Atlantic Beachlife was live on the scene last night when a nest of loggerhead sea turtles hatched. Arriving with our crew as the final group of turtles were at the shoreline, we followed the last straggler of this sibling group of more than one hundred find its way to the water’s edge. It was waddling gamely but seemingly confused, while the trained volunteers of the Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol assisted. They gently turned and guided it several times, until the tiny marine reptile finally found the water’s edge and was carried away by an outgoing wave.
The birth of any baby brings out the best in people, and sea turtles are no exception. Tonight, families were seen hugging, tearful with joy to be part of this rather rare and fleeting moment (a nest can hatch and baby turtles dispersed within 10 or 15 minutes), and snapping photos with camera phones. Everyone on site was careful to observe the no-flash photography rule, and no one even tried to touch a baby but the gloved specialists who were on hand for the hatching. Unfortunately not everyone who lives at the coastline understands (or cares?) that dimming or dousing their ocean-facing window lights is de rigueur along our beaches during sea turtle season, which runs from May 1 to October 31. This year, there appears to be an abundance of nests in our area, and we observed that several were wrapped in the rear with blackout sheeting. We have observed in the past that many of the oceanfront homes and condos have lights blazing inside which can confuse the little ones, who have a long and treacherous journey to maturity.
Only one per one thousand live births will actually live to maturity. At the ripe young age of fifty years old, a surviving female, will return to lay her eggs at the site of her birth. That means that of the hundreds of sea turtles born during this season, probably just one will be back, nearly two generations from now, to perpetuate the species. Perhaps you will be on this beach with your (great?)granchildren, and will pass on the lessons of caring for these endangered creatures.
Enjoy the video shot by our reporter, Jeannie Greenwald.