Monday, July 31, 2006
Tripping With Turtles
(NOTE: Picasa and Blogger were NOT communicating well today, most of my photo posts are vanishing, but I finally seem to have got some photos up)
If you've been paying attention and not sleeping in the back of the Pure Florida classroom, you will remember the turtle nest of April 11, 2006.
That tub of sand and turtle eggs has spent the last couple of months in my little workshop. I've checked it daily during that time, added a little water now and then, set it out in the sun a few times...you know, basic turtle nest care.
I was beginning to consider the possibility that I had failed (I find this hard to do) in my attempt at turtle egg hatching. Sixty days is the average incubation time for turtle eggs and we had passed that back in June. Could it be that I had doomed these tiny eggs instead of saving them from a poorly chosen original nest site? You may recall that my reason for moving them back in May was the female Cooter had laid them near my driveway and garbage can zone...just about the worst place for eggs or emerging baby turtles on the whole 10 acres. At that site, the eggs and subsequent turtlings would have to survive numerous fire ants, raccoons, oppossums, trespassing cats (grrr!), and our vehicle traffic.
So I interfered.
Last Tuesday, I went into the barn to feed my siren some earthworms before leaving for a weeklong beach trip, I gave the turtle tub a quick glance.
There was a tiny, perfect, sandcovered baby turtle crawling around inside the tub. SUCCESS!
There was only one course of action...the hatchery would have to go to the beach resort with us. We shoved aside some luggage and into the JEEP went the tub of tentative turtles.
We smuggled (I have some experience in this field)the tub into the suite (NO PETS POLICY IN EFFECT), unpacked, changed into beach gear and were about to hit the surf when a quick check revealed another baby had emerged. Behind it, another egg was splitting open, revealing a tiny striped head.
So it was, that the first half hour of our beach vacation was spent on the floor of our motel room, sitting around this sandy blue Rubbermaid tub watching 11 tiny turtles emerge from their eggs.
Out of 13 original eggs, 2 did not develop, but 11 out of 13 is a pretty good hatch rate.
For the rest of the week, we let the turtles get some sun on our private porch and then hid the bucket of turtles in the closet (to avoid detection by the maid service) when we were out having fun.
It all worked out, and as I write there are 10 baby turtles sunning outside in the yard. Only 10 came home...
My mom wanted one for her goldfish pond...that will be one spoiled turtle. The remaining 10 are going to stay with us for awhile as we are all smitten by them.
Eventually, I will distribute them to various local streams and my own pond.