At 9:10 pm a loggerhead turtle emerges from the ocean and crawls up the beach looking for a spot to make her nest.  Elle, John and Tom saw her make her way across a very busy section of the beach.  It was change over day, and cars were coming and going in each direction.  They quickly notified the NEST hotline and made sure cars went around our precious turtle.  We can’t thank them enough for all their help!

Loggerhead turtle laying eggs

A team of volunteers joined our beach heroes making sure our turtle stayed safe as she laid her eggs.  Once she was done nesting and heading back to the ocean, we quickly collected some data like the length and width of her shell or carapace.  We also checked for tags.  Turtles who have previously been in contact with a biologist for a health issue or from a tagging event may get a tag on their flipper.  We check for these tags so we can let the people who tagged them know of her current location and health condition.  Here is mom Loggerhead heading back into the ocean after a long nights work.

Mom turtle heads back to the ocean

Our NEST team determines this nest was laid too close to the high tide line.  In fact, this nest would likely get washed out by the higher tides frequently seen on this section of the beach.  The nest will need to be relocated to a more secure spot.  The nest site is staked off until the responding team can relocate the nest in the morning.

At dawn’s early light, our nest response team hits the beach ready to relocate the nest closer to the dune.  The first task is to locate the eggs.  Luckily our night team left us markers showing exactly where she laid the nest.  Eggs were found within minutes – and no that is not cheating.

Eggs are easily found

Very carefully, the eggs are pulled from the nest and kept in order.  We want to keep the eggs in basically the same manner as we found them.  And a great way to repurpose egg cartons.

Eggs ready to move to the new nest

Meanwhile the rest of the  responding team is creating a new nest.  The new nest will be exactly the same dimensions as the original nest.

Relocating the eggs to the new nest

The eggs are put into the new nest in the opposite order they were taken out.  This nest is put back together just as mom originally laid it.  The only difference is we have added 3 data loggers.  One data logger is in the middle of the nest, one is on top of the nest, and the third is just outside the nest.  We will use the temperatures logged by these data loggers to determine if there is metabolic heat being generated inside the nest so we know the hatchlings are alive and growing.  We also use the temperature data as a means to determine approximately when the turtles will hatch and emerge from the sand.

Data logger on top of the nest

The nest is staked off and then staked off again with bright flags and reflectors so cars can easily see the nest site.  Below is our awesome responding team – thanks for all your help both the night of and the morning after!

Nest Responding team of Kathie, Josh, Dolly, Doug, Elaine, Whitney and Rhonda

 

 

 

  • nest number: 18
  • town: Swan Beach - 4 wheel drive
  • date eggs laid: 07/25/2021
  • total eggs: 124

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