LIFE LESSONs FROM A SEA TURTLE

If you know me very well, you’re already aware that I often find spiritual lessons in the things I see in nature. Such was the case with Gigi, the blind sea turtle that lives at Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center. Here are just a few things that come to mind when I think of Gigi.

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Back To Gigi

I still smile when I think about how Gigi adapted to her new surroundings at NBSTCC. Maybe that’s because she:

  • Expects the best from her human rescuers
  • Responds to their taps on the side of the pool and to the sounds of voices
  • Embraces life by fully chomping down on the whole mackerel she favors for dinner
  • Has fun by pulling on the feeder pole to tease her personal butler
  • Continues to inspire people to respond to a bigger cause

Thoughts

As I ponder Gigi’s situation, I’m reminded that we can be blessed whatever our circumstances. If we’ll just watch for God, we’ll see that He has a way of showing up when we need Him most. And He wants us to embrace His provision in the same way Gigi accepted her new benefactors and surroundings.

Even more, when things don’t change, He invites us to

  • Adapt to our surroundings
  • Enjoy ourselves
  • Chomp down so to speak on the sustenance he provides.
  • Remember it’s okay to be playful
  • Laugh and have fun
  • Even bask in His blessings.

Wait–especially to bask in His blessings.

I’d love to hear how He’s met your needs.

Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry

to God for help, and wander about for lack of food?

Job 38:41

5 Ways Gigi Inspires Me

This is the final installment of my three-part series about sea turtles. In MEET GIGI, I told you about a blind loggerhead sea turtle we met at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center. TEN FACTS ABOUT LOGGERHEAD SEA TURTLES provided more information about sea turtles and their plight.

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Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center’s motto: Giving Sea Turtles More Tomorrows

As you can tell, I’m still pumped about our visit to NBSTCC last month.

I’m Always Up for Shopping

And you probably know, there was  no way I was leaving without visiting their gift shop, the Seamore Store. It’s manned by–you guessed it–volunteers. We met two delightful ladies, Cinnamon Holderman and Christy Meyer.

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Don’t you love Christy’s red turtle girls rock shirt. I want one.

 

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I suppose the largest souvenir we could have carted home from NBSTCC was this turtle chair. We decided to pass on it.

But I did try on t-shirts and admired toys, books, photographs & paintings, along with lots of other items crafted by locals. I can’t believe I didn’t buy a T-Shirt. (Well, I would have if they’d had my size in the one I wanted. Next time.)

I did bring home a few items.

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That red sea turtle circle in the middle goes on the end of your flashlight to soften the light’s impact on the sea turtles that might be hatching on the beach.

NBSTCC didn’t happen overnight. In 2011, this group cast a vision for creating a center to educate the many visitors to the island on the plight of sea turtles and provide a place where rescued turtles could be rehabilitated. You can even sign up to volunteer while you’re there. They told us a couple from my hometown of Searcy, Arkansas, was volunteering soon. How cool is that?

When I volunteer at NBSTCC, I want to work in the Seamore Store, maybe with Cinnamon and Christy. I want to wear one of those blue volunteer t-shirts, too. (Yeah, I want two shirts.)

In closing, if you vacation in Florida, I encourage you to also Navarre Beach Marine Park just next to it. You’ll see the buildings just beyond Gigi’s home.

NBMP actually predates NBSTCC  and is a larger success story that began in 2009. It works for and promotes all forms of local sea conservation through programs and onsite educational offerings. Their latest project involves a grant for a mobile unit to go out to schools and community events.

They cast a large vision when they launched this volunteer organization.

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We saw a model of how they go about restoring coral reefs.

At NBMP, you can snorkel or scuba dive along one of the manmade coral reefs or take out a glass-bottom kayak and watch the sea life from the surface. You might even encounter one of those magnificent sea turtles. (The reefs in the Santa Rosa Sound might be better for snorkeling.)

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NBMP’s story is truly worthy of its own series. I plan doing that–right after I kayak out to one of those reefs in the sound. Next trip.

Life is so much richer when we venture out beyond ourselves. I’m amazed when I look at groups and foundations right here in Arkansas that began by someone seeing a need and embracing the vision to meet it.

What’s your passion?

Where’s your next adventure?

I really want to know.

 

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord 

as the waters cover the sea.

Habakkuk 2:14

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