A thankfully rare, but always unwelcome sight … a turtle on its back on the beach. Usually when we see this, the turtle has washed ashore dead, but this time, she was alive, but struggling.
Public Safety and County Parks staff were the first to see the turtle in distress. As they were calling to alert our Crew to the emergency, Linda, Marlene and Judi arrived.
Joined by Bob, they attempted to turn the flipper flailing turtle over, but were unsuccessful — just too heavy.
More help needed in a hurry! The tide was already reaching her head which was pointed toward the ocean.
How long can an upside down sea turtle hold her breath under stress?
We didn’t want to know.
Who do you call?
Folly’s Fire Fighters, of course!
They came double-quick, turned the turtle over, and off she went faster than any turtle ever moved, back into the surf.
So what how did she manage to get in that fix?
She had emerged from the ocean sometime during the night to find a nest site.
She crawled parallel to the ocean for a long way, then turned inland and attempted to create a nest chamber.
The sand was very hard and gritty and she was only able to dig down a few inches.
She abandoned that attempt and crawled away, again parallel with the ocean.
She was probably seeking a more acceptable site when she crawled right over County Park’s new groin at the far end of the beach.
The groin is doing its job. It’s trapping sand on its east/north side. The negative effect of this is that the other side of the groin becomes sand-starved.
On this day, there was about a 4′ height difference — quite a drop.
And it’s this drop that caused the turtle to flip over on her back. What a horrible surprise.
Thanks to alert staff, responsive volunteers, and especially FOLLY’s FIRE FIGHTERS, the story ended with a live Momma Turtle rushing back into the surf.
The groin remains, of course. The height differences will change as wind and water shift the sand supplies.
Orange cones have been added to alert people to the drop, but the danger to nesting sea turtles remains.
We are so grateful to the Park staff, Folly Public Safety staff, our Crew (Judi, Linda, Marlene, Bob, Lars and Ann), and especially to the guys who did the HEAVY lifting to save the turtle.
THANK YOU, FOLLY FIRE FIGHTERS!!
(Photos provided by Lars, Judi, Bob.)