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August 8, 2019

hatchling 850This summer has been flying by for our turtle team. We can’t believe it’s already August, and that means one thing – HATCHLINGS! On July 3, we observed that one of our nests on Morgan Beach had hatched! Upon excavating, we found that the nest was a very successful nest with 94 hatchlings that emerged, and only five eggs that didn’t hatch. Since then, we have seen the number of new nests slow down, and more and more nests hatch! So far, we have had 41 of our 104 nests hatch.

Every day in the field, we are checking all of the nests for signs of hatching! After a nest hatches, a depression will form in the sand. When we see a nest with a depression, we make a note of it, and wait 3 days. This 3-day period gives any hatchlings that may still be in the nest a chance to make it out as naturally as possible. After 3 days, we take off the cage, and carefully dig up the entire nest. We count the number of hatched eggs, unhatched eggs and anything else we may see.

Sometimes, there are still hatchlings in the nest that need a little help making their way out. We take the hatchlings out of the nest and place them on the beach, allowing them to make their way to the ocean. This process is super important because this is when the hatchling is “imprinting”. This means that the female hatchlings will know to return to the same beach when it is time for them to lay their own eggs.

Hatchling season is my favorite time of the whole season! It is so rewarding to see all of our nests starting to hatch and know that all of our hard work from earlier in the season is paying off. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer holds!

Laura Blessing
Turtle Intern

July 15, 2019

arizona850As an intern in the Communications department at Rookery Bay, my eyes have been opened to a different world. If you're like me and enjoy fishing, you're surrounded by a lot of animals and nature all the time. I have always appreciated my surroundings while out on the boat enjoying the salty air, vast waters and my favorite type of plant life - the mangroves.

Since I was a kid, mangroves always fascinated me. The way they are so strong, but yet so complex. Being on the water so often I never got to look at what's underneath the surface of the mangroves. I only zoomed in on the thought of where the redfish was and how I was going to catch my prize fish.

Walking into the Environmental Learning Center the “attention getter” is the large, 14-foot sculpted mangrove that is partially submerged in a 2,300-gallon aquarium. On the side of the aquarium, you'll find a climb-in "bubble" that puts you up close with the fish, and you can really observe how complex and crucial the mangroves are for providing the fish with a habitat.

The Mangrove Aquarium will always be my favorite exhibit because it offers visitors an experience that can only be found at Rookery Bay. It is unique, beautiful and incredibly detailed. Rookery Bay Environmental Center may be indoors, but this exhibit gives you a true feel of the environment surrounding it.

Arizona Birzgalis-Quintana, Communications Intern

July 1, 2019
turtle blog2 turtle team dock 2502019 Sea turtle season at Rookery Bay is currently in full swing with a grand total of 68 nests and 43 false crawls for the Cape Romano Complex. Kice Island is taking the lead with the most nests of the six islands – a whopping 30 nests! Each day, we are finding anywhere between one to four new nests off the beaches of the Cape Romano complex. In addition to the everyday adventures of field work, we have also had some exciting highlights.

May 28, 2019

turtle intern first nest 2019

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and it's finally here! Sea turtle nesting season has begun!

In the early morning hours of May 8, the turtle team headed out to Cape Romano to do our daily sea turtle nest survey. While walking along Morgan Beach, we discovered our first false crawl. Full of excitement, we headed to New Beach where we saw another crawl. This time, however, it was a nest! Woohoooo! That meant it was time to get to work.

After analyzing the crawl and carefully digging, we located the eggs. We caged the nest and recorded our data - all with the help of our volunteers, Brian McLaren and Sally Ganem. Everyone was so excited we finally had our first nest!

September 1, 2018

tyler and kennedy with bull 250

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.

excavating 250Once 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.

July 2018

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.

turtle boys dig 250After 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

turtle sc 250The 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.

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