The annual Open House, which takes place on the island, had to be cancelled a few weeks ago due to some very stormy weather. With the help of Mother Nature another event will be scheduled on the island in the fall. We look forward to giving more visitors the opportunity to visit the island. Watch for more news about this event in future articles.
Turtle nesting season will be here in May and you can help support the turtle program on St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) by participating in our “Adopt-a-Nest” program. For a small fee of $25 you will be able to name the turtle whose nest you adopt and you will receive the following:
* adoption certificate
* photo of adopted nest
* activity/hatchling report
* recognition in Supporters' newsletter
Proceeds from nest adoptions help offset refuge costs for the turtle monitoring program. These costs include fuel for the survey vehicles and materials to construct cages to protect nests from predators. Female Loggerhead sea turtles, the species most often found on St. Vincent Island, lay their eggs along the gulf side beaches of St. Vincent. Each nest contains over 100 eggs. Unfortunately, there are quite a few predators on the island that disturb the nests and destroy the eggs. The main predators are feral hogs and raccoons. Confirmed nests (those nests that actually contain eggs) need protection so wire cages are placed over the nests to discourage the predators. In most cases, these cages do a very good job.
The gulf side beaches of the island are patrolled several times each week by volunteers and U.S. Fish & Wildlife staff. The number of patrols per week depends on staffing levels. The beaches are patrolled for evidence of turtle activity (crawls). The crawls are examined to determine the species of sea turtle making the crawl and whether the turtle actually made a nest. The nests are examined to determine if there are eggs present and the GPS location is noted. All nests are monitored during the nesting season and accurate records kept. This is done so that complete survey data can be kept and used to determine nesting trends, etc.
Turtle adoptions make a wonderful gift for people of any age who care about turtles and wildlife preservation. With a record number (104) of turtle nests on St. Vincent Island last year we are hoping for another active year. That means we will certainly need an increase in turtle adoptions. To adopt a nest or learn more about the program, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at 850 229-6735 and thank you for your support!
Besides the upcoming turtle season, there is some exciting news from the red wolf recovery program on the island. The island serves as a natural home to a pair of red wolves who are brought to the island to breed and raise pups without significant human intervention. When the pups are around 18 months of age they are transferred to the 1.2 million acre red wolf recovery area in Eastern North Carolina. Since 1989 St. Vincent Island has been home to 21 adults and 25 pups. After several seasons with no pups a new male red wolf was brought to the island this past winter. He is affectionately referred to as “Jacob” (wolves on the refuge are usually identifed by a number) and seems to be acclimating to his new environment and bonding with the female wolf. Hopefully there will be a new litter of red wolf pups roaming the refuge this year.
There will be no island tours during the summer months because of the heat and bugs, but they will resume in the fall. You can visit the island on your own. Do remember that the island is primitive – bring everything you need, including drinking water – and leave only your footprints behind.This monthly column is provided by the Supporters of St. Vincent Island National Wildlife Refuge. Please visit our web page for more information and volunteer opportunities – www.stvincentfriends.com - and never miss an opportunity to visit St. Vincent Island.