Nesting Green Sea Turtle at Sunrise

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Another weekend, another visit to Archie Carr with Rich to check on the nesting sea turtles. The Green Sea turtles are having a “high” year and are on track to exceed their nesting numbers from 2017. This kind of chance to photograph them only comes every two years, so carpe diem! The early morning walks are such a joy.

Summer Sunrise
Summer Sunrise

We arrived well before sunrise and started walking down the beach. We were on the lookout for turtles but I had to stop and photograph the sunrise colors. No two sunrises are ever alike, and each one is special.

Nesting Green Sea Turtle
Nesting Green Sea Turtle

A huge burst of sand revealed a nesting green turtle. It always surprises me how much sand those turtles can throw as they cover their eggs! The green turtles usually nest high up in the dunes. This particular turtle chose a spot in the middle of the beach, which gave me a chance to approach from a respectful distance and photograph her in the nest hole. Then she started to make her way down the beach…

Green Sea Turtle Returns to the Ocean
Green Sea Turtle Returns to the Ocean

The sun was just rising as the turtle pulled herself towards the waves. These scenes are tricky to photograph with such dynamic range in the scene, so I bracketed the images and applied HDR in post processing. My favorite place to photograph the turtles is as they approach the water, where the waves have swept all the footprints clean and you see the distinct track of the nesting turtle.

Green Sea Turtle Returns to the Ocean
Green Sea Turtle Returns to the Ocean

It was such a beautiful sunrise! I quickly ran around and tried for a different vantage point to better show the tracks. In this last image, you can just barely see the shell of the turtle as she submerges herself in the water. Two seconds later she was swimming away, happy to have completed her arduous night task!

Turtle Tracks
Turtle Tracks

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!

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