August 6, 2018
As summer marches on, the nesting season is slowly winding down. But, as you may already know, that means it is hatching season! The next generation of baby loggerheads has begun to arrive!! July 4th was the first nest to hatch out at the Cape Romano beaches, and they've only been increasing since then.
Once we locate a nest that has hatched out, we will wait three days to allow for as many of these little buggers to make their way out as nature intended. Then it's time to take down the cage and unearth whats left to collect data. Click here to read intern Anthony in-depth explanation about this process last month. A "good" nest will have between 80 and 120 eggs in it, and a good hatching event will have a minimal number of unhatched eggs upon excavation. There are a number of reasons why some eggs might not hatch, but typically there is a small percentage of the eggs that are simply unfertilized.
Monday, August 13, 2018
Today, a loggerhead sea turtle was released into Gullivan Bay within the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. It was rescued in July from the waters near Sanibel Island and taken to CROW (Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife) to be treated for illness related to red tide. Once it was well enough, it was decided by Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and CROW staff to release the turtle into the Ten Thousand Islands, away from the worst of the red tide conditions. The Rookery Bay sea turtle team was happy to help. In this video you can see the turtle swimming away to its new life.
July 27, 2018
Several weeks ago, I accepted an invitation from Anne Mauro, our avian ecologist, to assist her team with counting birds and bringing back the signs from the Second Chance Critical Wildlife Area, which is a special tiny island in Rookery Bay Research Reserve.
Col, an intern that works with us and Florida Audubon, picked me up at about 7 am and drove me to the Ten Thousand Islands Field Station near Goodland. There we met Megan, a biologist working for FWC, who joined us for this early morning trip.
The past month has been very busy for the turtle boys. First things first--we excavated our first nest on July 4th! This was very exciting, and it shows that all the work we've done to protect the nests from the beginning pays off.
After we observe a hatchling emergence, we wait three days to excavate the nest. After we dig up the nest, we record the results by counting the number of empty egg shells and number eggs that didn't hatch. For the eggs that didn't hatch, we open them up to determine how far along in the development process before they were interrupted. With the nesting season at its peak, we all look forward to the coming months of hatchling tracks all over our beaches.
July 18, 2018
On Wednesday evening, I set out with Pat, our fisheries biologist, and a boat full of volunteers for Pumpkin Bay to enjoy a night of shark monitoring. It is always an adventure since you never know what you will catch each time he goes out! We set up the gill net as well as the long lines, and almost right away we had something on one of the long line hooks! After pulling up the line, we discovered we had hooked a juvenile bull shark! We got the shark into the boat so we could tag and measure it before releasing it on the other side of the bay to ensure we would not catch it again later in the evening.
Grant funds awarded to Duke University and USF will address ecosystem services and habitat changes in Southwest Florida
NAPLES, Fla. – Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve announces new collaborations with Duke University and the University of South Florida (USF) to conduct research on Rookery Bay lands and waters. The projects are supported by two National Estuarine Research Reserve System Science Collaborative catalyst grants of $114,000 to Duke University and $182,000 to USF.
“These projects will provide important information about ecosystem services and habitat changes to support protection and restoration of coastal habitats,” said Keith Laakkonen, Rookery Bay Research Reserve director.
July 11, 2018
I was skeptical when Keith asked if I wanted to zip down to Shell Island Road with him to see if he could find the Mangrove Cuckoo that someone on Facebook said they saw there two days earlier. Despite my hesitation, I grabbed the camera anyway, figuring maybe I’d find something else to shoot if the bird was not cooperating.
As we walked toward the parking lot at headquarters, I saw a woman with binoculars scanning the mangroves along the creek. I called to her to ask if she was looking for the cuckoo. She said she was and that the report she’d seen (on e-Bird) looked like the bird was here. I told her to follow us, and away we went.