A portion of my time in North Carolina was spent at the beach in Oak Island with several of my most favorite family members. Right in front of our little beachfront bungalow happened to be a loggerhead sea turtle nest that, according to the nest volunteers, was due to hatch any day. We were all hopeful and checked on the nest frequently throughout the week trying to will something to happen. My mom was undoubtedly the most fervent in her nest devotion and spent several hours each night in her little beach chair on watch. She befriended the volunteers and even gave them her phone number, insisting that they call her if any signs of hatching showed.
Around 10:30 pm our last night there, her phone buzzed with a text: "we have a depression". We were immediately taken over by excitement, waking the sleeping members of the house and hurrying out into the night. Sure enough, there were two small divots in the sand that were new. The waiting began.
Over the course of an hour and a half, the two depressions slowly deepened, eventually merging together, and finally expanding into a circular sunken area about 10 inches wide. Our whole viewing experience was at the mercy of a single volunteer who alone held the power of the turtle-approved red flashlight (no other lights were allowed). At one point, distracted by spectator questions, she had the light off for about a minute. The next time she clicked her flashlight on, it was happening. In the cutest frenzy ever, the little turtles were emerging from the sand by the dozens and the lot of us erupted in a chorus of squeals and gasps.
|photo sourced from web. we couldn't take any photos but hopefully this gives you an idea of the cuteness level we were dealing with.|
We all watched in wonder as more than 100 teeny turtle babies scooted to the sea. I think the setting of night made it even more mysterious and exciting. It was a unique human experience to quietly wait alongside 50+ strangers in the dark, all sharing a curiosity and care for some teeny marine reptiles. I'm so thankful they made their debut while we were still there. The memory of the first one disappearing into the water and the sight of their little track marks in the sand are things I'll never forget. I wanted to hold one so bad but, alas, "knowing better" is the plight of adulthood responsibility.
This is the only photo I have from the night & was taken after they were all in the ocean. My expression is a good indication of how I felt internally the entire time - it was amazing. This earth is full of wonders.
I love nature and I love those little babies.
. . .