Locals capture sea turtle on video

June 21, 2009

Local kayakers greeted by sea turtle in Seagrove

Murray Balkcom and Rebecca Sullivan were kayaking off the beach in Seagrove near Eastern Lake June 20, when they were greeted by a pleasant surprise.

Murray explains:

Rebecca and I decided to paddle out on the kayak, to search for things to see. Rarely do I see much sea life. The June Grass is floating up close to the shore, but with a few short strokes, we quickly were floating above the prettiest blue and green water I’ve seen in the Gulf. We were out for no more than five minutes before we saw our first marine life, a lone jellyfish. Only a moment later, we were paddling around on the second sandbar, which is in water maybe ten to fifteen feet deep. Not much to see from the kayak, but the water was so clear that I could clearly see the ripples on the sand at the bottom, like they were right in front of my face. I thought I even saw a sanddollar. Looking down into the water off the port side of the boat, I saw a big black image appear. My first thought is that it was a good size Stingray, but after another second or two, I knew it was a Sea Turtle, as I had witnessed a couple of them swimming last year. This was my third sighting in three years!

From above the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, I could mostly see a big black blob, which was moving around. It is very difficult to see the fins, but at times, they were apparent. I turned on my camera and began filming, and was hoping that my battery, already low, wouldn’t die on me, AND that I could actually see the turtle in the view of the lens, which can prove difficult when shooting at angles while the camera is underwater and my eyes are above the water. I did manage to get a little footage of the turtle with the loose school of fish following in the shadow.

The turtle seemed to have no place to go, and was just hanging out, like I often see the Dolphin do. This time of year is nesting season for the Sea Turtles in our area, and we’ve already seen several nests on the beaches of South Walton. Perhaps this turtle is a female, waiting for the moment to lay her eggs in the darkness of night. She may also be trying to decide where the heck she can go onto the beach and avoid all of the holes dug by people, and the chairs, umbrellas, toys, canopies, etc, left behind on the beach by tourists. Since turtles go back to their own birthplace to lay their eggs, there isn’t much option for a female turtle to avoid all of the obstacles left behind by people, and still lay her eggs on the beach where she was born.

Please remember to do your part, and make it easier for the SeaTurtles to keep coming back to our beaches. SeaTurtles are just one of the beautiful things we have here, along the beaches of South Walton. Murray is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker. You can click here to go to his website, or contact Murray via email at: murraybalkcom@yahoo.com