Swimming with Sea Turtles

Bald Head Island has a fantastic sea turtle conservation program. The kids have really been into sea turtles this summer, so it was wonderful to get a chance to learn more about them and see them in real life. The Conservancy volunteers and interns patrol the beaches in the evenings when sea turtles come up to nest and mark each nest with a wire cage to prevent predators or people from disturbing the eggs. After the eggs are ready to hatch, a volunteer is assigned to each nest to help the babies make it to the ocean without getting eaten by foxes, crabs or sea gulls. Above you can see a nest that has just begun to boil (when the eggs hatch and the turtles are climbing out it looks like the sand is boiling) and notice the chute that the volunteers made to help the turtles not wander off on their way to the ocean.
A few days after a nest hatches, the Conservancy does an excavation to make sure all of the babies got out. They dig out the eggs and make notes and help the stragglers to the sea. Above one of the Conservancy staff is getting ready to excavate a nest – it was neat to get to see it and the kids were really fascinated.
This little guy hatched as they pulled his egg out of the nest! Jack likes to pretend to be a sea turtle and hatch out of eggs. “I not Jack, I sea toe-toe! Baby one! In da aigg! I come outta dere an I SWIM!”
The intern made sure all the kids got a chance to see a baby sea turtle up close, which I thought was really nice.
Then they let the turtles free and the tide was so high that the babies kept getting washed back amidst our feet! The conservancy people yelled for us to stay put and NOT MOVE so they could find the little turtles and get them back to the right spot. It was not exactly as they planned, but very cool for us to have the turtles swimming right around our feet! That is why I think we can claim to have been swimming with sea turtles. Really they were swimming and we were just standing there in the water, but that doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Sadly the tide got so high that several other nests got submerged and they had to do some emergency excavations to make sure the turtles could get out.
Sarah had a harder time walking in the water than the rest of us did.
We made our way back to the beach house by wading through the tide pools.
Sarah couldn’t hold out and fell asleep on the walk back home.

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