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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

NMB Nest #2

Call came in around 10:30PM,  " there is a sea turtle nesting behind a trash can."   Trip down to the beach, to late to see the nesting turtle, but a group from St. Louis were still on the beach, talking with NMB STP Volunteer John.  Nice large incoming and outgoing track, very visible even at night.  The group had watch the turtle nest, they respected her and stayed behind her....creeping up occasionally to see the eggs drop.  
Two other young ladies from Tennessee had also watched the turtle, they called the Patrol to let us know what was happening.

Laying eggs....picture was taken from behind....

From observers Megan and Kasey---St Louis

Returning to the water

The nest was high up on the beach, but this section of the beach is suffering from a severe erosion problem, especially after tropical storm Ana, earlier in May.  The nest was actually below the spring high tide line.  The sand was very wet and heavy so the body pit was not well define, it actually looked more like a false crawl than a nest.  With lightning in the back ground, John helped rope off the body pit, letting the Sanitation Department know of a possible nest if they should get to the scene before we could get back in the morning.

A rainy night, a thunder storm rolls through around 4AM.  Storm had passed by the time we started to gather between 5:30AM and 6AM, but it was still raining steadily,  NMB STP Volunteers as well as the group from St Louis and the callers from Tennessee.  Umbrellas up, rain gear on.   Between the rain and the early traffic from the sanitation trucks and beach rakers, little was left of the crawl.  The body pit was even worse, although protected from truck traffic, the heavy rain had erased many markers made by the turtle, any mounded sand from the turtle digging was flattened, no thrown sand was visible and tracks were gone.   But one small hole was found, evidence a ghost crab had visited.

Probing was difficult, but the egg chamber was eventually found, not far from the ghost crab hole.  Eggs were quickly uncovered, a very shallow nest, the eggs were actually very close to the surface.  One empty, curled shell was found, the ghost crab already had breakfast and another egg, although still whole and intact, had a slit in it, ghost crab was getting ready for seconds.  A couple of more eggs were found outside the egg chamber, ghost crab had pulled them out but had not had a chance to destroy them.

Body pit this morning 

Hard to locate but soft sand indicating the egg chamber is finally found

Yes, eggs.   Very close to the surface

Relocating the eggs, eggs are moved very carefully, one by one

Annette and Neal moving the eggs

Another large nest, 162 eggs

Egg used for the DNA Sample

Paulette processes the DNA egg, the whole egg already compromised by the Ghost Crab is used,
here it is opened and yolk is discarded

Shell is placed in a vial of preservative 

Empty egg chamber

Way to go girls....thanks for the help both last night and this morning.
Thanks for protecting the nesting mother

Eggs have been relocated, poles are up, signs are in place

A huge thanks to all who helped with the nest both last night and this morning.....Kenlee and Kelsey,  Megan and Kasey....Not ideal weather conditions, steady rain most of the time, wet, clinging sand....but everyone pitched in and helped

Thanks to the NMB STP volunteers who came to help.  

A special thanks to John for helping mark the nest late last night and then bringing a big umbrella this morning.

NMB Nest #2

164 eggs, 162 eggs relocate above the Spring High Tide Line,
2 eggs compromised by a ghost crabs, shells were used for the DNA Study

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