For my first week interning at Rookery Bay Research Reserve on Sea turtle patrol, we had quite the week! On my very first day out, May 22, a camera crew filming a documentary about the Reserve joined us to get footage and pictures of us in action. Luckily for all of us, we had three nests (one on Cape Romano and two on Morgan Beach) and two false crawls. My dad, who drove down with me from Massachusetts, signed on as a volunteer so he could join us and help locate the eggs on one of the nests!
Last Saturday, we were out on turtle patrol at the Cape Romano Complex. While our turtle intern, Tyler, and volunteer, Bob H., were walking the beach in search of sea turtle crawls, I was driving the boat parallel to them. I saw something out of the corner of my eye and turned the boat around and saw something small and brown in the water. From a distance, it did not look like the usual creature that you would expect to see out on the water. Once I got closer, I realized it was some sort of tiny song bird.
Well, nature just pulled a Haydn on us this weekend. Franz Joseph wrote the “Farewell” symphony (45th) where the musicians individually leave the stage. This past weekend, most of our “musicians” left our local stage.
Last week was a feeding and calling frenzy for migrating birds around our headquarters and parking lots. Little warblers were falling from the trees pouncing on any tiny insect they saw, some were feasting on fig fruit, others were scavenging underbrush – all in the quest to top off their “gas tanks” before they continued their journey up north. The waxwings have been ransacking our strangler figs for weeks. Their high-pitched vocalizations were a welcome sound each morning as I arrived to work. It is a sound that always brings a smile to my face. Their frenetic flights en masse from one fig tree to another were a sight to see.
Share the shore! Least terns have returned to Florida beaches for summer breeding season, and one colony has set up at the south tip of Keewaydin Island. Breeding shorebirds are very vulnerable to disturbance, especially since they nest on the same beaches where families like to vacation. To help reduce the stress on the birds, our avian biologists, in cooperation with FWC and with help from our Team OCEAN volunteers, post signs and string around the nesting area to alert visitors to stay back. It is also important to keep trash off of the beach and to not feed wildlife. If you feed wildlife, it can attract avian or mammalian predators to the beach.
Last week, Team OCEAN volunteers rescued an endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle! Bob Fink, Marcia Fink and Monte Kroh were idling past Goodland on the way to the Second Chance CWA when passing motorists alerted them to a sea turtle in distress. The trio located the small turtle, which could not submerge on its own, and contacted Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and provided a cell phone photo to the biologist who identified the turtle and offered a diagnosis called “positive buoyancy,” where intestinal gas is trapped inside the turtle’s shell. They then transported the turtle to CROW, which is the nearest rehabilitation facility certified to hold this species in captivity for treatment. The turtle is now undergoing treatment and is expected to make a full recovery. Way to go, Team O!
Twas the third day of May and all through the water,
not a creature was stirring, not even an otter.
The cages were stacked on the Tursiops* with care,
in hopes that the loggerheads soon would be there,
For raccoons were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of turtle eggs danced in their heads.
And Sarah in her Costas, and Marilyn within reach,
Had just settled their eyes on the Cape Romano beach.