Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves. ~James Matthew Barrie
The perils for hatchling sea turtles are monumental.
Once they have escaped their eggs, they scramble towards the brightest thing, which is hopefully the ocean but may be lights from a condo or the highway. They push through the sand on tiny limbs, lucky to make it to the surf without becoming a snack for a bird or a crab. And if they make it to the water at all they may be pummeled by rough waves, flipped and tumbled, no more than bits of dust in the wind, churned against the bottom or back onto land.
This is the story of 75 hatchlings who did not make their journeys to the sea successfully. These unfortunates include lost loggerheads from Juno Beach and a leatherback from New Smyrna Beach with a severe curvature. They include green turtles who took the wrong turn and individuals who were—quite literally- washed up.
Thanks to SeaWorld Orlando, the Volusia County Marine Science Center and the Loggerhead Marine Life Center, their stories have a happy ending. These organizations nursed the hatchlings back to health for several months. And on Sept. 11, 2013, SeaWorld Orlando’s Animal Rescue Team returned these sea turtle hatchlings --ten green, three hawksbills, 61 loggerheads and one leatherback -- to a “weed line” about 14 miles offshore Jupiter.
A weed line is made up of sargassum sea weed grass and acts as protection and a source of food for the young turtles during the first two years of life.
Check out the great pictures!
Remember to do your part to protect sea turtles with these tips from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:
- Minimize beachfront lighting during the sea turtle nesting season by turning off, shielding, or redirecting lights.
- Close blinds and draperies in oceanfront rooms at night during the nesting season to keep indoor lighting from reaching the beach.
- Do not construct campfires on the beach. Sea turtle hatchlings are known to be attracted to the light emitted by campfires and crawl into fires and die.
- Use your natural vision when walking on the beach at night. The use of flashlights and flash photography can deter turtles from coming ashore to nest or cause them to abort nesting attempts.
- If you encounter a turtle on the beach at night, remain quiet, still, and at a distance, otherwise she may become frightened and return to the ocean without nesting.
- Leave the tracks left by turtles undisturbed. Researchers use the tracks to identify the species of turtle that nested and to find and mark the nests for protection.
- Properly dispose of your garbage. Turtles may mistake plastic bags, Styrofoam, and trash floating in the water as food and die when this trash blocks their intestines.
- Celebrate events without the use of helium balloon releases. Like plastic trash, balloons end up in the ocean, especially when released near the coast. Sea turtles mistakenly eat the balloons and die.
- Remove recreational equipment, such as lounge chairs, cabanas, umbrellas, and boats, from the beach at night. Their presence can deter nesting attempts and interfere with the seaward journey of hatchlings.
- Protect beach vegetation that stabilizes sand and the natural coastline.
- When boating, stay alert and avoid sea turtles. Propeller and collision impacts from boats and ships can result in injury and death of sea turtles. Also, stay in channels and avoid running in seagrass beds to protect this important habitat from prop scarring and damage. Avoid anchoring boats in seagrass beds and coral reefs, which serve as important foraging and resting habitats for sea turtles.
- If you see injured marine animal, you can help by calling the FWC hotline at 1 (888) 404-3922 or by dialing *FWC on a cellular device.