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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Inventory of Nest #11, 42nd Ave N, Cherry Grove

July 4, 2011..Several members of the NMBSTP had gathered at 61st Ave N.  Nest #1 was approaching maturity, sand had cracked and a depression was forming. The volunteers were afraid the hatchlings might emerge when the beach was crowded during the NMB Fireworks Display.  Around 11PM, John grew restless and decided to take a walk.  Several blocks away, at 42nd Ave N, he came across an adult loggerhead sea turtle crawling down from the dunes.  The loud noise from the constant fireworks did not seem to phase her.  She had made a mess of the dunes, climbing up one dune, sliding down, walking across to another dune, climbing up that one.  Thinking somewhere in her crawl, there must be a nest, John marked the area until more volunteers could probe the area, early the next morning.

The next morning, surprise, another crawl just SW of the first crawl.  This time, there was a well defined body pit at the base of the dunes.

 Crawl width was the same.  The first crawl was probed, no eggs found.  The body pit from the newer crawl was probed,  egg cavity quickly found.  Apparently this busy turtle never nested the first time, but came back after the beach quieted down and nested, not far from her original crawl.

Nest #11, 42nd Ave N, Cherry Grove.

52 days later, August 26, Hurricane Irene is roaring past North Myrtle Beach.  Although well off shore, her effect was felt.  Between 5PM and 6PM, Friday night, rough surf and the high tide, the nest was over-washed.

But, later that night or early Saturday morning, the hatchlings emerged.  At 6AM, two large exit holes were visible at the nest, but the wind and rain had erased all tracks.

By sunset Saturday night, Irene had passed on her way up the coast.  The end of a very windy day, sand blowing down the beach.

Tuesday, August 30, the nest was inventoried.  

Natural nest.  Still wonder how the mother turtle does this!  This hole was over 2 feet deep.

Because this nest was over-washed by the high tide,  it was feared that many hatchlings might have drown.  But only one dead hatchling was found in the nest.

Only 8 unhatched eggs were in the nest.  Of the eight, only one died in late development.  Perfectly formed hatchling that died before leaving it's egg.  Yolk sac is attached.

Rob showed these curious girls the turtle still in it's egg.  "Is he serious?!"

  Thank you John, Betty, Steve, Bobbie and Debbie for all your work with this nest. Thank you Gwen for your great pictures of the high tide.  Thank you Denise and Melanie for your U-Tube video.   Despite the weather and Irene, it was a huge success.  Natural nest and natural, undisturbed emergence of the hatchlings.

Inventory Results:

Nest was laid on July 5, 2011
42nd Ave N.  Cherry Grove

Nest emerged on August 27,  Day 53
113 eggs in nest
105 eggs hatched
8 unhatched eggs, of which 7 died in early development, 1 died late development
1 dead turtle was found in the nest
1 live turtle was found in the nest

92.3 % Hatchling Success Rate.

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