Thursday, August 21, 2008

Rescued Hatchlings

While most of us were safe and dry in our homes, watching the Tropical Storm Fay weather reports on TV, dedicated folks from the Sea Turtle Preservation Society (STPS) were out rescuing hatchlings that had been washed ashore by the rough surf. Earlier, I referred to these as washbacks, but Ann Zscheile tells me that strictly speaking, washbacks are post-hatchlings that have reached the sargassum and get washed back with the seaweed that washes ashore during a storm. These rescued turtles were new hatchlings that managed to get into the ocean, but didn't get very far before the storm hit and washed them back to shore and up north to Cape Canaveral. The majority that were picked up were near the Jetty in Cape Canaveral.

After an event like this, the little hatchlings are just too exhausted to swim, so it serves no purpose to just immediately return them to the ocean. The rescued hatchlings are being kept in plastic wading pools until volunteers can get them to the Marine Science Center (MSC) in Ponce Inlet (Fay has moved up the coast, so the Volusia County MSC is getting hit today). After a few days at the rehab center, the hatchlings will be taken by boat about 40 miles out in the ocean, to the Sargasso weed line, which is where they will live and grow for several years.

When I spoke with Ann this morning, there were approximately 400 hatchlings skittering around in the plastic pools, making considerable racket! With this bad weather showing no signs of leaving, I'm sure the number will increase. Nearly all of the rescued hatchlings were loggerheads, but the photo below is of a green turtle hatchling. (You can see the difference between the green and loggerhead hatchlings in the second photo.)

The STPS recently initiated a Sea Turtle Emergency Response Program to increase the number of young turtles rescued, rehabilitated, and released. Ann reports that the new volunteers were not involved in this event, as the STPS has not received the official letters of authorization from the State that will allow the volunteers to search for and rescue post-hatchling sea turtles. The rescue efforts in Cape Canaveral were mostly done by coordinating efforts through Adrienne Kessler, an STPS volunteer named on the stranding permit. (You last saw Adrienne in an earlier post, standing in a hole.)

By the way - the good folks at STPS could use old towels. If you have any, drop them off at the STPS office (call 676-1701 for hours and directions).

(Photos by Shannon Angy - be sure to click on the pix to enlarge.)

1 comment:

Amanda said...

You guys are my heros!! Thanks for rescuing the wee ones!!