Sunday, August 19, 2007

the beach ...part 2...sea turtles

On my early morning walk Monday, i discovered a newly laid loggerhead sea turtle nest. You could see where the turtle had come ashore and drug herself through the sand onto the dunes, dug a hole to lay the eggs then return to the sea. The sand looked all torn up and her flipper marks showed clearly. A sea turtle volunteer who was daily monitoring the shoreline marked the nest, dated the eggs and cordoned off the area to protect the nest.

The next evening there was a activity at a nest near our house, the nest was dated June 20th. The sand at the nest was collapsing as the turtle hatchlings started to break from the shells. The volunteers said the nest was 55 days old - perfect timing for hatching. Then the volunteers got busy creating a sand pathway from the nest to the water hoping to help the turtles get to the water and avoid heading to the houses where lights might be shining.

Chris and I returned right around 9pm to see if anything was happening with the nest. Our timing was perfect for just as we arrived, about 100 turtle hatchings bubbled up from the sand as they left the nest. A volunteer shown a light at the end of the pathway at the water's edge. The turtles made their way down the path toward the light and the waves.

It was quite chaotic with over 30 observers,too many flashlights and a bit of turtle confusion. But all the hatchlings made it to the water where instinct took over. It was fascinating to watch, something we may never see again - watching endanged loggerhead turtles hatch and migrate into the ocean.