Saving A Sea Turtle

September 14, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

3V9A1185First Light of DayA baby loggerhead sea turtle is held by conservation volunteer Libba Johnson, after saving him from his abandoned nest.

As many of you know sea turtles are on the endangered species list and are declining in population. Conservation efforts are actively being pursued all along our coastal waters, but more needs to be done. I don’t have the answer to the problem, but I have experienced the miracle of a mother laying her eggs on several occasions in our home away from home, Vero Beach, Florida. It is a very exciting thing to see a giant loggerhead or leatherback turtle come out of the water under the cover of darkness, dig a nest and lay her eggs, before returning to the sea, never to come back and check on her young. Lynn and I have witnessed this on several occasions but never had we seen baby turtles emerging from the nests.

During my recent shoot on Edisto Island in South Carolina, I finally got to see and even hold a baby loggerhead sea turtle. What a thrill!

SP&Turtle_CSP&Turtle_CWhat a magical experience, holding a baby sea turtle, before he's released to the sea...


I was headed out for the evening to photograph a large population of birds on the north end of the Jeremy Kay development where I was staying, when my passage was blocked by some folks in a golf cart. I waited patiently for them to clear the way, and when we finally came together on the trail and passed they asked if I was there to see the turtles? So, I abandoned my quest to chase the birds down and went with them to see the turtle nest.

The gestation period for sea turtles varies with temperature, from approximately 53-68 days, depending on the location of the nest and the heat of the sand. Temperature also determines the sex of the turtles, with hotter sand producing more females.

Most areas with heavy turtle activity have conservation groups of volunteers who monitor the turtles nesting and hatching activities. In any given area, they know the approximate time it takes the eggs to hatch, and they check each nest daily to make sure the nest hasn’t been disturbed and to note when there is an opening in the nest, indicating that the eggs have hatched and the turtles have gone back to the ocean. Three days after the turtles have left a nest, they go back to dig it up, so they can count the eggs and save any stragglers, which can apparently live three days in the sand without a problem. That is what I was able to witness on that magical evening in Edisto. If you have a love of nature and miracles, I hope you too get to witness this in person one day!

3V9A1174Volunteers DigVolunteers on Edisto Island in South Carolina prepare to dig up a loggerhead turtle nest in search of survivors.

According to

“Human activities have tipped the scales against the survival of these ancient mariners. Nearly all species of sea turtle are classified as Endangered. Slaughtered for their eggs, meat, skin and shells, sea turtles suffer from poaching and exploitation. They also face habitat destruction and accidental capture in fishing gear. Climate change has an impact on turtle nesting sites. It alters sand temperatures, which then affects the sex of hatchlings. “

Saving A Sea TurtleA baby loggerhead sea turtle is saved from an already hatched nest, to be released to the ocean by conservation volunteers on Edisto Island, South Carolina.

We watched the baby loggerhead go back to the ocean totally on instinct, and after being tossed in the surf several times to land back on the beach, he finally disappeared for good. A wonderful end to an exciting and miraculous event! 

3V9A1193Baby LoggerheadThe baby loggerhead goes back to the ocean after being saved from the abandoned nest.




No comments posted.

Sign Up For Exclusive Offers and Inspiration

* indicates required