We had spent 8 exciting days surrounded by all things theme park. Smiling, perky cast members, thrilling rides, tantalizing food (that I did not have to prepare or clean up after), and whatever a person could possibly want or need available with a simple swipe.
The end of our vacation was spent on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. It was like night and day.
On the first morning we were there, my husband, our two sons, and I went for a walk along the beach. About a mile into the trek, a jeep with the words "Sea Turtle Patrol" on it's side, drove by.
My mind flashed back to an audio book we had listened to that summer, The View from Saturday" by E.L. Konigsburg.
(Each of the five characters in the book give an account of how they came to form a group and a portion of their experiences tells about rescuing sea turtle hatchlings.)
There were sea turtle nests on the beach!
We continued walking, not sure what we were looking for. The jeep could no longer be seen, and the boys began to realize that we hadn't had breakfast yet.
Our search incomplete, we turned back to get ready for a trip to Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
The aquarium is a non-profit organization where they rescue, rehabilitate, and if possible, release marine life. While we were there, we spoke with a marine biologist and got some information about sea turtle nests.
That evening, I grabbed my camera and set off to find some nests. If I found any, I would be able to bring the family back the following day.
About a mile down the beach, I found two nests. Surrounded by safety orange tape, with a sign explaining that this nest was protected under federal law.
Giddy with excitement, I returned back to the condo, and shared with the boys what I had found.
The next morning, we set out to look at the nests. We stood back and wondered how the sea turtle patrol found the nests. Inside the tape looked just like the rest of the beach.
We noticed the date on the sign, and figured out approximately when these eggs would be hatching. (45-55 days from the day the eggs were laid.)
Then a pickup truck from the marine aquarium pulled up to check on the nests, and we were able to ask them all of our questions. I couldn't have planned it any better.
They told us that there are teams that search for nests during the nesting season. (May through October). The sea turtle will leave tracks going to and from the ocean. The neat is very visible at first, then nature smooths it out so that it looks like the rest of the beach.
What we do impacts the lives of sea turtles. You can find out how to help sea turtles by clicking on the link below.
I've also included a link to the book that sparked our interest in sea turtles, and a link to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.