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Home > Atlantic Sea Turtles > About The Project > After the Storm

After the Storm

by Jackie Orsulak

Page 1 : After Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene is gone. She left a mess on the northern Outer Banks of North Carolina, though. Most of the damage was done on the sound sides of the islands, with major flooding and destruction. The ocean sides were generally spared.

Extremely high tides with incredibly rough surf has affected the four remaining turtle nests. The stakes marking Nest #15 and Nest #16 disappeared. Luckily, we had placed additional stakes high up in the dunes and measured the distance to the center of the nests from these stakes, so the nests have been remarked. We hope we have them marked properly.

Because the original markers are missing, we do not know whether sand was added or taken away from the nests. We do know there was major washover and probably some standing water on top of the nests. We will just have to sit out at night and hope for the best.

We began sitting out at Nest #15 on Day 59 of incubation. We figure that, with three weeks of cooler weather and the cooling of the ocean water over the nests, hatching would not be as early as our previous nests. We have been protecting the nest with the marsh grass that washed up after the storm. At this time, it is very important that water does not wash over the nest. If some of the turtles have pipped their eggs they need to breathe and will drown if water covers the nest. As soon as the full moon has passed, the tides will not be as high and we can remove our grassy barrier.

So far the turtles have waited for the barrier removal. The waiting is awful for the volunteers due to the swarms of mosquitoes that have bred in all of the standing water from the flooding.

Nest #17 and Nest #18 were spared, and their markers are intact. Because we spray painted the stakes at the sand level, we know that very little sand was added or removed from these two nests. They also probably did not have water standing on them for long periods of time. At this stage in their development, the washovers on Nest #17 and Nest #18 can actually be a good thing. The washover brings the water table up and, when it recedes, it draws oxygen into the nests.

Earlier this summer, the female turtles took about a two-week break from laying nests. Their break conveniently gave the later turtles a safe incubation time in these nests. There were no nests due to hatch immediately following our major evacuation before Irene and during that stormís aftermath. This gives us hope for the remaining nests.

To add to our excitement, Nest #19 was found on 1 September 2011. That is really late for us to have a nest. We will need some warm fall days for this nest to fully incubate. We can only wait and hopeóand slap mosquitoes!

Next Page : 30 September 2011 Update - Nest #17
Pages: 1, 2, 3
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