Turtle Babysitting - Day 12 I think (Tuesday)
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
JLP, I never heard of the turtle leashes, either - I found it quite funny! And Myrna, the incubation period for the eggs can be from 50 to 75 days, depending on time of year, weather conditions, etc. Average is about 60, tonight will be day 66 since the turtle was sited laying her eggs. Turns out a female can mate once and produce more than one batch of eggs in a season - there's something called a ganymede (or something like that) which is what gets fertilized - then they turn into eggs, which the mom lays in the nest (well, she digs a hole in the sand and lays them, covers it up, goes back out to sea) - and then, maybe 10 days or so later, she'll produce another set of eggs and do another nest. However - this is weird - if she for some reason doesn't lay the eggs, she can re-absorb them into her body. Strange, huh? I'm learning so much about turtle biology!!!!!!!!
I went for a quick dinner with two women friends, so I didn't arrive at the nest until after sunset (about 7 PM) - but alas, no action. People sitting around, waiting, as usual. Turns out that someone saw some hatchlings at a beach on the northside, and called Erica, the head of our turtle watch program - so she went with another staffer out to that beach, hiked down, and eventually came back to our each. Unfortunately, the eggs at that beach had hatched several days ago, and because no one knew there was a nest there, there weren't any people waiting for the hatchlings - a bunch made it down to the sea, but apparently 53 of them were confused and wandered all over the beach and never made it out to sea - so they actually just died on the beach.
This news of course cast a pall over those of us waiting at our nest - really subdued the rest of the evening. Poor little guys. As Erica said, you can't save them all - but you could really tell she was very upset. (She's kind of the resident turtle specialist.)
On the other hand, it gives me even more reason to wait out the incubation period, to help ensure these babies all make it out to sea and don't get confused by the street lights!