08 July 2008

More Night Patrols

Monica and I spent another night on Pensacola area beaches, looking for nesting sea turtles. We had a loggerhead Caretta caretta nesting on our first run at the Opal Beach area... It was a great way to start a long night.

After we finished our first trip down the beach, Mark called to let us know some beach visitors had reported a nesting turtle at Starboard Village. We went there as quickly as we could, but we were at the Navarre gate in our oldest park mule, so it took over an hour to drive to Park East, load the mule on the truck and get to Fort Pickens Road. By the time we arrived, the turtle had left, but there were still people there who walked us to the nest on the dark night beach.

We talked with the visitors for a bit. It seems people may have crowded the turtle a little, though one of the beach visitors said he tried to control the crowds and keep people from using flashlights and flash photography, which is fantastic! Too much light can keep a turtle from nesting and too much activity can scare a nesting turtle so she aborts the nesting attempt. I've even seen turtles stop laying eggs and start crawling to the ocean without covering the few eggs she has laid. It's always a concern then that the turtle may lay her eggs in the sea, and we lose the potential hathclings... Sad.

Thanks so much Keith and everyone else at Starboard Village last night that worked to both appreciate and protect our mama loggerhead. Her eggs are now safely nestled at the base of the dunes, far from the reach of the Gulf and the traffic and umbrellas on the beach.

This particular turtle didn't crawl high enough on the beach -- and I have to wonder if it was partly because of all the cabanas, umbrellas, beach chairs and toys on the shoreline. Just imagine how scary it must be for an animal crawling on the sand to keep running into things, and not be able to see a clear place to escape (and turtles can't crawl in reverse). I know it creates more work, but it's really best to remove beach equipment at night. Please take a few moments of your time to make the beach safe for nesting and hatchling turtles!

If you encounter a turtle on Pensacola Beach, please call us at the park (850-232-3640 or 302-540-2011). If you see a nesting or injured turtle elsewhere in the state of Florida, please call 1-888-404-FWCC.

For more information on nesting sea turtles and how you can help, please click here.

To read about both natural and man-made obstacles sea turtles encounter, and how they effect a nesting sea turtle, check out Wrong Way Peach Fuzz.

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International Coastal Clean-Up!

The 2008 Coastal Clean-Up on Santa Rosa Island was a great success, but we can work together to make everyday a Coastal Clean-up Day... Help us keep our beaches beautiful!

For details on the 2009 coastal clean-up efforts in Pensacola or in your area, or other ways you can help, click here.

Hello World!

Hello World!
Which way to the sea?