Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Beach Erosion from Storms and Hurricanes

As you can well imagine, Sea Turtle Preservation Society (STPS) volunteers have been busy rescuing hatchlings and monitoring beach erosion in the wake of the tropical storms and hurricanes that have really kicked up the surf. While we certainly thank our lucky stars that so far (knock on wood), storms such as Fay, Hanna, Gustaf and Ike have missed us, their impacts can be seen in these photos provided to us by Connie Meihofer. We're sad about the reason Connie was able to get these pictures, but we're proud to present them to you. The first one is an extraordinary photo of an exposed nest. The other shows the nature of the dune plant root systems that help hold the dunes together. (If you've watched our Florida Beach Basics - The Space Coast DVD, you already know that these eggs are about the size of pingpong balls, with a tough, leathery shell. You also know the importance of dune plants in maintaining the dune system.)

Ann Zscheile reports the following:

"We had calls all week, but they really peaked on Friday when Hanna passed by quickly. We had eroded nests, eggs on the beach, exposed nests, nests starting to hatch that were exposed to predators (mostly birds) and premature hatchlings, but no documented washbacks. There is not a whole lot we can do once the eggs are out of the nest. We can rebury them, but most likely they will no longer be viable. (State regulations do not allow us to relocate nests or take in unhatched eggs. Even though it is difficult to see, this is part of the natural process that has gone on for a very long time.) We did not have a lot of hatchlings, of the ones we did have, most of them were exposed before they had completely absorbed their egg yolk and were not quite ready to make the swim out. After a day or two, once all of the yolk was absorbed, they were more than ready to go. The interesting thing about this series of storms from Fay to Hanna is that the mama turtles continued to come up and nest! I saw a loggerhead nest on Labor Day which really surprised me and we had 3 green sea turtles nest in Cocoa Beach during Fay. In fact Dori Hughes (nest survey permit holder) named the turtles, Fay, Fay and Fay!!"

Our sincere thanks to everybody out there working to protect our critters, and of course to Ann and Connie for sharing their words and photos. (Photos by Connie Meihofer. Click to enlarge.)

1 comment:

esker said...

Massachusetts has no sea turtle areas. A geographic misfortune for us. But we have houses falling into the water on a heavily populated barrier beach: Plum Island. The town thinks a few bulldozers and a little sand will solve the problem. Not!

Great blog writing and content. Thanks