This week, Discovery Education was on Kiawah Island, South Carolina to watch the valiant struggles of baby turtles as they hatched and then crawled their way across the wide, sandy beach to the ocean.
At this time in the season, many turtles have already hatched and made their way to the ocean, but volunteers with a group called Turtle Patrol keep track and help turtles that may be delayed or left behind find their way.
Here are some pictures of Turtle Patrol volunteers checking on a nest. On this beautiful morning, they found many empty shells (good news: those turtles made it already) and one baby turtle who needed their help. Look closely at the bucket in the last picture to spy the tiny turtle!
And here is that little turtle from the bucket making the trip from the sand into the sea…. The long stripes of shade on the sand are shadows from the volunteers’ legs; turtles need to crawl into the ocean, but tend to follow the sun and can get confused if it’s too late in the day. Volunteers were there to help them stay on course for the ocean. (See how tiny that baby turtle is, by comparing it to the volunteer’s toe in the third picture!)
Click on the video to see the little guy (or gal!) swimming through the tiny waves crashing over its head….
Amazing facts I learned from the Kiawah Island volunteers who help the turtles every year:
1. The heat of the sand determines the sex of the turtle;
2. These turtles have nests about 24 inches underground;
3. The turtles will return to this same beach in 25 years to lay their own eggs;
4. Some egg shells are empty and serve as spacers in the nest.