Photo Log: Island Turtle Team

Isle of Palms/Sullivans Island

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See You Next Year on the Beach

Oct 10, 2018

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Nest #12 & 13 Inventoried on IOP

Sept 9, 2018

Both nests that had turtles emerge on Thursday were very successful. Nest #13 at 402 Ocean Blvd had only two undeveloped eggs with one dead and one live hatchling. This little fellow had a flipper that was not working perfectly, but he crawled and swam away. This was probably why he was still in the nest after 3 days. We hope he will make it. Hatch success was 97.2%.

Nest #12 at the 38A beach access had 5 undeveloped eggs and no live hatchlings to release or dead hatchlings. Hatch success here was 94.1%

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Nest #11 Inventoried on IOP

August 21, 2018

It's a BIG ocean out there for this little guy

Nest #11 was not the best one we have had. There were 29 unhatched or pipped eggs and 27 dead hatchlings with only one live one remaining which was released by Mary Stork to crawl to the water. There is no obvious reason for so many not surviving. There was no tidal flooding. Ghost crabs did harass this nest, but they don’t usually cause so many to die. Hatch success was 84.7% but the number successfully emerging from the nest was only 63.3%.

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Nest #7 Inventoried on IOP

August 18, 2018

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Nest #7 at the 5A Access Path was very successful with only two eggs not hatching out of 135 laid and one taken for DNA sampling. And to everyone’s delight Peggy Klimecki, Trisha Hoff, and Aubrey Schmidt released 7 very lively and healthy hatchlings to crawl to the water.

Hatch Success was 97.7%.

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SURPRISE ! Another Nest

August 17, 2018

This morning a family from Georgia had two little girls playing in the sand at the scarp near the water near the south end of Beachwood East. They found loggerhead eggs. The top ones were exposed on the vertical surface of the sand. They told Drew Giles, from Coastal Science, who was out on the beach, and he contacted the City. Linda Tucker called Barb Bergwerf. Cindy, Christel, Barb B, Bev and I went out to investigate.

It was NOT a new nest, just laid. The eggs were still white but not at all fresh. 81 were laid, 4 were broken, and 5 were discolored and obviously starting to rot. We relocated 72 that were still white but they did not appear to have embryos in them.

We put them next to the two nests at 51st Avenue but are not very optimistic that they will hatch. I will ask some people at DNR what they think of this. We took a DNA sample, marked them with a single nest sign, (no triangle) and will see if they produce anything.

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Two Inventories This Morning

August 11, 2018

Nest #6 at the 34A Access Path on the Isle of Palms was found on June 16th by Sis Nunnally, Rita Oden, Judy Ewing and Aelecia Rideout and was inventoried today. Although Sis helped one hatchling to the water 3 days ago, there were none left to release in the nest of 144eggs. There were 18 undeveloped eggs and the Hatch Success was 85.4%

And on Sullivan’s Island we almost got finished before the rain shower came onshore at Sullivan’s Island Station 16. Nest #2 found by the Snyder family had a 91% Hatch Success with 10 undeveloped eggs and two live hatchlings which were released by Laurie and Bob Snyder and their daughter Alex Snyder Garcia and grandson Sebastian. Those two hatchlings were determined to crawl toward the rising sun and not toward the water, but they finally got into the ocean.

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Just before we got really wet !!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Leatherback Nest Inventoried on IOP

August 10, 2018

Just as we suspected, there was no development of eggs in the leatherback nest at Ocean Point. The 93 large eggs had yellow yolks and no embryos in them, showing that they probably were not fertilized. There were 27 smaller spacer eggs – 8 of them loggerhead sized, 13 smaller than loggerhead sized, and 6 miniature marble sized ones. We were sad not to see at least one hatchling like the ones seen at the Folly Beach leatherback inventory several years ago. But this is not unusual for leatherbacks who nest in SC. This same turtle’s nest laid up near Cape Roman on 12 days earlier than ours also had a 0% hatch success, and it will be interesting to find out if the nest she also laid on Morris Island 11 days after ours produces anything. Even though we didn’t have any turtles, it was still a rare and interesting experience.

This is what we were hoping to see this morning. These guys were from Folly Beach a few years ago.

 

 

 

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Nests #4 & #5 Inventoried in IOP

August 1, 2018

We had two good inventories in spite of a driving rain moving in off the ocean just as we were finishing the second nest. We had to walk three blocks back to the access path in it and were soaked through!

Nest #4 at 26A found on June 3rd by Jenn Connell near 4th Avenue had three live hatchlings left in the nest with 12 undeveloped eggs with the hatch success at 89.9%. Since Jenn could not be there Susan Chagrin released them to crawl to the water.

Nest #5 at 28th Avenue which was laid near 8th Avenue on June 5th and found by Jackie Taylor had no live hatchlings and only 6 out of 140 eggs did not develop. Too bad since it was Jackie’s birthday and she would have gotten to release them here. Hatch success here was 95%. 

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Happy Birthday Jackie

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Mystery Nest at 7A Inventoried

July 25, 2018

At last we had some live hatchlings left in the nest. Today we inventoried the mystery nest at 708 Ocean Blvd where we were unable to locate the egg chamber on May 23rd when Penny Heubsch and Chaunci Pirhalla found the tracks and body pit. Elizabeth Crider discovered two emergence craters on Sunday morning, July 22nd. We found that 138 eggs were laid and 10 of these did not develop into turtles. There were two live hatchlings left in the nest and one of them was a little deformed and had some trouble crawling to the water after being released by Penny and Chaunci. But with a little help he made it. Hatch Success was 92.7%  

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Another Interesting Morning on the Beach &

Inventory of Nest #1 on Sullivan's

On their beach patrol, Kristin Ayers and Christel Cothran came acoss a loggerhead returning to the ocean. Seeing a nesting turtle is more than special. Most beach patrol never get that chance. Members of the team raced up to Wild Dunes to try and find her nest. She crawled in over the primary dune to an area that would have been very difficult to nest in. Added to that, she was missing a good part of her left rear flipper (and a chunk out of her carapace) Hopefully she will return tomorrow and nest. Fingers crossed.  

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Photos thanks to Kristin Ayers, Christel Cothran and Barb Gobien 

 

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Nest #1 on Sullivan's Island Inventoried

Nest #1 on Sullivan’s Island was inventoried this morning. Of the 110 eggs laid, 7 of them did not develop. There were no hatchlings left in the nest. Hatch and emergence success were both 92.7%. We bagged the unhatched eggs and empty eggshells and took them off the beach to discourage coyotes from investigating the nest site.

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What a Morning on the Beach !!!! Nest #16 &

Nest #17 (Surprise!) on IOP

July 22, 2018

It was a very strange morning on the beach today. First Elizabeth Crider reported that there was a loggerhead nest with lots of eggs exposed right at the high tide line at the 5th Avenue vehicular access path. When we got there we were shocked to see so many turtle eggs spread all over the surface of the sand. It turned out that there were 86 eggs in all with 4 of them broken, 16 deep in the egg chamber, and the rest on the surface. Not only was this “nest” in the vehicular access path, but it was also in the high tide wrack line. So the 82 viable eggs were taken up to 28th Avenue to a good dune and buried there. We’ve seen a few eggs on the surface when a turtle had a flipper abnormality and could not dig a proper egg chamber but never anything like this.

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Then Elizabeth Crider discovered a couple of “emergence craters” and the marked spot at 708 Ocean Blvd where we were unable to find the eggs on May 23rd when Penny Heubsch and Chaunci Pirhalla found the tracks. Hatchling tracks were also found nearby. So Penny & Chaunci are credited with this nest and the inventory will be on Wednesday, July 25th at 7:00 am sharp. Since we did not get a DNA sample when it was laid in May, we will collect one then.  

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Nest #15 on IOP in a DOWNPOUR

July 20, 2018

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Eileen Dulany, Alice Williams and Joanne Robinson spent a good part of the morning waiting in their car hoping for the rain to let up. That didn't really happen.....but their walk was rewarded when they found tracks at the 5A path on IOP. The team converged in the driving rain and managed to find a nest. The nest was left in situ and we all went home soaked but happy with nest 15 on Isle of Palms.

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Nest #2 Inventoried on IOP

July 20, 2018

This morningThe rain let up at just the right time for us to do the inventory of Nest #2 in a light drizzle which was not a problem. This nester was a turtle who has only been found to have nested twice in the last six years, having laid eggs on Cape Hatteras in 2012 and then this nest. Not sure where she was in the meantime, maybe nesting down in Florida where there are so many nests and the DNA records are not complete.

There was only one undeveloped egg and one live hatchling in the nest of 93 (minus one for the genetics sample). This hatchling, however, could not be released because its plastron was not yet fused and there was a remnant of the umbilical cord. We had to rebury him in the sand so that he can come out when he has the strength and maturity to start the long migration. Don’t worry, he will come out when the time is right.

So Hatch Success was 97.8% and Emergence Success was 96.7%, another very healthy nest.

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Nest #3 for Sullivan's

July 19, 2018

This morning Walter Sherrill, Sullivan’s Island Beach Services Officer, reported that there were turtle tracks in Breach Inlet. This is out of our patrol area and in 20 years since we have been monitoring loggerhead nesting there has not been a nest there, only false crawls. But this one proved to be a nest of 80 eggs. Since this was not a suitable spot for hatchlings to emerge with strong and dangerous currents, the nest was relocated around to the front beach near the Station 28 ½ path and Nest #1. Sheri Nolte and Heather Harden patrolled the north end of Sullivan’s this morning and their name will be put on the nest list for this one. We treated the new nest with wolf urine to discourage coyotes.

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Nest #14 for IOP

July 18, 2018

This morning Marilyn Markel, Penny Heubsch, and Chaunci Pirhalla were patrolling the south end of the IOP and there were tracks at 202 Ocean Blvd. Elaine Schupp had also seen them earlier. These appeared to be small loggerhead tracks measuring 18” diagonally instead of the usual 24-25”. She laid her nest on top of the new dune, so we did not move it. The large house there is being renovated and is unoccupied, so we hope that lights will not be an issue in September when the hatchlings emerge from the sand.

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Nest #1 Inventory

July 17, 2018

Nest #1 near the 1B Access Path found by Anne Royall and Lauren Bauk on May 19th did very well even though the crowd was disappointed not to see any live hatchlings left in the nest that boiled during the rainstorm 3 ½ days ago. Our first inventory of the season yielded 137 eggs laid (one was taken for genetics sampling) with 136 left in the nest. There were three undeveloped eggs and two dead hatchlings. As we know from our genetics sampling, this is a loggerhead who had nested on Cape Island in 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016 and is now nesting there in 2018. We are glad she stopped off on the Isle of Palms in May on her northward migration and left her 136 eggs here for us to guard. So for our DNR records - Hatch Success was a beautiful 97% and Emergence Success was 95.6%. What a good start for the 2018 season.

Many thanks to Theresa McCann and Heather McFarlin and her daughter April at 120 and 122 Ocean Blvd for keeping lights off and helping us monitor this nest!

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Meanwhile....

At 38th Ave. nest #2 emerged and visitors to IOP found a hatchling on their beach path.

They escorted the little guy to the ocean.

 

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Nest #13 for IOP

July 13, 2018

Nest #13 was found on Friday the 13th by Eileen Dulany, Alice Williams and Joanne Robinson. They had picked up a lot of trash at the south end of the Isle of Palms and came across loggerhead tracks between 4th and the 4A Path at 402 Ocean Blvd. The eggs were deep and a little challenging to find. But the turtle did get high enough before laying so that we did not have to relocate them. So the nest was marked to incubate there.

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Nest #12 for IOP

July 12, 2018

Around midnight a loggerhead nested near Access Path 38A. The wind blew away all signs of the body pit, but Bill Schupp had reported it to the Turtle Team so there were sticks marking the spot. Infra-red pictures were taken in the dark which showed that she had an old healed shark type bite wound on her right side and appeared to have a disability on her left rear flipper which was noticeable in the track marks. But that did not keep her from nesting. Debi Magee, Sue Googer, Barbara Allen, and Linda Bettelli came upon her tracks in the wet sand this morning and also found where she had made a false crawl several houses south of the nest spot where she didn’t make it to the dry sand. She laid 103 eggs which were relocated at 38A on a dune out of the flat area below the spring tide line.

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Turtle Team 7....Ghost Crabs 2

July 6, 2018

The Turtle Team has been battling nature at our #10 nest on IOP. Every morning the team would find a crab hole in the nest. We would fill the holes and then we added crab traps around the area. We seemed to be losing the battle so drastic measures were called for. A netting was placed over the nest. It will be removed when the nest is close to hatching. So far so good....no additional eggs were taken and no holes in the nest this morning. We have relocated 7 Crabs so far. Each morning the beach patrol and Barb Gobien have been checking and "relocating" any crabs caught in the traps. Fingers crossed

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Nest #11 for IOP

July 1, 2018

Once again and for the third time Jen Connell found tracks at the south end of the Isle of Palms. This time it was at 204 Ocean Blvd. A loggerhead laid 131 eggs there in a rather low spot. They were relocated to incubate near the recent Nest #10 at 51st Avenue in the Wild Dunes area. Congratulations, Jen!

We treated this nest and #10 nearby with wolf urine which is a deterrent to coyotes because they are so afraid of them. Ghost crabs tunneled in, broke an egg and pulled it out. Because of this we were worried that coyotes might be attracted by the smell of the egg and dig into it. The intrepid Barb Gobien trapped the offending crabs in a PVC crab trap and relocated them.

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Nest #10 for IOP

June 29, 2018

 

We finally have a nest in the lower Wild Dunes section which is number 10 for the Isle of Palms. There was a false crawl by a normal sized loggerhead at Grand Pavilion, but there were also tracks made by a small one at Beachwood East. People saw her nesting around 11:30 last night. The tracks were discovered by Patty Fournier, Janie Fleming, Ann Sherrill, and Mary Stork. Janie’s husband Dan brought their granddaughter, Lila Jane, out to see the eggs which were relocated just north of the 51st Avenue Access Path.

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Nest #9 for IOP

June 24, 2018

 

Jenn Connell found tracks at Access Path 8A. This is remarkable since this is Jenn’s second nest of the season in a very low nesting year. Since they would have been washed over in a low spot, we moved them up to the 32A Path to incubate. It was a small turtle and a small clutch of only 73 eggs. Congratulations, Jenn.

And Mary Stork reported a false crawl near the 57th Ave Path marker in Wild Dunes. This turtle crawled extensively without digging. Maybe she will return?

Uli Mersch also reported tracks at Station 25 on Sullivan’s Island.. There was some doubt that what looked like loggerhead tracks near Station 25 were real or not. There were no flipper claw marks and only one set of fresh distinct tracks – any turtle would make two sets of course. However, probing was done at the top of the dune even though the “tracks” didn’t look authentic and were probably made by humans. For this reason, we did not enter it into the Seaturtle.org database after all. As you may know from Facebook, last night someone left 3 ping pong ball “eggs” filled with sand at 50th Avenue on the Isle of Palms. And every once in a while we get “tracks” that are made by people as well.

 

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Nest #8 for IOP

June 19, 2018

 

Things seem to be picking up a little with 4 nests in the last 4 days for us. Ellen Thomas and Ellen Gower and their dogs found tracks one door south of the 2A Path at 206 Ocean Blvd. this morning where a turtle had nested early in the night before the high tide around 1 am. It’s possible that this is the same turtle who laid Nest #5 two weeks ago at 8th Avenue, also on Ellen’s day to patrol. We did not move the eggs since they were above the spring tide line and expect hatchlings there in mid August.

 

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Busy Morning for Turtle Team

June 18, 2018

Nest #2 for Sullivan's Island

 

Quite a big night for our mother loggerheads. One laid eggs at Station 16 on Sullivan’s Island for our second nest there. Bob and Laurie Snyder found the tracks this morning. There were 124 eggs that were moved higher out of the flat washover area to a safe spot.

 

 

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Nest #7 for IOP

 

.And another nest which was #7 was found by those on patrol at the south end of the Isle of Palms. Peggy Klimecki was out for her very first patrol along with Trisha Hoff, Elaine Schupp and Aubrey Schmidt when they found tracks at the 5A path. Mary, Tee & Jo probed the body pit three times and could not find the eggs in the hard sand of the artificial berm created after Hurricane Irma. But then fortunately Barb Gobien came and saved the day by finding the eggs at last. Great job! This nest was not moved and was left to incubate where it was laid,  

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Barb Gobien Saves the Day !!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nest #6 for IOP

June 16, 2018

 

We think that the loggerhead who laid Nests #1 and #4 may have come back and made a false crawl at the Property Owners’ Beach House in Wild Dunes and then nested at Access Path 34A during the night. We cannot be sure, but the track measurements and the timing of the nesting intervals are all pretty close. It’s sad that we have so few nesting females this year that we might be able to identify each one approximately every two weeks.

Judy Ewing, Sis Nunnally, Aelecia Rideout, and Rita Oden were on their Saturday morning patrol with their significant others and their canine companions after seeing coyotes behind the dunes in that area. In fact one coyote watched us from a distance relocate the eggs. Just to be on the safe side we treated the new nest location with wolf urine to discourage them even though our scent was all over the relocated nest instead of the mother turtle’s scent. The nest contained 144 eggs plus one small yolkless egg and was laid in a spot where the water would wash over it many times. So it was moved to a proper dune at that same location

 

 

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Program for IOP Rec Dept.

June 12, 2018

 

There were no new nests this morning. Well actually no new REAL nests. The Turtle Team put on a program for the Isle of Palms Rec Dept. summer camp. The team was out on the beach "creating" three faux nests complete with tracks. After they were completed we returned to the Rec to teach the campers about sea turtles and nesting on the IOP as well as the dangers the turtles face. Once everyone got a chance to see how they measured up to local turtles, the kids walked to the beach to experience what the Turtle Team does when they find turtle tracks on the beach. The kids tried "probing" for the eggs and once the clutch was located they carefully placed them in one of our red buckets and moved the nest to a safe place in the dunes. Everyone had a great time and we managed to complete the program before the rain arrived.

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Nest #5 for IOP

June 5, 2018

Nest #5 was discovered by Jackie Taylor and her dog Sulley not far from 8th Avenue while Jackie and Ellen Thomas patrolled the south end of the Isle of Palms this morning. Tee found the nest on the very first probe of the stick, but a ghost crab was in the nest. Ellen’s dog Arianna bit the crab and then ate it for a seafood breakfast! We are guessing from the timing and the size of the turtle that this is the same loggerhead who laid Nest #2 at 38th Avenue two weeks ago. Her clutch of eggs was quite large, numbering 140. The turtles are tending not to crawl up onto the artificial berm created after Hurricane Irma but instead to lay nests at the base of the berm in the flat part of the beach that floods. So it was relocated to 28th Avenue where there was a better spot for the hatchlings to survive. While relocating the nest, Christel Cothran was showing off the new turtle tattoo that she got last night!

 

 

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Nest #4 for IOP

June 3, 2018

A loggerhead layed 129 eggs at the 4A path last night. Jenn Connell discovered the tracks that appeared to be made by a small nesting female. However, they were in the flat washover area of the beach where they would have been flooded and the newly bulldozed dune is not ideal for incubation. Denny Vrooman and his black dog Charlie and puppy Sadie along with Jim Barnhart with his dog Maggie were there. Since the eggs had to be relocated to a more elevated location, it was decided to move them to an ideal spot at the 26A Access Path  

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Same Bucket.. 

 

 

 

 

 

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LEATHERBACK NEST #3 on IOP

May 29, 2018

Cindy Bergstrom, Patti Horton and Tristi Lowther were very surprised to find turtle tracks that were almost 6 feet wide and went in circles at Ocean Club Villas this morning. Gayle Woodward soon joined them. The new sand pumped in from offshore was very coarse with sharp seashells in it, but she managed to excavate an egg chamber and lay 94 yolked eggs and several dozen smaller unyolked “spacer” eggs that are not viable. Those eggs range from marble sized to loggerhead turtle size. Two of the large cue ball sized yolked eggs were found down in the clutch cut open (most likely by the sharp seashells) but 92 of them, along with the spacer eggs which leatherbacks always lay, were moved out of the flat washover part of the beach to a good nearby dune along the 18th fairway near the Ocean Point houses. These two broken eggs were used for our DNA research project now in its 9th year.

Needless to say, we were over the moon, so thrilled to finally have a giant leatherback choose our beach for nesting during her northward migration in the Atlantic Ocean. Incubation might take 65 days or more..

 

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And a few more pictures....

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Nest #1 for Sullivan's

May 27, 2018

 

This morning Amy McMarlin and her dog Sugar found tracks at the far north end of Sullivan’s Island just before the first rocky groin. The turtle crawled and hit up against the sandbags but laid there in front of the blue and pink house just south of Station 29 in a very flood prone spot. Christel Cothran probed and found her very first clutch of eggs after analyzing the field signs. The turtle laid 110 eggs in all. Amy’s husband Andy along with their daughters Amelia and Annie were happy to pose for a family portrait at the newly relocated nest which was closer to the Station 28 ½ path. This is the first nest of the season for Sullivan’s Island and the third for our nesting project when we count the two on the Isle of Palms .

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False Crawl at 7A

May 23, 2018

 

Penny Huebsch and Chaunci Pirhalla along with Chaunci’s dog Kai and Penny’s boyfriend Chase found some tracks above the high tide that were hard to see because of the sargassum weed that has washed ashore and the tire and other tracks that were on top of them this morning. They were at the dune crossover for 708 Ocean Blvd one house north of the 7A Access Path. The sand was also very blown over and because of this we wondered if these tracks could have been 24 hours old?

There was only one place that looked as if it could have been a body pit. So we probed and probed at that spot, but no soft spot or eggs were ever found. There could indeed be eggs somewhere there but not in the expected place. We left a nest sign but did not call this Nest #3 because we could not confirm the presence of eggs. On the back of the stick it says “possible nest” check from July 20-30. We will send out a reminder to those on patrol to look carefully for an emergence crater or hatchling tracks at that time.

 

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Nest #2 at 38A

May 22, 2018

Nest #2 was found by Leslee Gordon and Andrea St. Armand this morning along with Andrea’s husband Kolive and their dog Moopsie who was ready to dig! It was laid in a low place seaward of the primary dune where the first King Tide would have caused water to stand on it killing the eggs. For this reason we had to relocate the 93 eggs laid by a small loggerhead by the size of her tracks. They were moved higher at that same location to incubate.

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2018 Has Begun: Nest #1

May 19, 2018

During the rain last night a loggerhead laid our first nest near the 1A path on the Isle of Palms close to Breach Inlet. Anne Royall and Lauren Bauk braved this morning’s rain and had the reward of finding our very first nest of the season. It was on top of the artificially bulldozed dune created after Hurricane Irma took away the beach in that section. So locating the clutch of eggs in that soft spongy sand was a challenge, but we marked it to incubate in situ. We could not even write the nest number on the stick because it was covered with rain, but the last two numbers of 01 will soon indicate that this is the first one.

Congratulations and a big thank you to Anne and Lauren. This was Lauren’s first time to patrol.

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