Sunday, August 10, 2008

A very special day

Saturday was a very special day! I had an opportunity to witness the release of Kemp's ridley hatchlings at Opal Beach.

A small group of Park Rangers, volunteers, their friends and family gathered to help with the release. It was also an exciting time for a few Park visitors who just happened to be in the area and saw their first hatchlings and learned about these magnificent little creatures.

A wide swath of sand was smoothed to make the hatchlings march to the Gulf a bit easier. We also took time to fill in ghost crab holes to prevent them from feasting on the tiny turtles. Then two lines were drawn in the sand behind which observers stood during the release to prevent accidentally stepping on a hatchling.

The Gulf water was clear and calm for the release. It was a picture perfect day.

Ranger Beckie Mims teaches her daughter Gracie how to hold a tiny hatchling.

Lila Cox releases her first hatchling!

And photographs "her" turtle!

Did you know that the endangered Kemp's ridley turtles, the smallest of the marine turtles, frequently hatch during the day, unlike Loggerhead, Greens and Leatherbacks?

Kirsten Dahlen, a marine biologist who works for the National Park Service works hard to educate people on how to help protect our sea turtles.

{{{Am I there yet?}}}

Poor little thing faces some staggering obstacles. Some estimates are that only 1 in every 10,000 hatchling will make it to maturity! I thought it was closer to 1 in 100. Now I see how much they need our help to survive.

Oh no! Small sharks are checking out the action. Go away!

A hatchling scootin' along. To be so small, they can actually move pretty fast when they get a glimpse of the waves.

A volunteer steps in to help out when a hatchling gets overturned.

He made it to the water! YEAAAAA!

Another possible problem... A school of small fish attract sea gulls, which would just love a morsel of tiny turtle.

"Just the two of us,
We can make it if we try
Just the two of us, just the two of us...
Just the two of us
Building castles in the sky
Just the two of us, you and I..."

Lila checks out the hatchling she's getting ready to release. "Can I keep him?"

Kirsten photographs hatchlings as they swim away.

Buh-bye, baby. See you on the beach in my lifetime, I hope! Kemp's ridleys reach maturity faster than other marine turtles and begin may begin nesting between 12 - 15 years of age.

A National Geographic article I discovered online stated there may be as few as 1,000 nesting female Kemp's ridleys world-wide at this point. How proud are we that we've suddenly discovered some of these endangered sea turtles on Santa Rosa Island. We are determined to help them survive!

If you want to learn more about sea turtles and how to increase odds for their survival, be sure to check out Traveling Turtle Girl's blog.


PJ said...

Hi! DJ,
I'm PJ and I just found your blog. I recently started the Pensacola Daily Photo:
Im new to blogging and learning as I go.
The release of the turtles caused quite a stir over on the Selma Daily Photo blog. She was visiting Orange Beach when it happened. You can link up with her and others over on:
I love your photos and story of the turtle release. I will put it on y calendar and make sure I'm present for at least one of the turtle releases next year. I looks wonderful.

Virginia said...

Thanks to my friend PJ sitting right above me here, I too got to see the release of those little guys on your blog! What a treat. Your commentary and photos were just great. Wish I could wiggle my toes in that sand and surf right this minute!

Janet said...

Hi there! PJ pointed me to your blog and the turtle release. I had a photo on my blog the other day of the sunset scene just before a turtle release at Orange Beach, Ala. Didn't get to take photos, though, since it was dark and flashes weren't allowed.
You have a great photo blog.
Come on over to for a visit!

Barrier Island Girl said...

Hey PJ, Virginia, and Rambling Round! Thanks for the heads up on the blogs. I'll definitely check them out.

I've been nest-sitting tonight, but came in due to light rain and some thunder & lightning. Hopefully I'll be able to head back out to check on the nest in a couple of hours when the squall line passes over. I can hear a little scratching going on beneath the surface occasionally. Maybe hatchlings in another day or two!

Thanks again for the info on the other blogs!


PJ said...

I think blogger is eating comments. I left one earlier and it just disappeared. That's the second time. Anyway, I was wondering if there was going to be another turtle release or has that already happened?