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Going on a turtle walk

By A Treasure Coast essay by Paul Janensch


Fort Pierce, FL – Turtle nesting season on the Treasure Coast is at its peak. The number of loggerhead nests on our beaches is running ahead of this time last year, and last year was the best since the 1990s. Maybe the warm weather and warm ocean temperatures in the spring got the nesting season off to a quick start. In early June, my wife Gail and I went on night-time turtle walk with about 30 other people out of Sebastian Inlet State Park. There was no fee, but we had to make reservations weeks ahead of time by calling the state park office. Our guide was an enthusiastic ranger named Addy. Scouts preceded us to a stretch of sand south of the inlet and found a nesting turtle. No loud talking and no flashlights, which can disorient the turtles, Addy instructed us as we walked down the beach. Sure enough, a 200-pounder was nestled in a shallow hole. Addy crept up close and whispered to us that the turtle was laying her eggs. We stood back about six feet. Then the turtle raised up, used her back flippers to cover the eggs with sand, turned around and made her way slowly back to the ocean. Bye, Mom, I said to myself. It's best to go with a guide, as we did. But if you take an unguided turtle walk, remember - no flashlights, no loud talking and - I'll add - no dog. 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.