I’ve probably described turtle patrol before but here we go again. When I try to explain what we do, people always say, “Oh so you save baby sea turtles!” and I usually say, “Well, not exactly. It’s more like we do data collection and maybe help a few turtles out along the way if we can. Mostly, they take care of themselves.” And that is true. But today we did save a turtle. This girl would never have made it without a great team of volunteers.
We start out early…just before sunrise which means around here we’re on the beach about 6:15. We had walked about half way up our zone, noting false crawls (the mom came up and changed her mind and went back into the Gulf without nesting) and nests that we would have to document and mark on the way back. We had just seen a new crawl and were looking to see if it led to a nest when Terry said, “There’s a turtle under the steps!”
Sure enough, there was a turtle under the steps and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how she got there. And I sure couldn’t figure out how we could get her out. We poked her and she didn’t move so we assumed that she was probably dead.
We called Zoe, one of the people in charge and she arrived with two other patrollers ready to help. She wasn’t dead but she was exhausted. They poured water on her and she perked up a bit and tried again to do the impossible..to get out from under the steps. There was no way.
It looked like the ONLY way to get her out was to convince her to turn around and go out the way she came in…still very narrow but obviously if she got in that way, she should be able to get out.
There really wasn’t much room to turn around (I personally thought it would be impossible for her to turn around) We started digging in the sand making more room for her. We dug on both sides of the steps and created a huge hole under the steps, shoved her until she turned around and cheered when she got free. The photo at the top is that poor girl finally back to the water and free! (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAimXh167WM&feature=youtu.be for a video that Margi did!)
It was a long day on patrol. Besides the trapped turtle, we had a dozen nests to record including one from a green turtle which is pretty rare around here. We had to “verify” that nest (dig down and find the eggs) and it took forever to find them. (fifteen holes each about two feet down!) I came dragging home at 10:00 and haven’t done much since then except take a long shower (I had sand in my ears!) and sit on the couch and get waited on by my long suffering husband. My next move will be to get a suit on and float around in the pool but all in all it was a good day for turtles!
And it took my mind off Orlando which broke my heart (and everyone else’s, I know) I have such a sense of hopelessness when I hear of one more horrible massacre in our so called civilized country.
Below…five very happy, very tired, very sandy turtle patrollers. Note the sand. Some of us waded into Gulf to get rid of some sand. Some just kept on working. And note the shirts. We did it on purpose so we could get a photo today.