The Wonder of Wildlife
This weekend the kids and I went to Jupiter Beach, Florida. It’s turtle season which means the females head for shore to lay their eggs. Instinct drives them to wade up the sandy beach, dig a hole, deposit their eggs, bury them safe and secure and then head back out to sea, never to see the babes again. It’s an incredible sight to see, one my husband and I stumbled upon years ago. We happened to be walking the beach late at night during a full moon and spotted the gal doing her business. Careful not to disturb her, we enjoyed watching, witnessing a miracle of nature in process.
Now intentionally waiting for turtles to arrive on is a whole different story. You park yourself on the beach and sit. And wait, with no guarantee you’ll see the first turtle.
Granted it’s not as bad as watching paint dry. I mean, at least you have the waves lapping at your feet, the moon spilling its light onto the ocean’s surface, but after a while, the kids get a bit antsy.
“When are the turtles coming?”
“Why aren’t they here yet?”
It’s kind of distracts from the ambiance, the gorgeous setting. We’re not the only ones there. Others are here for the same purpose. But at some point, it becomes intolerable. It becomes: too late to wait.
When is that point? An hour? Two? When more people around you are beginning to immerse themselves in one another as opposed to the turtle watch? The questions then become, “Mom, what are those people doing?”
Enjoying the scenery, dear. But I don’t dare voice the same. My son is at the age he’ll ask the obvious outright while my daughter would rather wince at the mere thought of what they “might” be doing. We held our patience for about an hour and 20 minutes. Pretty good, considering it was 10:30 at night after a long day at the beach. We were sad to go and hoped to find evidence of their arrival the next day.
We didn’t. This stake was from April. Volunteers scout the beach at night and mark the new nests with a stake, labeled with the date eggs were deposited. My girlfriend lives in Jupiter and has better luck with turtles. She sent us this picture of a mammoth leatherback that landed across the street from her condo building. This turtle was quite the attraction during the early morning hours–one we’re sorry we missed.
If you ever have a chance to visit Jupiter during turtle season, take it. And if you’re not up for the midnight turtle watch, do stop by the Loggerhead Visitors Center. Located just down the street in Juno Beach, they have real life turtles on hand and plenty of education regarding the same. In fact, this trip I learned that female turtles make this trek to the beach several times a season, then come back a few years later for another round. On average, their eggs take two months to hatch and then the little babies flee their burial ground for the sea.
One year the kids and I were fortunate enough to witness this “baby dash.” Unfortunately for my children, they were too young to remember and I unprepared to snap away the photos leaving it an event we seek to repeat. Needless to say, it was memorable.
What’s your most memorable wildlife experience?