With less than two months remaining, the CWPP team has recently completed Brunswick and New Hanover counties! Brunswick is west of Wilmington, near the southeastern edge of the state where it meets the South Carolina border. The Brunswick county CWPP meetings were completed primarily by team members Ada and Jake, with the help from the entire group for the Shallotte, Ocean Isle Beach, and Shallotte Point fire districts, and the help of Meghan for Calabash and Southport. In addition to these districts, Navassa and Northwest were also completed, making seven total fire district CWPPs within Brunswick county. Our main contact for both counties has been Bill Walker, the NCFS Cape Fear Area Ranger.
In New Hanover county, the fire districts completed were Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Wrightsville Beach, New Hanover County North, and New Hanover County South. These districts were slightly different than the Brunswick districts because of the close proximity of Wilmington on one side and the ocean on the other. This made the CWPP meetings more interesting and also allowed plenty of options for lunch! The weather has cooled down now that it’s oﬃcially fall, but before it did, the heat of the summer provided a great excuse to get ice cream. Our favorite spot was Squigley’s Ice Cream & Treats in Carolina Beach!
One highlight event during our time working in these counties was a visit from the local newspaper. Our team was interviewed by the Jacksonville Daily News about our work in the area. After multiple phone interviews, a photographer stopped by our home/oﬃce to snap a photo of some of the team hard at work. The article can be found at the following link: http://www.jdnews.com/news/local/national-conservation-group-sets-up-sho… .
Throughout the month of August, we had the exciting opportunity to volunteer with a sea turtle nesting program at Topsail Beach. The beach is patrolled each morning for signs of turtle tracks and nests. New nests are documented and after approximately 60 days (the incubation period), nests are closely monitored for hatching activity. The turtles start to come out of their shell after incubation, and once the hatchlings are ready, they all emerge out of the nest at once and scramble out to sea.
On our first night of nest sitting we learned that nests are often made in the dunes. This could mean a far trek for the turtles, so to aid the hatchlings’ trip to the sea, a ramp is built from the nest to the water. We also learned that the turtles are attracted to white lights so when monitoring the activity at the nests we had to use red lights.
We haven’t been fortunate enough to witness a hatching yet, but we did get to see some baby sea turtles be released after a nest excavation. This happens 48 hours after a nest has hatched. Volunteers go through the nest to count the number of eggs that were hatched or unhatched and to see if there are any turtles left behind. The nest analysis that we were at released 8 turtles.