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Sept. 21, 2017

turtle beach 250Since our summer interns evacuated before the storm, Jill and I got to go out to the Cape Romano Complex to do an assessment of the islands and determine if there were any sea turtle nests remaining. Before Hurricane Irma (Sept. 5), Jennifer's last survey showed that we had approximately 30 nests yet to hatch. Unfortunately, due to the amount of water that came up onto the beach, it is safe to say all remaining nests at the Cape Romano complex were lost. We expected to be pulling cage debris out of the trees and bushes but that was not the case at all: were only able to recover three cages, and all the others were completely gone and nowhere to be found.

August 18, 2017

After three exciting months of caging sea turtle nests on the Cape Romano complex, it looks like nesting season is coming to a close. Currently, we are at a total of 135 nests and 127 false crawls. Although loggerheads are most likely done laying eggs on our beaches, we still have hatchings to look forward to!

girls with hatchling 250The hatching season has begun here on Cape Romano! After weeks of hard work finding and caging loggerhead sea turtle nests, we are finally starting to see baby hatchlings emerging from their nests and making their way to the Gulf of Mexico!

During turtle patrol on Friday July 8, we excavated our very first nest of the season at Blind Pass. This nest was right on time to hatch with an expected date of July 6th. Typically, loggerhead sea turtle eggs will incubate from 55-80 days from the date the eggs were laid. While digging and counting egg shells left in the nest, we came across two live hatchlings that were struggling to emerge.

June 28, 2017

Last week, Taylor and I left the Goodland field station earlier than usual in hopes of avoiding the summer heat. Little did we know, we were about to encounter more than just sea turtle tracks. As we approach Cape Romano, we hear a splash right by the shore.

June 19, 2017

Because it is summer, manatees are a less commonly-seen species of marine animal on the water during turtle patrol. But when we do get a glimpse of them, it’s definitely a treat. With their massive round bodies, adorable faces and peaceful demeanor, its hard not to love these not-so-little guys.

June 12, 2017

This year, the Cape Romano Complex was hit with two early-season storms. The first on May 24 - 25, and the second from June 4 - 7. After these storms, Taylor and I were excited to finally see the sun shining again last week! In addition to all of the rain we received, both storms brought along strong winds and very high tides, which reached the sand dunes and washed over nests on many of our beaches. With these winds and choppier waters, many of our beaches were inaccessible or difficult to get to by boat, making our jobs a little more challenging.

May 24, 2017

Jennifer with a Kemp's ridley turtleDuring my first month at Rookery Bay Research Reserve, I had the opportunity to assist Dr. Jeff Schmid, a visiting scientist from the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, with his in-water research on the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii). After we geared up our boat, we drove off to the Ten Thousand Islands complex, where many of these endangered turtles are found.

Once we spotted a ridley coming up for a breath, we held on tight as we sped on over and released a tangle net to catch the turtle. Little did I know, this wouldn’t be so easy! Lunchtime hit, and all the turtles we previously tried to catch had escaped. We managed to see a variety of wildlife during this time, like dolphins and manatees, and came across crab species such as the Gulf calico crab (Hepatus epheliticus), one of the crustaceans that these turtles love to eat.

Sept. 7, 2016

cage2-300With turtle nesting season overlapping with hurricane season, it is expected that if a storm nears Florida it will cause damage to the existing nests. These damages include inundations (high tides washing over nests), erosion (totally washing away nests) and accretion (of sand on top of nests). Sea turtles begin nesting in May and end in the middle of August. The eggs take approximately 60 days to hatch, so any eggs laid at the end of July and beginning of August are due to hatch at the end of September and beginning of October.

When Tropical Storm Colin hit on June 6 it caused 26 nest inundations, 10 washouts, and 1 accretion in the Cape Romano Complex. Colin's arrival early in the season allowed for the nesting turtles to make up for the losses/damages over the following two months. Now nesting season is complete and we have a total of 207 nests. This is a running total including nests that were washed out by TS Colin and Hurricane Hermine, as well as nests that have been depredated by raccoons before the cage could be installed.

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