Both my husband and my sister-in-law have unique jobs. Until I met them, I had no understanding of jobs in wildlife management and conservation. Yes, there are perks – spending most of your day outside, sometimes getting to fish, living on an island. But, wildlife management is also hard work.
I visited my sister-in-law, Anna, in the Georgia Barrier Islands recently, and I tagged along on a shift of sea turtle nest monitoring. Over the next five posts, I’ll show you my day with her monitoring older nests, looking for new nests, and relocating nests when necessary. Anna works with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Georgia Sea Turtle Cooperative, made up of public and private organizations that work towards conservation of sea turtles. All species of sea turtles found in U.S. waters are endangered or threatened (NOAA Fisheries).
As we go through this journey, you can keep track of this season’s turtle nests in Georgia at seaturtle.org. Remember, sea turtles are protected by federal law. If you see a turtle or a nest on the beach, do not disturb it by keeping your distance and by not shining lights at or around it.
Sea turtles come up onto the beach at night, so Anna and other technicians set out early in the morning to look for tracks and new nests. The high tides were early in the morning during our trip, so we were out closer to midday – goodness the heat! These technicians need to be prepared to be on patrol for hours with lots of water and snacks. You never know how many nests you will find!
In the picture above, Anna finds some turtle tracks and is looking for a nest. It turns out that this is a false crawl – the turtle came up to the beach and didn’t find an acceptable place to nest.
What an office. I’m standing in the water looking back at the island for this picture. Anna is the little dot at the top of the beach. Turtles nest close to the back edge of the beach, near dunes and brush. Stay tuned for more on the process of turtle next patrol. I have so much more respect for sea turtle technicians and more excitement about sea turtles after this shift of work!
(c) Website and all images copyright Kaitlin Taylor 2016