A Turtle-y Awesome Day!

November 19, 2022

Anna Merrifield, Wesleyan University

Sandy Point Turtle Nest (credit to Kaleena)
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Sandy Point Turtle Nest (credit to Kaleena)

Hello from St. Croix! Wow, I feel a bit daunted to write about this particular day, as it seems impossible to describe today’s experience in words! I guess I’ll start from the beginning.

At 0800, a beautiful rainbow greeted us to a delicious breakfast of oatmeal, toast, and fresh fruit (thank you, Indra & Workawayers!). After we finished eating, a group of us drove over to Fredricksted to do some fun snorkeling around the pier. I never would have guessed how much invertebrates like to hang out on cement walls! I suppose it would be exciting as a little worm or sponge to watch all the cruise ships come and go. Our group saw some pretty amazing things, like an eel that looked like it was dressing up to be in a circus, a very shy octopus cuddling right up with a sea urchin, some large sponges (they kind of looked like very decorative salad bowls), and, as the title of this blog suggests… a bunch of turtles!! This would be the first of what turned out to be a turtle-packed day.

After returning to the Feather Leaf Inn and eating some yummy pizzas, the whole gang headed out to Frederiksted once again, this time with another mission. We gathered on the beach, along with a large array of other people, to watch a loggerhead turtle named Mahogany be released into the ocean! The very excited crowd stood in two lines, forming a sort of runway from the parking lot all the way down to the water. And oh boy, did she know how to work the runway. Everyone’s eyes were on her as she fiercely pushed and pulled her way through the sand, and eventually plopped herself right into the waves. We are all wishing her safe travels!

Now, after having two fantastic turtle experiences (more than the average number of turtle experiences per day), you’d think the day had been turtle-y enough for this crew. But you would be wrong. At 1600, we piled in the van and drove over to the Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge to check out the St. Croix Sea Turtle Project! Makayla, one of the staff members, took us along the beautiful beach to a turtle nest, where she dug in the sand to try and find turtle eggs. The St. Croix Sea Turtle Project provides great opportunities for curious people (like us!) to interact with turtles and learn about their hatching process in a way that is safe for the turtles, which is a super unique experience. Although Makayla could not find any turtle eggs still buried in the sand (as most of them had hatched earlier), we were all very surprised when she showed us what she’d been saving for us inside of her handbag. Baby turtles!!! They were some of the cutest little things I’ve ever seen. After a few minutes of carefully holding them, it came time to send them off into the harsh swell. I imagine it’s a similar feeling to a mama bird throwing her chicks out of the nest for the first time, except the mama turtle isn’t there at all and there are all types of predators coming from the sea sky and land… life as a baby turtle is harsh. But there we were, all together exclaiming as the sun set below the horizon. We watched our precious little friends run down to the water and get pummeled by waves until they were lifted off the sand enough to be carried away into the vast ocean, where they would hopefully survive long enough to live a long and happy life. It was quite an emotional experience, and many tears were shed. I will surely remember this day for a long, long time.

Back in the Feather Leaf Inn, I am preparing to sleep and dream sweet dreams about little baby turtles. I hope anyone reading this enjoys all the turtle stories and pictures from today, and to my friends and family I turtle-y love and miss you! Goodnight!

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One Comment

  1. Sarah Merrifield November 23, 2022 at 18:41 - Reply

    I turtlely loved reading about your turtle day! Miss you! Have fun!! Looking forward to more reports. 🙂

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