A double feature at the beach

The tides haven’t been favorable for early-morning walks on the beach this week, until this morning.  My intention was to go before sunrise, walk to the north to catch the sunrise, then turn back south in time to see the space shuttle launch.  Fortunately, I checked the news quickly before I headed out, only to find that the shuttle launch had been scrubbed because of a fuel leak.  It’s yet to be rescheduled.  So, I headed down to the beach, thinking that all I’d see was the sunrise.

But I was wrong.

Do not mess with my babies!

Do not mess with my babies!

I hadn’t gone too far, when I saw telltale marks in the sand, heading from the water to the dunes (or at least where the dunes would be if a condotel wasn’t there).  It looked like someone had dragged a body up the beach, but there were crescent-shaped marks dug into the sand on either side of the dragging.  Those crescent-shaped marks are made by the fins of a sea turtle, coming on shore to lay her eggs.  And there was an area of disturbed sand at the end of her tracks, so it looked like she was successful.

On my way back, the turtle patrol had arrived, and was taking their measurements and getting ready to stake out the nest.  It’s highly illegal to disturb a sea turtle nest, even if it is in the middle of a beach volleyball court (as this one is).  Turtle nesting season roughly corresponds to hurricane season, and sometimes the nests get flooded or washed away if we have a storm come through.  But if they make it, the little turtles will hatch out and head back to the ocean.  I’ve seen their tracks too, and even saw a few of the turtles themselves very early one morning – the stragglers from a nest that had hatched overnight.

So I got my double feature after all.  🙂

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