Miracles do happen.
In my last post, I wrote about my first encounter with sea turtles. Given that only 1 in 1000 eggs laid actually make it to adulthood, it seems that it is a miracle that the species are able to survive. It’s even more miraculous when you consider all the dangers that sea turtles have to overcome just to get to adulthood at age 20. Many hatchlings never make it off the beach. Some eggs don’t hatch while other do hatch but are unable to escape the egg chamber and head towards the sea. Those that do escape face all sorts of predators as they scurry along the beach to the relative safety of the water. Once in the water, more natural predators lurk. Unfortunately, man-made dangers lurk as well. Many sea turtles are trapped in fishing longlines and drown. Unlike fish that can remove oxygen from water, turtles are reptiles and must surface to breath.
So a week after my last visit to find sea turtles I was able to witness 3 different miracles. First was another large green sea turtle that was returning to the water after constructing an egg chamber. Unfortunately she didn’t lay any eggs after the effort to come out of the sea and dig the egg chamber. She headed back to sea after a pair of marine biology students stopped their ATV to check her. They probably disturbed her enough that she decided to try again later and at another place on the beach. I was fortunate enough to be able to photograph her as she made her way back to the ocean. Click the images to view larger. Closeup images where taken at a safe distance with a telephoto lens.
Both mornings I was on the beach there were more turtle volunteers than tourists or residents on the beach. They ride up and down the beach on their ATVs documenting new nest sites, tagging adults after they lay their eggs, checking tags of previously tagged adults and excavating nests after the eggs have hatched. When they excavate a nest, they count the number of eggs that hatched and the number of eggs that do not hatch. For the eggs that do not hatch, they examine the contents to determine how far along the egg had progressed before it perished. All of this information goes into a database to help researchers understand how well the population is doing. Unfortunately a poorly timed stop to examine an adult can result in an aborted nesting attempt.
The second miracle occurred just a short walk down the beach when we found a nesting loggerhead sea turtle. This turtle was considerably smaller than the green sea turtle. In my last post I commented on how the green sea turtles dig a large hole and get in the hole to lay their eggs. Loggerhead sea turtles dig a smaller hold and remain on top of the sand to lay their eggs.
The loggerhead was still laying eggs when we came upon her. She spent about 90 minutes laying eggs and then about 45 minutes covering up her clutch. Finally she was ready to head back to sea.
She didn’t waste any time getting back down to the water.
I shot some video of her return to the sea. I didn’t haul a tripod out there as we had walked well over a mile to find these two turtles, so the video is a wee bit shaky.
Finally, I spoke earlier of miracles, and while finding 2 nesting sea turtles on the same beach within a short distance of each other is somewhat miraculous, the really big miracle was that I was blessed to have Faith accompany me on this visit. Many of you may know that Faith is not an early riser. She’s more of a sunset person than a sunrise person if you know what I mean. So for her to get into the car for a 4:15am departure is in itself a miracle. We had a great time sharing this experience together and I’m hopeful she will be inclined to accompany me on other excursions in the future.
Miracles do happen.