Editor’s Note: The Sea Turtle Preservation Society was unable to offer guided night walks this summer due to covid-19 concerns, but some of our volunteers have offered to share their favorite night walk experiences here on the Loggerhead Lowdown blog.
By Megan Maynard
It is a balmy night in July, and the STPS Night Krawlers are gathering at the beach to begin another educational night walk for the public. There is always a buzz of excitement as a group anxiously awaits to – hopefully — witness a loggerhead sea turtle nest.
As the guests arrive, last-minute details about the walk ahead are being ironed out. We promptly begin at 9 p.m. and introduce the volunteers and the speaker for the night before the volunteer scouts eagerly head to the beach on the search for “the” turtle. On this particular night, we have a few new volunteers joining our ranks. They, too, are eager to begin their training.
When we arrived at the surf, we gazed out at the most stunning evening. The moon was full, casting our shadows onto the beach. Small whitecaps beat the shore, and the light breeze was a welcome relief. We broke into our respective north and south groups and were joined by our trainee volunteer.
As we took those first steps, we were greeted by a shining blue bioluminescence that radiates under our footsteps. We started prancing around like children, shuffling our feet along the sand. When looking out over the water, the whitecaps collapsed in a haze of blue as they hit the shore. Not one of us had seen such a display. I’m grateful our trainee wasn’t scared off by our childlike frolicking — not part of our usual training.
The turtle of the evening was soon found, and she was preparing her egg chamber. As the guests were quietly ushered to her location, everyone got to witness nature’s beauty. Watching kids and adults alike marvel at the sparkling blue hue that “magically” appeared under each step was something I’ll never forget. As is tradition, at the end of the evening when the nesting turtle finished covering her eggs, we all watched from a safe distance as she trudged back to the sea. Her large body was illuminated in the water by a cocoon of blue as her movement triggered a show of color. It was a treat for the volunteers and guests to experience such a rare display of beauty. By far, my favorite night walk experience.