Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Amanda's special patrol

Sea turtle patrolers never know what the day will bring for them.  Sometimes it's fair weather, soft breezes, and lots of birds to watch while we make our trek down the beach, scouting for sea turtle tracks which may lead us to a new nest.  But, we aren't always so lucky, and yesterday morning, Amanda, who patrols the Santa Rosa area on Mondays, woke up to thunder, lightning, and rain.

Amanda was scheduled to stop and remove screens off of three nests before beginning her patrol.  Considering the amount of lightning, it was a rather harrowing task to run from her car, out to the beach, and set each screen aside.  The beach is not a safe place to be during a storm and sometimes we just have to wait it out!

After Amanda was able to begin her patrol, she realized that she had forgotten to remove one of the screens from a nest she checked.  Fear will do that do a girl! ;-)  So she focused on completing the east side of her patrol and hurried back to take care of SR 6021, the nest still screened, before the sun popped out and clouds cleared.  Sun and heat can quickly put hatchlings in a state of distress, which is why it is so important for us to monitor a nest carefully.

Since hatchlings had actually emerged from SR 6021 the night before, it was very possible a few stragglers were going to make their way out in the next couple of days.   And, upon Amanda's arrival back at the nest, probably half an hour from the time she had checked it earlier, two little hatchlings had indeed surfaced and were impatiently awaiting to be set free. 

Amanda quickly pulled the screen, put the hatchlings in her tote, and carried them down to an area about 15 ft from the water.   But, suddenly the hatchlings spied the rough surf and seemed to say to themselves, "Yikes! Those are some big waves", whereupon they did a U-turn, and crawled right back toward her! 

Amanda kept turning the hatchlings back toward the Gulf, but finally had to move them closer to the water.  The damp sand seemed to finally trigger the appropriate response and they quickly made a bee-line for the surf and swam into the frothy waves.

Amanda stayed to check and recheck the beach, making sure the little guys weren't washed back ashore and grabbed by predators like ghost crabs - who always seem to be waiting for a tasty hatchling snack.  (Arrrrghhhhh, bad crabs!)  She then said a farewell to the tiny turtles she had named Stormy and Skye due to the stormy morning on which they made their appearance  (yes, some of us do bestow names on the scouts and stragglers) and wished them luck on their journey.

Congratulations, Amanda!  Job well done!

Amanda's story is dedicated to Ryan, his sister, Alli, and cousins Marin and Nathan in Minnesota; Jake and his brothers in Iowa, Claire in Alabama; Meagan and Lauren in Louisiana; Gavin and his little sister Sophie in Michigan,  and all my other young blog followers who love our sea turtles and spend their time on the beach learning more about them, as well as helping to keep our beaches clean while they are here!  It is through their enthusiasm for sea turtle conservation that these endangered marine creatures may survive!

[Photos by Amanda Moomey]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ryan and his sister Alli and cousins Marin and Nathan will be thrilled to read this story.