Even though Tropical Storm Debby may not be coming ashore near us, she's already causing problems for our nests.
The Ft. Pickens campgrounds were evacuated last night due to high surf/flooding. I arrived at the gate around 4:40 this morning, earlier than usual, so I could get my patrol in and exit the Park before the rain hit us. But Park Rangers were already at the gate to make sure no one entered, informing me that salt water was already covering portions of the road. They had made their last run at midnight and barely got out before the Gulf water started washing across in some areas.
I was bummed that I couldn't do my patrol - the second time in two weeks - but much more so because this almost certainly means the nest of "Mama Mia", the sea turtle I video-taped last week, will be washed out by the time Tropical Storm Debby is finished. Nest FP 6171 (Mama Mia's nest) was only 40' from the water, although it was on a bit of an elevation. It's surely in jeopardy.
Maybe it's a reminder than sea turtles know more than we do. This time last year, Ft. Pickens area of GINS had ten nests; to date this year we only have four. There's a similar situation with Perdido Key. This time last year Perdido Key already had fifteen nests; to date this year they have had seven.
By contrast, at Santa Rosa this time last year they had eleven nests; to date this year, Santa Rosa GINS has 19. Pensacola Beach has two more nests to date than they had this time last year.
Keep your fingers crossed for this to move past quickly and cause minimum damage. I'll keep you updated as I learn more.