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Do not disturb!

By A Treasure Coast essay by Paul Janensch


Fort Pierce, FL – More than 25 years ago I saw a sea turtle laying her eggs on a Treasure Coast beach. I will never forget it. On a warm night in June, my wife Gail and I took our three children - then about 6, 8 and 10 years old - to the big public beach on highway A-1-A off the east end of the Jensen Beach Causeway. We went with a group on a sea turtle walk led by a state ranger. He warned us to talk in whispers and to keep our flash lights off because they can disorient the turtles and their hatchlings. Before long, we came upon a shallow depression on the beach. At the center was a big loggerhead with her back fins waving. Then we saw her eggs dropping on the sand. The ranger motioned us away. He explained in a low voice that normally visitors don't see turtles laying their eggs. He hoped we had not caused the turtle any distress. Not causing these creatures distress is something we should keep in mind during sea turtle season from March through October. Fill in holes you dig on the beach and level your sand castles. The best way to view sea turtles is with a trained guide. When you are on a beach at night without a guide, don't bother the turtles or their hatchlings - whether they are in a nest or moving on the beach. Don't make noise. Don't bring a dog. And remember, no flashlights! For 88.9 FM, this is Paul Janensch.

Treasure Coast essayist Paul Janensch was a newspaper editor and taught journalism at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.