■ BY SUE ERWIN
A sea turtle nest that was thought to be lost to a storm has been accounted for and a baby hatching from it was rescued.
On August 19, Turtle Patrol Volunteers on Zone 1 (North End of the Island) Randy and Linda Simmons discovered a nest that had been predated by a bobcat and the stakes had been washed away by a recent storm.
It tuned out that only the stakes had washed away. Initially, they didn’t know if it was a green nest or a nearby loggerhead nest that also washed away in the last storm. As they examined the nest further they realized it was the green nest.
The volunteers found a few damaged eggs strewn around with a partially dug hole as is typical of a depredation by a bobcat.
“They removed all the damaged material and re-buried the undamaged eggs in the chamber in hopes some might hatch,” said Boca Grande Sea Turtle Association board member and volunteer Melissa Csank. “Among the eggs that had been damaged by the bobcat, the Simmons’ saw movement and realized one of the eggs had a green turtle inside, with the egg sack still intact and not ready to be on its own — this is called a pipped egg.”
The hatchling was left to mature and released a few days later. FWC verified via a photo that the hatchling was a green turtle.
Bobcat and coyote predations are typical this time of year and have been occurring with frequency on the island. Hatchling survivors of this type of event are released if appropriate or held until nightfall.
“Board members and turtle patrollers, Karl and Sharon Knapp have been holding and releasing hatchlings this season for off-island patrollers and we appreciate their efforts,” Csank said.
The BGSTA would like to remind everyone visiting the beach to remove beach furniture and trash before leaving and fill in any holes with said. Items left behind can interfere with nesting sea turtles as well as hatchlings trying to find their way to the water.
Volunteers say this year has been the worst when it comes to litter and trash left on the beach and furniture left overnight regularly.
Please do your part to help protect the sea turtles.
If you are interested in patrolling, send a message to the Boca Grande Sea Turtle Association via its Facebook page. All training and materials are provided.
For more information, visit bocagrandeseaturtles.org.