Yesterday evening we were having a late afternoon stroll on the beach. I wanted to stick my toes in the Gulf – if the water was cold, I would have felt pretty good that Irma wouldn’t come our way. Unfortunately, while it wasn’t warm, it wasn’t cold either, so it’s still a toss-up.
We were heading back, when I noticed a lady walk onto the beach and lay a towel down next to the turtle nest that we’ve been watching. I knew what she was doing, so I had to go back to talk to her!
You see, we have amazing volunteers who keep tabs on all of our turtle nests. When rough water takes out the barricades, they replace them. They try their best to be there when the babies hatch so they can give a helping hand to any who go in the wrong direction.
Sure enough, she heard us way before we got there. These volunteers lay on the sand right next to the nest so they can listen for any activity in the nest. Unfortunately she didn’t hear anything, but she says it was still pretty early and to start keeping a careful eye around the 15th of this month. We’re really hoping the storm doesn’t bring so much storm surge that it takes out the nest.
They have really changed a lot of what they do with the nests this year, and she’s said for the most part it has been successful. They used to move the nests to the safety of the sand dunes, but this gave the babies further to walk (or shuffle) to get to the Gulf. They also used to put a screen over the nests when they were close to hatching to protect them from predators, but it also kept the turtles trapped in the nest. This year they are not doing that, which really helps the hatchlings that are towards the bottom of the nest. One surprising thing?
This year they have had several nests hatch during the middle of the day – they typically hatch at night. I learned that afternoon thunderstorms may have been the cause of the early hatching, since they storms case the sand to cool off, which makes the hatchlings think it is later than it is. We have about 46 nests in the Gulf Coast area – at least ten have hatches so far, so let’s hope we get some more!