Thursday Treat- Turtles!

I had a real treat yesterday! I got to go to NOAAs research facility in Galveston and learn all about what they’re doing with the sea turtles there.

I only found out about this whole thing last week. I happened to Google ‘things to do in Galveston” and one of the things listed was a sea turtle tour. I had known about the turtles in the back of my mind, since I’ve known about the turtle patrol and the efforts to protect the turtles along our beaches.

When I heard of this tour, I thought it would be interesting, so I called and signed up.

They only have the tours on Thursdays, and you have to make an appointment beforehand. It’s free. 🙂

Apparently I got there a little late (tho not by my watch). The room was full and they were already discussing all sorts of things about the program. Tip: Arrive early!

The tours are put on by volunteers. Thursday’s presentation was led by the team of John and Lynn Wright- “master naturalists”. They did a great job of explaining the situation with sea turtles today and what NOAA is doing with them in Galveston.

They started with a slide show explaining the facts that there are 7 total species of sea turtles and 5 of them can be found in the Gulf of Mexico. Those include (from smallest to largest): Kemp’s ridley, Hawksbill, Loggerhead, Green and Leatherback.

They showed us how to tell what kind of turtle we see (if they have 4 ‘scutes’ they’re either green or hawksbill, if they have 5 they’re either Kemp’s ridley or loggerhead- leatherback doesn’t have any).

They described turtle life cycles and what kind of food they liked to eat. They showed some amazing movies of the arribada from the late 1950’s. Thousands of female sea turtles arriving on the Texas beaches.

Then they showed a slide telling the sad story of their decline since we’ve become more ‘advanced’. Decimating all 7 of the turtle species, by eating their eggs, catching them in nets while fishing for other species, killing them with our pollution (especially plastic), destroying their habitat…

They also mentioned a few things we can do to help protect the turtles. Mainly- reduce your use of resources, especially plastic. Dispose of trash properly. Reuse and recycle. Help clean up the beaches and waterways. Take care with your fishing gear. If you see a sea turtle, its tracks or nest on the beach call 1-866-TURTLE-5 

I learned yesterday that the Kemp’s ridley has been designated the official state sea turtle of Texas. The Wrights informed us that in 1985 there were 400 nests after a large drop in numbers, in 2017 there were 353. They found 3 right here in Surfside (and 1 on Quintana)! They said there’s been some recovery. I hope so.

After the slide show, the Wrights led us over to the turtle barn where we could see all the little turtles. First, we got a chance to see how a TED (turtle excluder device) works. The kids were happy to run through the net and escape- acting as surrogate sea turtles. 😉

NOAA has kind of a conflict of interest here. They are supposed to help the fishermen, and they are supposed to help the sea turtles. They are doing a lot of studies to try and come up with answers to solve many issues surrounding our ocean resources.

One of those studies is to do with testing TEDs. The objective is to find a way to increase the survival rates of any sea turtles (and other by catch) that get caught up in a shrimp boats net. The turtles in the turtle barn are all about 1.5 years old. They’re raised in Galveston til they get to be about 2. Then they are sent over to Florida for the tests.

They’re placed in larger tanks and allowed a few weeks/months to acclimatize themselves. Then they’re taken out to sea and working with a team of shrimpers, divers, and scientists the turtles are run through the nets, out the TEDs and collected again afterwards. After the turtle finishes its run through the TED, it’s released to the wild. The scientists will use the data to refine the TEDs and other fishing gear.

The barn was full of turtles (hawksbills), at least a few dozen, all about 1-2 ft long. They swam around in small plastic containers set inside larger tanks of filtered seawater. We were warned not to touch the turtles or put our hands in the water (it’s a ‘federal offense’). If something fell in the water, they would have to drain the whole tank and replace the water due to concerns about contamination. 🙁

I felt kind of sad for all those little turtles, swimming around in their tiny little tanks, but they told us that if they were all allowed to swim together they would fight and/or eat each other. They said the turtles didn’t notice or care that they were stuck in such small containers, they would circle around forever and never know the difference. I suppose, but I still felt bad for them. 🙁

I also wondered why they weren’t raising more turtles- in a breeding program. Like they did with the whooping cranes down in Port Aransas. I’d hate to see the turtles go extinct. With only 353 nests (of Kemp’s ridleys) on the Texas beaches last year it wouldn’t take much to wipe them out. I asked John about it. He said in Texas the focus was on finding nests and moving them to Padre Island which was safer for them and where they’d be released to return later. There were other programs around the world that raised the turtles for a higher survival rate on release.

I recommend the turtle tour for anyone interested in marine science or sea turtles. The Wrights were very knowledgeable and great with answering any and all questions. Hopefully the research done there at NOAA will help more sea turtles survive (and also help the fishermen with better results and less bycatch). I’d love to see more turtles out at sea and maybe even find a nest on the beach one day. It would be fantastic to see an arribada like the one in the film they showed us. Let’s hope we can make that happen. 🙂

This looks like the video they showed, but there was no sound and they said the video was taken in Texas. This video is from Mexico it might be a different one. I found it on youtube.

PS- This is my Just Jot it January post for today. 😉 Today’s prompt is: memories. Well, they’re only a day or so old, but I think they count. 🙂

Maritime Monday for June 12th 2017: Synalpheus pinkfloydi

Another interesting week of maritime matters courtesy of Monkey Fist and gCaptain. My favorites this week are the gorgeous photos of the whales, the octopus video and the story on the USS Liberty. I went to a presentation given by one of the last survivors of that attack a couple of months ago. A friend bought me the book but I haven’t had the chance to read it yet. I’m no fan of the NSA (to put it mildly), nor do I support our involvement in most wars we’ve inserted ourselves into, but it’s an amazing (and eye-opening) story…

Fifty Years Later, NSA Keeps Details of Israel’s USS Liberty Attack Secret On June 8, 1967, an Israeli torpedo tore through the side of the unarmed American naval vessel USS Liberty, approximately a dozen miles off the Sinai coast. The ship, whose crew was under command of the National Security Agency, was intercepting communications at […]

Source: Maritime Monday for June 12th, 2017: Synalpheus pinkfloydi – gCaptain

Wild Wednesday: Watch Two Cuttlefish Fiercely Fight For a Mate

I had meant to create a series of posts for “Wild Wednesday” since I first started my blog. I’m not sure why, but I never have managed to make very many posts. There are so many interesting sea creatures out there, and so much we don’t know about them. I’d like to make this a regular feature and share more about them. 🙂

Let me know how you like the idea.

This is the first time researchers caught the creatures locked in a vicious fight in the wild

Source: Watch Two Cuttlefish Fiercely Battle Over a Mate | Smart News | Smithsonian

The video is cool, the article is really pretty interesting and worth reading. 🙂

Maritime Monday for February 14th 2017: Portishead Radio

I didn’t know Claude Monet painted maritime art. I like this better than his water lilies. 🙂

Take a look at Monkey Fist’s weekly blast of interesting maritime news.

Portishead – Portishead (Full Album) on YouTube Tug and Barge Solutions  – “If you’re going …

Source: Maritime Monday for February 14th, 2017: Portishead Radio – gCaptain

Maritime Monday for January 31st 2017: Death in the Gulf Stream

Another weeks worth of fascinating maritime matters from Monkey Fist and gCaptain. This weeks especially interesting articles were about the SS St Louis. In honor of January 27th Holocaust Remembrance Day, there are a couple of great articles (also check it out on Twitter).

It’s especially relevant now because of the ongoing situation in the Middle East and the fleeing ‘refugees’. I have to admit, I am not whole heartedly going to welcome anyone who comes from over there. It’s a matter of their professed religion.

Yeah, I know. People will call me all kinds of nasty names (to my face or behind  my back). I know I really shouldn’t say these kinds of things online. No, they never go away. But I think this all needs to come out in open discussion. No, not just smearing anyone who says this kind of thing as ‘racist’, ‘homophobe’, ‘antisemite’, etc. that just shuts down all attempts at communication. No, not just assuming you’re so much better, so much more enlightened, than someone who would say these kinds of things.

You know, I think one of the main reasons Trump got elected (regardless of how scared people were about his nuttiness, arrogance, temper, etc) was because he spoke his mind and didn’t play around with the mealy-mouthed politically correct crap everybody else has been saddled with for the last couple of decades. I didn’t vote for him, but I sure as hell enjoyed hearing him tell it like he thinks it. We all ought to have freedom of speech, without having to self-censor!

Personally I really don’t like any religion, but I especially don’t like the ones where their greatest objective (according to their holy book) is to kill people like me (unbelievers)! If anyone knows of a fool-proof method to tell who is a devout muslim who wants to follow the koran, and an ordinary person who really doesn’t give a damn about religion but just plays along to get along, please let me know. I’ll pass it on to Trump and maybe we can figure out how to solve the refugee problem.

In the meantime, check out this weeks Maritime Monday, there’s a lot more in there!

more: A Tribute to the “Picasso of Sailing” – Mike Peyton on yachtsandyachting.com Haunting Twitter …

Source: Maritime Monday for January 31st, 2017: Death in the Gulf Stream – gCaptain

Color Your World: 24 Peach

Well! The first day in a week where I actually know what color I’m supposed to be looking for! 😉

For Jennifer’s Color Your World challenge, the color today is ‘peach‘.

Here’s my entry…

I took this photo the other day at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. I usually try do more than one thing when I go all the way to Houston. I go to a museum or the zoo, or a meeting. I don’t like to drive all the way up there just for an hour or two. I don’t remember what kind of crystals these were. I’m pretty sure the big white one is quartz (but not positive), but I don’t remember what the ‘peach’ ones were. Anybody have any ideas?

Just Jot It January: Climate

I just got home tonight. It’s late. I’m tired. I don’t really feel like getting into a long post, but since I’m trying to stick with the challenge of Just Jot It January and post every day, I’ll post this…

Today’s prompt is: climate. It seems most of the world is all upset about “anthropomorphic” climate change. That is man-made climate change.

I understand why. I’m just not sure there’s really anything much we can do about it. It seems to me the climate has always been changing, long before man walked the earth, and it will continue to change.

When I was growing up, the overwhelming majority of scientists told us all we would be frozen into ice-cubes by now. A few years ago, they told us we would be burning up in a planet turned into a shriveled up dust bowl. Now, they simply warn us about ‘climate change’, can’t decide on global warming or cooling so just cover your bases.

The Earth’s climate has always changed, the question now is really, will we survive the change?

That depends on how we decide to act.

Will we do the sensible thing and finally limit our population? Or will we be able to invent some miracle cure so that we can continue living the way we’ve become used to? Or will we be shoved back into the stone age due to drastic cuts in energy use? Will we try to fight the change, try to maintain things as they are- right now? Or will we adapt to the changes we see coming?

Seems to me there are still a lot of questions. I think a lot of people have already made up their minds. So far I don’t much like what I’m hearing from them.