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Program Planning

 The management plan for St. Catherines Island’s sea turtle nests involves the daily Index Beach Monitoring mandated by Federal and State regulations, relocation of nests that are at risk of inundation or erosion, treatment of all nests in a manner as close to “natural” as is feasible, treatment of all nesting female turtles as close to historical norms as is possible (we leave the beaches to turtles from dusk to dawn), and maximization of hatchling production.

 The conservation activities in the St. Catherines Sea Turtle Program comprise a year around process. During the winter, we write reports documenting the previous summer’s program, writing proposals to enhance or continue funding, completing follow-up components of the program, and planning for the next summer’s program.

Loggerhead sea turtle nesting usually begins in early to mid-May and continues into early to late-August. Incubation times of 42 to 80 days, (with a 60 day average), extends the nesting season approximately two months beyond the time of deposition of the last nest. During this interval, normally May 15 to September 30, beaches are monitored on a daily basis, except during dangerous or extreme meteorological conditions.

The daily conservation routine involves five concurrent activities, each of which must be expeditiously completed and integrated with tidal cycles, meteorological conditions, and other program commitments.

The field activities are:

  1. Nest Validation
  2. Nest Relocation
  3. Nest Conservation
  4. Daily Monitoring
  5. Nest Assessment

The integration and completion of these activities calls for constant evaluation of daily activities in the context of variable field conditions. The process of reevaluating field routine in the context of dynamic daily conditions is called field triage, the constant reevaluation of priorities in the context of changing conditions. We often teach a concept we call “degrees of freedom,” a concept that indicates as things begin going wrong or constraining the daily activities, the freedom to select what, when, and how to do things decreases.

When things go awry, priorities change… That’s triage!

Last updated: 12/12/2014