with another leatherback nest. Then today we had a new loggerhead nest.

The loggerhead nest was south of Mickler’s (south is beating north in nests 8 to 3) and one more false crawl north of Mickler’s (north is winning in false crawls 5-1).

Totals as of May 29
False Crawl

The leatherback was unusual in that she crawled around in the vegetation. She also left a few things behind, including 3 “spacer” eggs in the middle of her outgoing tracks. She also left areas of green liquid on her incoming track, something we have never noticed before. Dr. Stacy (NOAA sea turtle vet) said reptiles can have bile-colored GI contents, especially if they are not eating, which is probably typical of a female during her nesting season. The green liquid discharge was probably watery feces or feces-stained urine. (I guess I won’t be reusing the plastic container in which I gathered a sample!)

MN003
May 28 Totals

Two New Nests Today!

2 loggerhead nests today, bringing our total to 9. The crawl on one of the nests was obstructed by snow fencing, but fortunately she was a very small turtle and was able to squeeze through.

Totals as of May 27

Only A False Crawl in the Last Two Days

What a difference a year makes. Last year on this date we had 42 nests. This year we have 7, which is below the 10-year average of almost 12. BUT! In 2010 we only had 3 nests on this date and ended up with 96! It might just be a late-arriving crowd this year. Everyone please cross your fingers!

Totals as of May 26

Another false crawl yesterday. We now have 7 nests and 5 false crawls. This false crawl was unusual in many ways.

Nothing Today – A Nest and 2 False Crawls Yesterday

We found nothing today, but yesterday there was another loggerhead nest south of Mickler’s. So far, south of Mickler’s is winning 6 nests to 1 nest, even though the south end is 0.5 miles shorter — go figure?!? The north end is winning in false crawls, however, 3 to 1.

You can see in the tracks how she worked to get up on the rear track and how she slid right down on the front track. That’s one of the ways to determine which is the incoming and outgoing tracks.
Carol Williams measuring the track width
This mama did not fool us much. We were able to go right to the clutch to retrieve one fresh egg for two very important research projects. The basis for every conservation effort is research.
A textbook false crawl

A textbook false crawl, with a twist!

Totals as of May 22

Two New Nests in the Last Two Days

We had no new crawls on the 18th, but we got one yesterday and one today! Unfortunately, we’ve fallen behind the daily average. We will catch up!

Yesterday’s nest was the first one for the Sea Hammock Condos, which is usually a popular area for the mama turtles. It is a beautiful natural beach with no hard armoring, no snow fencing, and rarely any holes or trash left by beachgoers.

Another loggerhead nest today! Yay! 6 total nests. Less than our average, but there is a lot of season still to come. The homeowner, the very turtle friendly Kevin (who now has 2 of our 6 nests), was able to figure out the approximate time of the nest. There was a short rain shower around 10pm, and he pointed out that her incoming tracks were specked with raindrops, but the outgoing tracks were not. She emerged from the water around 10pm, when it was raining. How is that for turtle CSI?!?

Totals as of May 20
See the raindrops on the incoming track and the absence of them on the outgoing?
May 19 Totals

Loggerhead Nest and False Crawl

One more loggerhead nest and one more loggerhead false crawl today. We’ve added another row to our “Annual Comparison Chart.” The bottom row shows the average number of nests on this day since 2010 and the average annual seasonal total since 2010. We are right on average with 4 nests as of this day, but it just seems like a such a small number after last year!

Totals as of May 17, 2020