Lightning Never Strikes Twice at the Same Turtle Nesting Spot!

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Rich and I headed to Archie Carr in mid-June to look for nesting sea turtles. We arrived well before sunrise. There was a storm off-shore with fairly frequent lightning. The moon also shone, illuminating the beach.

Lightning Offshore at Dawn
Lightning Offshore at Dawn

The light from the storm and the moon illuminated the beach. We walked down the stairs to the beach and immediately noted the sand being tossed from under the steps. Yep, we found a turtle not 10 feet from the entrance! She was in the middle of nesting, so I took some lightning photos while we waited for her to finish.

Green Sea Turtle Nesting Under Beach Steps
Green Sea Turtle Nesting Under Beach Steps

After she finished covering her eggs, she slowly crawled out of her nest and onto the beach. That walk down the sand is an exhausting one for the poor mom. She’s not used to being on land at all, as she only comes up on the beach to nest. Then she has to dig a hole, lay her eggs, bury them, and then crawl back to the ocean. You could hear her labored breathing as she dragged herself along.

Green Sea Turtle Returning to Ocean After Nesting
Green Sea Turtle Returning to Ocean After Nesting

Finally she reached the waves. The first splash washed off some of the sand from her digging adventure. She pulled herself those final few yards until the waves overtook her, allowing her to swim away.

Green Sea Turtle Returning to Ocean After Nesting
Green Sea Turtle Returning to Ocean After Nesting

It’s amazing how big the nests are. The turtle’s flippers are good for more than just swimming! You can distinguish the Green turtle nests from Loggerhead nests because the Green turtles throw the sand around a lot more as they dig. They also tend to nest higher on the beach, closer to the dunes.

Turtle Nest at Sunrise
Turtle Nest at Sunrise

After we said goodbye to our turtle, Rich and I enjoyed a nice walk on the beach. Rich patiently waited as I stopped to photograph the rising sun. I used HDR to combine multiple exposures for most of the shots in this post, and I loved how the waves turned out in this last photo. It was such a beautiful morning!

Summer Beach Sunrise
Summer Beach Sunrise

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!

2 thoughts on “Lightning Never Strikes Twice at the Same Turtle Nesting Spot!

  1. All of these are really special photographs, in my opinion! The turtle entering the sea is fabulous. I also really like the beach sunrise image since it appears “real” as opposed to artificially smoothed with a long exposure. Long exposure has its place – but this wasn’t one of them.

    Thank you, Jess, for sharing a whole lotta beauty!

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