Stop! Turtle Time!

One turtle nest..

Summertime on any Floridian beach makes my heart pound.  No, its not the scenery of half naked guys (ha!), its the invisible world beneath the sand grains that makes me nervous. 

Green and loggerhead sea turtles regularly nest on the Atlantic beaches in Florida and the coastline at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is routinely dotted with mounded sand piles from late April well into September when the hatchlings emerge (in an event called an ’emergence’ no less). 

Turtle markers on a beachline

Locals are well aware of the significance of these weird yellow stakes and half-submerged chicken wire squares.  But tourists often have no clue that the sand contains the next generation for these endangered species.  (And each nest averages fifty to two-hundred eggs!)

Which leads me to anxiously eye the nests around my beach campsite and watch the coming and going of all the visitors like a hawk.  In the past I’ve patiently gone up to people who were perilously close to the nests and explained their importance.  Its true though that I’ve just as often approached those who were literally stomping on top of the wire with a rather flustered emotional state.  I’ll admit, I’ve yelled more than once; “Stop!  It’s turtle time!”

Playalinda Beach at the MINWR / Titusville, FL

While I realize it isn’t exactly my job to be an ambassador or a patrol officer to guard sea turtle nests along the coast I feel compelled to protect them whenever I hit the beach.  If I can keep just one pair of crushing feet off a nest then I’m willing to put myself in the way and share my (perhaps passionate) love of sea turtles with the unsuspecting tourists who stray too close for comfort. 

If you also share an obsessive love for sea turtles and you live in Florida there are a number of organizations who could use your time, talents, interests, or just a donation.  Check these out:  Honu.org / Sea Turtle Preservation Society / Florida Sea Turtle License Plates (I’ve got one!)

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One Comment to “Stop! Turtle Time!”

  1. Why only one stake in the ground? Why not four stakes with caution tape around the perimeter?

    Of course, maybe a big pile of fake dog poo would work too? Sort of like urban camouflage.

    Now if only I could get more folks to join my war against those hatchling-trapping sand castles the kids like to build everywhere… 😛