HELLO AGAIN

 

Navarre Pier

I  haven’t posted in a while because we’ve been in Florida relaxing, sitting, reading, and sometimes just staring. Except for jotting down observations in my journal, I haven’t written a thing beyond a few short posts on Facebook and necessary responses to email & messages by iPhone. I guess you could say, I’ve mostly been offline. It was a restful time, but I’ve missed blogging. So here I am again with reflections from early one morning.

 

Quiet Beginnings

It’s early as I step out on the balcony, coffee cup and journal in hand. No breath of wind, the sea below is a glassy aqua.

Where waves pounded the shore this time last week, only lulling swells lap against the shoreline in a chorus of swish-swoosh. Each swish drapes the shore with ethereal white lace that dissolves with the next swoosh.

In the distance, small birds rock on blue water looking for a seafood buffet. A barge towed by a small tugboat works its way across the gray horizon, and I idly wonder what their business is this early morning.

The same breeze that cools my cheek and bare arms glides across the ocean below, producing more rickrack than ruffles on its surface.

Surfrickrack

A line of pelicans flies by overhead.

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Another bathwater day as Terry calls it—calm, gentle—perfect for small children or for Mom to soak away the weariness in her soul.

A father, mother, and preteen daughter pause at the end of our boardwalk for a picture of the girl, and she throws out her arms, tilting her head in such a way that I although I can’t see it, I know she’s smiling. They make their way down the steps and across the sand to the water’s edge, where they proceed in follow-the-leader single file, heads tipped down, probably looking for shells or that Elusive Sand Dollar.

Within minutes they switch directions, angling back across the sand toward the boardwalk. Daughter gravitates to Dad, momentarily clutching his upper arm. As they pass beneath my perch, I want to call out, “Enjoy her company. The time is fleeting. Too soon, she may elect to sleep-in instead taking of an early morning walk with you.”

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Caroline Day, Norcross High School 2017 Graduate

Having just attended my youngest granddaughter’s graduation, I’m almost painfully conscious of the rush of time. I couldn’t help wondering if her dad’s short, solitary sojourn on their back patio just before our departure that morning was his way of putting on his armor.

Later when we teased about handing out tissues for the ceremony, he grinned and declared, “I’m happy!”

We all echoed, “So are we.”

And we were happy to celebrate her accomplishments and pleased she’ll be going to college in the fall.

Still, it was bittersweet as is any change of season.

 

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:19

 

 

TEN FACTS ABOUT LOGGERHEAD SEA TURTLES

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Last week I told you about meeting Gigi, a blind loggerhead sea turtle that recently found a new home at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center (NBSTCC). If you missed her story, you can read it here.

Since meeting Gigi and her human friends, I’ve done a little research about loggerheads. Here are ten things I learned.

  1. Loggerheads (Genus: Caretta, Species: caretta) are the most abundant marine turtles in the US waters. However, according to National Geographic, they’ve been considered a threatened species since 1978. Their decline in population is due to pollution, fishing, shrimp trawling and development in their nesting areas.
  2. Loggerheads have a slightly heart-shaped reddish brown shell (carapace) with five or more scales (scutes). Their bottom shell (plastron) is yellow.
  3. An adult male loggerhead can measure up to 3½ feet long and weigh 375 pounds according to the Sea Turtle Conservancy. However they’ve been known to weigh as much as 1000 pounds. Gigi weighs just a little less than 200.
  4. Loggerheads have massive heads to support the powerful jaws they use to crack the shells of crustaceans. (The better to eat them with.) According to the National Wildlife Federation, babies start out nibbling on small sea creatures found in sargassum mats. As they mature, they move on to mollusks, jelly fish and other fish.  To get to a video of a loggerhead chasing a lobster, click here.
  5. Loggerheads have short thick front flippers with claws. The rear flippers can have two or three claws. Gigi uses hers along the pool edge to orient herself and push off.
  6. Loggerheads don’t mate until they’re ten or twelve, and females don’t fully mature until they’re 35, which is the age Gigi’s rescuers estimate her to be.
  7. Loggerheads can migrate thousands of miles to return to their place of birth for nesting.
  8. In the United States, Loggerheads nest every two or three years along the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to Florida and as far as Alabama and Mississippi on the Gulf of Mexico. They also nest in Japan and the Indian Ocean.
  9. Loggerheads lay an average of four clutches of 100-120 ping-pong-ball-sized eggs a couple of weeks apart. Incubation time is about 60 days.
  10. The temperature of the sand determines the sex of the turtles. When the sand is cool, more males are hatched. The warmer the sand, the more females are produced. As one of the volunteers quipped, “Boys are cool and girls are hot.” (Only he paused and let us supply that last adjective.)

One thing gives me hope for loggerheads. They have lots of human friends working to keep them safe. At National Geographic, you can watch a video of volunteers moving eggs from Gulf Shores, Alabama, during the oil spill crisis to climate-controlled storage at NASA Kennedy Space Center. After they hatched, they were released at Cape Canaveral. Lucky little turtles.

Next time, I’ll wrap up with more news about Gigi and the NBSTCC.

How many living things you have made, O Lord!
You have exhibited great skill in making all of them;
the earth is full of the living things you have made.
25 Over here is the deep, wide sea,
which teems with innumerable swimming creatures,
living things both small and large.

Psalm 104:24-25

MEET GIGI

If we’re Facebook friends, you know that I just got back from our favorite place to unwind, Navarre Beach, Florida. Thanks to Navarre Beach News, the day before we came home, we made a new friend. Her name is GiGi. Today is the first installment of a three-part series of this community’s love affair with sea creatures. I’ve definitely signed on.

gigi

GiGi is an almost 200-pound loggerhead sea turtle who came to live at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center (NBSTCC) from Sea World Orlando in July. Blind, underweight and covered in barnacles, Gigi was pretty pitiful when she arrived at Sea World ten year ago.

Through their expert care, she regained her general health, but because of her blindness, she’d never survive on her own in the wild. Consequently, Gigi’s rescuers had been looking for a permanent home for her for over ten years.

Enter Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center

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Navarre Beach is a nesting place for loggerheads. Over the years, I’ve heard and read about how the locals were working to make it a more welcoming environment for these endangered creatures. Volunteers patrol the beach to remove obstacles to their successful nesting, sponsor regular trash pick up events and educational opportunities for visitors.

They’ve conducted campaigns to encourage vacationers to fill in holes on the beach that can entrap turtles. They’ve also been instrumental in the development of ordinances to require beachgoers to remove all personal articles each day and limit artificial light on the beach at night. Both are hazardous to nesting and hatching turtles.

 

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This group lobbied for vacationers and residents to draw their blinds and drapes during nesting season because our lights confuse hatchlings, which normally move toward light reflected on the ocean. Volunteer, Jim Holmes, told us how one year hatchlings got mixed up by the lights of civilization and headed toward the center of the island. They were no match for the cars and trucks rolling along busy Gulf Boulevard.

 

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Jim said his wife, Cathy, who’s the Director of NBSTCC, got him into this job. We thought he looked pretty happy when we were there.

 

Fishermen sometimes hook a sea turtle. From the turtle’s vantage point, that’s a serious situation. If the fisherman just cuts the line, the turtle is doomed to get wrapped up in it and will probably drown. Or it may ingest the hook which presents another set of problems, possibly death.

 

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Folks, please don’t drop your old line on the beach. Take it home to discard it.

 

NBSTCC TO THE RESCUE

NBSTCC also works with the Navarre Pier by providing instructions and a phone number to fishermen who happen to snag a turtle. IF the fisherman will call, a trained volunteer will show up, free the turtle, and release it back into the Gulf or take it somewhere to be treated. Please make that call.

 

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Navarre Pier as seen from our balcony one mile down the beach.

 

By the way, Navarre Pier is the longest fishing pier in the Gulf of Mexico. If you like to fish, it should be one of the stops on your next vacation. (Bring along your fishing pole. Just remember who you’re gonna call if you tangle with a sea turtle.)

Have you ever vacationed on the Florida Panhandle?

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If not, you definitely need to consider wiggling your toes in the sugar sand and go wadding in the emerald surf.

Seriously!

Hope I see you on Navarre Beach sometime soon.

So God created the great sea creatures and every living thing that moves,

with which the waters swam …

Gen. 1:21

Next time, I’ll tell you TEN THINGS ABOUT LOGGERHEAD TURTLES and introduce you to some of the other people we met and show you some things we encountered at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center. (Can you say that five times real fast?)

Many thanks to Navarre Beach News  for the great features on Gigi and NBSTCC. You hooked me, so I made that visit. I’m sure glad.