Sea Turtle Send Off

Will they hatch tonight?  That is the question sea turtle watchers on Holden Beach, NC ask this time of year.  We happened to be vacationing there last week, and our beach home for the week was situated right between two sea turtle nests.

Every evening we noticed groups of people in red “turtle patrol” t-shirts settling in to supervise turtle nests.

Friendly Turtle Patrol

The volunteer Turtle Patrol members were friendly, informative and fun-loving.  They seemed to be having a great time while they prepared to oversee the exodus of baby turtles from their relatively safe sandy nests into the big bad ocean.

The baby turtles need all the help they can get.  Survival rates for young sea turtles is anywhere from 1 in 1000 to 1 in 4000 depending on who you ask.  Not very good odds.  So people are moved to protect these vulnerable creatures.  Turtle patrol volunteers cover the nests with wire cages to keep predators out; if possible they count the eggs and make sure they are all accounted for when the nest hatches; they prepare a smooth path from the nest to the water; and they educate vacationers.  When asked what happens when the turtles make it to the water, one patrol member cheerfully said, “We wish them well!”

Escorting a baby sea turtle into the sea

We never saw any turtles emerge from their nests in our evening scouting expeditions, but one morning we noticed a rather large and growing crowd out on the beach.  Sure enough, one lonely turtle (first photo above) was working its way to the water.  I’m not really the turtle patrol type, but I have to admit I was pulling for the little guy as he doggedly scooched himself toward the sea.

A crowd anticipating some turtle hatchings

It was kind of fun to watch for baby turtles at the beach.  These little turtles are the picture of vulnerability, and I understand those who desire to improve their odds of survival even just a bit.

But the picture of people smoothing the way for infant turtles to enter dangerous waters suggests some things to me about our culture.  Actually, many things.  But I’m out of time for this post, so those thoughts will have to wait for the next one.

But first, I’d be very interested in what you see.   What does this picture tell you about our culture?

6 thoughts on “Sea Turtle Send Off

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  1. I first thought about the underdog thing, too. We like it when the little guy makes it. I think those turtles, big and small, have an innate knowledge given by our Creator. They would make it without us or maybe they wouldn’t. they just do what their inner clock tells them to do to survive. Sometimes, their predators or environment cause them to perish and that’s how their life is. So I don’t know if we’re interfering or helping. But we want to observe, we want to watch them because of this great mystery of how they live. We want to be part of it, so maybe the best we can do is clear a spot and get out of the way so we still get to share in the experience. We marvel in nature perhaps because it is so intuitive and we are so in control that we forget to listen. To err on the side of “life” is good.

    1. I love your thought on being part of one little turtle’s life and the mystery of what propels them into the water. Here’s to life!

  2. Well, I think that in our culture we all “pull for the underdog” and those babies are surely that! But also, we all secretly believe that “we” are the underdogs… And that finally, deep down, most of us value life which ultimately reflects the heart of God — 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

    1. So true – we identify with the underdog. I like your observation that we are the underdogs and that God is the One who patiently waits for us to make it to Him. Thanks Linda!

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