Well, this post is about six months delayed but I am trying to get caught up on some fun posts that got lost in the shuffle last year.
If you’ve been around here long, you know the Sweets and I pack up the car and head down to spend a couple weeks at my parent’s beach house each summer. It has become an amazing tradition and one I feel very fortunate to be able to do with the boys and my parents. I know we are making memories to last a lifetime. I also strongly believe there is no better playground for the boys than the beach. Over the past couple summers, we have had some amazing Sea Turtle encounters and every summer, our love for turtles gets bigger and bigger.
Let me back up a little. Back in the summer of 2015, our love affair with the turtles manifested when my mom’s small group adopted a turtle nest. (This basically means donating to the local Turtle Patrol and then they assign a turtle nest to you.) Bright and early on our morning walks, we would check out our very own turtle nest and send little prayers and good vibes to the eggs down below in the sand. When it was close to them being ready to hatch, we even brought blankets down at night and sat by the nest hoping we would see the babies emerge. Turns out, we had to head back to Atlanta before our nest hatched but we did manage to see another turtle nest release that summer and the turtle love affair was “born.”
So, last summer when we were heading down to the beach again, I had more of a “turtle agenda.” I knew I wanted the boys to see another turtle nest release. Well, who am I kidding? I wanted to see a turtle nest release too!
This is a picture I took on a morning walk- those are tracks from babies that hatched and went to sea overnight! They call the tracks “ribbons”.
The way the process works is that a Mama Sea Turtle walks up the sand towards the dunes sometime throughout the night and digs a large hole to lay her eggs. Once she “delivers” the eggs, she buries them and makes her way back to sea. Each morning, the Turtle Patrol drives the beach and notes any new nests and their timing. They can tell where a nest was put from the tracks in the sand from the Mama Turtle’s legs as well as a big divot in the sand from where she dug.
FUN FACT: Mama Sea Turtles come back to the very same beach they were born at to lay their baby eggs!
The baby eggs then incubate for approximately two months and then ideally the baby turtles hatch and head to the sea sometime overnight. But the fun doesn’t stop there. Since turtles are still considered a threatened species, the Turtle Patrol actually gives them some extra help. You see, some of the turtles may hatch but never make it out of the nest down below. This is where the Turtle Patrol comes in. Approx two days after the turtles hatch naturally, the Turtle Patrol comes to dig it up. This is not only to do research- they count how many eggs were in each nest- but they also release any baby turtles still down in the sand. The eggs look like ping pong balls and feel like a rubbery leather.
Fortunately, with the help of the local Turtle Patrol, we had some inside scoop on some potential turtle release timing and we were able to see a couple. Imagine our excitement when at one of the releases they retrieved 11 alive babies!
This was the most even the Turtle Patrol had ever seen from one nest. SO COOL!
At one of the releases we went to, Sweet P was even able to touch the eggs and really participate in the release.
He even named one of the babies he helped make it’s way to the ocean “Lucky”.
But our turtle agenda didn’t stop there. We also visited the Ponce Inlet Marine Science Center and got to see some of the turtles that were rescued and needed some doctoring in their rehab center.
THEN, the final item on our Turtle Agenda was to see two of the turtles that had spent time at the rehab center actually be released back to sea.
The countdown is on for our summer adventures this year. And you better believe we have turtles on our agenda again. My biggest wish would be to see a Mama Turtle come out of the ocean to deliver eggs at night. Talk about a bucket list item! But I will be happy just to see some more babies released too.
Have you ever seen a turtle nest release? I would LOVE to hear about your turtle encounters!