25 July 2008

Two Endangered Species, Just Hanging Out

Ok, so technically, loggerheads are still threatened, but there is current petition working it's way through the official channels to change their status to endangered. That's not a good thing, and a result of a steady decline...

I had to assess three sea turtle nests over the last day or so, and there were stragglers in each nest which yolk sacs still attached. Until they absorb all their yolk and the remnants drop off, they'll live in a cooler. They can't swim away from predators very well if they still have to drag their yolk sac through the water... It's a little like a baby's umbilical cord, except this is a reptile, not a mammal.

I keep each nest in a separate cooler in case of bacterial growth or other contamination, but I had to take advantage of the unique opportunity to get a photo of a Kemp's (Lepidochelys kempi) next to a loggerhead (Caretta caretta). What differences are evident to you?

You can see an egg in this image as well. The Kemp's ridley nest seemed to have viable eggs, even 96 hours after the first hatchling emerged. Common convention is to assess a hatched nest after 72 to 96 hours with the assumption that they are finished hatching. I didn't want to take a chance on this critically endangered species though by opening eggs that still looked viable. Kemp's are not supposed to nest here, and it may be a little cool for them. Maybe that, combined with all the rain over Blue Angels weekend, has slowed down some of the hatching. Maybe the shallower eggs, incubating in warmer temperatures, hatched first. It's so hard to know what we don't yet know about sea turtles -- it's a new science, and we change our management behaviors as we learn more about them.

With such low hatchling survival, I don't want to be responsible for the loss of a single animal. The eggs looks a little gray, but they've been about 10 inches under the sand for two months, so that's to be expected!

See that dark little belly? Typical Kemp's... Isn't s/he adorable?

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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?