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.
When out in the sand there arose such a clatter,
That I sprang from my seat, to see what was the matter!
Away to the shoreline I drove like a flash,
Tossed out the anchor, where it made a big splash.
The sun where the tracks of the loggerhead's furrow
Showed us where to look for the eggs in the burrow.
When what to my wondering eyes did appear?
But the ping-pong like eggs, once the sand was all clear!
The hogs, ghost crabs and raccoons, oh their lips they did lick;
That I knew in a moment, we must cage these - and quick!
More rapid than eagles we assembled the frame,
Took GPS points and wrote down the nest's name:
"CR1, on May 3rd, 20 feet from the surf,
in the veg-line, a bit shaded by the sea-oat filled turf.
To the top of the beach! Quickly, rake-out the crawl!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"
And we loaded the tools: shovels, ipad and more
Hopped aboard, dropped the prop, backed away from the shore.
And then off to the dome homes the Carolina skiff flew
With a crew full of smiles, and the new intern too.
And then, in a twinkling, imagined the skipper:
The flipping and flapping of each little flipper
in 60 days' time, when everything’s ready,
They begin to dig up, determined and steady.
They’ll be clad in fresh scales, from their beak to their scute
And all those who will see them will say, “OH, HOW CUTE!”
Now that shade was important and I’ll tell you why:
A turtle’s sex is the fault of the sun in the sky.
And by sex I mean gender, please let’s not be prudes
The way turtles decide is: hot chicks and cool dudes.
With their big flappy fins and their wee little shells
Like wind-up toys yearning for waves, tides and swells
To the light of the Gulf they will follow their snout
(So make sure to remember your lights are all out!
Because these little ones, hatching near end of June
Well, they'll think that your lights are the stars & the moon.)
If they don't get confused and they make it to sea,
Then it's time to embark on their epic journey
To the Sargasso Sea they can hide and be happy
There they’ll feast in the seaweed, growing all fat & sassy.
Years will pass as they munch crustaceans in their bellies
Though their leatherback cousins prefer to snack on some jellies
‘Till one day it is time to retrace their long track
To the Ten Thousand Islands they'll make their way back
Past the drift nets, the long lines, pollution and sharks
to find snow-white sand beaches and national parks
Over hundreds and thousands of miles they roam
To the great state of Florida, we'll welcome them home.
Condensed: We got our first nest of the year on May 3rd at the Cape Romano complex! It should hatch out at the end of June/the first week of July.
*Tursiops is the name of the Turtle Patrol boat
Learn more about the Reserve's sea turtle monitoring program.
Tyler Beck, Sea Turtle Intern