Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Turtle Season at the Beach

It's Turtle Season again and those Mama Turtles have been busy laying nests this year. So far we have 20 nests, just on Ft. Morgan beaches alone. Ft. Morgan Beaches consists of about 13 miles of beach and they are patrolled each morning on an ATV by a refuge worker and 2 volunteers from the Share the Beach program. The patrol is looking for signs of a mother turtle and possible nests. These signs are pretty easy to spot most of the time. A turtles tracks look like a four wheeler, or a tractor drove out of the water, made a loop, and went right back in the water. If there is a nest she leaves tell tale signs of that too!!! The volunteers and the refuge workers are trained to spot these signs quickly, and start looking for eggs. Sometimes the workers and volunteers have to move the eggs back a little further from the water. They do this because the mother turtles laid the eggs in a place that will be covered by water if we get high water and the eggs will drown. The Alabama beaches are very important to the turtle population because it is considered a northern beach to the turtle territory. The gender of a turtle depends on the temperature of the sand they are laid in. Our sand is a bit cooler so we are more likely to produce males. A Mother Loggerhead Turtle can lay up to 190 round white eggs at a time and she can do this up to three times in a year. These eggs look just like ping pong balls except the shells are leathery. I have included a couple of photos donated by Mr. Dave Record a visitor to our area. This is a mother Kemp's Ridley preparing to nest. We have Loggerhead, and Kemp's Ridley Turtles nests primarly on our beaches. Thank you Mr. Record for your help.

You should never touch sea turtle eggs, hatchlings or adult turtles because they are protected animals, and it could be dangerous to your health and theirs. If you come up on a nest or an animal, wait by it and get a friend to call 1-866-SEA TURTLE they will know how to help.
I have been truly blessed to help find two nests this year, I have included a couple of pictures below of the eggs so you can see what they look like. The babies will hatch out about 55 days after they are laid. I know I will be there to see my nests hatch out. I can't wait!!!! Our Ft. Morgan nests start hatching next week, and everyone is very excited. Who knows you may get to see this exciting event on your trip to the beach.
Did you know the less you leave on the beach the easier it is for the mamas to lay eggs and get back to the water before daylight. Because of things on the beach we have had several mothers get lost and go toward streets instead of the water and get trapped behind chairs and under tents. Make room for our turtles on the beach, pull your things away from the water, or take them back completely, give these rare creatures all the space they need.


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3 Comments:

At August 6, 2009 at 5:46 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey katie!

This is lindsey. Me and my boyfriend Ryan will be coming down this Saturday. I'm so excited and maybe we will get to see some more baby sea turtles this year. These are some awesome pics of the adult turtles. I can't wait to see you guys.

 
At August 6, 2009 at 5:49 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey katie!

This is lindsey. Me and my boyfriend Ryan will be coming down this Saturday. I'm so excited and maybe we will get to see some more baby sea turtles this year. These are some awesome pics of the adult turtles. I can't wait to see you guys.

 
At August 6, 2009 at 7:49 PM , Blogger Kathy B. said...

This is an awesome article with great pictures. Hugs - Kathy B.

 

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