Turtle season feels early this year.
Near where I live is the Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge.
This is a Federal preserve, so it’s protected from development. I like that. No high rises on the beach here. And no artificial lights to confuse the little baby turtles when they hatch.
All that lives in this area are wild sea and coastal birds, osprey, eagles, crabs, snakes, and a variety of small animals you never see, who hide in the native vegetation, past the high dune mark. This beach is where my beloved turtles come every year to dig their nests in the sand.
Let’s go see.
They’re out there, waiting in the Gulf stream… for night to fall. Often you’ll see spinner shark, and occasionally dolphins.
A barge is dredging up sand from a nearby inlet to gather the sand needed to restore the beach. Can you see it there on the right? There’s a massive pipe that goes from the location of this barge to the beach, a distance of maybe 2-3 miles. The tire tracks are from the dune buggies used by professionals who are fixing the beach.
When it’s dark, the turtles have to brave the sometimes rough seas, as they come in. And the pitch of this eroded beach does not make it easy for them to get where they need to go.
Then they find a spot, and dig…. all night sometimes, and lay their precious eggs.
Then back out they go. One day they will return to the same spot to lay more eggs, and so will their hatchlings, after many years of often dangerous adventures in the Atlantic ocean.
In the morning, volunteers find telltale tracks and sand mounds in the dunes, and mark the nesting areas like this.
Here’s a closer look.
Then, everyone around here waits with great anticipation for another group of turtles to come in. The hatchlings from these nests will probably be popping out around May. Just like turtles have done here for millions of years.
Not to get all preachy, or anything, but I hope that it will always be so.
© Erin McGrath and Needlepointland.com, 2012 – 2016.
Photographs by NPL, LLC.