A wicked storm blew through last night, but our ATV rider Jeff B. managed to find a partial set of turtle tracks on the beach. This was an endangered Green Turtle who left her eggs nestled in between a sand fence, the dune and a beach walkway. Congratulations to Jeff on finding his first nest!
Green turtles leave a distinctive track. They crawl up the beach by throwing their front flippers forward and pulling their body through. It’s like she is swimming the breaststroke in the sand. This leaves a track with flipper marks that are parallel to each other in the sand. Her tail tends to leave a nice drag mark up the middle of the tracks. Below is a photo of our Green Turtle’s track.
Green turtles are also famous for having a very large and messy nest site. In other words, they hide their eggs under lots of thrown sand. Our wonderful team of responders began the arduous task of determining her path and digging through all that thrown sand to find eggs. Here the team has laid out a rope along the path she took up to the dune. Then they carefully start digging along the rope line to find the egg chamber.
Eventually the search grid is widened and more responders jump in to dig a path along the rope line in search of eggs.
Finally, after a couple hours of digging, the team is rewarded with a sighting of eggs! This turtle mom actually placed her eggs right next to the steps of the beach walkover.
Now the team switches from search mode to citizen scientists. Measurements, GPS location of the eggs, and collection of an egg for DNA analysis of the mother turtle are carefully performed. A few eggs are carefully removed to allow space to add a data logger into the nest. This data logger collects hourly temperature data. We use this information to help predict when the hatchlings will arrive. Then the eggs removed are gently put back into their original position in the nest around the data logger. Our Lead Responder, Liz R. records all of this data and enters it into the national database.
Next our team of responders sets up a perimeter to secure the nest site. This nest is particularly difficult since it is essentially laid at the bottom of stairs to the beach. The team arranged the stakes in a way to allow for people to use the steps, but also protect the nest site.
At last the nest is secured and our team gathers for a team photo.
We also want to give a shout out to the amazing family who allowed us to block up their stairs and cheered us on the entire time we were working this nest site. We truly enjoyed their support this morning!
- nest number: 5
- town: Corolla
- date eggs laid: 06/27/2023
- actual emergence date: 9/3/2023
- live hatchlings: 113
- total eggs: 129
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