It seems that our turtle season has finally started. Thank goodness.
Since I wrote last we've had two more false crawls and one more nest - all in the past two nights. The turtlers have a four night on, one day off schedule rotation. So, Sunday night, my last night on, the two other patrollers were lucky enough to see the female on the beach, even though she didn't nest. They had about two minutes with her, which was long enough for them to scan for a PIT tag and record her metal tag code. Turns out this turtle's name is Heidi and she was one of the loggerheads that was satellite tagged in 2006. So, this afternoon I looked her up on seaturtle.org to see where all she stopped the year she was tagged. You can check out Heidi's information here: http://www.seaturtle.org/tracking/index.shtml?tag_id=64703a
Then a few hours later Jacob and I were cruising East beach and saw a second set of tracks. We went straight into work mode and shut off the UTV, grabbed our stuff, ducked and ran up before we realized that we actually missed the turtle. Still, it was exciting because based on track measurements we could tell that this was her first time to come up on the beach this season.
All of that would have been enough for us (some nights our highlight is picking up trash...), but while we were doing our last run at 5:30a Jacob and I stopped to look at something at the waterline. We had looked at this "dark spot" all night and decided since it wasn't moving that it wasn't a turtle and never stopped. Turns out the "dark spot" was a flipped horseshoe crab. Neither of us had ever seen a live horseshoe crab, so we took a bunch of pictures before letting the big guy go.
It was huge, it's belly side looked alien and each leg had a claw sort of thing. Definitely one of the craziest looking animals I've ever seen.
And then we flipped him over and watched the beast crawl back in to the ocean.
Last night I was off, but around 2:00a I got a call saying that there was a turtle on the beach right off of beach access 42. She had already been there awhile so I hopped on my bike, rode furiously to the access and then sprinted down the beach to the group watching. Fortunately we didn't have to relocate this nest, but unfortunately that means we won't know how many eggs she laid till they actually hatch. I made it there to see her for about the last ten minutes she was on the beach. She was another beautiful, big turtle and after looking up her information the turtlers found that this one was also a satellite tracked turtle. Her name in Thomasina and she was tagged in 2006. You can check out her migration here: http://www.seaturtle.org/tracking/index.shtml?tag_id=49817a
Heidi and Thomasina laid 4 and 3 nests respectively and both had pretty high egg numbers and relatively successful nest, so I'm looking forward to seeing them both again this season.
I'm back out on the beach tonight and hoping for more exciting news for you soon!