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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Briarcliffe nests

Braircliffe Nest #4

NMB STP was notifed just beore 11PM that a large turtle was cralwing up the Braircliffe Beach.  Volunteers from the Briarcliffe Patrol were notified.  Cindy, Bob and Claire Liddle, and Larry  went out and watched the turtle nesting.  The turtle had crawled up to the back of a dune.  After nesting, she then began to crawl around in the area behind the dunes very disoriented for about 10 minutes.  After trying to steer her in the right direction for the longest time, it was decided to try a light source to see if that would help, so a flashlight on a very tight beam was shined in front of her, while the holder stood behind the turtle.  She began to follow the light to get back over the dune.  After she was back on ocean side of the dune, the light was turned  light out and she headed directly back to the ocean.  If she had continued to head to the swash, she probably would  never had found her way, so drastic measure were needed (the light beam).

"We went out this morning thinking this was going to be a breeze.  Boy, we're we fooled.  Since we stood a distance back from her last night, but saw her throwing sand, we just knew we were sure where the nest was.  I probed what looked like the body pit for an hour and found nothing.  We had actually decided to call it a false crawl.  As we began to head out I noticed an area in her crawl that was a little lower and flatter, so I stuck the probe in and on the second probe I hit the cavity.  This area was about 8 feet back from what appeared to be her pit.  We uncovered the pit and found the eggs.  Because of the location in a high vegetated area and also an area that would not be conducive for the hatchlings finding their way, we decided to relocate.  While removing the eggs, we found 9 broken eggs (using one for the DNA sample).  We relocated 113 eggs (total 122 laid) to a better area on the beach near our other relocated nests."  
Want to say thanks to Bob and Claire Liddle, Cherie Cooper, Cindy, and Betsy Cooper for their help this morning.
Moral of the story is, "Don't believe what you think you see when there is low light."

Major emergence may have taken place earlier in week.   A couple of days later,  tracks showed several hatchlings had emerged and egg shells were on top of the egg chamber.  But earlier rain and hard sand erased or did not even allow us to see any tracks. Inventory was performed on day 59.   22 Hatchlings were stuck in the bottom of a very, very deep egg cavity.  Sand was hard packed, almost like clay instead of sand.  This nest was located on top of a newly forming dune, blowing sand over the last 50 days had really built up on top of the nest.  Think the egg cavity was so deep, the hatchlings so far down, that they would never have gotten out.  Once we opened up the egg cavity, they came to life and started climbing out.  All but one were let climb out by themselves and run down the beach.  The last one still had the yolk sac attached so put back into the egg cavity to rest a couple of more days but original egg cavity was filled in so the hatchling is not as deep down as before. 

Nest laid on July 12
122 eggs, 113 eggs relocated from back of dunes
Hatchlings emerged on Sept 5
47 hatched eggs, 66 whole or unhatced
21 live hatchlings found in egg cavity, released on the beach
41.6 Hatch Success Rate

Briarcliffe Nest #3   June 29, Second crawl and nest of the morning
The turtle had come ashore and crawled to the dune attempting to climb it.  She was unsuccessful and crawled a little ways NE but then turned around and headed SW where she unsuccessfully tried to get up the dunes 2 more times.  I guess she had played softball and knew after 3 strikes you are out, so she began to head back towards the ocean but decided she had an unfinished task and began to nest below the major high tide line.  We located her egg cavity and found 126 eggs but, two were broken.  Eggs were relocated to the dunes, between the two Briarcliffe accesses.  124 eggs were relocated and we used one of the broken eggs for the DNA sample. Many thinks to Claire Liddle, Bob and Karen Lane, and Cindy for all their help. 

This nest emerged as darkness fell on Aug. 22.  Larry and Cindy checked the nest one last time after completing the inventory of nest lone hatchling had popped out, more soon followed.  All raced straight to the water.    Inventory last evening, wind blowing sand up the beach, into the dunes.  Beautiful evening, soft new sand over the egg chamber.  Larry started digging, finding soft sand deep over egg chamber.  Then he found hard packed, very moist sand, and then.... hatchlings......he started bringing them out by the handful......38 total....all trapped in the hard packed, moist sand, all very active, all eager to go....

Hatchlings emered on Aug 22.  
126 eggs, 124 relocated
116 hatched eggs, 8 whole or unhatched
38 live hatchlings released on the beach
93.55 hatch success rate

Briarcliffe Nest #2
NMB STP was called around 10:30 PM, nesting turtle on Briarcliffe Beach.  Larry was notified and he walk down and found the crawl. This nest was originally 1/2 mile NE of Land's End in the spiritual center property.  This turtle crawled up and never made it up to the dunes.  She layer and retraced her tracks almost identically (only one set of tracks).  She was off the beach before high tide so no tracks in the harder sand.  She was well below the major high tide line so nest was relocated higher into the dunes,  between the two entrances.  She laid 150 eggs (none broken).  One for DNA sample and relocated 149.  The young lady helping us was Grace from the midwest.

What was not known was another turtle was busy nesting about 1 mile further north on this same beach. Discovered the next morning.  

 Hatchlings emerged in the dark on Aug. 13.....Hard sand, no tracks up at nest but many tracks in the softer sand down by water line.  

150 eggs, 149 relocated back to the dunes
hatchlings emerged on Aug 19
143 hatched eggs, 5 whole eggs
8 live hatchlings released on beach
96% hatch success rate

Briarcliffe Nest #1
MNB STP was called in late evening.....Turtle nesting on Briarcliffe. Larry walked down and found the turtle on the beach still.  She was covering the nest and I hung around to see her crawl back to the water.
We went down this morning and probed until we found the nest cavity.  Based on its location and the fact there were some broken eggs, we decided to move the nest into the Briarcliffe area.  
The turtle laid 146 eggs.  We relocated 143.  2 eggs were broken of which we used one for DNA and one egg was misshapen with no contents in it.  After relocating we put up poles and rope to mark the new site.
This turtle laid a few weird eggs, a couple of real large ones, a couple that were elongated as if two shells didn't separate and the one I mentioned before that had no contents.
We had great help from Cherie, Jack, Beth, Vicki and Mark, Tara and Leigh.  Thanks to all of them.  Also Morgan, Vicki's grandaughter was able to help with DNA egg.  I have attached photos and will send others.

Large egg, empty shell. oblong egg, found morning after nest was laid

Briarcliffe Nest #1

146 eggs, 143 relocated.  One egg was just a shell, no contents inside. 

Hatchlings emerged on Aug 4
131 hatched eggs, 12 unhatcched
51 live hatchlings, stuck at bottom of egg chamber, released on the beach
91.6% Hatch Success Rate

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