On July 4th, Rich and I drove to Florida’s East Coast in the early hours of the morning. We got to the beach just as the dawn began casting rays of light across the beach. We were on a quest to find a nesting sea turtle, and Nature didn’t disappoint!
2021 is supposed to be a good year for nesting Green Sea turtles. They alternate between high-count years and low-count years for nests, and this is a high-count year. We spotted many Green turtle nests on the beach as we walked. The Green nests are easy to spot because they are so big, and the turtles throw around a ton of sand as they cover their eggs.
The sunrise that morning was pretty. As the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, its rays lit up the clouds. The surf tossed up wave after wave, and the water droplets glistened in the warm morning light.
As usual, I bracketed my exposures and post-processed them with HDR. This next one was my favorite sunrise shot of the morning.
We continued walking along the beach, and I started to wonder if it was going to be a turtle-less morning. Then we spotted sand being thrown high in the dunes. A Green Sea turtle was covering her eggs! A few minutes later, she began the laborious process of dragging herself down the dunes back to the ocean.
The soft morning light glowed on this tired turtle. Her flippers are meant for swimming in the ocean, not crawling on land. She only comes on land to lay her eggs, and somehow she knows to come back to the very beach that she herself hatched on. Nature is amazing! I stood gawking as the turtle approached the water…
The last few yards were the hardest for the tired turtle. Finally she eased herself into the water, letting the waves splash off the sand and the fatigue of her night’s work.
She left a turtle track that the waves immediately began to erase. The only trace of her time on the beach last night is tucked safely underground. With luck, her babies will hatch in early September and re-trace her steps down to the water. Rich and I can’t wait to go back and possibly see them!
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!