Counting our eggs
Hanging in my new office (that tidbit explains my recent absences from the blog-o-sphere) is a photo taken from the most magical vacation my family has experienced in a very long time. The essence of that trip lingers sweetly for all of us. From the time spent with family to the hours spent with our legs dangling from the dock watching the manatees, every second was amazing. Even on the one rainy day; we found ways to be entertained, simply soaking in (I couldn’t resist), the wonders of island life.
Rain is a given on the Gulf Coast. A torrential downpour might last for fifteen minutes, which will be just enough to add a little more humidity to the day. On our vacation, we awoke to one pouring day and knew immediately we would not be making the trek to sit on the beaches that morning. We scoured the local paper and stumbled across a lecture being given by the local Turtle Watch organization. When in Rome! We had already seen manatees, stingrays, hundreds of fish and birds, so why not learn a little more about the famous sea turtles.
Headquarters for the turtle organization was a small brick community center, where many of the volunteers held Thanksgiving dinner together. We learned about turtle lifecycles, breeding behaviors, nesting sites, sizes of species, and what Turtle Watch volunteers do. We were entranced by their daily vigils to walk the shoreline in hopes of finding a true nesting site and not a false crawl (where the sea turtle momma changes her mind). At the conclusion of the informal gathering of eager learners, our heads were swirling.
Buoyed by our new knowledge, we left with renewed “island marching orders” to get up and walk the shoreline scouting for signs a momma turtles had chosen our sector as a suitable nesting site. We were very careful not to interfere with the work of trained and licensed volunteers as sea turtles are very serious business in the state of Florida. Read: do not MESS with a sea turtle!
The remainder of our week at least one member of our entourage would get up early and scour the sand for the tell-tale signs a beautiful turtle had been in our midst. We had given up hope, and almost didn’t go out our last day on the island. My sweetie and I finally convinced ourselves we would be so disappointed if we didn’t go and later learned a nest was created.
We got on our beach clothes and started our trek to the beach – always a good investment in my soul. Truth be known, I wasn’t ready to say good-bye to the beautiful water and its enticing siren call. Within moments of our arrival, we noticed our last minute wishing was about to pay off. The distinct tracks in the sand led to a pit closer to the native grasses. A quick scan of the beach told us, the trained “officials” had already walked their sector and they were waiting for back-up to properly locate and cordon off the nest. As a science teacher and a LOVER of God’s amazing creation I was downright giddy. This was one of the coolest things ever! A quick call to the beach house roused all the other nature lovers in our clan.
For both nests, it took the officials several tries to find the actual nest. Using only their hands, they very carefully dug, providing minimal disturbance to the delicate creatures housed within. Upon locating the actual nest which can be as deep as a couple feet, the Turtle Watch volunteers put up stakes and ropes, with signs imploring others not to disturb. A quiet excitement reverberated among those gathered. Our hearts reminding us, “Shh! Babies are developing!” With so many odds against them, the baby sea turtles would need every well wish proffered. Our quiet morning was goose-bump inducing. Everyone from our family was in awe of God’s beautiful creation at work.
As the researchers completed securing the sight and recording vital data, we wanted to continue to be a “part of the action”; so as a family we chose to adopt the two nests that were laid on our last night on the island. One honored my dad as they came to shore on his actual birthday and the other in memory of Reed who loved everything nature. Our adoption fees came with the knowledge we were helping researchers and volunteers continue to champion for these beautiful sea creatures. We left hoping we would become “parents” to hundreds of hatchlings.
This is the wording we chose (from a list of possibilities) for our plaque at the site.
Advice from a Sea Turtle
Swim with the current
Be a good navigator
Stay calm under pressure
Be well traveled
Think long term
Spend time at the beach
Sage advice, indeed! Wherever you are today, I hope God’s creation sings to you.
To all our little sea turtle babies (who have hatched by now), may God be with you as you are rocked gently by the beautiful blue waters of my childhood!