I woke up at 4:00 a.m. to the sound of thunder. It was time to get up and get ready for a Ft. Pickens turtle patrol. The first thing I did was head to the computer to check the weather radar and saw storm cells right over Ft. Pickens.
Dragging my feet a bit to give the storm time to pass over, I finally headed toward the Park a little before 5:00 a.m.
While getting the mule loaded with supplies, backpack, and cameras, and catching up with previous logbook entries to see if we'd had any new nests since my last patrol, I could hear the surf pounding. Still, I was surprised when the headlights of the mule allowed me to see how far the waves were washing in. Having neglected to check the tropical forecast after the radar, I was unaware a tropical depression had formed overnight. Now it seemed to be staring right at me.
You can see from the photo above, why I was forced to drive the mule much higher on the beach than normal due to rising water.
The waves are cutting into the beach.
Tidal pools were forming,
and then crumbling into the Gulf as waves claimed more territory.
Unfortunately we may lose this nest tonight as the system now called Tropical Storm Claudette comes ashore. The nest is so new (August 15) it cannot be relocated. The fragile embryos would probably detach from the yolk sac and die.
The storm surge tonight is expected to be 3' to 5' and the waves are already coming within 10 feet of the nest. Still, if the storm is over quickly and the nest drains well, perhaps...perhaps...there's a chance.
The Ft. Pickens area of Gulf Islands National Seashore will be closing at 4:00 p.m. this afternoon and campers are being asked to leave the area, anticipating that the island could be breached (washed over) in certain areas.