Go Baby, GO!
The miracle of sea turtle nesting and hatching has begun, and I have first-hand experience. Years ago, I was part of the volunteer turtle team at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Starting about now, staff and volunteers patrol the beaches in the early-morning, looking for tracks of females who had made their way to shore to lay hundreds of eggs at a time.
In a few months’ time, hatchings will start, and lights will (hopefully!) dim across the coastlines. Sea turtle hatchlings instinctively go towards the moonlight, and any light from condos, hotels, resorts, or houses within a mile interfere with that instinct – hatchlings oftentimes find themselves in roads or parking lots instead of the ocean!
While volunteering, I had the opportunity to watch a few nests hatch, and help the aquarium staff with taking scientific measurements (e.g. length, weight, number of eggs in nest, etc.). Those late nights are some that I will never forget.
Do you want to have this amazing experience yourself? Well, you’re in luck! There are plenty of places around the world that you can watch the mama laying her nest, or the tiny little babies hatching free and making their way into the world. Be a part of this miraculous time of year!
Between May and September, more than 150 loggerhead turtles nest on the beaches found in St. Petersburg and Clearwater, Florida, and they’re patrolled by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Guests staying at the Sandpearl Resort will be notified 24-48 hours in advance when the aquarium schedules a release on the resort’s beach.
Toast the turtles as they start their journeys! Order a Tipsy Turtle Cocktail at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa and $1 of the proceeds goes directly to benefit the National Save the Sea Turtle Foundation. Or, order a cocktail at the W Fort Lauderdale and add $1 to benefit Sea Turtle Oversight Protection (STOP) and you’ll receive an amber glow bracelet and information regarding the program.
A lights out policy is in effect during turtle season at the Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa – encouraging endangered loggerhead, leatherback and green sea turtles to come ashore and lay their eggs. Guests at the resort are invited to join staff from the nearby Loggerhead Marinelife Center for a nighttime turtle walk in hopes of watching a sea turtle lay her eggs. Kids can take home “Loggy the Turtle” to remember their stay; a portion of the proceeds benefit the Loggerhead Marinelife Center.
On the South Carolina coastline, guests at the The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa can attend a nightly Turtle Talk and Walk, in partnership with the Coastal Discovery Museum. Kids can learn about sea turtle nesting and hatching through the Westin Kids Club, and can also make stick and rope barriers to keep nests safe.
The Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort and Spa in Puerto Rico invites guests to witness the sea turtle nesting ritual that takes place on their sandy shores from March to November. Partnering with the Department of Natural Resources, guests can watch resident Hawksbill, Leather, and Green Sea Turtles lay their eggs, or witness the hatching of these tiny creatures.
Nearly 30% of turtles that nest in Puerto Vallarta do so on the shores of the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort and Spa. As part of the resort’s “Secretos de la Familia” culture immersion program, guests are invited to be a part of the “Sea Turtle Rescue” protection program and take part in the rescue efforts to combing the beach for turtle eggs. In 2013 alone, 508 nests were collected and 36,708 sea turtle hatchlings were released back into the sea.
The Caribbean’s first and only Audubon International Certified Gold Signature Sanctuary resort, the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort in Puerto Rico is dedicated to providing sustainable luxury. Guests have the chance to “guardian” the Leatherback Turtles that nest on the property’s shoreline, and are encouraged to call staff at any time of the day or night to protect the turtles as they hatch on Bahia Beach.
In Mexico, the CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort and JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa team together and the resorts’ seat turtle protection program saves an average of 3,000 endangered sea turtle hatchlings each year. Marine biologists work with the resorts’ staff from June through September to prepare and care for nesting areas on the beach. Guests can join the action by participating in the nightly release of baby sea turtles.
Have you seen a sea turtle nest hatch? If so, where, and what did you think?