Hello to all those child artists out there! This is just a reminder that the deadline for the cover contest is coming up soon ( APRIL 30TH ! ). So here’s all of the information again so you can submit your drawings soon! The winners will be announced at our annual Nest Fest event on Jekyll Island on May 3rd. They will also be informed via email and/or phone. Prizes will be awarded for 1st through 3rd place! Good luck to all!
~Maura Larson, Education Intern
April 19, 2008, marked the first annual
Shell-e-brate Earth Day event at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center! Over 500 guests were in attendance to make handmade paper, color their own grocery bag carapace, paint a masterpiece at the styrofoam plate press and peruse exhibitors tables to purchase earth-friendly items or get hands-on with adoptable pets and wildlife. Even the big kids came out to get their faces painted and have their photo taken in the Turtle Patrol car! Guest orator, 13-year-old Landon Frame wowed us with his self-written speech, The Sea Turtles Plight, while authors Barbara Bergwerf and Dorothy Carswell signed books close by.
Despite a few sprinkles of rain here and there, the Shell-e-bration went on as planned, ending with a raffle of unique items including a one-of-a-kind Jekyll Island Treasure.
This event would not have been possible without the help of our generous volunteers manning stations, handing out stickers, running to and fro and, of course, our husbandry volunteers who were busy caring for our turtles! We couldn’t have done this without you!
If you missed Shell-e-brate Earth Day this year, mark your calendars for 2009. You won’t want to miss it!
A workshop was held on St. Catherines Island on March 31 and April 1. St. Catherines Island Foundation (SCIF) hosted the workshop. Dr. Terry Norton, Director of Veterinary Services for the GSTC and SCIF, was the workshop coordinator. The purpose of the workshop was to critically evaluate a loggerhead sea turtle mortality event that occurred in the fall of 2006 and bring a group of experts together to discuss the event and come up with a draft of standardized guidelines for future mortality events occurring in the Southeastern US. Participants included sea turtle biologists from Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, a toxicologist, a marine algal toxin specialist, a sea turtle pathologists, sea turtle specialists from NOAA, and clinical veterinarians, technicians, and rehabilitators involved with the care of these turtles.
Over approximately a one month time span, a large number (approximately 150) of loggerhead sea turtles stranded on the Georgia and NE Florida coast. The turtles were in good body condition and had elevated glucose levels, very slow heart rates, and were very non-responsive. The GSTC cared for 2 cases during the summer of 2007, “Baily” and “Marina” that were afflicted with this condition. Unfortunately, both turtles succumbed to their illness. Extensive diagnostic testing failed to reveal the cause of this condition. Treatment was only successful in a limited number of cases. We are stilling seeing similar cases sporadically. Although diagnostic testing for the known marine algal toxins (brevetoxins (“red tide”), domoic acid, and saxotoxins) has been exhausted, we still suspect a yet to be determined marine algal toxins could be the cause of this event.
In 2001, a similar mortality event involving loggerheads occurred in South Florida. Until this workshop was held, this event was thought to be significantly different from the event under discussion. We now feel that it is very likely that the underlying cause of mortality is the same for both events.
The first day of the workshop involved a series of lectures to update the group on the mortality and the second day was spent in a round table discussion to plan further diagnostics with remaining specimens that had been retrieved from turtles involved with the 2006 stranding event. Furthermore, standardized protocols are being developed by the participants of the workshop to evaluate future cases of stranded turtles with this condition. Lastly, the group outlined standardized protocols and procedures that need to take place in future mortality events in the southeastern US.
Dr. Terry Norton, Director of Veterinary Services
So the rumors were true! Thursday night we had been joined by a local group of children called the Eagle Boys and three Peace Corps volunteers for patrol. We weren’t finding much by way of nesting moms but then much to our surprise we stumbled across Mr. Leatherback!
He said that he wanted to take a chance to get to know the local members of the SWOT team and spend some time learning about the program. That is where the adventure began! For those of you that don’t know SWOT stands for State of the Worlds turtles and is a collaborative of projects collecting sea turtle data around the world. The St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network is one of these projects. Their information can be checked out here:
We had a great time with Mr. Leatherback, his friends Rod and Brian from Conservation International and the Eagle Boys on the beach, but then on Friday we had another adventure waiting for us! We started off early Friday morning with inwater tagging, where we all snorkeled out and caught foraging greens and hawksbills. Any that were caught got a health assessment, new id tags, and released. The SKSTMN is using this information to establish an idea of the local populations!
Afterwards, Mr. Leatherback wanted to help us spread the word about the importance of sea turtle conservation, and Dr. Stewart was amazingly able to get us on both the news and in the paper at last moment’s notice! We met with the Fisheries department and talked about the importance of sea turtle conservation and then we spent time at The Circus in Basseterre spreading the sea turtle word!
We then took Mr. Leatherback to the islands famous Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park so he could see as much of the island as possible before he had to leave! He did have time to pose for some pictures with the amazing view!
We thought that we had a day better than could be imagined but Rod and Brian had a surprise in store! They presented Dr. Stewart with a flip video which will enable the team here to take footage and download it directly to the internet to help with educational campaigns!
Before Mr. Leatherback left we asked where he was off to next and he mumbled something about turtlevision online video and a Caribbean migration. We’ll all have to check his website in the coming weeks as I bet he’ll be posting pictures from this migration he’s on!
Speaking of migrations, I have a rather large swim in front of me as I’m back at the center on Monday morning! I better get my flippers moving!
~ Jeannie Miller, Aquarist – on location St. Kitts, West Indies