This morning, I decided to teach little Max a bit about sea turtles. So, I pulled out my photo albums from when I spent some time living on St. Croix, U.S.V.I -- volunteering at Buck Island National Park. Paging through the photos and teaching him all about the life cycle of the turtle brought back so many fun and good memories (let me tell you it is really easy to teach SCALE/SIZE of an animal when MOMMY is IN the picture WITH that animal!!)... So, I had to scan in a few of my favorite photos from my time there...
We actually had to snorkel the reef and CATCH the juvies with our bare hands -- I can't say that I was ever quick or nimble enough to catch one...but it was quite an adventure!
If I remember correctly, this female hawksbill trekked a LONG way up the beach...and turned out to be one of the HEAVIEST hawksbills that visited that summer.
A female nesting underneath the beach vegetation -- sea grape. Beach vegetation serves as shade for the nests, which is important in determining sex of the offspring -- reptiles hatch from eggs, and the sex of the offspring is determined by peak temperatures during development. Because of numerous hurricanes, beach vegetation has been diminished, which is worrisome because it can result in temperatures too high for the offspring to live, or extremely skewed sex ratio of the resulting offspring. I conducted a mini experiment at the end of my time on Buck Island to address this issue that I wrote up for my Bachelor's Thesis.
Check out the size of this Green Momma!!
The team, right after we broke the park sign! LOL
The large sand grid we built for my experiment. I was testing to see if applying a white sand treatment to the top of a nest would reflect sunlight and result in lower nest temperatures. So, there are random squares of 0, 25, 50 and 75% sand to dirt ratios here covering buried temperature probes. End result - it DOES work.