It was a pitch dark, warm evening as a small crowd gathered at the beach, the designated meeting point for our Authentic Florida adventure. A Sea Turtle Preservation Society volunteer cheerfully greeted and gave us an idea of what to expect for the evening.
We were about to experience one of the most magical wonders of Florida – a giant loggerhead sea turtle laying her eggs on the beach.
Before the walk, we heard a presentation on sea turtles as volunteer “advance” scouts spotted one emerging onto the beach to dig her nest.
We were then instructed to walk quietly, single file, along the water’s edge following the lead volunteer while being reminded that flashlights or flash photography were strictly prohibited. Infrared lights were used to lead us and to illuminate the hole in which the mama turtle was dutifully laying her eggs. She sat in a trance-like state oblivious to all around her.
Prior to our arrival, she had trekked from the water’s edge across the beach towards the sand dunes, fastidiously scooping out a deep cavity with her flippers. Situating her 200-350 pound body over the pit, she slowly began to drop her eggs.
For almost an hour we watched in amazement while the mother turtle dropped around 100 ping-pong sized leathery eggs into the cylindrical sandy hole. Following her egg deposit, she then carefully covered her nest with the sand, and upon regaining her energy, slowly crawled back to the water’s edge and into the ocean, disappearing into the darkness of the vast ocean.