As I finish packing up my things, I can’t help but think of the things that have happened this summer. First off, my teenage years ended— thank god, those were rough. Even though I am not a fan of the heat, summer is always enjoyable for me. I’m not just saying that because I am free from classes because I took Summer A. I took College Physics I expecting the worse and managed to end up with an A. Believe me, my mind is still blown at the A. Plus, I went to the beach after almost every test!
At the end of June, I went on a turtle walk. What’s a turtle walk? Well, it is to watch sea turtles nest. They are offered by LMC. We meet at the center around 9 PM. Then, there is a presentation teaching us about the laws and about the sea turtles in general. I went on a volunteer walk, which meant we were all volunteers so we just chilled. There are scouts on the beach looking for a turtle. When they see one, they can’t call us out yet. The scouts have to wait until the turtle starts the nest because false crawls are frequent. False crawls are when the sea turtle comes to shore but then decides to go back into the water.
It truly was an amazing experience that I will never forget. There was a beautiful full moon out and there was a thunderstorm north of us, which was awesome because we saw a lot of heat lightning and regular lightning while being safe. The sea turtle we watched wasn’t huge; it was about the size of some of the loggerheads we have at the center. They get so exhausted after they lay their eggs, but they manage to keep going. After they lay their eggs, they camouflage their nests! After they’re done, it looks as if they were never there. While this particular sea turtle was camouflaging, we looked south and saw another turtle emerge from the ocean. It seriously looks like a giant rock is coming out of the ocean. It was amazing! If you ever get a chance to go on a turtle walk, I strongly suggest you do!
Yesterday was my last shift at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center for the summer. On Monday, I move back to Fort Myers. The last shift is always extremely emotional. The center is my happy place and I love spending time there so moving back to school is always bittersweet. Saying goodbye to the turtles is always difficult. I’ve gotten to see them recover from their injuries or their sickness. By the time I come back to volunteer next summer, these turtles will have been fully rehabilitated and released back into the ocean.
It’s truly beautiful to watch these sea turtles from the day they are brought in to the day they are released back into the ocean. When they first come in, they are in bad shape and it’s sad to see them like that. Some come in with large barnacles, some come in very skinny, and some come in with a boat strike or a shark attack. For the first few days, the sea turtles are placed in freshwater. Why? They sit in the freshwater to kill any bacteria and to clean their carapace. Also, they are put in low water so that they don’t have to exert a lot of energy to take a breathe.
After a few days, they are put in salt water and the water level in their tanks rises to the normal level. They are treated by our vets in our hospital and are taken out of the tanks when needed. And so begins the recovery process for these beautiful creatures. They all have their own personalities so it’s really a sight to see.
My shift was cut short because of a looming thunderstorm. Thirty minutes before the end of my shift, the rain intensely hit the ground along with loud booms of thunder. Of course, the turtles are not bothered by this, but the turtle yard gets closed if there is lightning close by. I was sad to see my last shift of the year end early, but being that is summer in Florida it is no surprise that a thunderstorm came from what seemed like nowhere.
I don’t know if you’ve heard but on Friday two fourteen-year-old boys went missing while on a fishing trip. I have been following this story since Friday evening. They were last seen filling up their boat with gas near the Jupiter Inlet. It’s really a heartbreaking story, especially since I live close to Jupiter. They have yet to be found, but the search has extended all the way up to Savannah, Georgia. The weather conditions were horrible that Friday afternoon. Their 19-foot boat was found capsized near Cape Canaveral, FL on Sunday. You may be thinking why would two fourteen-year-old boys be allowed to go on a boat on their own? Well, in Florida, a lot of people grow up boating. However, with those weather conditions, I question the parents, but this is not about that.
This story should be seen as an eye opener. Of course, prayers go out to the family of Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen. This story is the perfect example of why it is so important that we respect the ocean. Yes, the mothers of the boys said that they were very resourceful, but with the conditions, it wasn’t safe to be out there, regardless of how old you are. The ocean is a very wild and unpredictable place. Also, storms in Florida are fairly unpredictable. I don’t care who you are or what skills you have, respect the ocean!
Just like you should respect all the animals in the ocean, you need to respect the ocean. I’ve written about how we need to respect sharks. Well, this is very similar, except for the fact that the ocean isn’t an animal. Before you go out, check the weather (the radar is the best way to go). In the state of Florida, it is required to have certain things in the boat for safety purposes. You can read about them here! Also, know the currents. Those boys, unfortunately, were probably pulled up from the Gulf Stream.
It is really unfortunate to have a story like this, but sending positive vibes to the search!
Who doesn’t love the beach? Many people, including myself, consider the beach to be their happy place or go-to place. Don’t you want to keep the beach beautiful? If so, pick up the trash you see. It’s as simple as that.
Download the app Clean Swell. Clean Swell uses your location. All you have to do is every time you pick up a piece of trash you put that data on the app. Say you pick up a cigarette bud, you put it in your trash bag and then go to Start Collecting and then add it.
The Australian flatback is a sea turtle that I am just learning about. I had actually never heard of this species until my senior year in high school while I was volunteering for Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s annual Turtle Fest. They get their name because their shell is fairly flat. Unfortunately, having a flat shell means it can be damaged very easily. Like the green sea turtle, the Australian flatback has five scutes down the middle and 4 lateral scutes.
Unlike every other species of sea turtles, the Australian flatback enjoys living in turbid waters. I guess I will never get to see one in the wild since I prefer staying away from the water where I can’t see my surroundings. These sea turtles have a very small range. Like their name suggests, they are only found on the coasts of Australia. What’s really amazing is that this species is listed as Vulnerable despite their small population.
The Australian flatback can weigh up to 200 pounds. Like the loggerheads and the ridley sea turtles, they enjoy feasting on mollusks. They also like to eat jellyfish, sea cucumbers, and seaweed. Having said that, you can see that the Australian flatback is not a picky eater!
Aaaaand that brings the end to my All About Sea Turtles segment! I hope you enjoyed learning about the 7 different species of sea turtles. Not to worry, this is not the last of my sea turtle talks!
The end of my All About Sea Turtles segment is near.
The kemp’s ridley sea turtle is not the only ridley sea turtle. There is also the more common olive ridley. The olive ridley sea turtle is the most abundant out of all of the sea turtles yet it is still listed as Endangered in Mexico and Threatened everywhere else. They are named after their olive-like colored carapace.
They live in very tropical waters. For example, the waters of Florida is actually rather cold for them. Last summer, I got to see my first olive ridley sea turtle. There was one that found stranded on Lantana Beach, which is a bit south from West Palm Beach, Florida and was taken to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. I was informed that this was the first olive ridley to be stranded this north. I found that to be rather surprising. After rehabilitating Megan, she was taken down to Key West and released there. That is one turtle I will never forget!
Olive ridley sea turtles like to live in different environments from the open ocean to coastal waters. However, they prefer a more pelagic lifestyle. Like the kemp’s ridley and the loggerhead, the olive ridley likes to eat crustaceans and they find those more in the deeper waters.
Just like the kemp’s ridley, the female olive ridleys nest in arribadas. Some females will exhibit what is known as mixed nesting. What is mixed nesting? Well, mixed nesting is when one female will nest during an arribada and at a different time of the nesting season will nest by herself. Pretty cool, right? The olive ridley sea turtles reach sexual maturity at a fairly young age for sea turtles. They reach sexual maturity at around 15 years.
The hawksbill sea turtle is truly a sight to see. We all love the oh so beautiful tortoise shell design. My glasses actually have the tortoise shell print that I love. However, gladly it is plastic and not the real thing. Back in the day, the tortoise shell design actually came straight from the hawksbill. Yes, the hawksbill sea turtle not a tortoise. But, seriously tortoise shell sounds so much better than hawksbill shell. Anyway, in America we no longer use the actual shell to make the design since the hawksbill is listed as a Critically Endangered species. Unfortunately, in other places the shell is still used.
So, I’m sure you can now see why the hawksbill sea turtle is definitely one of my favorites!
Anyway, enough about its spectacular shell, let’s talk about the sea turtle. The hawksbill sea turtle gets its name from its beak-like mouth. Take another look at the sea turtle and you’ll see what I’m talking about if you didn’t already. So, I bet you are now wondering what they eat since they have such an interesting mouth. The beak-like mouth allows them to be able to reach into holes in coral reefs. Why would they need this special ability? Well, their favorite thing to eat are sponges. These turtles also enjoy eating anemones, squid, and shrimp.
Similar to the kemp’s ridley, the hawksbill is relatively small, but not as small as the kemp’s. The hawksbill sea turtle can weigh up to 150 pounds. Just like the kemp’s ridley, the hawksbill sea turtle also likes to live closer to the coast rather than the open ocean. But, that’s kind of obvious once you find out that their favorite treat is a sponge. However, when they are juveniles they like to live in the open ocean and move closer to shore as they mature.
There is a large population of hawksbill sea turtles in Puerto Rico. That’s really important to me because my family comes from Puerto Rico. In 1998, a critical habitat was made for them in the waters of a small island that is part of Puerto Rico. Mona and Monito Islands are west of the mainland of Puerto Rico.