With labored breath and tremendous effort, a mother sea turtle drags her body from the sea. She hauls her heavy frame clumsily across the sand on flippers, having long ago evolved for a life at sea. Each movement a struggle, she searches for the perfect place to lay her precious cargo of eggs. As a first-time mother, she has not visited this particular beach in decades. Yet that brief moment, so many years ago, when she herself scrambled down a dune to the waters edges was enough to ingrain the location in her for a lifetime.
She has come far, swam tirelessly to reach this place so she can complete the one task nature drives her to carry out. Pearly salty tears drip from her eyes, excreting all the excess salt her body absorbs at sea; that many people mistake this natural process for crying. Finally, she settles on a quiet stretch of beach right along the dunes edge. She scoots away the top layer of sand and debris creating a shallow body pit. Using her back flippers, she digs a round chamber 16-20 inches deep. Its smooth walls and precise measurements exhibit seemingly impossible finesse and dexterity for a creature her size.
Her clutch of roughly 100 ping pong ball-sized leathery eggs fall into the nest cavity and then very carefully she buries them under a protective layer of sand. The sand keeps the eggs moist and hopefully will deter predators. She camouflages the nest with surrounding debris before beginning the tiresome trek back to the waves; the entire process takes only a few hours. She will never see her little ones hatch, in fact she will most likely never see them again; they must undertake the world completely alone.
Learn how we are supporting families as they make decisions about this summer.