Friday, May 4, 2012

Welcome to Sea Turtle Nesting Season 2012 (Days 1-4) with Nancy Fahey

Hi All,

I am so excited to get the nesting season started this year.  I just feel so good and positive and ecstatic about it.  One reason is because I have come to realize how many friends and experiences the sea turtles have brought to me and I am just feeling so grateful this year.

Like always, our Great WB Sea Turtle Leader, Nancy Fahey will be monitoring for nests for the first two weeks of May.  And, like always, Nancy is stopping to pick up trash on the beach strand.  She really "walks the walk".  Below are her reports for the first 4 days.

Thank you Nancy for including such wonderful information and pictures about the birds.  Too bad we are continuing to find so many balloons.  As we all know, balloons are particularly threatening to sea turtles b/c they often mistake them for food.  Once the turtle ingest balloons, they can become sick and may even starve as the balloon, or any foreign object for that matter, can make the sea turtle feel satiated and therefore will not eat.

One day while volunteering at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital (STH), I was helping treat Riptide, a very sick Green Sea Turtle.  While I was holding Riptide in my lap for his bath, he pooped a piece of red latex balloon!  There have also been other turtles that have pooped balloons at the STH. has other photos of necropsies done on sea turtles in which balloon remnants have been found.

Balloons being released into the air may seem like an innocent educational lesson about the properties of helium, but it actually produces deadly litter for many wildlife.  Not only do animals such as turtles, birds and others ingest the balloons, but they also become entangled in the string and often die as a result. 

Please be responsible and dispose of balloons properly instead of releasing them.  OR, better yet, do not buy them at all as they will only end up in the landfill and that trash often ends up in our environment.

Did you know that WB voted to ban balloons a couple of years ago, but that vote got reversed?  However, they did vote to specifically include "releasing of balloons" in their litter ordinance.  WB ordinances also prevents balloons from being used on signs and decorations.

Day 1 From Nancy
Hi Ginger,

What a beeeeeautiful morning on the beach!!    After taking a moment to joyously watch the first sunrise of the season, 

I glanced down to catch of glimpse of something a tad bit sobering:  the first balloon of the season.  Ugh!!
I collected eight busted balloons & strings, a large clear plastic raft, and a grocery store size bag of random trash.

The highlight of the morning, aside from the sunrise, was a tour of the bird sanctuary on the south end.  I spotted Lindsay Addison of Audubon and stopped to say hello.  She generously offered to take me through the sanctuary to survey the nests.  How amazing was that??  I also got to see turtlers Jill and Joan already walking Zone 4.  Yay!!

In the sanctuary, these incredibly camouflaged eggs were laid by the smallish Least Terns.  They simply scrape a depression in the sand, and deposit the eggs.  It is truly a wonder any survive!!  Without protection of the nesting areas, there would be no hope of hatching success for these shorebirds, without a doubt. Word to the wise: some of these Terns laid their eggs outside of the roped off area!  :(  They are going to move the ropes out, a bit, to try to protect most of them, but everyone should be very careful when walking in the soft sand near the ropes.  They are nearly impossible to see!! (Some kind folks, as you will notice, encircled some of the vulnerable nests with shells in an effort to protect them.)  I do hope their little eggs are not crushed!

Stay tuned for more news from the beach!

Day 2 From Nancy:
Hi Ginger,

Another gorgeous sunrise over Wrightsville Beach this morning!  I ride to the north end first, just so I can get a birds' eye view of the splendor created by the sun rising over the Atlantic.

The beach was nice and clean this morning, relatively speaking.  I found:  5 balloons and string, and collected one random bag of trash, all of which were plastic wrappers and containers.  I saw a few chairs which I suspected were abandoned, however, just to make sure, I will check again tomorrow.  If they are still on the beach, I will drag them to the trash cans.

Interestingly, one of the balloons was a "Strawberry Shortcake" balloon and on it was written Olivia Brooks.  All of them were north of JM Pier.  I have to wonder if they are being released from the beach.

That is about it for today!

Day 3 From Nancy:
Greetings Ginger,

The beach wasn't quite so clean today, and I collected 2 1/2 grocery store size bags of trash, plus a large sand pail.  Once again, the litter was mostly plastic containers and wrappers.  The most offending items included:

1 nylon mesh bag (The type beach toys are packaged in~I hate these bags; they are a death trap for wildlife!)

2 wads of fishing line

17 (yes that is SEVENTEEN) balloons!  These were small lime green water balloons, mostly busted, with two water filled ones also found on the beach.  They were all between the Oceanic and Stand #13/Access 40.  I'm sure I did not find all of the balloons, and no telling how many ended up in the water.  Just when I thought I was going to enjoy a balloon-free day, wham!!  That certainly busted my bubble!

Hope you have a great day!

Day 4 From Nancy:
Hi Ginger,

I collected about three bags of trash this morning, including a large glass wine bottle and NINE busted balloons.  Yup, you guessed it: they were light green and had washed up between the Oceanic and Access #40.  I also put one abandoned beach chair in the trash cans.

Sure hope we find some turtle tracks on WB soon!

I almost forgot, but I also picked up one styrofoam cooler & lid along with five empty beer cans from under JM Pier!

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