Baby turtles make it to the Gulf of Mexico despite odds

September 16, 2009

Photos and video courtesy Lisa McBride.
Loggerhead hatchling photos and video courtesy Lisa McBride.

Thanks to two turtle watch volunteers, last hatchlings in nest survive

Early in the morning on Sept. 15, South Walton Turtle Watch volunteers Anthony and Sherry Head headed to check a loggerhead nest near Stallworth Preserve in South Walton County in anticipation of seeing activity as the nest was ready to hatch. With the recent rains, they knew if could be any time, so with great anticipation headed to see if there was any activity.

Here is Anthony’s story
Tuesday morning we woke up and both said at nearly the same time, “let’s go look at the nest at Stallworth.” We grabbed a cup of coffee and out the door we went at about 7 a.m. We got to the nest and as we approached it, we could see an indentation. It had rained so hard the night before there was no hope of seeing any tracks. It was obvious enough that the nest had hatched though.
Wednesday morning we went back to check on the nest just to see if there had been any new activity and found two sets of tracks from more turtles that escaped Tuesday during the night or early morning. I say early morning because Sherry started following one set of tracks and I headed up to the nest. As I approached the nest, there was one pulling itself up out of the sand deep in the indentation. It was light outside, no time to be leaving the nest.

Loggerhead hatchling.
Loggerhead hatchling.

We quickly followed the other tracks to make sure they had made it to the water and headed back to the nest.
About this time Lisa McBride with the turtle walkers, approaches and greets us and asks what’s happening.
Lisa gets to see the turtle, and she has a camera on her and takes several photos. While she is getting a photo, another turtle begins to emerge from the sand and Lisa was able to capture it digging itself out.
I took of my t-shirt, got some wet sand in it and we put the two turtles in the sand to transport them back to our home where we placed them in a cooler in a dark room for the day.
The two will were released after dark.