A call goes out in the middle of the night. “Turtle on the 4 x4 beach nesting in between tire tracks”. N.E.S.T. volunteers jump into action to protect the sea turtle while she is on the beach. Luckily a wonderful citizen saw her nesting and stayed until the responding team arrived. This lucky turtle had lots of people looking out for her last night. Below is a picture of her crawl tracks and nest site.
Since the nest is below the average high tide line, it will need to be relocated to a safer spot. While Team Lead Andy G. finds a new spot for the nest, the team begins to search for eggs. Lisa H., Tina W. and Reimy H. analyze the Loggerhead turtles tracks, and start to dig. Quickly they find the egg chamber and gather data about the size and shape of the nest.
Eggs are gathered, placed in cartons, and moved via cooler to their new location. The new nest is built to the same depth and width as the original nest. Carefully eggs are placed into the new nest. A sea turtle embryo will attach itself to the top of the eggshell. So, team members carefully lift each egg up without rotating or changing its orientation. The eggs are kept in the same basic order that mama turtle put them in the original nest.
Next data loggers will be added to the nest. One logger goes in the nest, one on top of the nest and one just outside the nest. Data loggers collect hourly temperatures. We can compare the data between the data loggers to help confirm it is a viable nest. As the eggs develop, they create metabolic heat which raises the temperature within the nest. If the inside logger is on average reading warmer then the outside logger we know there is metabolic activity and embryos are growing.
After the data loggers are placed and secured, we process one eggshell from the nest as a DNA sample of the mama turtle. Since this nest was relocated, we chose an egg that appeared abnormal. Sea turtle eggs look a lot like ping pong balls. This egg was deflated and not well formed, but the mother turtle’s DNA will still be viable from this sample.
All of this work is done by the light of our volunteers cars (mostly jeeps). The nest is secured with posts, a sign, and banners to notify beach goers sea turtle eggs are in the area. We thank everyone for respecting the protected area and letting these eggs mature into our next generation of sea turtles. And we thank the sleepless volunteers for their dedication in protecting sea turtles no matter what the hour.
- nest number: 27
- town: Carova
- date eggs laid: 07/23/2023
- total eggs: 69
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