Friday, July 27, 2018

Hatching Rescue and Light Pollution Survey July 19th

Tonight was my first shift on light pollution duty.  It is extremely unusual for my parents to let me stay awake until midnight, in fact it may have never happened before.  Because hatchlings emerge from their nests at night, it was necessary for Wildlife Sense to send volunteers to monitor the nests ever hour.

They put a box on the nests so the emerging hatchlings do not go the wrong way, but stay in the nest area.

The first duty I performed was to help Ellie and David dig a trench that was 12 meters long.  The trench is used so the hatchlings get directed straight to the sea.  The trench needs to be 12 meters long because the hatchlings need enough time to calibrate the coordinates in their brains.  Scientists believe that the turtles use the Earth's magnetic field to find their way back to the same nesting site 15 years later! There are no pictures of the nests or trench at night because I could not use flash photography.

Trench for guiding hatchlings to the water.

The light distracts hatchlings and they might not head to the water.  The moon reflecting off the water is hopefully the brightest light they can see.  To help understand how much light is in the area around each beach Wildlife Sense conducts light pollution surveys.  On top of a tripod is a rectangular box that has a built-in GPS and light sensor.  My job was to turn the sensor every 10 degrees while David read the sensor readings.  This was the last time this month they are measuring the luminosity because the moon is now bright enough to guide the hatchlings.   

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