Monday, August 14, 2006

The Empty Nest

The bad news is that I have no photos of the hatchlings to show you.

The good news is that WE HAVE BABY TURTLES!!!!!!

A small group gathered quietly around the sea turtle nesting site last night, waiting for that special moment when tiny heads and flippers would begin rising above the sand.

For almost two hours observers quietly sat or stood motionless as possible (a very difficult feat for some of the youngsters), as a park ranger intern, Monica Cain, SCA; an official GINS volunteer, Melanie Waite, and local veterinarian Dr. Limarie Rodriguez sat ready to guide and protect the tiny hatchlings as they made their trek to the water. Like me, most of the group had never observed an event like this and had no idea what to expect. Each time there was a shift of sand, a collective "oooohhhhh" escaped and eyes widened in anticipation.

Suddenly, around 9:00 p.m., action began in earnest as the hatchlings at the bottom of the nest made a final push toward the surface and dozens of baby turtles began what I can only describe as a 'rolling boil' out of the sand. It was incredible! Dr. Rodriguez, Monica, and Melanie quickly went into action, gently placing the tiny sea turtles into two large containers, keeping an accurate count as they worked.

As the baby turtles were carried closer to the water's edge to be released, observers lined up in two rows, making a path to the water. Unfortunately the baby turtles were not as cooperative as the observers. The scene became a version of a popular Super Bowl commercial about herding cats!

At last, the hatchlings finally made their way into the Gulf of Mexico, the females hopefully to return and lay their eggs on our beach someday. The young and very happy ranger beamed as she announced that over 100 of the 119 eggs had hatched from this nest.

Congratulations, Pensacola Beach!


Linda L. said...

This is a terrific story, B.I.G., and I'm so happy for you that you had the chance to experience this! Thanks for sharing with the rest of us. __LL

Anonymous said...

That's so cool!

Jen Z. said...

Oooh! You're sooo lucky to have "front row seats" for baby turtles hatching! Just curious: how big are they when they first come up from the sand??