Rich and I have been counting the days till peak turtle nesting season. It’s finally here! We headed to the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge a few weeks ago and struck out – a long sweaty walk and no turtles. This morning, we got there super early and found a turtle right behind the parking lot. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time! This was a Loggerhead sea turtle, the first adult we’ve seen at Archie Carr. Last year we found only Green sea turtles.
It was cloudy this morning, and this photo was taken about 30 minutes before sunrise. I had my camera at ISO 128,000 in order to get shutter speeds in the range of 1/40. Rich and I teased about how picky photographers are. I mean, this turtle left the beach as a hatchling, circumnavigated the Atlantic Ocean, found a mate, and returned to the exact same beach where she was born. Couldn’t she have come onshore 15 minutes later? ;-)
The turtle heaved herself back into the ocean and swam off. Rich and I continued on our hot, sweaty walk along the beach. It feels so good just to get out there. The landscape has changed since Hurricane Irma. The storm washed away a lot of the sand (along with most of last year’s turtle nests), and there has been an effort to restore the sand and plant more sea grasses to keep the sand in place. The turtles don’t mind. They happily nest right on top of the freshly planted grasses.
The cloudy morning turned into a pretty day. Although we didn’t see any more turtles, we saw plenty of turtle tracks. Below is a “false crawl”, where the turtle came onto the beach and then returned to the ocean without laying eggs.
When we first arrived, the beach was dark and almost totally empty. As we left, the beach was coming alive with people – fishermen, families, joggers, people walking their dogs. It was nice. A great start to the July 4 week.
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!