2011 Season Summary
After an incredible season of nests, nests and more nests, Folly was raked by Hurricane Irene in August. TONS of sand left the beach along with 11 nests. Nature has quite a powerful way of reminding us of yin yang. Despite the end-of-season downer, 2011 was successful.
Here’s a summary …
A record 82 nests (previous high was 63 nests in 2008) were laid.
We relocated 49 nests (60%) to avoid NORMAL tidal inundation.
We lost 14 nests: 2 to July high tides that wiped out their dune, 11 to Irene, and 1 to unknown forces. There were no signs of disturbance or predation, just 0 eggs found after repeated well-dug attempts to find for inventory. Poached? No proof, so it remains unknown. If you’d like to know which nests were lost, please post a comment or email.
Nest success was 71.9% sending 5,547 hatchlings to the ocean, about 500 fewer than in 2008 even though we had a few more nests.
Average clutch size was 120.5 eggs and average incubation was 53.8 days for both in situ and relocated clutches. Incubation time indicates nest temperature which determines hatchling gender. Having the same incubation time for in situ and relocated nests indicates that we’re not influencing sex-determination when we relocate nests.
DNA study results are fascinating and available on seaturtle.org under Folly Beach’s entry. Folly had SEVERAL turtles that laid 4-5 nests ONLY on Folly this season — our faithful girls. We’ll be posting an article about them soon.
Folly also had a record number of strandings this season — 11. Two of those were live Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles that were cared for by the Sea Turtle Hospital at the SC Aquarium. One recovered and was released quickly; the other (Edge) unfortunately died from head trauma. The 9 dead strandings included 2 more Kemp’s Ridleys and 7 loggerheads, some with fatal-looking wounds and debilitation, but some with no obvious indication of why they died.
Yin yang … as always.
2012 has arrived on the calendar and as the days get longer and warmer, our thoughts are becoming more focused on this new year’s turtle season. We hope you’ll join us in person or via the web to see what Nature brings. Thanks so much for your interest and for supporting sea turtles everywhere.