September 1, 2018
Working at Rookery Bay Research Reserve has been quite an experience! In addition to the everyday adventures of turtle patrol, I've been able to join in other types of field research and activities recently...
One of the programs I was able to assist with was the reserve's ongoing fisheries monitoring project. Reserve biologist Pat O'Donnell oversees the fisheries study that involves shark research and I was able to assist him on a couple trips. The study targets three bays: Pumpkin, Fakahatchee & Faka Union, and we used a gill net and longlines to bring live sharks on board for tagging and data collection. As you would imagine, this can be delicate work both for the safety of the volunteers and for the sharks themselves, but under Pat's guidance, everyone works together well and it was a fantastic experience. Learn more about this important research.
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.
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 1, 2018
The Cape Romano "turtle boys" were recently introduced to the many birds of Rookery Bay. This began when Anne M., Avian Ecologist on staff, informed us of some potential turtle nests on Second Chance. We were excited to check it out, as Second Chance is a Critical Wildlife Area east of Cape Romano and is closed to human visitors from March-August (sea turtles can't read signs, anyway.) Almost immediately after anchoring our boat and stepping ashore, we encountered some volunteers with Team OCEAN, the reserve's boat-based outreach and education team. Their job is to help make sure boaters are aware of the importance of avoiding the closed area, and once they got close enough to read the lettering on our boat, they were clearly glad to learn that we weren’t actually law-breaking citizens.
June 21, 2018
We had a spontaneous outreach session recently while out on Turtle Patrol. The turtle team found a new nest at Dickman's Point on Kice Island, right around the corner from a survival skills workshop for children being put on by the Marco Island Police Dept and Marco Fire Dept. These kids had the unique opportunity to see a loggerhead crawl, as well as the turtle eggs themselves! We fielded questions for about 10 minutes and helped educate them not only on sea turtles, but also estuaries, endangered species and beach stewardship as well. It was wonderful to see the interest being sparked in this upcoming generation - and I believe there were more than a few officers who were equally excited (some maybe even more so than the kids, lol).
If you see us our on the beach this summer, don't hesitate to come ask us questions about sea turtles, or the environment in general. We love nature and are always happy to share our passion with others!
Tyler and Anthony
Sadly, last week we experienced our first stranding of the season. While we were patrolling Blind Pass, a boater alerted us that he had seen a dead turtle in the vicinity. Sure enough, in the channel between Blind Pass and Dickman’s Point we spotted the dead loggerhead sea turtle, floating in the water. Everyone on the boat was extremely sad upon locating it. We were told to tie it off to a mangrove tunnel and fill out a stranding form. Because we did not have the appropriate equipment to complete the report, and due to afternoon thunderstorms, we had to return to the turtle the next day to do so.
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!
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.