Monday, August 28, 2006

On Sea Turtles

After checking out our beach rental, we were delighted to find that a sea turtle nest was at the end of our walkway to the beach. Even more exciting, there was a crack in the sand, a sign that hatching would most likely occur that night.

After settling in to the house and having dinner, we took our places near the nest, which was sectioned off with orange tape. Nothing appeared to be happening at first, but the volunteers, mostly local retirees who are trained in turtle hatching, assured us this was the night. Sure enough, the ground soon looked like turtles boiling out of the sand.

One by one, tiny sea turtles made their way down a chute dug in the sand by volunteers. When they had crawled about 6 feet down the sand chute, they were picked up by a volunteer, inspected, and placed in a plastic tub. After quite a few were collected, they were carried to the sea and released. This is supposed to give the turtles a better chance of making it to the ocean without being picked off by a seagull or crab or human foot. They seemed so very vunerable, I couldn't help but think of the large sea monsters that were waiting for a midnight snack.

As we watched, the night sky darkened, and lanters were put at the end of the chute to guide the turtles which followed the light. We were cautioned not to take flash photos. I grabbed my digital, set it to "no flash" and took this useless photo:

As you can't see, there are no turtles visible. So, not thinking, I set my camera to "night shot", not knowing it would then turn on my flash, so that I got this shot:

The flash went off like a lightening strike. Immediately, a groans, boos and dismay issued from my fellow bystanders while a volunteer loudly reissued the "no flash" policy. "You've just blinded a baby turtle." I shrank back, muttering in my mind, "I didn't mean to!" Thankfully, the flash was such a shock, that no one knew WHO took that photo, including my sister standing next to me.

So if you ever encounter a blind sea turtle, I can explain how that happened. It was a technology malfunction. Really. I didn't mean to.

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