Ladies and gentlemen, nest 13 is upon us!
Intern Eliza and I discovered this mama at about 11:20pm on Monday night, approximately an hour before high tide. When we saw her tracks, there was a single set which suggested that she was still on the beach. We went to asses where she was in her nesting process and concluded that she was still constructing her pit. We waited for about 20 minutes until we no longer saw any movement of her shell and approached her with caution. We peeked under her carapace, where we saw that her eggs were beginning to drop!
As we scanned for a pit tag, we noticed that this mama was flinching, which is normal, as the degree of lucidness varies from turtle to turtle whilst laying their eggs. As we concluded our scan, realizing that she neither had a pit or metal tag, her head began to move. Before we knew it, this turtle had snapped out of her trance and started heading back towards the ocean.
This was a very unusual occurrence for us interns, as we had never experienced a situation quite like this. The turtle clearly had not laid all of her eggs, as it usually takes between 10-20 minutes to lay the entirety of them, and she had only been laying for about 5 minutes. Furthermore, the turtle did not attempt to cover up her nest after she awoke from her trance.
Even though we were stunned, we collected as much data from the turtle as possible (though it was not much) and called Ranger Renee Evans. We notified her of the situation, in which she informed us that although it is not common for a turtle to awaken from her trance, it can still happen. Ranger Renee also instructed us to treat this nest like any other by placing a cage over it and marking it with a sign.
Considering this turtle had only been laying for around 5 minutes, we feel confident in saying that this will be a relatively small clutch size. Although we wish that this turtle would have stayed and laid the rest of her eggs, we are overjoyed to have our 13th nest! If you’re interested in learning more about turtles abandoning their nests, there is a separate article that can be accessed by clicking this link! Nest Abandonment
Something special that we noticed while taking measurements of this turtle was that she was rather small. Her carapace size was very similar to that of one of our false crawls earlier in the nesting season, who we named Minnie. There is no way to confirm this assumption because we were unable to tag Minnie during her false crawl, but we decided to call this turtle Minnie; we like to think that she loved Bear Island so much that she decided to come and lay her eggs here!
Ranger Renee Evans just received information as of today (7/24) that there was a turtle crawl in the bird area sometime last night! We do not patrol near the bird area as the primary nesting zone for turtles in the past has been on the three mile stretch between the bird areas! After some digging, she discovered a nest! NEST 14 IS HERE!!!
Additionally, late on Monday night into early Tuesday morning, there was lots of ghost crab activity in nest 1! We were able to snap a few pictures of the crabs’ track entering and exiting the nest! Also as of this morning (7/24) there was a sizable dent located near the middle of the nest which was being occupied by some ants (two indications of hatching). We hope that we will have some babies emerging soon!
Stay tuned for laying nest 15 and the hatching of nest 1!
By: Grace Pigford