For over twenty years, I have gone to the beach like it was my job. I would drag my children there every weekend. Prince Charming knows my favorite date night is to watch the sunset from our beach chairs. I have written of this and I can envision living the rest of my years within reach of such glory.
One sight that has piqued my interest is the staked-off sea turtle nests. My consistent comment was, “I want to do that.” Which was immediately followed with, “How can I do that?” Between children and work, the morning routine barely allowed time for red lights. The sea turtle nests became, “One day I will do that.”
As my nest is now empty, I realized my season had arrived. I made inquiries. Through mutual friends, I spent a morning last summer with two sea turtle patrol volunteers. These gals were legit. They were permitted with the state, which means they were qualified to identify, dig, and verify that sea turtle eggs had been laid.
I asked about one hundred questions, and they knew the answers to all of them. After two hours, I had to leave (I do have an actual job) and they still had a massive stretch of beach to scout. They would be out til nearly noon that day, digging, measuring, recording and all that other sciencey stuff. Let’s not forget the sweating. Summer in Florida is no joke, y’all.
Even though my sea turtle dreams were on the verge of coming true, that task was too much for me. Then I learned of a less intense role that is sometimes available: simply walk a stretch of beach, make basic observations, plunk a couple of flags down, and report my findings. I would probably arrive at work on time. Perfect!
An email to the right person secured my name on a waiting list. Seven months later, I learned there were indeed openings, and I was welcome to join the ranks. Next up was two hours of in-depth training and a fifty-plus page manual. Equipped with all that, some flags and a t-shirt, I signed on for six months of a weekly, predawn commitment.
It happened. I am (finally) a Sea Turtle Patrol volunteer.
Yes, this is me on a Wednesday morning at like 6:30am. Pictured is a “false crawl”, where the momma sea turtle is not quite ready to stop and drop her eggs. This actually happens half of the time, even on beaches without people and furniture. It’s okay to be choosy when you’re a momma sea turtle checking out nesting locations.
On days when humans aren’t interfering (more on that in my next post), the nests hatch and the babies make it to the water. They have a challenging life ahead, as only one in every one thousand hatchlings will survive to age twenty-five, which is full maturity.
There are so many cool parts of this experience! First, it’s a 2-mile walk, so there’s the exercise factor. Watching the sunrise on the beach is incredibly beautiful and serene. Next, I learned a TON of information about sea turtles and the work that is done on their behalf in my own backyard.
It is an incredible feeling to contribute towards a cause that has captured my interest. I’m beyond grateful to finally have the opportunity after TWENTY YEARS of waiting.
It would have been easy to continue ignoring that little nudge. All this took some effort, emails, training, buying the right shoes, and making room in my schedule. Leaving my house before daylight is no small thing.
What am I hoping you’ll take away from the 8 minutes you just spent reading this? That it is NEVER too late to do something that makes your heart sing. What is on your list?
One of these days I will _______.
Someday I am going to _______.
I have always wanted to ________.
Fill in the blanks. And then do it!!
Thanks for reading, until next time,
“This sea turtle monitoring, research, or rescue was conducted under Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Marine Turtle Permits.”