Sunday, July 27, 2008

Walk #13

This morning we left for the beach with anticipation because one of our nests is due to hatch Tuesday. In my mind, I had visions of walking up near that nest today and seeing tiny little turtles running for the water. So, we hurried out to begin our walk. (Plus, I had a new toy to try out; a new cell phone with a better camera than my last one. The phone is much handier than carrying a camera because I always have it in my pocket anyway and with carrying bags of trash, hands full, etc…….you know the story.)

There were lots of dark clouds, and we could hear thunder as we left to go to the beach. This was the first time we had been threatened with rain on one of our ‘Turtle Walk’ mornings.

When we arrived, there was just a hint of pink showing behind the silhouette of the palms. There was not much breeze to meet us and there was a lot of humidity in the air, making the temperature feel pretty warm.

The sun was still hidden just below the horizon, with clouds in the way; so it took a little longer for it to peek out today.

The waves were small this morning and didn’t seem to be bringing in any shells. There was seaweed scattered in the tide lines.

I heard thunder once again and looked toward the north and saw the edge of some rain clouds. Somehow the sun rays were shining under part of the clouds, making it look like the sun was actually hiding behind it.

Looking toward the west, there were more clouds. Again the sun made it look as though it was hiding in the middle, peaking out. The clouds were much darker near the horizon.

Turning toward the south, I was surprised that it once again looked like the sun was shining through clouds. Today’s sunrise made a beautiful panorama for our viewing pleasure.

Surprisingly, there was little trash from where we began until the light house area. Most of it was small things, like plastic bags, cellophane wrappers, straws, little sand shovel, tiny little flip flops, t shirt, etc.

There were holes dug here and there on the beach, but not as many as there had been on previous walks.

There was one humongous pile of sand that was shaped to look like a huge alligator lying in a basin. I can’t imagine how long it must have taken to dig and pile all the sand that had been moved. The entire alligator had a row of seaweed from its head to the tip of its tail.

As I looked back at the Alligator, whose name I think was Sandy, I noticed the dark clouds were beginning to catch up to us, so we picked up our pace a little. There were several people on the beach, some walking and jogging, others searching for shells. I noticed a few of them looking up at the clouds too.

Straight ahead, the sun was still working to climb up from behind clouds.

As we got near the light house, the clouds hiding the sun had finally moved enough for it to glow brighter and brighter.

We checked our last nest at this point and it looked fine; just as the other two had. There was no hatch, no tiny turtle tracks anywhere.

The tide was in, and as we started around the tip of the island, the beach area was entirely covered with water. We had to turn around and walk back a little way to use a narrow path that takes you around the houses , to the other side of the light house.

After leaving the light house area, we kept taking paths back and forth between trees and bushes, but couldn’t walk on the beach again until very near the fishing pier.

On one of those little paths, there was a man nearly hidden by the bushes, as he set up his tripod and camera to take pictures.

Looking at the clouds as we approached the fishing pier was a little daunting. There was a need to hurry even faster now!

Even as the clouds kept moving closer, it didn’t seem to bother the fishermen.

It looked like the clouds were just going to come right down onto the pier.

We stopped to pick up some fishing line lying on the sand with a hook still attached. That should save someone’s bare foot. As I looked up again, the clouds seemed to be hovering over the bay and the causeway.

Two young men were, standing waist deep in the water, fishing. As we got closer, I realized they were the same guys that had been there fishing when we saw the little camp set up a couple of weeks before. There had been a lady and a child sleeping there as we passed by. That time they left all of their empty beer bottles, soda cans, water bottles, at least 50 tissues scattered under the bushes, and other trash. There had been fishing line tangled in the bushes, as if they had changed the line on their poles and just left the old line behind.

I think smoke may have started coming out of my ears, when I got closer and saw their tent and campsite there once again. The lady and child were in the little tent, sleeping once again. Cans and bottles were scattered on the sand, along with stuff hanging on the limbs. I went past and then turned around to go back. I stood there looking at those two men, looked back at the trash, and then took another picture, this time of the camp site and their mess. The men looked at me and one of them yelled out, “Hello”. I said hello back and then asked if they would do me a favor. They smiled and shook their heads yes. I asked them if they would please pick up all of their trash before they left. They smiled and assured me that they certainly would and that they always do. I told them that I knew they didn’t because when they were in that same spot a couple weeks ago; we had to pick up all the trash they left behind. They got a strange look on their face and said they were sorry and would make sure they got it all cleaned up this time. Of course after having picked up all those tissues last time, that just didn’t seem good enough, so I said, "The things you leave behind, endanger the lives of wildlife and it is also, simply inconsiderate. I’m sure you know it’s illegal to camp on the beach, and sooner or later, you will get caught.” Ok, after that it was time to walk away and cool off!

Just past the seawalls, there were two men in a boat using a cast net. The birds were flying around and one landed on the front of their boat and stood there waiting for a hand out.

The last portion of our walk was difficult because the beach area was covered with water again, so we had to detour again.

Looking back at the old ‘Guardian of the Sea’ tree, you can see we had to walk around it this morning instead of taking our usual path over its roots.

We were very fortunate to have walked all the way around, threatened by the clouds, and hadn’t felt a drop of rain. Even when there are clouds looming overhead, it’s still a beautiful day here on Sanibel.

We reached the end of our walk rather tired today because of zigzagging around the high tide, and one of us did get a little hot under the collar while acting like the 'Beach Police'.

Talk about perfect timing; five minutes later the rain started coming down. So all in all, it was a great morning, even though we didn’t get to see any turtles.

Did You Know?

Within the first 12 hours after the turtle lays her eggs, the vitelline membrane (the cell wall of the egg that plays an important role in gas exchange through the egg wall) attaches to the interior of the egg shell. If the egg is moved after the attachment forms, the membrane will detach from the egg wall and development will stop. If eggs must be moved for any reason, researchers try to move them within a few hours after a turtle has nested. If it has been six hours or more, great care must be given.


Tink *~*~* said...

Tootie, the photos are AWESOME! Have I mentioned how much I hate you because you got an N95 before I did? :D Seriously, it does a fabulous job taking photos. I knew it would. I'm glad you yelled at those jerks; next time you see them on the beach with their tent, just take that new toy of yours and call the police! :p

Tink *~*~*

ChrisC and JonJ said...

Yea you for being the"beach police" and the pictures are beautiful.Especially the one of the storm clouds over the pier.

Snowbird said...

I would love to know how those people get away with camping on the beach. Maybe the "beach police" should inform the Sanibel Police about it. Especially if they keep leaving the messes they leave. I would have been hot too!

Great pictures, especially of the clouds over the causeway. Wow.

BNS said...

What a great post. I felt like I was with you for the entire Dawn Patrol.

Good for you on chastising those campers for their inconsiderate mess. We have encountered similar situations here in Hawaii, and we have responded the same way. Like you, we don't really like to be beach police, but on the other hand, sometimes you must open your mouth.

Bobbie @ The Right Blue