Wednesday, June 24, 2009

turtle, turtle, gator

It's been a busy couple of weeks - not much time to do anything other than patrol, eat and sleep.

But in that time we've had nine more false crawls and ten more nests! A couple of these recent nesting nights were particularly exciting because we had two females nesting on the same night. Last week we even had two females come out of the water within ten minutes of each other. Jake and I were driving to see the first turtle and on the way found our own. These are by far my favorite moments because the turtle walk went to watch the first turtle nest, so Jake and I were able to do all of our tagging and measurements and then just sit and enjoy. This night was also really special because one of the mommas was Thomasina who was nesting for the second time, two weeks after her first nest. Unfortunately we rarely get shots of the turtle nesting, but here's a photo of Thomasina's first nest.

She laid another huge nest - 175 eggs - and we hope she'll be back in a few more weeks.

Earlier this week Meredith and I had another unique wildlife run in on the beach. Normally, if we see red eye shine while we are patrolling there is a red fox sniffing around somewhere. This time we saw red eye shine and then after driving closer saw a big, long body. Turns out one of the island's gators decided to go for a swim in the ocean and was hanging out there on the beach. One of the wildlife interns told us that scientists believe these odd trips to the ocean help kill fresh water parasites living on their skin. Regardless, we were thrilled and surprised and over the course of the night watched him walk at least 3 miles down the beach. Meredith and I were also nervous, late night beach walkers never expect to run into an alligator, so we stopped everyone we saw in that area to give them a heads up. Granted the two of us don't know a ton about gators (everything I know I can attribute to Dr. Wheeler's Comparative Vertebrae Morphology class), but we guess that this guy was about 6 and a half feet long - pretty big for this island.

In other island favorite UTV has died an epic death twice in the past week. This time around I don't know if Lola is salvageable. Also we have a team of three people here from Oceana to photograph the nesting process, so we've been hanging out with them this week. As much as I enjoy the company of the other interns it is always nice to have visitors and Emily, Carrie Lynn and Jeff have been great to have around.

Things are going well here, the weather has been gorgeous and the time is flying by. Until next time...

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