I saw a post on Facebook about a special sunset cruise where 3 green sea turtles would be released back into the bay. I called and reserved seats for Diane and Karl to go with me.
The cruise was on April 11th, this was also the first day of my Turtle Patrol.
Overnight Wed. Apr. 10th to Thurs. Apr. 11th, the weather was stormy, rainy and very windy. The "Mama" sea turtles like to come ashore to nest on windy days.
My patrol was scheduled to start at 8am, it was still raining and windy. I delayed my start until 9am. The shore was in bad shape. The tides were high and it was still windy.
click on pictures to enlarge
We are assigned a zone that is around 1.5 miles long. You slowly walk the zone, take a break, and walk back to the starting point. My GPS watch calculated the zone at 1.8 miles, one way. I also walk to the beginning of the zone from my RV site, so it's 5 - 6 miles total.
The beach was hidden under the high tide, I was walking on the dunes and sometimes at the edge of the water. There was no one else on the beach. The winds had started to slow down, but the waves were still high. It was actually quite peaceful walking along alone, looking for signs of sea turtles.
We are looking for tracks made by the turtles as they go up towards the dunes to lay their eggs. If we are lucky, we will actually see a turtle making the nest and laying the eggs.
I did not see any turtles on Thursday morning. I saw some 'disturbed sand' that looked like the pictures of nests that we were shown. I met the director of Sea Turtle Inc at that site, he checked it out and did not find a nest. He gave me more tips on what to look for on my next patrol.
Our sunset cruise was from 6pm - 8pm. It was a dolphin watch, sunset cruise, and turtle release. The weather continued to improve during the day, the temps were lower than normal, but the sun warmed us.
The boat went out to a cove at the south end of the island. Wow, there were dolphins everywhere. I said to the kids that it looked like they set this up. But Jeff, the director of Sea Turtle Inc said he had never seen so many dolphins in one place. I did not take any still pictures, but have a few video clips from my phone. I posted them on Facebook and have to figure out how to get the videos on the blog. I will make a separate post for the videos.
The boat stayed in this area for almost an hour. We saw many dolphins including some babies. Then it was time to move over to South Bay.
The turtles being released were Green Sea Turtles that feed on sea grass. Jeff said they would stay in the bay until they were 250# then they would move into the Gulf.
These turtles were small, wonder how long it will take them to get to that size.
Thursday was a great day on the Island. Sea Turtles and Dolphins and a fun cruise with the kids.