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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

NMB Nest #4

After investigating two false crawls Monday morning, hope was the turtle was not to traumatized and would be back to nest.   Didn't have to wait to long.  NMB Dispatch calls the NMB STP around 10:15PM, report just came in of a large turtle on the beach.  Only 5 blocks south from where the turtle was harassed the night before.  Sure enough, turtle was in the middle of the beach, throwing sand and finishing the nesting process.  But, turtle was surrounded by a group of people, flashlights shining from all sides.  Request was quickly made to turn the lights off, let her finish in the dark.  Everyone watched in the dark as she finished and slowly crawled back into the ocean.

Next morning, only a short length of her outgoing crawl remained down by the water line.  Incoming crawl had been completely erased from all of the people walking around and watching her.

Sun just starting to rise, beach has already been raked

Short outgoing crawl in the wet sand

Beach had already been raked at 6AM so crawl ended in the raked area

In the deeper, dryer sand near the body pit, outgoing crawl is barely visible among all of the human tracks

Body Pit.  Turtle nested in the middle of this wide beach.  Soft layer of sand was only inches deep,
sand under this layer is very dense and hard packed

No incoming track is left after being completely wiped out by all people walking around as the turtle nested.

Egg cavity is difficult to locate.  This turtle had a strange body pit with piles of sand.
lots of thrown sand,  egg chamber was finally found but not where initially thought to be


Two spacer eggs, more common in Leatherback Turtle Nests than
in Loggerhead Nests are found.  Placed next to a golf ball (about the size of a normal 
loggerhead egg) to show size.  No known reason for these little eggs, though
might be excess calcium mother is getting rid of

One egg taken for DNA.  Being examined by a NMB STP

Because the nest is located in the middle of this busy beach, in the way of Sanitation, NMB Beach Patrol and beach users,  the nest is relocated to a quieter part of the beach

116 eggs, 1 egg taken for DNA,  115 eggs being relocated

Empty Egg Chamber

Processing the DNA Egg

Relocating eggs to a new home

Youngest volunteers decide to dig in the sand as the eggs are 
being relocated

Poles going up

Eggs are resting in new home
Poles and orange  DNR sign are up marking the nest


A huge thanks to all who helped this brave mother nest last night.  Although
not a relaxed, dark environment, she was determined and accepted all the people hovering 
around her.

A thanks to Jake, Mike  and Bob for calling NMB Dispatch and then calling the NMB STP. Thanks for your pictures.
 A special thanks to the family who met me on the beach by following my red light and showed me where the nest was.  My initial location was 4 or 5 blocks off so I walked a good distance before finding the nest.

Thanks to all of the Tuesday Volunteers who walked their assigned segment and then helped with the nest.  Thanks to the other NMB STP Volunteers who came on their time off and helped.

Thank you Sue for the pictures.

Monday, July 28, 2014

False Crawls #4 and #5

Sunday night...Call came in around 10:30PM, Turtle on the beach, think she is nesting but a large group of people, 40 or more,  are harassing her, touching her, taking flash pictures, shining bright lights on her.  Very loud...have chased her up into the narrow beach access/walkover of a busy high rise.

Tracks left on the beach Monday morning

Turtle was chased up this narrow walkover

Turtle stop at the top of the walkway and tried to crawl into the adjacent dunes.
She was stopped by this old sand fence.
Vegetation was trampled down by her large body

Trying to turn back to the ocean, turtle went a few feet up this handicapped ramp
People coming down the ramp were asked to use the stairs, they refused, 
stepping over the turtle instead

Once turned in this shallow walkway, turtle sped down to the ocean

Police and the NMB Sea Turtle Patrol arrive on the scene but the poor
turtle has already been chased back into the water

Later, in the early morning hours, a NMB Patrol Officer, patrolling the beach comes across a long incoming and out going crawl.....about 19 blocks North of earlier activity.  This time a quiet, dark part of the beach.  Turtle crawls up the wide beach to the dunes, crawls up a dune, slipping and sliding in the soft sand, runs into dense vegetation which she plows through and turns back toward the water sliding down the dune.

As the sun rises, NMB STP Volunteers start to work the crawl

Incoming and outgoing crawl

Outgoing crawl is slightly longer than incoming, could be an indication of a nest

Beach is very wide, both crawls are very long

Crawling up the dune, sand is deep but very soft.  On the left
it can be seen where the sand collapsed onto her

She crawled through this dense vegetation, trampling and breaking some of the dune grass

The area was probed and probed but no egg chamber was found

False crawl #5

This large hole was found in an adjacent dune....Fox Den???

Hole was much to large to be ghost crab, different appearance as well

Stan and Mary check out the crawl

Monday, Segment C walkers

False Crawls #4 and #5

This poor turtle was harassed.  All she wants is to lay her eggs in peace.  It was surprising she
came back a second time that night.

A huge thanks to the two people who took the time and cared enough to call the police and the NMB Sea Turtle Patrol

A big thanks to the NMB Police

Copy of a report filed with SC DNR

Date: 2014-07-27 11 PM
Location: Horry, South Carolina, United States
Latitude: 33.8267
Longitude: -78.6429
Species: Loggerhead (4)
Comments: Lots of people and flashlights and flash photography. Went up to the dunes tried going up a ramp but eventually went back the the water.
Abundance: Single (1)
Condition: Alive
Length: Over 3ft (1m) up to 6ft (2m)
Tags or Marks: No
Habitat: Beach
Activity: Nesting

Friday, July 25, 2014

NMB Nest #3

Exactly 3 weeks since NMB Nest #2 was located,  NMB STP Volunteer, Jill was stopped as she entered the beach this morning by NMB Sanitation.   "Think we might have a turtle nest a few blocks north!" Jill quickly went to the location, sure enough,  a crawl up and down the beach, incoming crawl ended in the dunes.  Lots of thrown sand and uprooted vegetation.  The word spread and other volunteers quickly arrived on the scene.  

Incoming tracks crossed over by Sanitation truck, middle portion of tracks erased by
beach raking

Turtle tracks com-mingled with truck tracks

View of both incoming and outgoing tracks as seen from the dunes, looking toward the ocean

Turtle crawled over sections of incoming crawl on her way back to the ocean

Body pit in the dunes,  dune grass is trampled down and broken in spots

Body pit is probed and soft sand, egg chamber is quickly found.  Probe marks the spot

Preparing to dig carefully to uncover the egg chamber

Sand is soft, broken roots are exposed an indication the turtle was digging in this spot

Yes, eggs are uncovered

Although in a seemly good spot, high on a dune and protected by dune grass, the nest was laid in the center of a private walkway from a rental cottage.  Decision is made to relocate the nest away from the walkway.

Eggs are carefully moved, one by one to a bucket for transport to new location

Dune Grass that was broken or uprooted as the mother dug her hole and then tried to hide the egg cavity.

One egg is taken for the DNA Study.  Interested NMB STP Volunteers are very interested and allowed to hold this one egg

Egg is processed for the DNA Study,  Yolk is released into the ocean, shell is placed in a vial for transport for analysis

Pam shows how deep the original egg cavity is

GPS position of original nest is taken

All eggs are removed from egg chamber and the hole is covered up

112 eggs less one egg taken for DNA Study

New egg chamber is quickly dug with a cockleshell, Pam measures it with her arm

Eggs are carefully taken from bucket and placed, one by one in new hole

Poles go up around the new egg chamber to keep people out

A very hot and humid morning, but a very satisfying morning for the volunteers who worked with this nest

Thanks Pam and Jill

Weeks of walking have finally paid off

NMB Nest #3 is Official

A huge thanks to Jill and Pam, regular walkers on this segment

Thanks to Donna and Maddy for helping this morning

Thanks to Michael for his pictures

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