Nest 12, July 30th

This morning Sarah found a nest on the south end, around the tip of the island from Huyler House walk.  The nest was in an erosion zone, so we moved it away from the ever changing sands of the inlet and back towards Huyler House walk.  We relocated 124 eggs to a higher dune.

Nest 11, July 19th

Wow, the Fairchild’s had a big morning … first they discovered that Nest # 1 “Lesa-Sam” had hatched, then they discovered nest number eleven. Nest # 1 showed a large hole at the cavity; lots of little hatchling tracks headed to the sea; and the runway kept any little buggers from going the wrong direction. Inventory is set for Friday at 7:30PM. Nest # 11 was discovered by Kate so is named for her & her friend “Kate-Ella”; it was laid in a very low area near Huyler House walk; Judy & Gary had a hard time probing; but finally found the eggs; relocated 87 eggs to the dune near #1 and #3; took one egg for research; and placed a marker “11 Org” at the original.


Nest 10, predated by fox before discovery

Nest # 10 near Marsh Mallow walk was predated. Judy, Sonia & Gary checked it out. Something had dug into the fresh nest; 6 broken egg shells and one yellow yoke were on top of the sand; tracks were everywhere; we found 3 more broken shells in the cavity; cleaned it out; and left the remaining eggs in situ. Jimmy, Judy & Gary guessed fox tracks [with two animals of different size]. Photos to come… stay tuned.

Nest 8, near Osprey Walk

The Anderson’s strike it rich and find nest “Numero Otto” just north of Osprey Walk in the shoal area building up into new dunes. Judy & Moe guessed at the egg cavity location; Judy probed and found it easily; we relocated 104 less 1 egg for research so 103 eggs since it was a low elevation. The nest is named in honor of Jim & Anne’s granddaughter ‘Zoe’.

On Capers yesterday, Sonia &  Gary found 3 new crawls;

one nest [#5] which was predated by raccoons; I did not dig to find surviving eggs due to fire ants all around the area; we took one egg shell for DNA; and two crawls with fuzzy body pits where we could not locate the eggs. We found a severely decomposed loggerhead stranded on the north end which I reported to DNR.

Nest 7

Jane Savage continues her family’s good luck by finding her second nest of the season. The mama crawled up to the Osprey Walk parking lot; took a look; headed back down along the escarpment; laying her nest in the newly accreted sand just south of the Lake Timicau breach area. High winds last night removed nearly all field signs so Judy, Toone & Moe had to call in the Calvary … in the form of Brucie with her divining rods. Good fortune smiled upon us as we located the eggs; took one for research; and left the nest ‘in situ’.

Jane selected the name “Aphrodite” since she already had a “Jane” which is an appropriate moniker since Aphrodite is the Greek Goddess of love, desire, beauty, fertility and the sea.

Nest 6 and False Crawl, June 18

Nest # 6 was just north of the shoal [north of Osprey Walk]; Brucie probed; Judy reached in to find the eggs; and 97 [98 minus one for DNA] were relocated to a higher dune nearby. Brucie’s famous ‘divining’ rods’ were successful. Since Lesa already has a nest named in her honor, she suggested we name this one “Laura Jane”, her sister, who was walking the beach with her. So be it … make it so !

Lesa’s second crawl was way north on Capers inlet; Brucie, Judy, Sarah & Moe probed but found no eggs on a very small dune in a washed-over area of the beach with lots of vegetation so we declared it a False Crawl.

looking for the eggs… they were found beyond where Ted is standing

June 13.  Jane found a crawl with a big body pit in the soft sand north of Needlerush Walk.  Brucie, Judy, and Gary all probed; Gary finally found the egg chamber amid the outgoing crawl.  We left the eggs in situ because they were well above the spring wrack line.




Nest 5

looking for the eggs… they were found beyond where Ted is standing

June 13.  Jane found a crawl with a big body pit in the soft sand north of Needlerush Walk.  Brucie, Judy, and Gary all probed; Gary finally found the egg chamber amid the outgoing crawl.  We left the eggs in situ because they were well above the spring wrack line.





Gary checks all nests after high tide

We’re in the June high tide cycle for the next few days. Our four nests are high & dry. Last night’s high tide did over-wash the original location [via placed stake] of nest # 2 and came within about 10 feet of over-washing the original location of nest # 3. It was a good plan that we decided to relocate both of those nests.

Nest #4

offset gait

We had both a nest and a false crawl today, June 8th.  This AM Sarah & Toone found two crawls near Marshmallow Walk; one was a False Crawl; the other was our 4th Nest.

reading field signs
false crawl with many loops behind the dune

It was well up on a dune so left ‘in situ’; The cavity was way behind where we expected to find it, but we noticed a ghost crab hole and probed nearby.  Once we found the eggs and got ready to take a DNA sample, that same ghost crab emerged, having pinched one and broken it.  We cleaned up the mess as much as possible to help avoid contamination of remaining eggs. This nest is named in honor of “Toone.”

Nest #3

Ted and Gary show the length of the crawl

Nest #3 was found by Carroll on June 6th, just north of Needlerush walk.  It was a VERY long crawl; she obviously spent a lot of time on the beach. There was a clear body pit and lots of thrown sand.  It is an area of recently blown sand; when I probed outside the track the probe sank deep into the sand.  Gary and I looked carefully at the elongated body pit and guessed about where the nest would be… we were delighted to find the eggs very quickly.  This was an interesting nest… when I moved the eggs, I was struck by the fact that they seemed smaller than usual.  One had a bit of yolk on the outside, but otherwise was intact, so  that was the one we selected for the DNA sample.  Gary was also surprised by the size of that egg, and we noted that ALL of the eggs in the nest were that size.  There were only 75 eggs, and the nest was relocated to the stable dune next to nest #1.  The original was between two dunes on an area of the beach that has been accreting, but somewhat low on the beach where it could be inundated by a high tide.

Nest #2

Nest #2 was found on the North End of the island on June 4th by Esther and Jimmy.  This was a tricky one; we all probed to see if we could find the eggs.  Finally, Sonia located them.  While Judy was digging, a red fox watched us from behind a dune about 50 yards north.  The nest was in a definite washover area, so we moved 111 more to a higher dune nearby.

Nest #1

nest 1

On Saturday, May 28th, a small group of walkers found our first nest of the 2011 season on the island.  New resident Lesa was walking with intern Sarah and one of our re-enactors, Sam, when they found a crawl just North of Ancient Dunes walkway.  An obvious body pit showed that there was probably a nest, and the poor turtle had to go around some hurdles to get there.  After a bunch of attempts, Judy located the eggs, which were in a part of the beach that is losing huge amounts of sand.  There were 152, which is a lot for a nest on Dewees!  The nest, named Lesa/Sam, is now located SOUTH of Ancient Dunes, high up in a soft dune.  We will post the green flag on July 12th, and begin watching for hatching. Our average interval last year was 51 days, which would be July 18th.

In one of those “reasons to live on Dewees” moments, we ran into the Manuels, with lots of pajama clad children in tow, on our way to the beach.  They were excited to hear about a turtle nest, and tumbled onto the sand to watch us find and relocate the nest. Click to enlarge photos.  Nest 1 hatched on the night of July 19th; inventory to be held this Friday at 7:30 pm.

Sam watches her nest

Did you know the turtle team has an official Poet Laureate?  Gaye McGraw Gambell-Peterson, Gary’s sister, sent the following letter and poem:

 I am so impressed by the work (the Really Dedicated work) the Dewees Patrol puts into the protection of the Loggerheads.  Walking the beach, each and every day, is just the beginning of it.

I am proud to have earned my shirt by walking, by other miscellaneous tasks, but mostly by writing a poem here and there.  I am proud to be my brother’s sister for he is Untiring when it comes to sea turtles, and wise beyond belief (he told me to say all that).

Attached is a new poem, written during my 10 day stay here on Dewees.  Let me make some explanation.  Poets are Pirates–they steal lines.  I have Janet Kennedy to thank for the “sun at back, moon forward” part that I stole from an email she wrote to Gary.  As well, McGraws are Pirates.  You all know that.  And I’ve been a McGraw for (just a tiny bit) longer than my brother.  This is why I have the chutzpah to label myself as follows.                             Namaste.

gaye mcgraw gambell-peterson

Poet Laureate of Dewees Sea Turtle Patrol

The Moon is Red
Dedicated to the Dewees Sea Turtle Patrol—mid-May, 2011

A flat disc perfect in her roundness,
balancing, for the purest moment,
on the far edge of ocean.  Lifting.
We sing to the she-turtles our siren song—
to lure them to their laying.  Our hope,
full.  The moon transforms,
silvers, gains altitude, unrolls
a carpet of glitter across the tide.  She sails,
and we dream.

The moon becomes mere gauze, white,
a pale circle made transparent
by morning’s bright insistence.
The promise fills us.
We stride the beach—sun rising
to our backs, full moon
going forward.  We seek loggerhead paths,
from, and to our piece of sea—arrows
that aim towards every buried clutch,
towards every cache of possibilities.

The ocean and the sky trade colors.
Live oak and palmettos sway green.
Ivory sand sifts into khaki-colored grooves,
piles in new places, ever shifting.
Taking; giving.
We remain steadfast, true,
and ready.

g a y e   m c g r a w   g a m b e l l – p e t e r s o n

Turtle Season 2011 kicks off with Happy Hour May 13th.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Kris DeMattos

    From one of the DeMattos viewers (From far away Minnesota)….THE most amazing breath-taking event of our vacation! Not only did you let us join you, you welcomed the kids in helping the babies to the water.

  2. reggiefairchild

    Awesome! There was another turtle nest (#5) inventory last night. We released 2 baby turtles. Lots of people got the opportunity to watch and participate.

  3. Anna DeMattos

    This was the best trip i could ask for! The turtles made it even better! I love all the help we got from the fairchilds but i got the most help from the nice helper Emily!!!! Thanks sooooo much! I hope i can come back soon!

  4. Rita Snipes

    SO glad the Loggerhead was rescued successfully. I’m sure glad there are people like you who take the time to help these wonderful creatures!!

  5. judydrewfairchild

    Yes, Gary! Way to go! I am sure we’ll hear from our friends at the rescue hospital about how the turtle is doing.

  6. Anna DeMattos

    Hi Judy it is Anna Demattos I was just wondering how everyone is there???

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