Saturday, July 14, 2018

Volunteering with Coastal Wildlife Club

Day 1 July 4 2018

My dad and I arrived at Casperson Beach at just about 6:30 AM.  We joined Dianne and Pam from Coastal Wildlife Club and we learned a lot about what they do, and we participated in several important activities.  One of the first questions I asked Dianne was what species of turtle were the nests from, and she said they were mostly Loggerheads and once in a while they have Green Sea turtle nests.

We arrived at the first nest site which was marked by orange tape and stakes.  The stakes had several pieces of information written on them, such as the number of the nest and date the eggs were laid.  Each nest has a number that is recorded in a log book so the progress can be monitored.

Top number is "zone" bottom is nest number.  Below is the date and monitor's initials.
Dianne was digging into a nest and handing me empty egg shells.  The two main types of predators that destroy nests are raccoons and armadillos.  The volunteers know when it is a armadillo because they leave tail marks. I counted the egg shells and we transferred them to a hole that we dug closer to the water.  The eggs will decompose more quickly closer to the water and they will not attract more predators and flies to the nests that still have "live eggs" in them.

The tail marks clearly indicate an armadillo was the predator.  

We saw two "false crawls" which is when the females crawl onto the beach and partially digs a hole but do not lay eggs.  Di
Anne asked me to draw a big "X" through the track marks so future monitors will know it has been counted.

Day 2 July 6 2018

This morning my mom came out with me. We arrived and we headed down the beach.  We thought we saw the turtle patrol from Coastal Wildlife Club but it was just shark tooth hunters.  We eventually found Dan and Cliff from CWC and over the next hour and a half with them we learned three new facts.

Dan recording the nest in the log book.

The first thing I learned was that Loggerheads use alternating flippers to crawl up the beach and their marks are comma shaped.  The Green Sea turtles use their flippers simultaneously and their marks are in a straight line and not curved like the Loggerheads.  If you know this when you look at the crawl marks, you can identify which species laid it's eggs in that location.

The second thing I learned is how big of an area the volunteers know how to mark off.  The first stake is placed at the edge of the body pit, and the eggs are approximately three feet out from there.  They place the stakes in a triangular area around the body pit.  The body pit is the place where the females lay down and start to rearrange the sand to lay her eggs in the hole she digs.

The last fact I learned is that Loggerheads used to be on the endangered list but are now listed as threatened.  This means the volunteers only dig up every 20 nests and not every single one.

On July 9th my dad and I will be going out again with Dianne and Pam and hopefully I will learn even more on the next trip out.

Day 3 July 9th 2018

Today we patrolled with Dianne and Dawn and mostly observed new nests.  We found two new nests as well as one false crawls.  An interesting fact we learned today is that monitors use an app on their phones to get the latitude and longitude of the nests.  These coordinates are recorded in the log book.

There were also several nest destructions.  Some were total destruction (TD) and others were only Partially destroyed (PD).   When we finished monitoring I had chance to observe a Gopher Tortoise in her burrow.  The monitors decided to name her Sammy.

Day 4 July 11th 2018

Today was our last beach patrol and we saw something upsetting.  About twenty unhatched baby turtles were killed by an armadillo.  Armadillos do not even eat the turtles, they just dig up the nests, and crack the eggs and suck out the yokes.  Armadillos are horrid invasive animals that are trespassers on the beach.  They should be trapped and removed, but CWC has not been able to get the state of Florida to cooperate so far.

There are no pictures of this because I did not want my mom to take any because I did not want to see it again. 

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