Monday, May 21, 2012

Turtle Nesting 101

Turtles are oviparous which means that they lay eggs.  Many other animals lay eggs as well, like birds, insects, amphibians, fish and other reptiles.  Whether or not turtles live in the water most of the time, they will lay their eggs on land.  The painted turtles that we study crawl out of the water, dig a shallow nest, lay their eggs, cover up the nest, and leave.  Forever!  That’s right.  After a turtle lays her nest  she never comes back.  So you may think a turtle is a pretty lousy mom.  But that is not so!

Turtle eggs are filled with nutritious yolk that help the baby developing inside grow.  These eggs are very sensitive to their environment- particularly how warm and wet the environment is.  So moms must lay eggs at just the right time, and in just the right place so that the nest is suitable for the developing eggs. 
At Turtle Camp, we monitor where and when turtles nest, and we measure how many eggs are in the nest, and how big each egg is. Over the past 24 years, the earliest date we have recorded a turtle nest was May 21. This year, there have already been 52 nests laid prior to May 21! Depending on where you live, you may have experienced a very warm winter and early spring.  Here at Turtle Camp it was a very warm winter and early spring. This warm winter has already influenced how the turtles are behaving!  Stay tuned to see how nesting continues through the coming weeks.

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