I came over to Jekyll Island last night to run the Nest Fest 5K this morning. I just finished the race (not my best but it was still fun), and I am sitting in my room after having just taken a brief nap before driving back home. I wish I could spend the whole weekend here but I have other obligations at home tonight.
I love Jekyll Island. It is one of my favorite places. I lived and worked on the island as a camp counselor at the 4-H camp here for three summers during college. I am actually at the camp right now. I always rent a room here when I come to the island. I drove over after work yesterday and got here just before sunset. I headed over to The Rah Bar, an outdoor restaurant/bar over at the wharf. I got seated just in time to watch the sunset over the marsh. It was wonderful. They had a band playing, and there were a lot of people around as the big Nest Fest to kick over the sea turtle nesting season is happening this weekend. I ordered a drink and a plate of low country boil (they have crab legs in theirs). It was an entertaining evening, especially when a group of drunk old ladies began dancing, very provocatively, in the middle of the deck.
After I left there, I returned to camp and headed down for a walk on the beach. I love walking on the beach at night here because there are no lights allowed on the beach and no lights can be visible from the beach (it interferes with the turtles’ nesting). I like walking at night looking for sea turtles out on the beach. When I was a counselor here (and my first summer here was 10 years ago, yikes), I taught a class about sea turtles (the loggerhead is the main one that nests here) and led turtle walks on the beach at night. The loggerhead sea turtle is my favorite animal. During the weekends when there were no kids here, some of the other counselors and I would go out all through the night looking for turtles. I have seen 3 sea turtles lay their nests. It’s one of the most amazing, magical (if you allow) things I have ever witnessed. I am fascinated by it. When you work at a summer camp, counselors can be the most cheesy people ever. We always said that finding a turtle nesting during training week was a sign that the summer was going to be great.
As soon as I made it off the long boardwalk last night, I noticed a bunch of red lights about 50 yards to my right. Red lights aren’t visible by the sea turtles so the Sea Turtle Project uses them when they are out locating nests and such. All the red head lamps were huddled around something so I immediately head towards them. Here I was on the beach during the weekend before my last week of school, the start of summer, and I had already found a sea turtle. I knew it. This was going to be an amazing summer.
I kept my distance so as not to disturb her, but sure enough, there was a loggerhead. She was already headed back to the water. She was beautiful. The high tide was going out so there wasn’t a long crawl from the dunes to the water. She was maybe 10 feet from the water by the time I got to her. One of the guys from the Turtle Project came up and introduced himself, David, I think. We talked for a minute. Then, he confirmed what I had already suspected from the tracks in the sand. I had just seen the end of a false crawl. No nest had been dug. No eggs had been laid.
I watched as she crawled into the waves and began to swim. I quickly lost sight of her on such a dark night. That damn turtle.
Oh well, we were young and stupid back then. All of those summers were a blast, even the one where I saw the turtle on the last night of camp. And the one where I never saw a turtle. I only even thought about that because I was feeling nostalgic from being back at camp. Still, I really wish that turtle had laid her eggs. Bitch.