Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Once In A Lifetime

I am currently on vacation with my family on Tybee Island, GA.  My mom and I visited Savannah 3 summers ago and ventured to the island for a little beach time after a recommendation from the Visitors Center.  We loved Tybee and knew we'd come back.  The family is here this time and enjoying the beach time.

Last night, my mom and I decided to go for a little walk.  We walked past some beautiful houses then decided to go listen to the waves on the beach while sitting on a swing.  About 10 minutes later, we heard voices down by the beach yelling "What is that?!?"

It was...

a Loggerhead turtle coming out to nest!  The woman on the beach thought it was a body (Scary!) because it was so large.

I follow the Tybee Sea Turtle Project on Facebook and knew a few things about nesting turtles.  I knew that shining white light on them was not good (though I did snap that picture above before I told the man to turn his flashlight off).  I also knew to call and let someone on the team know that there was a turtle on the beach.  We called and a group of volunteers appeared (6 in all).

For an hour we watched this mama turtle make her nest, lay her eggs (85 in total we later learned), cover the nest and finally return to the ocean.  It was amazing!  Many of the volunteers had never seen a turtle lay its eggs; they would just find the nests in the morning after spotting tracks left behind by the turtle.

I was disappointed that we would not be here when a nest hatched (they take 50-75 days to incubate and we were going to miss it), but the volunteers told us that this was even more rare.

This morning on our beach walk, we saw the volunteer coordinator again and she was moving the nest.  The eggs were laid very close to the water, and they were concerned that a very high tide might damage the nest.  We were able to watch her dig up the nest, count the eggs and reconstruct the nest in a safer location.

A single egg.  They are leathery and each time you touch them, there is an indentation.  She said they are not hurt.

A peek in the nest when it was first uncovered.  They are about 2 feet deep.

It was an awesome experience that I can't wait to share with my students when we study eggs.  They said that this same turtle can lay a nest every 13-14 days throughout the season (5-6 nests).  That is just crazy to me!

What "once in a lifetime" experiences have you had?

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