Sunday, May 31, 2009

Leatherbacks, Heroes, and Urchins - Oh My!

Jay Wherley, Sea Turtle Preservation Society (STPS) volunteer and fine nature photographer, sent a link to a heartwarming story. The CNN Hero story begins With its white sand and clear, blue water, Trinidad's Matura Beach looks like a postcard. It's a far cry from its recent past, when leatherback sea turtle carcasses littered the ground and kept tourists away. The column then goes on to describe Suzan Lakhan Baptiste's 20-year effort to help end the slaughter of leatherback sea turtles and turn a turtle graveyard into a maternity ward - one of the largest leatherback nesting colonies in the world. It's a terrific story, and shows what one person can do to make a difference. Apparently, Ms Baptiste is known in Trinidad as The Crazy Turtle Woman - sounds like a supreme compliment to me. There's a link to the full story at the end of this post. I believe Ms Baptiste would be a worthy candidate for Disney's Conservation Hero award, and I hope the CNN story jump-starts that effort. As far as I can tell from my research, Disney Conservation Heroes must be nominated by an organization supported by the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. You may remember that Brevard's own Cindy Dolaway was a 2007 Award winner, nominated by the Marine Resources Council for her work in right whale monitoring as well as her efforts for the STPS. (This leatherback sea turtle photo is one of many that the Paquettes and the Norths shared after their once-in-a-lifetime experience of witnessing a daytime nester several weeks ago.)

Martha Wolfe sent a sea-bean listserve inquiry a few weeks ago about finding a large number of urchin skeletons on the beach in South Brevard, saying There were hundreds yesterday. In the 4 years I've lived here, I have only found two before yesterday. There was no definitive answer to this interesting question, but a listserve response from Christopher Boykin, Awareness and Appreciation Coordinator at Florida Department of Environmental Protection, suggested that maybe the population exceeded the available food source from a boom/bust algal bloom or maybe it was dredging or maybe we’ll never know. Martha is Doherty Visiting Professor in the Marine and Environmental Systems College of Engineering at Florida Institute of Technology. Her area of expertise is environmental toxicology, and her current research interest is Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs), including Florida Red Tide. (We'll hope to avoid another Red Tide event like we had last year.) I have, of course, added Martha's name to my mental roladex of reliable sources of information. (I understand from others who have made the list that this is a dubious honor.) I appreciate her sending these photos with permission to share them. Remember that these show just the skeletons. Live urchins are round things with spines - they look kind of like mini Koosh balls.
Congratulations to the Orlando Magic and all of us that stayed up late enough to watch them whomp the Cavaliers last night! It's on to LA, but not until next week, which should allow us to catch up on our sleep.
Links:

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Go Magic!

The Orlando Magic lead the Cleveland Cavaliers 3 - 2 in the Eastern Conference Finals and can close it out at home tonight in Game 6. Go Magic!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Oh baby, baby, it's a wild world!

"Now if you wanna leave, take good care
Hope you make a lot of nice friends out there."

With many thanks to Charlie Corbeil for sharing his beautiful photos of this enchanting baby Florida scrub jay.
Wild World song lyrics by Cat Stevens.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pelican Island Refuge and the Nickerbean Shrub

Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge is located about two miles south of Sebastian Inlet bridge, on the lagoon side of A1A, across the road from the ocean. Friend Marilyn and I took a field trip to the Refuge yesterday, and I took a variety of photos, most of which you'll see later in a Space Coast Eco post about the Refuge.

I was curious about this bush, so I sent the photo to Wayne for identification. He provided me with the following: Your plant is gray nicker. You can see a lot of it at Sidney Fisher park. The leaves don't look quite right, though. I think the shiny leaves must belong to some other plant. At this time of year, nicker would be in bloom or budding. The seed capsules (which have vicious spines) must be from a previous year. Maybe this plant was dead and had no leaves.
In our Florida Beach Basics - The Space Coast DVD, we talk about nickerbeans as a common sea-bean on our beaches, but I had never stopped to think about where they came from. (If you haven't figured it out by now, there's lots I don't know, but fortunately, I do know some experts like Wayne that are willing to share their knowledge!)
This photo and information is from the sea-bean segment of the DVD. Nickernuts grow in prickly pods on Nickernut shrubs. When those pods ripen and dry up, they crack open, and the seeds roll into the water and wind up on beaches. There are brown, grey, and yellow nickernuts. Grey nickernuts are the most common. Wayne also sent some informative links, which are included in the Links section at the bottom of this post. One of those links is to a 2002 Drifting Seed Newsletter and story by Ed Perry about the Brown Nickerbean. Ed's story includes a ruler illustration so you can see that these beans are only about 1 - 2 inches long. (Ed will chastise me for calling these things nuts instead of beans. ) Photo by Matt MacQueen.
A follow-up - Friend Robin read the post about Curtis Ebbesmeyer's book, Flotsametrics, and told me she had just that day heard him on an NPR interview. The link to that interview is provided below.
Links:
Nickerbean (gray nicker bean information)
Brown Nickerbean (Ed Perry article)

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Price of Freedom

Friend Margie is retired military, and today she forwarded a newsletter she received from an Army friend that has been in Afghanistan since last summer. I asked Margie if it would be ok to share part of the newsletter as this Memorial Day comes to a close.

When we arrived back in Kabul on Wednesday afternoon, we learned that two members of the staff were killed when an IED exploded on the road to Baghram just after 8 a.m. Shawn Pine was an MPRI mentor who had volunteered to do some CID training for our legal guys in August. He was so excited about it and had already started working on the project. He had two young sons. Shawn was in the vehicle with 1LT Roz Schulte, an Air Force Academy graduate who was 25. She was a beautiful young lady from near St. Louis with an amazing smile and a heart of gold. She was with us at the Norweigian police compound last week, and I'm attaching a few photos of her to put yet another face to the cost of war. The one I took of her as we were gearing up to return to Eggers that night will stay with me forever. The US flag will remain at half-mast at Eggers through Memorial Day on Monday, when we will have their Fallen Comrade ceremony together with the Memorial Day ceremony. It will be a difficult day here, as well as everywhere hearts gather to remember all those that have served our great nation and paid the greatest price for our freedoms.
The photo of LT Schulte accompanied the newsletter. This link will take you to a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about her death and the many tributes paid her by those who served with her. One of those tributes included this sentence, which pretty much says it all: Her sacrifice will never be forgotten and can never be repaid.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

About five years ago, I received an email from somebody named Robin Chapman, inquiring about purchasing some of Jim Angy's photos for a book she was writing (The Absolutely Essential Guide to Orlando). I immediately replied, asking if this was the same Robin Chapman that had been the best news anchor Channel 2 in Orlando ever had. It was, and we've been friends ever since, albeit most of the time electronically. She recently moved from Winter Park to California to be near her aging parents, and that journey has provided new grist for the mill, so to speak - in this case, her blogs.

Robin's blog posts are always good, but for the upcoming Memorial Day, she wrote an exceptional one about the day, its history, and its meaning. Follow the link below to read it, as well as the poignant story about taking her ailing and aging WWII veteran father to see the vintage planes at Moffett Field.
Robin has a collection of vintage postcards, many of which are illustration in her books. She used one of the postcard images shown here for her post, and sent the other two for me to share with you. I love these cards - as she noted, They are from the first half of the 20th century when people could send each other little postcards for a penny with messages such as "We'll be there at 1:00 p.m. on Memorial Day with the salad."
This Memorial Day weekend, we'll honor the heroes that have preserved our freedom and echo the sentiment expressed in Robin's post about her Dad - thank you for your service.
Links:
Robin Chapman News (Wander around a little - there's some great stuff in there. Be sure to read/scroll to the bottom of the blog and learn more about her books.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Flotsametrics


This past Sunday, the New York Times (!) published a book review about friend Curtis Ebbesmeyer's book. It was an interesting review, but not nearly as interesting as Curt, one of life's unforgettable characters.

There is a link to the review at the end of this post, but I suggest you also read the book and watch the videos of Curt on our Florida Beach Basics web site. Curt is a charter member of the Sea-Bean Symposium held every October at the Cocoa Beach Library. He'll be the keynote speaker this year, although after my nightmare following his presentation last year, I have forbidden him to speak of floating heads ever again. (But he probably will anyway.)

Links:
New York Times book review
Florida Beach Basics
Sea-Bean Symposium

Wordless Wednesday

Need Braces?
(Photo by Matt MacQueen)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ursula, The Surfing Turtle

What a glorious day - the Sea Turtle Preservation Society truck pulled into the parking lot of Pelican Beach Park in Satellite Beach about 3:30 this afternoon, driven by Gina, with Ann riding shotgun, and Ursula the Turtle in the back.
Our February 26 post spoke of STPS volunteers Ann and Ursula (the person) finding a weakened juvenile green sea turtle and transporting it to the Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet. Since that time, we've shared photos and updates from Tammy and Michelle at the MSC, and today, their hard work was rewarded with the release of Ursula the Turtle into a wild ocean.


Ursula, Then and Now!

The day was cloudy, rainy, and stormy, but that did not stop STPS volunteers Gina and Ann from trekking to Ponce Inlet to get Ursula the Turtle. When they arrived back at Pelican Beach Park, it was raining, but not storming, so we made our way to the beach. Release protocol requires taking a turtle out a ways in the water, rather than letting it wander in from the sand. As you can see in the photos, the waves were pretty big, so Ann and Gina sweet-talked a friendly surfer into taking Urusula out on his surf board.
The interesting part to me was that Urusula did a hang ten with no sign of fear!
Hanging 10!
A lot of people did their part to save this one juvenile sea turtle - our thanks to all of them. And Ursula the Turtle returned to Brevard in style, thanks to A&B Graphics in Cocoa. who donated the great wrap on the STPS truck!

Bon Voyage!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

More cabbages and kings

"The time has come,' the Walrus said, "To talk of many things: Of shoes -- and ships -- and sealing wax -- Of cabbages -- and kings -- And why the sea is boiling hot -- And whether pigs have wings." (From The Walrus and the Carpenter, by Lewis Carroll.

I made my reservations for a guided sea turtle watch on a Tuesday night early in June. I will, of course, write about it. There won't be photos, as Do not use flashlights or flash photography on the beach at night is an unbreakable rule. Contact numbers for the walks are provided in the right-hand column.
Our blog hit the jackpot this week - friend Robin Chapman's blog linked to the smiling alligator story, the Caribbean Conservation Corporation newsletter spoke of us and linked to the daytime nesting leatherback post, and I participated in my first blog carnival via the Nature Blog Network (NBN). To participate, one submits a post for consideration by the host, in this case I and the Bird, NBN's blog devoted to wild birds and birding. On the specified day, the host gives a brief introduction to each of the participating blogs, along with links to them. I and the Bird devised awards for each submittal. I had sent a link to Bird with Bling, featuring Charlie Corbeil's Red-Cockaded Woodpecker, and we were given the Best Dressed Bird award. (If I've totally confused you with this explanation, see Links below.)
Being in a carnival introduces you to other interesting sites, and other bloggers to yours. The Bird with Bling post got a comment from a new viewer. I followed the link to her site and was in for a real treat! Vickie Henderson is an artist, writer, photographer and nature enthusiast in Knoxville, TN, and what lovely work she does. Among other things, she merges her fascination with Whooping Cranes with her gourd art - beautiful. Be sure to visit her site. (Photo from her web site, used with permission. Click on photos to enlarge.)
This week, I got a book from our local library (what would we do without libraries?) that was reviewed in GeoCarta, a mapping and navigation blog I follow. Mainly, I was interested in looking at the layout - it sounded like it was a field journal format, and I do love a field journal. Apparently, ten publishers fought over the book, and it garnered a $1M advance, highly unusual. Well, The Collected Works of T. S. Spivet is unlike any book I've ever seen. If you treasure words and the unusual, you'll love this book. Follow the link to the web site (also beautifully done, and I usually have no patience with web sites that have strange conventions) to learn more. I've also included a link to the Amazon page for it, as there is a lengthy explanation by the author and customer reviews from people that either loved or hated the book.
I warned you via the title that this post would wander a bit. This is a photo of my tomato plants - aren't they gorgeous? I do not have a green thumb, so I resort to "grow boxes", with great success. I planted these on April 1, and just look at them, loaded with blossoms and little green tomatoes. I got the seedlings from Kari at Naturewise in May - they are heirloom cherry tomatoes that I have raised before, and the flavor is wonderful. My handy son devised the screen behind them to mitigate the sun reflecting off the light colored wall painted with some strange paint that has glass beads in it.
Here's to a good week.

Links:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Armed Forces Day 2009 - HOOAH!

In 1949, President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish a single holiday for citizens to thank our military members for their patriotic service in support of our country.

This citizen says Thank You and HOOAH!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Story of Rocky Thyme

Some mothers got breakfast in bed for Mother's Day. Sea Turtle Preservation Society (STPS) volunteer Ann Zscheile spent hers rescuing a stranded sea turtle. Ann files the following report: On Mother's Day, we got a call about an injured sea turtle in the lagoon/canal that was struggling in the water and working hard to come up for air. The turtle was about 20 feet out, and the lady that called said it was in shallow water. She felt someone could wade out and pull the turtle ashore. They estimated the turtle to be about 24".
I called Adam and Gina, two of our new Sea Turtle Emergency Response Program (STERP) volunteers who have been interested in knowing more about helping with turtle strandings. Adam is a tall, strong AF guy (due to deploy to Iraq in July), and I was relieved when he and Gina agreed to come with me. Not only that, his parents drove ahead of us and guided us to the spot with their GPS. (They were visiting here for Mother's Day.) When we reached the area, we could see the turtle near a dock. The Horvaths (the owners of the dock) were watching and keeping track of the turtle. They told us they thought the rear flippers were missing.

As Adam approached the turtle in the water, she quickly made every effort she could to get away from him. He had to get behind her and grab her before she tried to duck under again. After he caught her, it was much easier to steer her toward the edge of the water.

When Adam lifted her up, we could see that she did have all four flippers.
Once we had her in a container for transport, we saw that she appeared to be bloated like the other turtles we have picked up in the lagoon recently. Also, we saw that at some point she had been struck by a propeller - she had a small wound on the central back part of her carapace and part of the outer shell on the left side was missing. Both wounds were not recent and had already healed. She seemed to have good movement of the right flipper, but not much movement of the left flipper. Not only that, she was covered with lots of hair algae and all sorts of wiggly creatures, which meant that she had been having trouble swimming for some time.


Michelle and Marie at the Marine Science Center, working their magic

After we got to the Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet, Michelle checked her over and gave her some fluids for dehydration. Her blood sugar was fine, so she didn't need any glucose.


Rocky with the Horvath Family - this is a Mother's Day they'll remember!

The Horvaths named her "Rocky", but Michelle wanted me to add the name of an herb. She had a list to chose from! The one that went best was Thyme, so the turtle ended up being called Rocky Thyme.

Ann notes, The thing that struck me most was all the spunk this little turtle had - as much as she was struggling, she made a valiant effort to get away from that big guy that was headed towards her! Once at the MSC, she seemed relaxed and calm under the TLC of Michelle and the rest of the MSC "angels."

In a later update, Ann tells us that MSC found paps (papiloma virus, little caulifower-type growths) on Rocky Thyme, so she has been transported to The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, as that is the main place for treating paps.

I'd say that was a great Mother's Day for the Horvaths, Adam and Gina and Adam's parents, Ann, Michelle and Maria at MSC, and especially for Rocky Thyme. (Photos courtesy of Ann Zscheile)

Links:
Sea Turtle Preservation Society
Marine Science Center
The Turtle Hospital

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

After watching yesterday's fantastic launch, it only makes sense to talk about the Kennedy Space Center's equally fantastic neighbor - the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (MINWR). One of the segments in our Florida Beach Basics - The Space Coast DVD is devoted to Playalinda Beach at MINWR, and we marvel that NASA, The National Parks System, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and State and local governments have cooperated with each other and with Mother Nature to preserve and maintain this chunk of Florida and make it accessible to all of us. This photo from the DVD shows the view of the shuttle launch pad from MINWR.

MINWR is conducting a van tour at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 23, to teach folks about habitats and wildlife. Call 861-5601 for more information. Just a note - to reach MINWR, you need to start from US #1 and County Road 402 in the north end of Titusville. Take a right on 402 and head east for about five miles to the Visitor's Center. Don’t look at a map and think you can take a shortcut through the Kennedy Space Center, because that road is not open to the public.
A nice story in Florida Today about the rescue of an anhinga whose beak was tangled in pink string to the point it could not eat or drink. A group of Viera residents were able to capture the weakened bird and take it to the Florida Wildlife Hospital (you'll remember the FWH and the little otter with the milk mustache in our April 30 post), and Director Sue Small thinks it should be ok. Good job all around!
Friend Wayne sent this photo the other day - to find out more about it, you'll have to visit our Space Coast Eco site. It's a good tale.

Links:

Monday, May 11, 2009

More launch news

NASA always has great photos, and this is a new one of today's launch to augment the one I included in the earlier post. Friend David took a photo from across the state in the front yard of his home in St. Petersburg. You can see it on Blog the Beach.

Beautiful Liftoff of STS-125!

Shuttle Atlantis, carrying a crew of seven, lifted off at 2:01 p.m. on an 11-day mission featuring five risky space walks to service and upgrade the Hubble telescope. According to the NASA web site, astronauts will install two new instruments, repair two inactive ones, and perform the component replacements that will keep the telescope functioning into at least 2014. This will be the last mission to the Hubble. (A reminder - STS is the acronym for Space Transportation System. According to a Wikipedia list of space shuttle missions, Shuttle Atlantis has flown 32 flights prior to this one. Images from NASA's web site.)
An Orlando Sentinel story described the Hubble thusly: The Hubble Space Telescope has opened new windows into deep space and enabled astronomers to travel visually to nearly the beginning of time. Orbiting Earth every 97 minutes for the past 19 years, the observatory also has beamed down thousands of stellar and planetary portraits so vivid they appear three-dimensional. Iconic images have included stars in the throes of birth and death, galaxies stalking galaxies and chunks of comet slamming into Jupiter.The spectacular scenes are merely grace notes to astronomers, who use the telescope to probe far-off specks of light for data on movement and molecules. But they've made the school-bus-sized telescope the world's best-known piece of scientific equipment. "Hubble is not just about science," said Roger Launius, a senior curator at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. "Hubble is about its stunning imagery. We decided space is a beautiful place because of this imagery."

Hubble was not always the success it is today. When it was first put in orbit and turned on, images were fuzzy and distorted, and it was the source of jokes for late-night comedians. But all that was corrected in a 1993 service call, and it has been working like a champ ever since. This image is called The Glowing Eye (photo courtesy of NASA/Hubble Space Telescope). Be sure to follow the link below to the Hubble Site - a great resource. Its spirit line is Out of the ordinary - out of this world, and that's certainly an apt description of the program.

Unfortunately, after today's launch, there are only nine launches remaining. John Kelley writes a space column in Florida Today newspaper, and he sums it up thusly: It's easy to take the shuttle for granted. We've seen it so many times here. It may start to look routine. It's not. Flight after flight, the space shuttle is one of the most amazing things men and women have ever done. Enjoy it. Take advantage of the blessing of living here on the Space Coast. Take in the launch, celebrate a little and remember to congratulate your friends and neighbors who make it all happen.

Links:
Hubble Site
NASA Mission Page

Orlando Sentinel: Our amazing view of heavenly space (part 1 of 2-part series)
Orlando Sentinel: NASA brings ingenuity to Hubble repair mission (part 2 of 2-part series)

Florida Today: Savor the awe of these last shuttle launches

List of Space Shuttle Missions

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Always Look Up to Your Mother!

Mom! Where are you, Mom?


That's better. Happy Mother's Day!

(Photos and "always look up to your Mother" by Jim Angy. He was not happy with the chick pic - says it is "soft", whatever that means, but it is too cute not to use.)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Sea Turtle Success Stories

In our May 2 post, we talked about three sea turtle stranding rescues. The smaller Loggerhead was named Corley in honor of the FWC officer that rescued him. The larger Loggerhead was named Sage, and the little Hawksbill (shown in this photo) was named Nutmeg. Marine Science Center (MSC) employee Tammy (one of our Conservation Heroes) sends us this news about the rescued turtles: Corley originally stranded due to severe impaction in his GI tract, which caused him to float. We have made great progress in getting his GI moving again, and he is now sitting on the bottom of the pool and has started eating some dead man fingers sea grass. We have a little bit more to clear out in the intestines, but things are going very well for him. Sage also stranded due to severe impaction in his GI. We have cleared him out completely, and he is also eating some of the dead man fingers sea grass. We are going to observe him for about another week or two and then re-evaluate him for possible release. Nutmeg is hanging in there. He has a severe impaction as well in the GI, and we are still working on getting that cleared out. He has made some progress but has much more to go. He is currently not eating and is getting tube fed 3 times a day with medications.

Faithful readers will remember Ursula, another rescued Green sea turtle (you unfaithful ones can read more in the February 26 and March 12 posts.) Tammy writes: Ursula continues to do well. We are currently keeping an eye on one spot on her plastron and as soon as that heals, she will be released. We will be re-evaluating her in another 2 weeks. Other than that, she's the little piggy in the tank :)
And for good measure, Tammy sent photos of three other rescued sea turtles nursed back to health by the good folks at the MSC, and successfully released - an adult female named Mackensie and two sub-adults, Mallory, and Miles. With a new lease on life, no wonder these turtles are smiling! (Be sure to click on the smaller photos - what beautiful creatures these are.)


As always, thanks to the turtle rescuers and rehabbers and to Tammy for keeping us up-to-date and sending such beautiful and uplifting photos. Turtles going home is cause indeed for a Friday night celebration!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Why is This Alligator Smiling?

Perhaps the poet Tennyson said it best - In the spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. And love is certainly in the air at Gatorland. (Gatorland is on Hwy 441, on the border of Orlando/Kissimmee- see the link below for full information.) When I came to Orlando in the 1960's, Gatorland was a little tourist attraction at the side of the road. Now it is a 110-acre theme park and nature conservatory and, according to its literature, is known as the Alligator Capital of the World.

Jim, Matt, Charlie, and Vince Lamb have each trekked over to Gatorland this Spring, and each came back with some fabulous photos. Not only are the alligators strutting their stuff, but the birds that make their home there are in full nuptial plumage. We'll write more about the birds in a future post, but today we're going to talk about the Alligator Water Dance.
This is so cool! In addition to his very audible bellow, as part of his routine to pick up attractive female gators, the male alligator generates an internal vibration, inaudible to humans ears, that sets off the water show you can see in Vince's photo above. Female alligators love this sort of thing, and off they go to the dance. If you follow the National Geographic link below, they have a cute (verging on cutesy) video about it.
This pre-mating ritual is fascinating in and of itself, but Vince noted that he was disappointed with his Alligator water dance photo because the nictitating eyelid displayed by the gator in his photo made the eye look dull. (Eyes are a big thing to photographers.)
According to Wikipedia, The nictitating membrane is a transparent or translucent third eyelid present in some animals that can be drawn across the eye for protection and to moisten the eye while also keeping visibility. There's a link to the full Wikipedia entry below - it's very interesting, and includes some very scholarly references. I was particularly interested in this sentence: Woodpeckers tighten their nictitating membrane a millisecond prior to their beak impacting the trunk of a tree in order to prevent their eyes from leaving their sockets. You gotta love Mother Nature's ability to plan ahead!
Frankly, I would not have noticed the duller eye if Vince had not pointed it out, but I've used a crop of one of Matt's water dance photos to show the difference.

Thanks to Vince and Matt for sharing their photos and their experience with us. Be sure to follow the link below to see more of Vince's work. (Matt's work can be seen in our Florida Beach Basics - The Space Coast DVD, which he also narrated, and in the accompanying reference cards.)
Links:
Gatorland

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Lights Out for Sea Turtles!

Sea turtle nesting season started officially yesterday, although Florida's nesting season starts early (whenever the turtles feel like it) - we've already talked about a daytime nesting leatherback (April 20 post).

Unfortunately, sea turtle strandings occur year-around. Sea Turtle Preservation Society (STPS) friend Ann writes of three last week, two in the Indian River Lagoon by Jorgenson's Landing near Grant. Ann referred to them as "floaters" - no obvious injuries, but full of gas because of a clogged intestinal system. The two green sea turtles were discovered bobbing up and down and unable to dive by Patrick Corley, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officer, who got them into his boat and then called the STPS. The turtles (one named Corley, of course :) were transported to the Marine Science Center (MSC) in Ponce Inlet for treatment. That's Officer Corely and his namesake in the photo.
The third turtle was an very large adult male loggerhead off Satellite Beach that had been struck by a boat, and he could not be saved. As Ann notes, Brevard County has about 50% of the loggerhead nests for the state. This time of year, there is a lot of loggerhead mating in the near-shore waters of the Atlantic. During mating season, the turtles come in closer to the shore and that makes them more vulnerable to being hit by a boat. The message is, boaters (in the ocean or in the lagoon) be aware, especially during the late spring and summer months.


Another stranding last week, unusual for Brevard County, was a Hawksbill sea turtle - we seldom see them here. Friend Margie, beach coordinator for the City of Cocoa Beach and also an STPS volunteer, discovered him. STPS volunteers transferred this little guy to MSC, where he was named Nutmeg. MSC employee, friend, and Conservation Hero Tammy sent us these photos of Nutmeg, who weighed in at 524 grams (1 pound, 2.48 oz). She also sent photos of some success stories - we'll show those in the next turtle post.
So ... lights out for sea turtles, May 1 through October 31. You can help prevent disorientation of nesting female and hatchling sea turtles by turning off or shielding indoor and outdoor lighting visible from the beach after dark.
Thanks to Ann and Tammy for their photos, and as always, our admiration and appreciation to them and the rest of the folks who work so diligently to protect our critters.

Links: