Monday, September 17, 2007

Holden Turtles

Well, I'm back from a week at Holden Beach, North Carolina with the kids (and Oma, Grandpa, and my sister's whole family of 7). It was loads of fun. This was the first year that my sons took a real liking to the waves, either jumping them or riding them on boogie boards. Lil Mis "L" was scared to death of the water for the first half of the week. Granted the waves were pretty ginormous, but even after she was OK with wading in knee deep, she'd completely freak out if she saw me out there swimming.

The most exciting part of our stay this year (no we weren't evacuated this time) was the nest of sea turtle eggs right near the dunes by "our" place. Not only that, but it was the week that they were expected to hatch! Now I didn't see the nest "boil" as they say. (That's when the sand bubbles up because the baby turtles are pushing their way up and out.) But I did see the most adorable little tracks in the sand one morning. Sea turtles are heavily protected on Holden Beach. They've got a Turtle Patrol specially equipped with red t-shirts and ball caps monitoring the whole process. They had the nest taped off and they dug a trench out to the water to give the hatchlings a better chance of making it to the sea. Two days after the hatch, the Turtle Patrol noticed a crab hole down in the nest, so they carefully hand dug up any remaining eggs or hatchlings. There were five babies left. I asked if I could touch one of the broken pieces of shell. Would you believe it's ILLEGAL to touch a piece of shell? I can understand why touching the endangered turtles would be a problem, but a discarded piece of turtle eggshell? C'mon. I wasn't asking to keep it. Oh well. We all got to watch them walk the trench, some much faster than others. We placed our bets and named them, but since they all looked the same it was hard to be sure who really "won". They didn't crawl into the ocean either, they were collected at the end of the trench and then placed in the water. A thunderstorm was approaching and the Patrollers wanted to speed things along a bit. Still pretty amazing. Most likely a once in a lifetime experience.

*Because the turtles are attracted to light, we weren't allowed to use flash photography, so I didn't bother taking any pictures since it was dusky when they made their way down the beach. The one I found online, however is pretty good and shows the cute little tracks they make, like the ones I saw.