Sunday, July 20, 2008

Saving loggerheads

I am at the beach and am leaving tomorrow to go home. All week I've been watching the loggerhead turtle nests, hoping to see a hatching. Every night I after dark I would walk to the nests and see absolutely no change. But tonight, one of the nests had a three inch hole that appeared to be about 6 inches deep. I went home and got a chair and a flashlight, and a few kids to accompany me. We set up our chairs to watch for the hatching. Within 3 minutes of getting there, the hole caved in further and started squirming (top picture). Even though there was a full moon, clouds completely obscured it. Some of the houses had their lights on and the turtles started heading for the houses, not the ocean. They would all have headed to the houses and not made it. (I saw baby turtles on my street last year who had headed inland toward the artificial lights and died.) I shone my flashlight on them and they immediately turned toward it. With flashlights and cellphones we led all of them to the ocean. I've witnessed a hatching before (and two nestings!) but have never felt like my participation made a difference, until tonight.