Do You Want to Go on a Herp Survey?


May 3, 2012

Herpetology Survey, Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve

Sponsored by the Virginia Herpetology Society, the Friends of Dyke Marsh and the U.S. National Park Service

Leaders: Caroline Seitz and Brent Steury

This survey will have three segments – morning, afternoon and evening. Participants are welcome to do one, two or three. It will occur rain or shine, but not during a storm with thunder and lightning. Park in the BelleHaven picnic area parking lot.

The Schedule

10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Terrestrial survey in several areas of the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve. Meet at 10 a. m. in the Belle Haven parking lot to form teams. Look for the “Reptiles Alive” van.

1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Lunch (bring a picnic lunch) & Survey Recap/Count for the AM survey

2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Water survey via kayaks and canoes [bring your own boat] Meet at the Belle Haven Marina Boat Launch area

5 p.m. to sunset Dinner (on your own)

7:45 p.m. to9 p.m. (starting at sunset) Evening survey for frogs calling [bring a flashlight] + Final Species Tally and numbers Meet at the Belle Haven Parking area – look for the Reptiles Alive van

What to Wear and Bring

Prepare for all weather, for walking through brambles and woods, in muck, over rocks and on uneven surfaces. Wear waterproof shoes/boots or old shoes that can get muddy and wet. No one will be expected to wade into deep water.

Bring sun protection, camera, binoculars, notepad, pen, a garbage bag.

Bring lunch and/or dinner. There will also be time to leave and buy lunch and dinner.

Bring a flashlight if you are doing the evening walk.

RSVP: Please let one of the following know if you plan to participate and when:

Caroline Seitz, Virginia Herpetology Society,

Glenda Booth, Friends of Dyke Marsh,

Brent Steury, National Park Service,

Lesson Session – The Blind Naturalist

This is a great lesson to teach students about their senses and how valuable they are in their observations.

Grade Levels: K-5


Naturalists use all their senses to explore the world. This activity encourages students to describe objects using their sense of touch.

Discuss how a scientist may use their different senses to learn things about the natural world with the class.

For example many ornithologists, bird researchers, study bird songs to learn more about the animals. Botanists use their sense of smell to learn more about plants. Ask students for more examples.


cardboard boxes with hand sized hole cut in one side
various natural objects that are interesting to touch
(snake shed, pine cone, skull, feathers, fur, large seed pods, turtle shell are a few examples)


Place a different object in each one of the boxes. Make sure the boxes are closed and the hole is located on the side of the box. Sometimes it is a good idea to tape a piece of paper on the top of the box to discourage students from looking into the box through the hole cut in the side. Write a number on each of the boxes so the students may reference them on their paper.

Each student takes turns touching the objects in the boxes. No talking, peeking, or showing each other what they have written!

They then write down a description of each object. Was it rough, smooth, hard, soft, big, small, bumpy? Encourage the children to be as detailed as possible. Have the children guess what is in each of the boxes. To add time to the activity, ask each student to try and draw what is in the boxes by feel alone.


Have a class discussion about their experiences. Have the students share descriptions of the objects. What did they learn about each object by touching it?

Reveal each of the objects. Were any of the students correct? How did seeing the object compare to how it felt? What would the benefits be for a scientist to use all his senses when learning about something?


Historic Hawaii Hawksbill Nesting Season

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park News Release

Release Date:  Mar. 1, 2012

Contact: Jessica Ferracane/Public Affairs, ,
Contact: Will Seitz/Turtle Recovery Project Coordinator,, 808-985-6090

Volunteers Witness First Green Turtle Nesting on Hawai‘i Island

Hawaii National Park, HI – Hawai‘i Island Hawksbill Turtle Recovery Project
recorded one of its most historic sea turtle nesting seasons in 22 years,
including the first recorded green turtle nesting on the island of Hawai‘i,
a rare daytime nesting by a hawksbill turtle, and an increase in the number
of newly tagged female hawksbills.

In the 2011 report released today, a female green turtle, or honu, was
first observed attempting to nest on the beach in front of the park’s
remote Halapē campsite.  She then traveled 52 coastal miles southwest and
nested at Pōhue Bay. Her historic nest was a success, with 40 baby honu
reaching the ocean. Green turtles are federally listed as threatened, are
indigenous to Hawai‘i, and are seen throughout the islands. They typically
nest in the French Frigate Shoals, but there have been occasional
documented nestings by honu on the other main Hawaiian Islands.

Also within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, a female honu ‘ea, or
hawksbill turtle, was observed nesting at ‘Āpua Point at noon, the earliest
daytime crawl in project history.  Hawksbill turtles are endangered, and
nest primarily at beaches along the southern coast of Hawai‘i Island at

Volunteers helped an estimated 3,000 hatchlings reach the ocean from a
total of 30 nests (one green, 29 hawksbill) along five of the beaches they
monitor: ‘Āpua Point, Halapē, Kamehame, Kōloa, and Pōhue Bay.

“Without the help from over 20 dedicated volunteers this season, many of
these hatchlings would not have made it to the ocean.  Thanks to them,
there is hope for the survival of honu‘ea” said Will Seitz, project

Other season highlights included a nest excavation with third grade
students from Volcano School, and a continued increase in the number of
newly tagged honu ‘ea females. Out of the nine female adult hawksbill
turtle observed, five were newly tagged while the rest were returnees from
previous seasons.

During nesting season, from May through December, females come ashore to
lay clutches of eggs.  The eggs are vulnerable during the two-month
incubation, and are preyed upon by mongoose, rats, feral cats, and dogs.
After the hatchlings emerge they can become caught behind rocks or
vegetation, disoriented by artificial lights, run over by vehicles, or
eaten by mammals and birds. Volunteer efforts are critical to their

The 2011 report can be downloaded from the park’s website,

For information on how to help, visit, or contact the
Hawksbill Project at 808-985-6090.