August 24, 2011
Hurricanes and Hatchlings
Whew! I've only been back home a few days and already I'm buried in work, and missing the ease and pace of life on Ocracoke. Some day I must write a short story or long book about the island. It is a place like no other.
Anyway, seems like we came and went just in time to avoid Hurricane Irene. As of today, the path looks like it will skirt the coast and wind up in New England. There might not be a 'direct hit', but any hurricane off of the thin line of Outer Banks islands can be devastating to many creatures. Especially the young, the old, and the weak. There are still a lot of nesting birds, and the Sea turtles have many un-hatched nests still buried in the sand.
Sea turtles have been caught between a rock and a hard place: loss of habitat, increasing ocean pollution, declining ecosystems, death by net.... compounding these issues is the fact that along the east coast, the later nests hatch at the beginning of hurricane season. There is a very good chance that all of the remaining nests on Ocracoke and other barrier island in Irene's path will be lost. They can survive rain, and minimal flooding, but not hurricane flooding. The eggs literally drown.
Last summer, a storm churned off of Bermuda bringing heavy surf and high water to Ocracoke. Every nest was lost. It was the most depressing sight: staked nest sights completely underwater.
Well, no one can change the weather. But we can keep plastics out of the ocean, eat only turtle safe seafood, contribute to our favorite causes. And, turn off the lights... Updates forthcoming.