A bit of a rocky ride this year on our sea turtle nesting season, but we ended up the year pretty well on St. George. As you probably remember, Florida's Fish and Wildlife Service began re-locating sea turtle nests along the Gulf coast mid-season, in a calculated assessment of what might happen to the hatchlings from those nests if the oil came any closer. The relocation process ended once it became clear that the oil did not pose a real threat to the hatchlings, and the remaining nests were allowed to incubate and hatch on St. George after that point.
So, while we don't have any data on the hatchling success of the nests that were moved, here is the report of our nesting results from 2010, as recorded by Bruce Drye, our resident permit holder for sea turtle work on St. George:
114 nests were laid on St. George during the nesting season from May through September. All of these were loggerhead turtle nests.
46 of these nests were moved to the Kennedy Space Center for incubation, and hopefully hatched there. The babies were released at that east coast beach.
We lost 2 nests to one of the tropical storms that came through, and we did have some coyote predation during the season of 16 nests. We also had 3 nests with babies that were disoriented by artificial lights. As many of you know, baby turtles almost always emerge from their nest in the middle of the night, and if nature is allowed to take its course, those babies instinctually move towards the horizon, and to the water. But, they can be distracted and disoriented by artificial lights, and not move towards the water as they should. When baby turtles do not make it to the water in fairly short order, their chances of survival plummet.
Of the 60 nests that were evaluated on St. George, Bruce and the volunteers recorded a count of 6103 eggs and 3059 live hatchlings who emerged from those evaluated nests.
So, all in all our number of nests was good this year, and we hope for a good year next year. And no new environmental scares!
The mama turtles begin crawling again in May... I can't wait!