Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Waiting Room

North Myrtle Beach Sea Turtle Patrol has been waiting...and waiting. Our first nest is 53 days old and showing signs that it could be any night now. Usually nests don't hatch until day 55 through 60, but the weather has been unusually hot and dry. Those are two conditions that can speed up the process.
We started watching the nest closely Sunday, July 3rd, after a crack started to form around the nest cavity. We could hear some activity through a listening device under the sand, but nothing happen.

Then we started worrying and planning...What if they emerged 4th of July! When the beach was packed, noisy and fully of flashlights! It could be a disaster. But we got lucky. For once, I was happy they didn't emerge.
So now we continue to watch and wait. The crack around the cavity is getting bigger and there is a more defined depression. Like a nervous dad in the waiting room, I'll be at the nest tonight hoping for the best. If you come to visit the nest, please remember to give us our space. We are using very sensitive listening devices that pick up every footstep and voice. Please remember to keep flashlights and flash photography away from the nest too. If you do have a flashlight, make sure it has a red cover on it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

This Just In!

False Crawl picture from last year
In my previous post, I mentioned the nest are getting closer and closer...well I just found out that a false crawl was reported on Waities Island!  This is the earliest reported false crawl in the island since they started patroling it in 2006. A false crawl is when a sea turtle comes on the beach to nest, but for one reason or another decides the spot isn't just right and she goes back to the water. She may very well return tonight and nest or choose another nearby beach. I'll talk more about false crawls a little later in the season, but this is a very good sign!

Here we go NMB Sea Turtle Patrol! I've got the turtle phone by my side every morning waiting for a phone call haha.

They're Getting Closer

14 nests so far in South Carolina...and every nest is getting closer and closer to the Grand Strand. Of course there is no real way of predicting when the turtles will start nesting on our beaches, they don't necessarily move further north with every nest. But I would LOVE to have a nest on North Myrtle Beach before the end of May. Last year's first nest was around this time, the timing was perfect!

Our water temperature just made it to the 70 degree mark and I think loggerheads need at least 68º water. We need some nice warm sunny days to get the temps up just a little bit more I think.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Arrrr! Pirate's Farewell

Saturday, Pirate said bon voyage to the South Carolina Sea Turtle Hospital. After spending almost two years in the hospital, he is finally well enough to be released. I wanted to go to the release, but I didn't get away from work in time. Pirate has had a very long and expensive stay at the hospital. The video below explains why pirate landed in the hospital and his struggle over the past 18 months.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Here We Go Again!

Let's hope that this year is as magical as last year! I'm doing the series again on WMBF news, and this year it's going to be even bigger and better! I'm lucky enough that a very talented news photographer is also my fiancè, and he's just as passionate about sea turtles as I am! 

We've already had a great interview with Ann Willson from Myrtle Beach State Park. She gave some great insight on everything from the DNA study to the sea turtle nesting forecast for this year. I'll have bits and pieces of her interview sprinkled throughout the series.

Pirate waiting on food
The highlight of my journey so far this season is getting to visit the Sea Turtle Hospital in Charleston, SC. I had a chance to see Pirate and Little Debbie, both Grand Strand sea turtles, as well as all the behind the scenes activities. The best news of all is Pirate and Little Debbie are getting to go back home...to the ocean! Pirate has had a long stay at the hospital and a very hard road to recovery, but now is doing good.

The hospital is also getting ready for a HUGE release (Pirate and 5 other turtles) this weekend at Isle of Palms. Look for a shot of Pirate swimming out to the open sea this Sunday evening on WMBF News at 6.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

They're Here!

After waiting ALL night Tuesday night, the cute little critters decided Wednesday would be the perfect night to make their appearance.
 They didn't waste any time. When I got to the nest at 8pm it hadn't changed at all since Tuesday. I even doubted if it was going to happen. We couldn't hear a thing on the microphone because of the wind and Linda was checking the nest every 30 minutes or so.
The crowd of people passing by started to grow and all of a sudden I hear Linda quietly call my name. I
 look over and there is a tiny depression. I had just set all of my camera equipment up and put all of the sand and moisture barriers on it (bags and sacks and rain gear). So I start taking all the bags off and I look over and the hole is already bigger.
A hand full of them emerged before I could even call Michael and get the rest of the gear set up. ...and the crowd was growing. I filmed the first little guy that emerged walk all the way to the ocean.
Just as I was finally getting the rest of the gear ready to go the big show started! They call it a boil for a reason! All the tiny sea turtles started crawling over each other and just pouring out of the nest! It was amazing. then as they followed the moon to the water they would spread out. It was a challenge to manage a crowd of people and tons of baby turtles walking in the dark to the water, but every single one of them made it. It was an experience of a lifetime! Thanks to everyone that helped me along the way. More pictures and video on the way! Be sure to watch WMBF News at 6 on Sunday for the full story. CONGRATULATIONS NORTH MYRTLE BEACH SEA TURTLE PATROL! 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Final Count Down!

Stay tuned for pics of the hatch! It could happen any night now...Kudos to the S.C.U.T.E volunteers that have been camping out at the nests all night for the past week or so. If you happen to stumble up on us at the nest, please remember a few things:
*No flashlights or flash photography. Turtles are drawn to the light and can become disoriented. Even light colored clothing can get them off course. Just think, in a totally natural habitat, the ocean would reflect the moon and be the brightest source around.
*Please stay back if a volunteer asks you to. Even if the turtles haven't hatched yet. We have a microphone buried underground and it is very sensitive. We can hear when people walk and talk near the nest.

Here are a few things we are watching for and more information about this cool microphone.