Tuesday, September 15, 2009
I arrived at sunset. I set up my chair at what DH calls the 50 yard line - the marker right in the center of the turtle nest area. I chatted with the head staff person about how they do the nest excavation, what time, etc. - so if I miss the turtles, at least I could be there when they dig up the stragglers and measure them and let them go.
Apparently, leatherbacks don't have a concept of limited space - so when faced with being in a tank, for example, they will keep swimming into the walls and smacking their face or whatever - and they will actually injure themselves doing this. They're open ocean dwellers, and they don't understand physical boundaries. So if any of the stragglers need to be in a tank for rehydration or medication or anything, she has to put each little turtle on a leash so they can each swim around, but will be stopped short of swimming into the wall of the tank and injuring themselves. Strange, huh? Plus of course then the little turtles tangle their leashes with each other, and have to be periodically untangled so they can swim - she said it's a major pain to keep them in a tank for any period of time. I told her that if it comes to that, she can certainly call a number of the babysitting volunteers who could be trained and could care for the turtles overnight - she said she'll keep that in mind.
So, we sat, hung out, watched the stars, listened to a group of young adults playing bad guitar (with even worse singing) - and two guys who seemed to be establishing themselves as a couple, with one guy returning to the group and arguing with someone who didn't seem to like his lifestyle choices. Lots of noise. Lots of swearing. Lets hope we don't see them again.
I want turtles!!!!!!
Monday, September 14, 2009
DH stayed home, though we had dinner early so that I could get to the beach before sunset. There were still a lot of weekend beach parties going on - lots of music - as well as people wandering all around.
As I walked down the beach with my chair, rain jacket, and bag with water, flashlight, umbrella, I said good evening to an older man. He asked what we were doing. I explained that we were waiting for the turtles to hatch. He asked why. I said to make sure they get to the ocean, don't get eaten by birds or crabs or whatever. He said, are you sure you aren't going to take one home? I assured him that I wasn't, the turtles would stay right there, we were going to just ensure that they get into the sea unharmed. He then said, "No offense to you or any of the others, but turtle meat is dam' sweet, and if I see one I'll eat it!" I smiled, pointed a finger at him, and said, "That's the OTHER reason we're protecting them!" He laughed and walked off - I went to our group and related the story, and they laughed. Fortunately, only our old-timers seem interested in eating the turtles - and hopefully they're dying off!
I got my stuff settled, and sat a moment - there was a family group with two kids, maybe between age 6 and 9, somewhere in that range, a boy and a girl. The boy was dunking his head underwater, and he came up screaming "A turtle! A turtle!" The mother and her sister (I'm guessing here) turned to me and said "Is this one of your baby turtles?" because it was a juvenile (like a teenager, they spend their youth in protected bays before going out to sea as adults) - I laughed and said it's a cousin, which caused laughter amongst our group, especially when the mom called to her son "She say it's a cousin." So I went down and talked to them about turtles, showed them where we think the nest is, that the babies will be tiny (just a few inches), that we were waiting, they should hatch any day now - the kids had lots of questions, including the boy who asked if the turtle would bite him - I said no, they mostly like jellyfish and he didn't look like a jellyfish at all. Apparently he came face to face with the turtle underwater, he said he only saw the face - I guess that's what scared him, they were pretty close. So I explained that turtles are our friends and we need to take care of them. They chatted for a while, then went on their way.
So, I sat, it was a nice night, we chatted a bit, I went home. The nest area has one spot that is sinking and becoming a more obvious circle, so we think that's the exact spot of the nest, and that we're getting close to hatch time. As the babies move around, in their shells, it causes the sand above the nest to sink down - so that's what we're seeing. This is a good sign.
Let's hope Monday is the night!!!!!
Sunday, September 13, 2009
DH and I have been watching the turtle nest for a week and a half. Well, there have been nights I go alone. But we, or I, either pick up takeout or make something quick at home. That means few vegs, and usually high carbs. A sandwich, maybe whole grain chips, maybe cookies. DH is a junk food junkie, and, well, at the beach there isn't much to do in the dark - so if the food is there, I'll eat it too.
So I am making a roast with potatoes and root vegs for today, and we can heat it up all week. We have blueberries to eat with yogurt for dessert. I'm making whole grain low fat muffins, so we can take a few to the beach if we really feel we need a snack.
Luckily we both drink tons of water.
I'm doing what I can to keep this healthy. But it's so tempting to grab a slice or two of pizza and a pint of ice cream and just sit on the beach and eat. So tempting. So easy. So not what my body needs.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
DH and I had two turtle date nights - dinner take out on the beach, a little dessert, hanging out with the other turtle watches, chatting, holding hands, making up silly turtle-hatching songs. Beautiful stars, no rain, mild breeze - and no baby turtles. Sigh. It's nice having the time together to just hang out and not be interrupted by our usual busy lives, or our addiction to technologies - but we'd really like to see the babies come out and scurry down to the beach!!!!
The day after the hatching, the scientists go and excavate the nest, looking for unhatched eggs, counting the broken eggs, and most importantly, to help out the little babies who are on the bottom of the nest and who usually don't have the energy to get out by themselves. So the scientists check those hatchlings out, measure them, see if they're too tired or dehydrated to swim out - sometimes they take them back to Coral World for a few days of rest and hydration before they bring them back to the beach and set them free.
So maybe if we miss the actual hatching (or even if we're there for it) we can also help with the nest excavation. I'd love to hold a tiny baby turtle!!!!
Friday, September 11, 2009
DH stayed home again - he's been working weekends and extra hours to finish a brief that's due Monday. I ate at home, grabbed my blueberries and water, and headed out to the beach.
The usual group was a little farther away from the fenced nest area than usual, so I asked if something was up - they said no, they just ended up over more to the side. I laughed and said I always feel like if I'm not smack dab in front of the area, I think I'll miss something major. They laughed, I went and parked myself right in front of the area that's beginning to sink a bit (so our turtle experts think that's the nest area).
Mild night but not muggy, nice stars, nothing eventful. A little bit of chatting, but I found I was dozing off by about 9 PM so I said goodnight and left. I did draw a picture of a turtle in front of the nest, with an arrow pointing to the sea, so that the babies will know which way to go.
That was night 60, which is about the average incubation period. So we'll try again tonight.
Our shift is supposed to be from 6 to 10 PM, but some nights I'm a bit late, some nights I leave early - it's pretty fluid. I don't think anyone is staying overnight, because the babies usually hatch during the day, come toward the surface, and wait for after sunset when the sand cools down. So if they aren't out by 10 PM, chances are they won't hatch that day. There are cases when they come out during the night, or early morning, or even mid-day - but those are not the norm, and we're just going with the usual. (There are a few people who check the nest in the early morning, 6 AM or so, looking for hatchling tracks - haven't seen any of those yet either.)
I'm going to be a turtle expert by the time we're done!!!!!
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