That’s what I’d begun calling them. The mornings I walked a stretch of beach in search of sea turtle flipper tracks hopefully leading to a nest holding around 120 precious eggs. Alas, my walks proved futile for eggs anyway, but awarded my early rousing with some of the most spectacular sunrises I’ve seen over the ocean.
Arise pre-dawn, feed my husky-mix rescue Lily, walk through the dark, quiet neighborhood. Lily cannot accompany me on these walks as the local county government does not permit dogs on beaches from April 1-September 30.
So I begin at the southernmost end of the island at the inlet mouth, just at first light. I walk the high tide mark, around the quiet point to where the breakers begin. There is a bird sanctuary here and June and July greeted me with squawks, screams and shrill cries of parent terns, plovers, gulls, pipers and who knows what other birds warning me not to come too near their nests or wandering babies. And this area is strictly guarded, not just by obstreperous fowl but by the local Audubon and nature conservancy. I continue on my way past softly rolling dunes first sprouting short, stubby beach grasses which gradually grow to graceful sea oats and reeds swaying in the calm sea breeze.
My walk is not long, maybe 3/4 of a mile or a mile to Crystal Pier where the popular restaurant at the base of the pier is dark– a remarkable contrast to its popular nightly crowd regaling the catches of the day and fresh vegetables.
On my way back to my car I allow myself the luxury of walking in the incoming tide, feeling the cool waves wash over my feet, occasionally splashing through sea foam. Skittering pipers quickly digging their beaks into the sand, darting out of harm’s way of the humans.
Our beach had 4 nests this year two of which have “boiled” and the excavations found no remaining baby turtles. The third nest will likely hatch this weekend, the 4th sometime in October.
Of the babies, only a handful of the maybe 120 eggs will swim to a place between here and Bermuda knows as Sargasso Sea for the seaweed there, where they will live for several years eating plankton and small shrimp, jellyfish and other sea creatures until they are old enough to follow the gulf stream.
Swim well little ones!