Happy World Turtle Day!!
Regular readers of my blog will know that Rich is a turtle enthusiast. As a matter of fact, our blog title combines our love of cats and his love of turtles (yes, we chose the domain name before the family ornithology obsession began!) So we have a special place in our hearts for our flippered friends.
So, what can you do to celebrate World Turtle Day?
Schedule a Turtle Walk!
This is the time of year when sea turtles come to the beach, lay their eggs, then return to the ocean. They don’t wait to see their babies hatch, relying on luck and a deep hole to keep their eggs safe until hatch time. Baby sea turtles emerge a few months later and make a perilous dash to the sea. Those that survive the gulls begin following an ancient pattern of circling the Caribbean and Atlantic until they, too, return to the very same beach to lay their own eggs.
Interested in being part of this amazing cycle? Several organizations are licensed to take groups out onto the beach, where they illuminate the egg-laying process using special red infrared lights that do not disturb the turtles. If you live near the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, you can make your turtle walk reservation with the Sea Turtle Preservation Society. Further south, the Loggerhead Marinelife Center also sponsors turtle walks. It’s a lot of fun – try it!
Go to the Turtle Museum!
The Loggerhead Marinelife Center, affectionately known as the “Turtle Museum” in our family, is a great place to visit. They have turtle fossil artifacts and informational videos, plus real live turtles in their rehabilitation area. You can read about how their turtles were rescued, what diseases they are being treated for, and when they will be released back to the ocean. On your way out, you can stock up with turtle loot at the gift shop! If you are in the vicinity of Juno Beach (near Palm Beach), it’s well worth the detour.
Look for Turtle Tracks!
Even if you can’t schedule a turtle walk to see the egg-laying process, you can take a walk along most Central Florida beaches right now and see turtle tracks. Look in the sand for oblong-circles traced by the turtles as they leave the water, move up past the high-tide mark to lay their eggs, then circle back down to the water. Early in the morning, you might see turtle nest counters going up and down the beaches counting tracks. It’s how they monitor the turtle nests. Want a fun landscape photography challenge? Try to get the sunrise and the turtle tracks together! ;-)
This photograph is very special to me because it was taken on the same day that Rich got up early (gasp!) and came to the beach with me to look for turtles. Sometimes you can find mothers still laying eggs in the early dawn. We didn’t see a mom, but we found something better – two hatchlings! I can still remember the grin on Rich’s face as we watched them re-enter the sea.
Hopefully we’ve inspired you to get out and enjoy some turtles. Enjoy your World Turtle Day and we’ll see you on the beach!
Want to learn more about nature photography at Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge?
Check out my Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!
Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!