Thursday, 13 November 2008

Sea Turtle Nest N201

Soon after we first arrived at Ormond Beach, I noticed this turtle nest had been marked and tagged.
The turtle nesting season in Volusia County ends on October 31.

The total count for 2008 was 649 nests on this part of the Florida sea coast, mostly of Loggerhead turtles.

This nest was laid on August 23 2008, and was numbered N201 and dated by the Beach Turtle Patrol. Incubation takes approximately 55 days, so the baby turtles should have hatched a few days before we arrived.

The female turtle lays 85 - 110 eggs in the sandy nest, which she digs with her hind flippers. After she covers her eggs, she returns to the sea, leaving her babies to take care of themselves and find their own way to the ocean.

I walked past the nest site most mornings but didn't see any sign of hatching. No baby turtle footprints to be seen. Turtle Patrol people wait at least 70 days before investigating if there has been a successful hatch.

A couple of days ago Turtle Patrol dug the nest site.

They found 108 unhatched eggs, some with partially developed embryos. Turtle Patrol told me that the nest probably got overwashed too many times by the high tides.
The odds are stacked against baby turtles surviving the hazardous journey to adulthood. First they have to make their way from the nest to the sea, many of them are disoriented by beach lighting and head in the wrong direction.
Then they have to avoid being swept onto beaches by storms or high tides, or becoming dinner for a larger hungry sea creature.
Only about .01% of the hatchlings survive to return to the same beach as adults to lay their eggs.
Better luck next time, Mama Turtle.

16 comments:

LeenaM said...

Thank you for an excellent biological lesson :)
A nature is in the same time wonderful and cruel.

And I think Callum is missing you very much!

Angie Ledbetter said...

What joy must explode from turtle patrols and onlookers alike when those rare babies emerge.

Joanne said...

A nest overwashed by high tides ... so their struggle begins even before birth.

Beverly said...

All that work. Poor babies. Many who do make it to the water get eaten! As someone else said, nature is very cruel.

I know around here, they try to get people to keep their lights off during the time that the babies are making their way to the water.

tut-tut said...

Yes, being a turtle is fraught with danger, let me tell you. Drive slowly. If you see a turtle trying to cross a street, place him or her on the other side, in the direction it was going.

Your EG Tour Guide said...

85 to 110 eggs is LOT of eggs to lay at one time. To lose 108 due due to bad weather - what a disappointment, eh? Good thing Mama Turtle was away and doesn't know about this tragedy. ;-)

Suldog said...

Fascinating! I knew a little bit about this, but I had no idea the percentage of survivors was so amazingly low.

Hilary said...

Yeah.. their survival is quite precarious eh? I remember coming upon nests in B'ville, with cages around them to protect them from raccoons. It had a similar information page attached. Most of the nest had been attacked. Broken shells everywhere. It's a tough life.

bigbikerbob said...

Hi, Not to mention all that to have some countries doing Turtle soup!!!!!!.

Wendy said...

Aww - too bad. Poor little turtles. They really have it tough.

Peter said...

Very interesting info!! Had no idea of the extremely high mortality! ... but obvioulsy the parents don't bother too much!

Middle Ditch said...

How sad.

lettuce said...

:-(

i've seen TV of hatchings and little turtles stumbling down to the sea - that would be quite something to watch in real life, wouldn't it?

photowannabe said...

Wow, thats quite a failure rate. No woner they are doing everything they can to help the turtles.
I hope you got to see a shuttle launch.

photowannabe said...

Wonder..not woner....sorry.

Squirrel said...

I like turtles.