News

March, 2017:  2000th Hatchling!

March 1 brought the emergence of two more ‘sleepover’ hatchlings from the 2016 season.  This brings the total so far to 2000 babies – 222 more than our previous best year!  Click here to see the baby heading to the marsh.

 

 

 

 

 

February, 2017:  More 2016 hatchlings and a Turtle Sign

The warm weather in mid-February has caused some of the hatchlings that spent the winter buried deep in the nesting boxes to emerge.  There were 11 in February so far, including the Valentine’s Day baby to the left.

 

 

 

 

Also on Valentine’s day, the long awaited turtle sign was installed at Sunset Park so that it will be accessible to golfers and non-golfer’s alike.

 

 

 

 

 

November, 2016:  Last hatchlings of 2016

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Late in each turtle season — long after the last nests should have hatched out — the volunteers carefully dig through each nesting box to extricate any hatchlings that haven’t emerged from their nests.  The nesting box at #3 was the last one to be dug for this season. The dig on November 6 yielded 11 babies, bringing the total for 2016 to 1975. This is a 91.1% hatch rate – our best year ever!  We still have not accounted for all of the 2016 eggs. Some of the babies bury themselves so deeply in the nesting boxes that the volunteers don’t find them in the digs.  These hatchlings will eventually emerge in the spring.

 

 

 

 

July, 2016:  First babies of 2016!

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The first baby turtles of the 2016 season arrived on July 10.  They are shown in one of the ‘catchpots’ that are embedded into each nesting box.  After the babies have hatched and climbed out of their nest they wander around the nesting box trying to get to the marsh.  Eventually, they tumble into one of the two catchpots for safe keeping until one of the volunteers can release them.  Normally the catchpots are covered (you can see the posts that hold up the cover) and the sand is kept moist so the babies will have a shady, cool space to wait.  Volunteers check the catchpots in each nesting box several times every day so the babies don’t have too long to wait until they can get to the marsh.

 

 

 

May, 2016:  It’s Diamondback Time Again!

The 2016 season has begun!  We had our first Terrapin nests on Plantation on April 28th and we’re anticipating another 250+ nests to follow.  The female Diamondbacks will be coming ashore from now through the end of July to nest in the bunkers.  The hatchlings will begin appearing in July and continue hatching through early October. We will be scheduling “Hatchling Happenings” throughout the late summer and will keep you updated on these events through the TWATL and the Audubon web site (www.skidawayaudubon.org). If you are out on the Plantation course and spot a turtle in the bunkers or coming across the fairway, please call us to come retrieve the eggs before the crows or raccoons get to the nest.  There are cell phone numbers on the sign posts where you will also find the wire baskets to cover a nest if you happen to witness the terrapin laying her eggs.

This is also the time of year when all the female Yellow Bellied Sliders make their way out of the lagoons to find nesting areas on shore. I have seen over a dozen destroyed turtles on our roadways and the season has just begun. Please drive carefully – these turtles do not dash across the roads and they are larger and much slower than the squirrels so you should have time to see them and avoid them. If you can safely stop to remove the turtle from the roadway just place her to the side of the road in the direction she was headed. Quite frequently, the sliders get in the roads and cannot escape due to the curbing – your assistance would be appreciated!

This is my 14th year of rescuing Diamondback Terrapin nests and releasing the hatchlings into our marshlands. The program has grown to be the largest rescue effort of its kind and there are many organizations and individuals to thank for the success of the program. It would not be possible without the dedication of our volunteers, the Skidaway Audubon Board that sponsors and funds our conservation and education efforts, The Landings Club, through the dedication of Chris Steigelman and his crew, who set up the nesting boxes each spring…and…Thanks to all the residents who call in turtle sightings and to the families who attend our Terrapin releases. It is gratifying to know that we have neighbors who share our enthusiasm and love of Skidaway’s natural environment.

 

Carolyn McInerney

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