starved for turtle love

kemps picRemind me to tell you sometime about the Reiki practitioner who found the stranded adult sea turtle and — not finding a park ranger to assist in a rescue — nakedly splayed herself across his arching shell, settling her hair and lips across his soft neck, to do her energy work on this brilliant creature… while her weight slowly suffocated him to death.

Point being: she believed she was comforting the animal and escorting him with love to “transition.” Our own interpersonal intentions and actions can be just as divorced from each other.

Thankfully, when our conservation efforts are educated ones, the results can be outlandishly marvelous.

I’m thinking of the peregrine falcons that have returned to Big Bend in respectable numbers (thanks, Hal!), and the brown pelicans gliding the Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi coasts.

wanted posterThe effort to save the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles is far from being declared a success, though protections in Mexico and the U.S. have made a mark — gaining protections in the 1960s in Mexico and listed as endangered in the U.S. in 1970.

From populations in the tens of thousands just 60 years ago, down to only a couple hundred females spotted about 20 years ago, the rebound of these last decades has been apparent.

Beyond TEDs in shrimping nets, it takes constant vigilance on the sands, too. And this month is coming ashore time.

Sharon at the Island Breeze reports today that:

Nesting season has started off early this year as the first nest was found on April 12 and contained 104 ping pong ball sized eggs. The second nest, found early in the morning on Friday April 24, contained 93 eggs, and that just to start off the busy day.

A third nest containing 91 turtle eggs were found on Boca Chica beach, then a fourth nest with 107. Late in the afternoon a fifth nest was found containing 80 eggs back on South Padre.

Nests are being called in at a particularly quick rate with others being found Saturday afternoon on South Padre. The morning nest contained 89 eggs, another nest near the Mansfield cut contained 94 and another nest on Boca Chica contained 87 turtle eggs.

Occasionally tracks will be seen or even a turtle sighted, but no nest can be found. This is called a ‘false crawl’ and the female will come back ashore at a later time to lay her eggs.

There has been one report of a false crawl this season.

After the eggs are removed from the nest, they are taken to a special protected corral in the dunes of Isla Blanca Park, where they are reburied in the sand, top side up, to wait in the natural conditions until they are ready to hatch. The eggs usually hatch approximately 54 days from when they were laid.

The anticipated first hatchling release should take place around June 5-8. Announcements of the event will be released when a more exact date is determined.

Now volunteers (and after a check-in, I’m thinking web designer hours would be a nice plus) are in demand.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife has a program for watching for and assisting stranded turtles. Last year’s was a breakthrough by federal standards.

The volunteer Sea Turtle Patrol for Matagorda Island in Texas had its most successful year yet in 2007, with a record eight sea turtle nests that produced 807 eggs. An extraordinary 83 percent of the eggs produced hatchlings. More nests were located in 2007 than in the previous four years combined.

Those who like digging through comprehensive recovery plans can exploit federal docs here.

(Oh, and either the “live turtle cam” at Sea Turtle Inc. is frame-frozen or someone needs to check in on “Truman.”)

Images courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife.

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