In early August, Rich and I returned to Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in search of sea turtles. Loggerhead turtle nesting was starting to wind down, but the Green sea turtles are having a high count year and will continue nesting during the month of August. August is also the beginning of Green hatchling season. I have yet to photograph a wild Green hatchling, so I was hopeful that maybe I’d get to see one on this visit. We didn’t – but we did see a tagged green sea turtle nesting on the beach.
As usual, we spotted the turtle when we noticed large quantities of sand being tossed around in the dunes. We followed the sand tosses to zero in on the nesting turtle.
After she finished throwing sand at us, she began the slow crawl back to the ocean.
The sun was just rising as the turtle made her way down to the waves. In the photo below, you can see the track she made hours earlier as she first crawled onto the beach. The straight ATV tracks closer to the water are made by the UCF Turtle Patrol that monitors turtle nesting every morning in the summertime.
The tide was going out, and the photo ops were much more attractive as the turtle reached the smooth sand near the water’s edge. The waves welcomed her home as she greeted the sunrise.
Here are some videos from that morning. The first part shows the turtle as she body-surfs down the sand dunes (right into the nest of another turtle, out of which the poor tired turtle had to crawl!) – and then as she made her way to the water.
I always enjoy photographing the tracks left by the turtles at sunrise. It’s amazing how quickly the water washes away the tracks.
As we watched this turtle crawl, Rich realized that her flipper was tagged. He got a picture of the tag number and reported it to the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research. They responded almost immediately:
This green turtle was originally tagged after laying her eggs on 13 Aug 2000. Since then, we saw this animal on 3 September 2000, 6 September 2007, and 6 September 2011. Great to know she’s still around.Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research
If you’re curious, here’s what a turtle tag looks like. Remember to stay behind the turtle if you’re trying to read the tag.
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!
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