The Beacon: Emily Fisher's blog
Day 2 (later that day)
Out on the beach the haloed moon is astonishingly bright, and seems to be directly in front of the turtle nest’s sand runway. There’s no question that if the turtles make it out alive, they’ll know where to go. By 8:30, a crowd of 15 people or so has gathered around the nest.
The two women from Kansas and Colorado are here again, and there are some newcomers, including a couple from Wisconsin. “How do they breathe under there? They’re buried alive!” the wife cries. Around 9, the sand starts to move.
Every few minutes, Donna the nest monitor says, “Did you see that?” The sand is moving, or “simmering,” in sea turtle-speak, a reference to what happens when all the turtles come pouring out of the nest – a “full boil.” I find it strange that we use cooking terms for this.
[Day 1 refresher: abandoning Cory on the beach around midnight, I drive the golf cart home sleepily and collapse in bed, filling my sheets with sand because I’m too tired and lazy to wash off my feet.]
At 5:45 my alarm goes off. It’s already time to go back to the beach, only this time there’s almost no chance I’ll be seeing any live sea turtles. I’m going to see Maureen (Bald Head Island Conservancy's head naturalist) and several volunteers perform two nest excavations, which are exactly what they sound like – digging up nests to see what’s inside.
In this case, the nests are long overdue to hatch, and Maureen says it’s not worth wasting any more of the nest monitors’ time and energy – it’s time to find out what’s going on under the sand. She warns Cory and me that it probably won’t be pretty (read: dead babies), but that we’re welcome to come along.
At the moment my alarm goes off, I think, “Sleep - or dead baby sea turtles?” I nearly choose the first, but force myself out the door. It’ll be like digging for buried treasure, I tell myself. (Except with the potential to be heartbreaking.)
Greetings from Bald Head Island, North Carolina! I’m sitting on the porch of my parents’ beach house watching the waves break just over the dune ridge. It’s sunny, there’s a pleasant but insistent breeze, and a cicada chirps in a nearby tree.
Cory Wilson, expedition photographer, and I have been here for barely a day-and-a-half, and already there’s much to report. I’ll start from the beginning.
We arrive on the island at sunset after seven hours driving from DC. We are tired but relieved to find ourselves in a place where the only modes of transport are golf carts and one-speed bicycles and the main activities of the island include climbing the stone lighthouse known as “Old Baldy.”
After a brief stop at my favorite turtle pond to look for one of the island's gators, there's no more dallying. We’re on a mission – take us to the sea turtles, we tell our host, the Bald Head Island Conservancy’s (BHIC) head naturalist, Maureen Dewire. She directs us to loggerhead nest #89, which she thinks is “gonna go” tonight. “What time?” I ask. “Any time between sunset and sunrise,” she says. Oh. Why was I thinking there was a convenient window between 8 and 10 pm when they always come out? Wishful thinking.
Shameless Promo Part 1:
The Daily Green gave Oceana a lengthy shout-out for our celeb-studded Sea Change event earlier this summer. What can we say? Harrison and Calista and the rest of the gang love us...
Shameless Promo Part 2:
This weekend I'm blowing this popsicle stand (Oceana HQ) and heading for the beach (Bald Head Island, NC) to catch a glimpse of some sea turtles hatching...at least, that's the plan. Sounds like tropical storm Hanna took out a few nests, but not all of them, thankfully. Stay tuned for updates as I try to be in the right place at the right time.
While we at Oceana don't technically work on freshwater species, the news today that
four out of 10 freshwater fish species in North America are in peril is pretty astounding.
Plus, the researchers included fish such as salmon, that live in saltwater but which migrate to freshwater at times, along with the regular dwellers of lakes, streams and rivers.
The scientists found that 700 smaller but individual fish populations (subspecies) are vulnerable, threatened, or endangered. That's up from 364 nearly two decades ago.
On the list of the vulnerable are striped bass that live in the Gulf of Mexico, Bay of Fundy and southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, as well as several kinds of catfish. And Sockeye, Chinook, coho, chum and Atlantic salmon populations are also called threatened or endangered in the study.
A Japanese zoo's efforts to be green turned its polar bears, well, green.
Three bears in the zoo got the eco dye job because of their pond's algae overgrowth, a result of high temperatures in July and August and less-frequent water changes due to the zoo's conservation efforts.
As much as my fellow DCites might dismiss it, New York fashion week is going on right now, and I can't help but pay a little attention, especially because this year, Be Eco Chic kicked things off a few days ago in a blue-green way at the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life at the American Museum of Natural History.
It was all about sustainable materials, local food, low energy lighting, carbon offsets...and a giant whale hanging from the ceiling.
And of course, star power. Everyone who's anyone was there, dahling, including blue-greenie Lauren Hutton, who attended Oceana's awards gala last year.
[image via the Green Loop Blog.]
Three of London's Nobu restaurants, a chain which is partly owned by Robert De Niro, have been secretly serving endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna, Charles Clover reports in the Telegraph. Bluefin tuna belly meat, or toro, is prized by many sushi chefs for its high fat content.
Nobu is apparently patronized by celebrities such as Madonna, Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. In other words, a very high profile place has been serving a mislabeled endangered species -- who knows how many others are doing the exact same thing.
While I would normally send you to our seafood guide and tell you to look out for bluefin, this article speaks to the larger, more complicated problem of how to place the blame. Who's at fault here? Not the consumers, they were misinformed. Was it the restaurant? The fishmonger? The fishermen? The government who makes the regulations? A global cultural apathy about the source of our seafood? Or some combination of the above?
...would you be so kind as to spare the sea turtles? We'd appreciate it.
As Tropical Storm Hanna hurtles toward the Carolinas, ETA this weekend, with feisty-sounding Ike chasing along right behind her, let's hope they have mercy on the turtles (and humans) in their path.
I'm particularly concerned about this season's storms because an upcoming project of mine hinges on them. What's this mysterious project, you ask? Well, I was going to keep it a secret, but I've never been too good at that. So here's the news: the week of September 13-20, I'll be heading to my home state of North Carolina to follow around the folks at the Bald Head Island Conservancy in their efforts to protect loggerhead sea turtles. And I'll be blogging about it, too.
The idea, of course, is to catch a glimpse of some sea turtles peek out of their shells and make the perilous waddle to the sea. But as these storms swirl closer, I'm fretting that my chances of seeing turtle hatchlings are fading with my suntan.
Turtle nests are often wiped out by the storms. And the strongest storms, according to a new study, are made even stronger as a result of climate change.
And aside from getting washed away by storms, turtles are affected by climate change in other ways. For example, as beaches get warmer, a higher percentage of female turtles are born, setting off change in the population's sex ratio. Plus, climate change affects ocean currents, which in turn affects turtles' migration patterns.
Warning: this post is not for the squeamish.
The Telegraph reports that a British artist has decided to pierce the skin of her back with shark hooks and hang herself from a shop ceiling to protest the practice of shark finning. (In case you're curious, the story link includes a cringe-worthy photo...)
The artist is quoted as saying: "I am doing this because the demand for shark fin soup and other shark products is wiping out the shark population."
Well, it's certainly an attention-getting stunt, that's for sure. But do you think this kind of stunt is a worthwhile way to get the word out about sharks?