Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sandy's Effects

September 1, 2013...

  Our nests started to show signs of hatching and emergence.  We've had 5 nests emerge so far with an 89% hatch success rate.  Below is a picture of an emerging hatchling from nest #200.  We did have a reduction in nesting females, but the hatchlings are doing well. 
Hatchling from N. Sedge Island, Aug. 30, 2013
Update August 17, 2013...

We had a significant loss of nesting females at N. Sedge Island this year.  Was it due to Sandy?  We cannot say, but it could be a resutls of displaced female terrapins or loss of nesting area.  Annalee T. (field research assistant and Barnegat Bay Student Grant recipient) did a wonderful job presenting on the summer nesting season.  We are still awaiting the hatchlings (none as of August 15).  We expect them in a week or so as it is a late emerging year for hatchlings!  

Update July 28, 2013...

It seems that Sandy did have an impact on some of the nesting terrapins at North Sedge Island, however, we still had a good number of returning female terrapins.  Normally, we would have an excess of 80 terrapins marked for the year on the Island, but this year we had a total of 66.  Of the 66, 57 were previously marked females, and we had 9 new females that were not marked until this season.  We only had 29 known nests, a far cry from our 40 last year (including numerous unknown nests last year too).  On Sedge, we lost about 38 cubic yards of nesting material from the highest spot on the Island (see below).  We feel that enhancing the nesting area may encourage terrapins to nest in the future and that our nest numbers will be higher starting again next year. 

                                          Loss of sand at the highest area on N. Sedge
                                          Island, which is our most popular nesting

We have been assessing dunes along Island Beach, which suffered significant loss of sand in some places, but did the job in protecting the many back dune habitats, maritime forests, and bay-shore communities.  More terrapin nesting habitat has been created along the bay side areas with sand washed over (westward) from the primary dune structures. 

Sedge Island was hit hard, but the hatchery is up and running as of May 31, 2013, and so is the boat house lab.  We are patiently awaiting the females to come up and nest! 

Kathy Lacey and her awesome group of terrapin volunteers is conducting a massive clean-up on High Bar as part of Clean Ocean Action's Back to the Beach plan on Saturday May 18, 2013 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

Update March 24, 2013

The clean-ups continue.  On March 23, thanks to several volunteers, the fifth wave at High Bar since the storm, picked up small debris items in which we filled at least four full bags and removed some debris. 
                                              Sifting through the debris (top), Kathy working
                                              to pick up the endless plastic pieces, and
                                              volunteers in upper beach zone working to
                                              collect as many pieces of materials as possible.

Clean-ups planned as follows (terrapin habitats)...

 April 6 - Island Beach State Park (dune grass planting and major cleaning  9 a.m. - 12 noon, -  e-mail to register) 
April 27- "F" Cove clean up at Trader's Cove (Ocean County Parks, Jersey Paddler and MATES) at 9 a.m. 

Extra-tropical cyclone Sandy left a path of devastation across the entire coastline of New Jersey.

Here is an update as of February 2, 2013...

Island Beach State Park (IBSP), with terrapin nesting habitat, has sustained damage, but it is indicative of barrier island function.  Sands have washed out in some places west into the back dunes and maritime forest areas.  However, despite the shift west, the Park staff and volunteers have been doing a tremendous job in making area accessible once again.  Volunteers and staff have found terrapin carapaces, and are sharing stories of finding dead terrapins as clean-up efforts continue.  We will keep track of these accounts and will continue to support the clean-up and recovery efforts along  marshes, bay beaches, and creeks that serve as critical terrapin habitat.

Our study sites along the mainland part of Barnegat Bay (Forsythe Refuge) have held up well.  The same is true for North Sedge Island (destruction to the docks), but the structures held up okay. 

Reports from Kathy Lacey state that northern parts of LBI (Barnegat Light and High Bar Harbor) have also withstood the devastation, but the amount of debris on the nesting areas is substantial.

Despite the devastation, IBSP is open to Bath House 1 for visitors and we will continue to clean-up our coastal habitats.  We will also be studying the "post-Sandy" effects on populations and nesting ecology.  Stay tuned as we are joining together researchers, students and volunteers to help us with this effort.


  1. 11/21/12 - Glad to hear that you and turtles survived. Was with Earthwatch team in August. Maybe more places for turtles to nest!

    Frank Sanford

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