Marine Biology

Turtle Shores



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Nina Stubblefield's image for:
"Turtle Shores"
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The sandy beaches sparkle in the semi darkness of the moonless light in the night sky as it had done long before time was every written. The waters in the deep blue were dark and cool rushing in and out onto the sandy shoreline. As each wave washed ashore, the sounds of the waves seem to be telling the sandy beaches the time was near.

A cool breeze drifted through the dunes kicking up bits of loose sand sending it into the air. High above the dunes, a silky whisper could be heard. The gentle giants of the deep will come this night.

Anchored deep in the sandy dunes supporting sea-grass and sprawling sea grapes trees the sandy dunes were alive with eyes in watchfulness laying in wait. Each pair of eyes waited for a natural phenomena and an event. A drama that had repeated in various places throughout the history of the earth.

There on the beaches joyfully playing in the sand, children were running from the waves as they rushed onto the shore. Some too young to know of the events of the night that were about to unfold before their eyes.

A call was heard over the wind and the waves. They're! coming they're coming ashore once more. All eyes turned toward the cool dark waters of the ocean. The children stopped and turned towards the sea with their hands lifted up over their eyes trying to see more. The waves seemed to part, revealing the gentle giants of the deep blue once again.

When the first loggerhead sea turtle emerged from the waves, the children screamed filling the night air as they ran as fast as their legs could carry them into the sand dunes.

The shoreline came alive with giant loggerhead turtles. Someone called them by their scientific name, Caretta, pulling their mast onto the sand. More calls could be heard far down the beach.

The turtles surfed the waves using their strong flippers and the water to help them onto shore. As they hit the sand, they pushed and pulled with their front and rear thick strong flipper, up onto the shoreline. It seemed improbable for the 350 pound turtle. She looked too big and too heavy to come ashore or to move her considerable size and weight up and onto the beach or pull herself into the dunes.

The air became heavy with breath, of the human kind. Above all, you could hear the turtles breathing as they struggled up the shoreline into the sandy dunes. They seemed to be searching for a place to dig a nest.

People watched from high on the sand dunes, other walked alongside the huge turtle who did not seem to notice the onlooker.

With every push forward you could hear the effect from the bird like jaw, as she opened and closed her mouth, with each breath she took it was labored and quick.

She turned paralleling the sand dunes until she found a place to dig.

The turtle made a shallow depression in the sand for her substantial body and started digging a hole with her hind flippers alternating scoops of sand as she dug a chamber. She was tossing sand into the air only for it to come back down all over and around her getting into her eyes. Like any human, her eyes began to water as the tears flowed down her face she washed away the sand yet, she dug until the chamber was the exactly length of her back flippers.

She seem to go into a semi-trance as she dropped three or four soft shell eggs at a time into the chamber, she was ensuring that the eggs would not break as they filled the chamber.

One of the children that had taken refuge in the dunes was brave enough to move behind the turtle just wanting to see why the turtle had dug a hole in the sand.

Once the turtle was done, she covered the eggs with her hind flippers and packed the sand down very firmly. She scattered the sand with all four of her flippers concealing and making it impossible to tell where the nests had been.

She was visibly tired from the exhausting work that was a labor for a chance at new life.

Eventually she started moving towards the sea, making tight circles as she went as if she had lost her way going home. Pausing at the first wave, the coolness of the wave washed over her. A whooshing sound was heard over the sounds of the waves. She seem to say, may you succeed my children, then she pushed her way into the deeper water of the big blue.

Few of Florida's beaches are hatching ground for the turtles of the deep. It's a moving experience to watch, yet you should never disturb these rare creatures of the deep blue or the labor of love hatching in their nests.

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More about this author: Nina Stubblefield

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