My adventures as an environmental consultant in the wilds of New Jersey. I'm sure some non-nature stories will sneak their way in as well.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
So the hurricane was imminent. The stores were packed with frantic shoppers in search of milk, bread, and eggs. I guess everyone makes french toast when the weather gets rough. I don't know why folks buy milk and other perishables when there's a strong possibility of losing electricity. It seems like wasted money. Water, batteries, and flashlights were totally sold out. My coworker saw someone buy a small raft and we joked that if you are buying a raft, perhaps you should just evacuate. The weather reports got more and more ominous. The hurricane symbol showed up on the weather report, which is something I've never seen. They said that around 6 am Sunday was supposed to be the worst. I barely slept Saturday night fretting about possible basement flooding and the loud wind and rain outside. By 4 am, the wind and rain kicked it up a notch and I thought "How much worse can it get by 6 am?" Turns out the storm had picked up speed and hit us early. By late-morning all that was left was the wind filling the pressure void left by the hurricane. I was lucky. No basement flooding, no trees down, and I never lost power. My parents who live 5 minutes away lost power for a week and the next town over suffered major flooding and many downed trees isolating people for days.
I was back at work on Monday anxious to check on the hatchling turtles. We headed out knowing that the travel would be tough and that the area we were going to was essentially closed. We faced many detours from flooded roads, downed powerlines across the road, and downed trees across the road that had been cut just enough to allow one vehicle through. This was the part of the state that I felt would have it easiest and it was farthest from the hurricane. But I was wrong. It looked like a dam had been released. Where there was normally about a foot of water in the stream there had been 10+ feet of water. New streams attempted to form in lawn. Rocks had been excavated from the ground and pushed out all over the place. The footbridge across the stream had one of its concrete footings demolished. It looked like someone had taken a jackhammer to the parking lot. The bathrooms looked like the sewers had backed up with water rushing from it. The picture below is a normally a lawn picnic area. Now it has a rock installation.
Once I saw this destruction, I knew that the hatchling turtles were gone..pushed practically out to the bay or buried under rocks. Maybe just maybe the larger one who had earlier climbed the embankment survived by holding on for hours or perhaps by sheer luck it kept climbing higher and higher out of harms way. Either way we couldn't pick up any radio signals from any of them anywhere. Given the small size of those transmitters, they could have been easily damaged. We tried for a few more days after that but we never found them. Recently we set out to remove the radio transmitters from the adults. We happened upon a very young turtle, who was probably about a year old. So maybe just maybe those hatchlings held on, but all the radios failed.