The way of the Turtle, Nesting season do's and don'ts
I sometimes wonder if I was a turtle in a past life because I feel like one most days, or I can at least relate to their vibe. I have said that I am turtle because I tend to “hide in my shell” unless I feel like swimming. But there is much more about their spiritual impact on human history that I learned over the years making me fall in love with them even more and is why I always wear a turtle necklace. Having the turtle as totem means that you have an affinity with the ancient wisdom of the earth. You are naturally tuned into the elements, land, plants, people and animals. You carry your home on your back figuratively speaking and feel at ease wherever you are. Definitely my vibe.
Another cool ancient secret about the turtle is that many indigenous cultures called earth and North America turtle island because they believed their land was formed on a turtle back. Some tribes used turtle shells as lunar calendars. Depending on how we measure a lunar month, the moon goes around the earth in approximately 28 days. This means that in one year (365 days), the moon goes around 13 times, giving us 13 lunar months with 28 days each. A turtle’s shell has the same pattern of numbers of lunar months in a year and days in a lunar month. I could go on and on about ancient stories of the turtle, but I shall stick to a few fun facts about the sea turtles and the importance of turtle nesting season beach etiquette since it is officially nesting season.
The oldest known sea turtle fossil is at least 120 million years old, meaning they are some of the oldest animals to inhabit the planet and existed with dinosaurs. We have 5 species of sea turtles that we see here in Florida, Loggerhead, Leatherback, Green Turtle, Hawksbill, and Kemp’s Ridley. The Loggerhead is the most abundant species of sea turtle found in the US Coastal waters of the Atlantic and it is also the largest hard-shell turtle in the world. The leatherback and has a shell that feels just as it sounds, soft and leathery, and is the largest turtle on earth, growing up to seven feet long and exceeding 2,000 pounds. The Green turtles are the “ocean’s lawnmowers” because they eat a lot of sea grass, so much so that the layer of fat under their shell is green and where they get the name. The Hawksbill is one of the smallest sea turtles and is critically endangered. Hawksbill sea turtles have pointed beaks and beautiful brightly colored shells. Kemp’s ridley sea turtle is the world’s smallest sea turtle reaching only about two feet in length and 100lb, and they are the only sea turtle to lay their eggs during the day. They are also critically endangered.
Sea Turtles are not only one of the cutest creatures of the sea, but they also have very important rolls in the ecosystem, so it is vital that we work hard on conservation of these spectacular animals. Keeping our oceans, estuaries and beaches clean is most important thing we can do to protect them. From May until October Females of these 5 species come to our beaches to lay their eggs. What is pretty amazing is that the turtles come back to the same beach they hatched from to lay their eggs when its time. The temperature of the sand determines the gender of the turtle, the hotter the sand the more female turtles. Only one out of every thousand hatchings will make it to adulthood, and they can live for about 100 years which is also about the number of eggs a female turtle will lay.
There are a few very important do’s and don’t’s during turtle nesting season for locals and tourist.
~ Do not disturb markers or protective screening over turtle nests. These nests are being studied and protected.
~ When sea turtles hatch, they follow the moon’s light to make their way into the water. Sea turtle hatchlings often mistake artificial light sources such as flashlights or streetlamps for the light of the moon, and head towards those lights and fail to make it to the ocean. Because of this it is important to not use artificial light near beaches or on boats.
~ Don't disturb a turtle that is crawling to or from the ocean or laying eggs. Watch from a distance of at least 30 feet.
~ Fill in any holes you dig while playing at the beach
~ LEAVE NO TRACE, pick up all your trash and in fact leave with more trash than what you came with.
And as always try to make one choice a day that helps keep our oceans clean, with no blue there is no green. Until next time stay salty.
A big Congratulations to Brooke, Aaron and Katies oldest daughter who graduated High School and will be enjoying her summer before she heads off to Flager College in the fall!