The first night we were at the beach, Alex and I went for a sunset walk. A little farther ahead of where we planned to walk, we saw a huge group gathering. We had stumbled upon turtle rescue digging up a hatched nest.
3 days after the boil, turtle rescue digs up the nest to inventory eggs and release any turtles that didn't make it out in the boil. On the first night, they found 30 babies in the nest! After sunset (super dark), they drew lines in the sand and volunteers/onlookers stood on the sides. Then they released the turtles in the sand. The turtles made their way to the ocean and then swam out. It was magical!
A few days later, turtle rescue came out to set up a channel at a nest right by our beach house. We became STALKERS. Every morning and every night and every walk in between, we checked on the nest.
Then one morning it was about to rain so I went for a walk by myself. AND THERE WAS A HOLE IN THE TOP OF THE NEST!
This was also weird to me because it never looks like this. I peeked inside the nest to see a baby turtle sitting right there! And that was not good, because birds will swoop right down in daytime to eat turtles. I called the turtle rescue number on the nest sign and they asked me to pick him up, hold him, and keep him warm until they could come get him. YES!
I thought he would be super calm but he was so ready to crawl crawl crawl! He kept digging into my hands and trying to climb away. The rescue people checked the nest and found one more turtle. They searched the nest, assumed the boil happened overnight during a rainstorm, and said they would dig up the nest Saturday night.
The next morning, I went for another walk and checked on the nest again. AND FOUND THREE MORE BABIES!
I called rescue again and they told me to pick up any turtles that got out, and wait until they got there. This guy got out.
When rescue showed up, they decided to dig up the nest immediately so the turtles wouldn't dig out all day and get eaten. Then they would come back and release them at night. I ran home as fast as possible to grab the boys and the big camera. And we got the super rare experience of watching a day time turtle nest excavation.
The rescue people were amazing, so patient explaining everything and answering the boys' questions. They also encouraged me to take photos, which I sent along to them.
This is what the inside of the nest looks like during a boil - babies climbing out. They said I may never get to see this again in my life because it is a nighttime event.
Normally during the boil, all the climbing around of the turtles causes their "umbilical cords" to fall off, but there were a few turtles where this was still attached.
This is part of the rescue job: counting hatched and unhatched eggs, and checking on all the babies.
The boys got assigned various jobs, like counting the number of turtles they found.
There was one egg with a crack in it so they asked Alex to keep it warm until they could rebury it. He wanted to hold it until it hatched.
One egg they pulled out JUST started to hatch, so we got to see the baby come out of it's shell!!!!!
RIDICULOUS RIGHT? (After this photo, they put the turtle on the sand to finish hatching there.) At the end of it, they were about 30 more babies to release.
There were about 120 eggshells to throw back in the nest, which then put nutrients back in the sand. While Alex held the egg, they asked Nate to put all the shells back.
Then they refill the hole and smooth down the dune.
BUT THAT IS NOT ALL!!!!!
I emailed photos and they emailed me back to let me know they would release the turtles that night at the same location. Our whole family went, expecting to see another sand release. Instead due to the cold weather and a bad release the previous night, they decided to release them in the water.
So they put the turtles in the sand to crawl for a little to help activate their internal GPS. Then they asked volunteers to get a basket of turtles, walk them out into waist-deep water, pick them up and release them with the help of the rescue people.
AND!!! They said, "Since you're the one who prompted all this, do you want to go first?" YES YES YES.
Nate and I got a basket of turtles, waded out, and released them one by one into the water. Never in my lifetime will I forget watching sea turtles swim away. Sometimes the waves would push them back so they would swim into our legs or around us. I helped Alex with a basket of turtles, then Nate with one more basket. There were tiny turtles swimming everywhere. Tons of squeals of delight and laughter.
It was an amazing incredible top 10 day in my life. Pure magic.