Hurricane Irene and the sea turtles of Singer Island



The waves from hurricane Irene uncovered hundreds, if not thousands of eggs from endangered sea turtles. Many people who came to watch the surf contributed to gathering the eggs, digging new nests and trying to help save even one of the little babies and helped newly hatched turtles get past the rough surf.

I haven\’t been in this area for long but enjoy taking a walk on the beach for exercise. I took a run over to Riviera Beach on Springer Island between the rain bands from Hurricane Irene as she was moving off the coast. I was eager to see the rough surf and experience the beach with the hurricane a very safe distance away.

While walking from the parking lot I could hear the echo of the rough surf through the high-rise buildings. When I walked over the dunes the normally calm and lazy waves were churning and spectacular. The sound of the wind and waves was not as loud as I expected, but a very impressive display of the power of nature.

I tried getting a few more pictures from the dunes, but with my cell phone camera, it didn\’t work out very well.

The normally calm surf was incredible. Wave after bubbling wave washed up on the shore. Approaching high tide, the water washed up further and further each time. The water was warm and felt like a bubbly hot tub on my legs.

The choppy, churning waves were crashing all over themselves, some slamming down so hard you could feel the vibration through the sand. Some of the waves crashed so hard that they threw a mist into the air at least 10 feet high – like the most beautiful natural fountains you could ever see in your life.

As I walked down the beach, there was a tiny sea turtle trying to get into the water. I picked the little fellow up and walked as far as I dared into the water and let the little guy, or girl, go. It took a few tries to keep the little critter from washing back up on the beach. But we were finally successful at the little one going out into his or her new world and me back on my way for my walk on the beach.

There were a lot of sea turtle nests washed out by the swirling water. Broken eggs were all over the place. I noticed that there was a perfectly round white egg, the size of a ping pong ball, in the sea moss that had washed up on the beach. I looked around and didn\’t see any of the sea turtle nest stakes that were put around nests for their protection on the beach. I picked up the little egg and started walking down the beach with it, figuring I\’d find an intact nest and pop it in with his or her cousins and try to save at least one of the babies of this endangered species.

I walked along, looking for more eggs and little turtles. I didn\’t see any more live turtle babies, but found a few eggs and added them to the perfect egg I had found. There were a group of people, two were teenage boys, who had just finished recovering a nest of sea turtle eggs. They had saved around 50 eggs, or at least hoped they had saved them, which they had placed in their new nest, from being broken or becoming bird food. We ended up digging another nest, found stakes and an old towel to rope off the area and even found a stake with a \”Sea Turtle Eggs\” sign to protect our new nest. We added to that nest with a walk down the beach recovering as many sea turtle eggs as we could find.

After that nest was covered, I started back up the beach happy that so many people were helping to recover intact eggs in an attempt to save some sea turtle lives. When I got back up to the area where I had entered the beach, there was a couple trying to help another baby sea turtle get into the water. It is amazing that these newly hatched babies know exactly which way to go so soon after they break out of their sandy incubator.

We tried for around 10 minutes to get the little guy to be able to stay in the water, but he kept washing back up on the sand. We decided he wanted his picture taken so we rinsed him off and placed him on the beach for a little photo shoot. We all whipped out our cell phones and took a picture of the little guy. As soon as we all were sure that his picture was saved in our cell phones, a huge wave came up and took our new friend out with it, nature at her finest waiting for just the right time to do her job while giving us a glimpse of her beautiful creatures.

It was a day that showed the extremes in nature. From hurricane Irene, a 750 mile wide extremely powerful storm, to a tiny little baby sea turtle, only three inches from nose to tail. I wonder what would have happened to that little guy if he hadn\’t been pulled out of the sea moss in which he was trapped and given the hand and transporation he needed to survive? I\’m glad we were there to provide what little he needed to help him move to the next phase of his life. If we hadn\’t helped him, he probably would not have survived. And now he\’s on his way in spite of the storm that was working against his survival.