Last Saturday morning (day four if you are counting) my son, Duncan, wanted to indulge his burgeoning love of photography, and woke me up at 6AM to go down to the beach to photograph the sunrise! (The things we parents do in the name of education =D) It was a beautiful, calm morning after some raucous thunderstorms the night before. We walked a good two miles up and down the beach, and gradually became aware of several men and women on the beach, dressed in bright yellow t-shirts. Curiosity is the hallmark of a homeschooler, so we stopped and asked two ladies why they were digging in the sand. They told us that they were part of the Seabrook Island Turtle patrol, and if we wanted to watch them open a nest, we could join them further down the beach. An opportunity not to be missed!
The men, women, and children of the patrol spend countless hours helping protect the loggerhead turtle babies that hatch on the beach every summer. Here is their website: http://siturtlepatrol.com/. We had the chance to touch an unhatched egg, and learn that a female turtle will lay up to 150 eggs per nest, as many as 4 times every summer! The number of babies that grow to adulthood is astonishingly small, so these dedicated volunteers do all they can to help these little guys out. The eggs need 65 to 85 days to hatch, so daily there are observers watching every nest on the beach. You would have thought it was a celebrity sighting with the number of people that gathered with us so early in the morning! Hopefully the publicity will be of benefit to the turtles and we will be able to see them on Seabrook for years to come.
On the way home, we encountered a dinosaur – well, sort of. The horseshoe crab is one of the most ancient species of crab, and we had a very interesting time examining this one. He (or she) was very cooperative – and dead. That is my favorite way to find them, as I think they are a little bit on the creepy side! More about the sea islands tomorrow – and a lesson in Gullah!