This is what it looked like as I came upon the loggerhead crawl about half a mile east of Opal Beach around 6:00 a.m. The photo above is her trail from the nest, back to the spot where she re-entered the Gulf of Mexico.
The loggerhead came ashore sometime during the overnight hours and circled over the nesting area a couple of times before being satisfied it was the right place for her. After laying her eggs and covering them with sand, she headed west, back into the Gulf of Mexico.
If you click on the photo above to enlarge it, you will see an area of tossed sand at the top of the circle of tracks. That is the loggerhead nest.
A closer angle of the nest and the loggerhead's tracks. The nest was slightly over 70 feet from the water and the distance from where she came ashore to the spot she returned to the Gulf of Mexico was over 200 feet. Just imagine how much energy it took a 200+ lb. sea turtle to pull herself across that much sand with her flippers!
Aren't they splendid tracks!
I immediately called Monica Cain, a Bio-Tech with the Gulf Islands National Seashore. She arrived to mark the nest, GPS its location, and make sure I did the report and measurements properly. She even got to see me do the joy-dance! Hopefully I can be a bit more subdued and professional next time.
A closer look at the loggerhead's tracks.
The very first 'DZ' nest!