Like rock bands, Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch volunteers attract groupies who show up for turtle gigs. Their evening nest excavations have been attracting more of a following in recent years. They wow crowds who gather around to watch the process of digging into the island’s sea turtle nests.
Most of the sea turtles nesting on Amelia Island are loggerheads. However, there have been some green turtle nests and the more rare (and huge) leatherbacks visiting in recent years.
Volunteers excavate sea turtle nests after a 50 to 60 day monitoring period that occurs during sea turtle nesting season (which runs from May through October each year). When it’s been determined that a sea turtles nest has hatched (as evidenced by tiny hatchling tracks in the sand from a nest hollow), the sea turtle volunteers excavate the nest and record data.
Unlike Elvis, however, sometimes baby sea turtles have not yet “left the building.” To the delight of the turtle fans who gather, the uncovered baby sea turtles are placed in a bucket and then freed to the ocean to the applause of the audience. Sea turtles “rock” this barrier island.
Each year, August and September evenings usually provide plenty of opportunity for locals and visitors to learn about Amelia Island’s sea turtles by attending a sea turtle nest excavation.
What are the odds of seeing adorable baby turtles dug out of a nest on Amelia Island? Well, based on July 2011’s nest summaries posted online by the Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch website, 16 nests of 31 excavated had at least one live hatchling, and as many as 20 babies were uncovered in one nest. Appears that’s around a 50% chance based on this particular month’s recorded data (unscientific formula, folks).
Digs open to the public are posted on the Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch website (usually a day or two in advance of the nest excavation date, with evening digs generally happening around 7 pm). Want to become a volunteer and help monitor the beach at sunrise during sea turtle season? Go to the Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch website for more info on volunteering.
Run or Walk in Support Amelia Island’s Sea Turtles — Annual Turtle Trot
The island’s Turtle Trot 5K is a fun event and family friendly (there’s also a “Kid’s Fun Run,” half mile or one mile). Visit the Amelia Island Runners website to learn about the event schedule each year held over the Labor Day holiday weekend. Folks registering early pay reduced fee, and preregistration guarantees a really nice T-shirt with original artwork by local artist, Sandra Baker-Hinton (she’s also an Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch volunteer at Fort Clinch State Park).
Plan to attend this organized community event held every Labor Day weekend to help support conservation efforts for these ancient mariners who visit Amelia Island, Florida.