friday night, we went up to boca raton to the gumbo limbo nature center to witness a turtle hatchling release. it was a work thing - my work has done a bunch of fundraising for them, so as a payback, they dedicated one of their release nights to us.
it was me, my friend from work kimmie, and chris. kimmie came over after work and hung out and we all drove up together.
first we watched a movie about the sea turtle plight. it was really depressing. duh.
then, since we would not be able to use any lights on the beach as it would confuse the hatchlings, they brought out some little turtles that were not due to be released that night in order for us to get pictures.
they said we could use flash, but i didn't want to, so i ended up with some shitty pictures. i think my ISO was still all high since i had pre-set it expecting dark beach conditions. dammit.
sea turtles have belly buttons. this wasn't a huge surprise, since i remember when bjorn had a belly button. :) these guys also still had their egg teeth. very cute. they were also very squirmy. they reminded me of the dogs when we walk towards the pool with them; they start paddling even before we get in the water. these turties were paddling even though they weren't in water! :)
then we caravaned up to red reef park for the release. it was SO dark. we just had a sliver of a moon, so getting pictures was basically impossible. maybe had i brought my tripod and remote, but i still wouldn't have been able to get the turtles, since the gumbo limbo folks basically set the turtles on the ground and the turtles clambered towards the ocean. it was pretty quick.
the water was pretty rough that night. a night i wouldn't want to go night diving, for example. but the turtles could swim through the waves! the gumbo limbo guy said that was nothing; they could swim through a hurricane. they were tough little swimmers, and they had technique. they knew to swim low through waves, and to dart up and down when they needed a breath.
some of the turtles just sat there. any of the turtles that didn't make it to the water were kept behind and put into a bucket. of all the hatchlings - they said 88 or so, but i didn't see that many - only 5 or 6 didn't go. they would be taken out to the seaweed later in the week, which is where they spend many months, eating anything that floats by so they can get bigger and stronger.
the dude from gumbo limbo shined his red light into the bucket so i could see the turtles. i sat crouched over the bucket for a while, staring down at the cute little buggers for a while. such perfect little things. :)
so these guys were the smart ones; their nest mates had a looooong night ahead of them. these guys got to go home and chill, and had a boat ride out to the seaweed instead of a 1-mph super-long swim! :)
very neat experience! i wonder if they need volunteers! :)