One Turtle at a Time

Our last morning at Oak Island I was packing up the villa and stopped to take the dogs for their last hoorah on the beach. I noticed the turtle patrol ladies digging in a hole right at the beach access I had used all week.

A little back story here. I know all about these turtle ladies, creatures of the night who stalk the nest sites every year for returning turtle mommas who lay their eggs near the dunes and leave. I’m not sure if they’re actually called turtle patrol but that’s what I always called them. They use their red lights to check on the nests at night when no one is really on the beach because that’s when most nests will hatch. They also drive golf carts around during the day looking for nests. I lived at Holden Beach for 3 years in my 20’s and many times witnessed these die hard protectors of nature scolding careless tourists for messing around the nesting areas. But I NEVER ONCE SAW A TURTLE.

So this morning when I saw them at my beach access at Oak Island NC I was super excited.

We went down to the beach and saw one of the ladies releasing a bucketful of baby turtles and trying to get overly pushy tourists out of the way so they could make it to the water without getting stepped on. They were much more patient than I would have been.

Then as I was leaving to go get the kids and tell them, some guy came up through the parking lot carrying one in his hand and asking if anyone wanted it. Said he found it in the road. 🤦🏼‍♀️ When he refused my request to give it to the ladies digging out the nest in lieu of taking selfies with it and letting his kids hold it I TOTALLY TATTLED ON HIM. So then they asked him for it and he said “are you sure you are going to release it?” And wouldn’t hand it over. I guess at first I didn’t realize that never having lived at the beach this guy just didn’t get it.

As I looked at him holding the turtle up away from the lady like it was a dog treat and he was teasing her, I wondered if he’d ever really been kicked in the shin. I definitely judged him as an irritating human oaf at that moment. But In the end he gave it up and the lady told him to make sure he washed his hands as they carry salmonella. He looked back over his shoulder and said “yeah ok” and I thought to myself “I hope he licks his fingers”….

He was obviously just oblivious to how special this was. Most of these species are endangered or threatened and after all he did save it. So, I forgive him for being jerky.

Then I got to thinking… I didn’t realize they would go the wrong way! I heard them say there were 106 eggs in the nest and they had only accounted for 94 of the turtles and were hoping the others had made it to the ocean on their own. “Well” I thought, “if this dude can find one then their might be more going the wrong way!” Luckily I had successfully hunted up 3 shark’s teeth the night before and my eyes were tuned in and ready for the Hunt. 😊

I found one in the parking lot across the street. A really busy street btw.

And one in the yard of a beach house next door.

I was soooo excited to be part of that after all these years! Good luck little girls! (Wikipedia said gender is determined by outside temp and girls are hatched when it’s warm) In the end there were 104 hatched eggs and 96 accounted for. That’s not too bad. We were a little late packing up since I was busy “a huntin’ me some turtle babies” and got locked out of the automatic lock on the beach villa about 15 minutes past 10 but I think we got most everything out. Totally worth it. ❤️

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