This morning 2 of the new volunteers who are training with me every Tues., called in to say they couldn't make it. Maybe the showers in the southern part of the county scared them back to bed, but we had no rain at all on Singer Island. Even if it rains, the turtle survey must be completed each day.
Erica, my other new trainee and I were surprised to meet up with Jayce at Ocean Mall on our way out to the beach. She is a trained volunteer who is a flight attendant and fills in for my people who are on vacation when she is needed.
Walking out of the southern pathway at Ocean Mall, I spotted 5 loggerhead hatchling tracks in the sand. This is a sign that a nest has hatched and the hatchlings have turned west away from the water towards the artificial light. We call this a disorientation. Walking north we checked the beach and the staked nests for the location of the hatch. More and more hatchling tracks were found, until we came upon a nest laid on 5/14 right in front of the southern lifeguard stand that had hatched. All the tracks that came out of the nest site went directly west and away from the water. No tracks went the short distance of about 10 feet into the water. I guestimated that there were at least 50 loggerhead hatchlings that were disoriented.
When we have a disorientation, we fill out the disorientation report, documenting the location and movements of this event. The tracks we see in the sand give us the information that is needed to fill out the form. Sadly, we found one dead hatchling not far from the nest site. It looked like a bird had pecked it and it had been bleeding. I buried it deep into the sand in a different location away from the nest. We didn't find any of the disoriented turtles though. Some did eventually turn to the water on their own, but most may have been picked up by other people out on the beach at night, and placed into the ocean where they belong.
As we continued walking north, another hatched and disoriented nest became apparent. This nest, also laid on 5/14, showed the hatchling tracks going to the brightest area, which happened to be the 2700 building, just on the north side of Ocean Mall. Skyglow is a big problem, difficult to correct, but the other problem we face and that can be fixed, is the interior lighting coming onto the beach from inside the tall condos and hotels. It is so important during this time of year, for people living on the ocean to keep their curtains, blinds, and shades closed from 9 PM until sunrise. We hope those people living on the ocean, will turn off lights inside their units and try to help minimize the artificial lighting impact on the hatchlings. That would be fantastic~!!!!!
Those hatched nests from today will be excavated by trained and permitted volunteers from The Sea Turtle Conservation League of Singer Island in 72 hours. This will give us more information about the number of hatchlings that went the wrong way and did not head to the sea.