Two days in a row and we’re on a streak!
This morning ATV rider John called in with the report of a crawl in Corolla near Pine Island. His description made us pretty confident that there was a nest site so the Nesting Response Team was called to the scene.
The turtle had made a beautiful crawl just shy of the foot of the dune. John and Bon measured the width of the tracks (about 90 cm) and identified the alternating, comma-shaped crawl as a loggerhead. After following her incoming crawl up to the pile of sand and watching her outgoing crawl cross over on the way out, the team identified the highest point of sand along the path and began to dig.
Carefully, Bon began digging into the nest site with the side of her hand. As she got deeper, Nanci jumped in to widen the side of the hole. As they expanded out toward the sides, Nanci exclaimed, “I’ve got them!” The sand was soft and she knew she was near the chamber. As we examined a little closer though, we realized that we were coming in from the side. So Ray helped clear sand from above while the team filled in the first hole.
The team was surprised when they found the top egg just 10 cm under the surface of the sand, a very shallow nest compared to most the others from the season which have been 3 to 4 times deeper. The crew was a little concerned but KC assured them that mom did a good job and they should develop normally. Then she put on her rose-colored glasses and filled the glass half full and suggested that maybe they were so close to the surface because mom filled the chamber with so many eggs that it was “full to the brim”! We can only hope and come August, we should find out.
This turtle made a sharp exit from her nest leading Nesting Responders a little astray when searching for eggs. You can see in the photo that responders started by digging in the gold circle (the highest point of sand along her path) but instead came across the eggs from the side. The blue circle indicates where the eggs would have been found from above.