From Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast Public Affairs
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- In support of a critical effort to protect threatened and endangered species of sea turtles, team members from Naval Station (NS) Mayport’s sea turtle patrol gathered at the east end of the base’s beach to evaluate a sea turtle nest on August 20.
Every day during the nesting season, which runs from April to October, the sea turtle patrol of NS Mayport patrols and monitors a one-mile stretch of beach to support Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) efforts to protect sea turtles.
“We do the evaluation so that we have a good idea of hatchling success,” said Heather Hahn, Public Works Department Mayport natural resources program manager. “We send this data at the end of the season to FWC, where they compile all the data for the entire state together, so they know where they need to devote resources to study.”
Nest evaluations are conducted three days after signs of a hatchling emergence. The evaluation consists of digging up the nest to count all the eggs, annotating their condition and looking for any surviving hatchlings that didn’t make it out of the nest.
The team inventoried a total of 62 eggs; 60 of which were successful hatches, two did not hatch. There were no hatchlings found in the nest, meaning 60 baby Loggerheads successfully hatched on their own.
NS Mayport averages around 10 nests a year from three different species; Loggerheads, Leatherbacks, and Green sea turtles. Greens and Loggerheads are a threatened species, whereas Leatherbacks are on the endangered species list.
Mother sea turtles typically lay their eggs at night. The sea turtle patrol, consisting mostly of volunteers, combs the beaches before sunrise to locate the nests in order to protect them from being stepped on by humans or invaded by local predators.
Hahn shared several ways that beach goers can help to protect sea turtles, such as picking up trash so the hatchlings don’t eat it or impair them from returning to ocean and fill in holes so that hatchlings don’t fall into them. For those who live near or on the beach, artificial lighting has the biggest negative impact on sea turtles.
“One of the biggest threats to sea turtles is that when they hatch or are up on the beach nesting, lights behind them can confuse them and they’ll crawl into the dunes and dehydrate,” said Hahn.
Nest evaluations help protect the sea turtle population and tracking the success rate is critical in monitoring the survival rate of sea turtles.
Anyone interested in volunteering for the 2019 season can call 904-270-3188 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NAVFAC Southeast delivers and maintains quality, sustainable facilities, acquires and manages capabilities for the Navy's expeditionary combat forces, provides contingency engineering response, and enables energy security and environmental stewardship. The Jacksonville office manages operations on Navy installations from Charleston, S.C. to Corpus Christi, Texas and south to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. NAVFAC professionals also acquire and dispose of real estate, manage and maintain the facilities on all naval bases, and provide housing for military families. Its Public Works Departments provide facilities support services to installations. Every day presents new and different challenges for the professionals of the Command. From planning a new full-service hospital to the construction of a state-of-the-art hangar facility, members of the Command make significant contributions to the Navy.