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.
In late June, Tyler and I joined interns with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida on their nightly patrol of Keewaydin Island in search of nesting sea turtles. This was very special because it allowed us to witness the sea turtles crawling up on to the beach and nesting. We were shown how to tag the turtles, take genetic samples, and we also inserted temperature data loggers in the nests while the eggs were being laid. The amount of effort it takes the turtles to crawl up on to the beach is immense and made us admire them even more when they were done.
This past week we returned the favor to the Conservancy sea turtle interns by inviting them to join us for our turtle patrol. Luckily, we had to excavate a nest that day and had six stragglers. This was special for them because they had never actually seen hatchlings before! We had to take a selfie at the end of turtle patrol because it was such a good day all around.
Lastly, this is my final week interning at Rookery Bay and I would like to thank all of the staff and volunteers that have welcomed me here, allowed me to join for various adventures/research, and helped make southwest Florida my home for the past ten weeks (especially Tyler, Sarah, Jill, and Greg). This has been an amazing experience, I’ve learned so much, and I will remember my time here fondly. I’m sure that I will be back soon, but until then, may the sea turtles prosper!
Anthony Himmelberger, Sea Turtle Intern