See The World
Seek Adventure Travel Happy
About six weeks ago my boyfriend, Kyle, and I met down in Ft. Lauderdale, FL for a nice 5-day vacation. Weather was great, beach was amazing, and the World Cup was just starting. Perfect week.
Walking down the beach we noticed dozens of blocked off areas with posts and caution signs.
It was sea turtle nesting season. There were dozens of nests just on the beach in front of our hotel and hundreds more stretching down the coastline.
I have never seen a sea turtle outside of a zoo, and to think that there were hundreds, more like thousands, of little sea turtle eggs all around us was such an exciting thought! Being a nature and wildlife enthusiast, Kyle was ecstatic, and kept on talking about how much he would love to see the hatchlings or get to see one of the females nest.
A Little Bit on the Sea Turtles
- Most common sea turtle
- Average of 275 lbs. 3ft. in length
Green: Named for their green body fat.
- Average of 350 lbs. and just over 3ft. in length
Leatherback: Named for their firm, leathery skin instead of
a shell made of scales or shields.
- Can weigh between 500 - 1,500 lbs. and average 6ft. in
- Only 30-60 of these nest in Florida each year.
I couldn't stop thinking about how crazy it was that hundreds of these nests are in the middle of such a busy beach with a bustling nightlife right across the street.
Or should I say...
... how crazy it is that there are so many people in the middle of such a sensitive and important area for one of the most endangered sea animals.
We were wondering who sets up these nests, who watches over them, who's there when the hatchlings emerge?
On our last night we went out for a long walk down the beach. We were determined to see a turtle or see one of the nests hatch. It didn't take long until we came to one of the nests and found a couple of people standing by it and flashing a red LED light over it. Assuming they must be the people involved in setting up the nests, Kyle didn't hesitate to go and find out more from them.
Check STOP's facebook page here and their website here.
There's a lot of ignorant people out there.
Not only does STOP help the hatchlings, but they also make sure the females aren't disturbed when they come to the beach to nest. They told us stories of people surrounding the turtles when they're nesting, taking pictures with flash, drunk tourists yelling at the turtles, and even a mother who once put her child on top of a turtle to ride it so she could take a picture. Really?! It's only natural people will be in awe of these animals, but we have to learn to respect them.
The volunteers told us of a leatherback nest that had just hatched the previous night and that there might still be a few hatchlings left to emerge. Kyle exchanged contact info with them and we made our way to the other nest.
We were sad we missed out on the hatching of this magnificent dinosaur by one day, but were excited to learn a bit more about this fragile ecosystem when we met up with another volunteer at the nest.
In the Thunderstorm
We decided to make one last walk down the beach to try and see a turtle before making our way back to the hotel and calling it a night.
It's only a few minutes into our walk when Kyle says, "Is that a turtle? No it's a boulder. Nope, definitely a turtle!" We were so excited. We had come across a loggerhead turtle nesting just 20 feet from us. Kyle called the volunteers right away and they said they were on their way over.
We sat with them in silence, just in awe of what an amazing moment we were experiencing. I wish we had pictures, but we didn't want to use flash and disturb the turtle. It seemed as if it was in a trance-like state.
It was an absolutely unforgettable experience. What made it even more unforgettable was the storm that rolled in. It was a downpour, and we still sat there, getting absolutely drenched on a beach, at night, watching a loggerhead sea turtle lay eggs. After about 10 minutes when the storm only got stronger and Kyle noticed I was shivering, he hesitantly agreed to head back to the hotel.
When traveling, let's respect the land, respect the wildlife, respect the ecosystems. Be in awe of all the wonderful and beautiful things you experience, but don't overstep the boundaries. Let it be. Do what you can to help; whether it's supporting these conservation organizations or going on eco tours to learn more about the land.
In Ft. Lauderdale they offer midnight tours on the beach with sea turtle experts to check out the nesting sights and possibly witness a hatching or nesting yourself!
Research eco tours on your next trip!
Hi there! I'm Skeeter. I grew up moving a lot and that makes me a bit restless for travel and exploration. I started this blog with my husband Pat when we decided to backpack New Zealand for a year. We are always looking for the next adventure and are loving life. We're just your average couple with two sassy dogs and a love for travel. We're sharing our travels and the tips we pick up along the way.
Hello! I'm Liz. Blogging is very new to me, but I'm so excited to finally write as much as I talk!
"Don't forget to travel happy"-Skeeter & Liz