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Thursday, June 09, 2005

Turtle Patrol

Sarabelle and Gracie accompanied our neighborhood homeschool friends this morning as the friends and their mother performed their weekly scheduled Turtle Patrol walk.

Every Thursday and Friday during sea turtle nesting season, May - October, this family, as part of an organized effort of volunteers all along the Southwest Florida coast, walks a stretch of beach observing, recording, and marking new loggerhead nests. As the season goes on, they dig up nests after hatchlings have emerged, count egg shells, catalog remaining hatchlings and eggs, and nests destroyed by predators or nests washed away in storms. They've been patrolling more than ten years.

The girls were thrilled to document six sites: four definite nests, one questionable nest, and one false crawl. What's a 'false crawl' you wonder? Imagine a poor mama turtle crawling up to the beach, loaded with eggs, dragging herself all the way up above the high tide line to dry land, ready to burst, and then deciding that, in the words of Miss Clavell, "Something is not quite right," and then having to haul her heavy, egg-filled fanny way back to the water to do it all over again. That's got to be a little uncomfortable and a lot exhausting, don't you think?

They measured the distance from where the tracks first appeared on shore, to the nesting site, and then used triangulation to position the nest. S and G have been invited back on the 24th, when, if temperature conditions are favorable, the first nest of the season is due.

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