crowd at BMB watches turtle lays 96 eggs

Discussion in 'Local Government and Groups' started by SoWalSally, Jun 17, 2006.

  1. SoWalSally

    SoWalSally Beach Fanatic

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    By Keri Holt

    She made her way up 50 feet from the water?s edge, then got down to business.
    For some reason, she didn?t wait until after dark.
    This particular loggerhead turtle began her nesting process at about 6:30 p.m. Sunday and entertained an audience that watched, amazed, from about 50 yards away.
    The turtle was spotted on Blue Mountain Beach near Redfish Lake by the Walton County Sheriff?s Office, which handled crowd control so as not to spook their guest. Around 7:30 p.m. the South Walton Turtle Watch volunteers arrived with their cameras just in time to see the turtle kick sand up over her back, covering her 96 eggs. She then returned to the water. At 8:05 she was gone.
    ?It was certainly an exciting experience to actually see a turtle,? said John Brass, a volunteer walker for South Walton Turtle Watch. ?I arrived at the nest with my wife and my grandson. She appeared to be in a depression in the sand and most of the time we were there, she was flicking sand with her rear flippers.?
    It was a rare sight for the group of about 15 who watched the turtle build the nest and lay its eggs. Most turtle-watchers have never seen a turtle because they almost always come ashore after dark to build their nests.
    It?s the turtle watchers? job to find the flipper prints in the sand the morning after and then do what they can to protect the eggs.
    ?This is my third year to be a walker for the South Walton Turtle Watch group, and it is the first time that I have actually seen a turtle,? Brass said. ?I normally walk my two-anda-half mile stretch of the beach two or three times a week, and I have only once ever even found fresh tracks leading to a nest. It is quite a rare event to find a nest ? we only had 19 last year ? and much rarer to actually see the turtle on the nest.?
    It may have been Tropical Storm Alberto that caused the turtle to build her nest so early in the day, said the turtle-watchers.
    ?She had already laid her eggs by the time we had gotten there. She was doing her usual nesting activities,? said Scott Jackson, South Walton Turtle Watch volunteer. ?We just waited until she was finished. Just to be a part of the team that saw it, it?s a neat experience.?
    The nest was only 15 feet from the water, which was rising as Tropical Storm Alberto strengthened, turtle-watcher Sharon Maxwell said. To protect the eggs from flooding, Brass and Jackson, along with the help of fellow volunteers Dawn Ratcliffe and Pam Ratcliffe, moved the nest to higher ground further from the water.
    ?When we got there, the nest was about 50 feet from the water, but the water had come in about another 20 feet by the time she left,? Brass said. ?If we had left everything where it was, in all probability there would have been no sign of a nest or any tracks by this morning. It was on a very flat part of the beach and the whole thing would probably have been swamped and the eggs lost.?
    The turtle nested in front of a home not far from Red Fish Lake. The turtle-watchers moved the eggs about 100 yards straight back up the beach to a higher ground where, they hope, they will not be swamped or washed away by storms, Brass said.
    ?We are so glad that this turtle decided to come in in the light, as with this storm I am sure all tracks would have been washed out as well as the nest,? Maxwell said. ?Was she not just so smart??
    Birth is expected in 55-65 days. The nest is the second this year found on the South Walton beaches.
     
  2. DD

    DD SoWal Expert

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    so cool! wish i coulda seen it!
     
  3. 30A Skunkape

    30A Skunkape Mr. Small Box

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    Good luck little turtles :lol:
     
  4. Miss Kitty

    Miss Kitty Meow

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    :clap_1:
     
  5. kathydwells

    kathydwells Darlene is my middle name, not my nickname

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    How amazing!!! I sure wish I had been there. Last year on the day we left, I got up early and noticed several people looking at something by the walkover. I went down to find out what was going on. The turtle watch group was there counting eggs that a turtle had laid that night. It was so cool to see that nest. I often wonder if all the babies survived.
     
  6. SHELLY

    SHELLY SoWal Insider

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    She probably spent weeks dodging her way around beach renourishment "sand sucking and blowing machines;" and paddled vigorously through Tropical Storm driven waves; desperately searching for a piece of sand that hasn't been built-on, washed away, or a-blaze with lights from new developments....

    In the end, exhausted and desperate, and with her last bit of strength and courage she deposited her precious eggs on a narrow band of sand amid gawking crowds.

    "Was She not Smart"?? I'd say if there was a Nobel Prize for Sea Turtles she'd take the prize along with the Medal of Valor and Sea Turtle Mother of the Year.

    Take care of her babies--let them know their mother was indeed very smart.
     

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