Monday, July 5, 2010

Catching Up

Artist Vickie Henderson visited me a couple of weeks ago, and I was again reminded of the many natural wonders Brevard County has to offer. Thanks to friends Jim Angy, Wayne Matchett, Charlie Corbeil, Vince Lamb, and Dave Hotchberg (STPS), Vickie saw everything from beach sunrises to wildflowers to deer to sea turtles laying eggs. She took at least a million photos (never go on a nature walk with two photographers - every two steps, it's "oh look at this", and it's 95 degrees in the shade!). She brought some beautiful greeting cards featuring her field journal sketches of limpkins and scrub jays - just gorgeous. (I'll let you know when she figures out how to commercially produce and market them.) This was her first adventure with sea turtles, and I'm eager to see the artistic results! (Wayne took this photo of Vickie while they were investigating wildflowers at Wickham Park. See Related Links for his post about the trip.)

Dawn and Blair Witherington are again out on a boat involved in oiled sea turtle rescue - this time near Destin, Florida. Dawn's last email said that the rough weather was keeping them in port for the day, but they hoped to get back out soon. I've talked often and lovingly of Witherington's current book, Florida's Living Beaches, but Blair's earlier book, Sea Turtles: An Extraordinary Natural History of Some Uncommon Turtles, is perhaps more apropos at the moment.
In my last post, I provided a link to an article from the LA Times that spoke of burning the turtles along with the sargassum. Four non-profit agencies have sued to prevent that from continuing.

This photo of sea turtle eggs in a nest is one of Jim Angy's. The eggs are about the size of pingpong balls, with a leathery shell. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is implementing a plan to excavate Gulf Coast sea turtle nests that are 49 days old (about 11 days prior to typical hatching), carefully put the eggs in specially constructed coolers lined with sand to simulate a nest, and haul the coolers via climate-controlled FedEx trucks to the facility at Kennedy Space Center that was used during the cold stun event. When the eggs hatch, the baby turtles will be released into the (hopefully and blessedly) oil-free ocean here in Brevard. A sea turtle nest will have about 100 eggs in it; there are typically about 700 nests in the affected area. That's 70,000 eggs! Along with everything else associated with this oil gusher, this is the first time anything like this has been attempted, and my hat is off to the folks at FWC who have put this plan together so quickly. Nobody loves the idea of moving eggs, but if they don't, all those babies are doomed as soon as they hit the water. I'll keep you posted. (Photo by Jim Angy)

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