Turtle Season has come to a close, y’all. And, sadly, I didn’t find any nests or even any tracks this summer. I did enjoy my Tuesday morning sunrise walks, though.
This year was actually a slow nesting season on Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms with only a handful of nests across both islands. Apparently, it’s relatively normal for every fourth year or so to be a slow nesting season, and this was the fourth year, so…
My turtle patrol two weeks ago was particularly interesting and eventful, though. Over the last month, the Charleston coastal area has been plagued by daily storms. An afternoon pop-up shower is one thing, but we’ve had torrential downpours that flood the streets multiple times a day. So many outdoor events were canceled during July because of all the storms.
On this specific Tuesday, I knew that a line of storms was charging towards Sullivan’s Island, so I walked at a quicker pace than normal. I also had to walk twice my usual distance because my fellow team-members (who I normally split the distance with) were out of town.
The clouds that were fast approaching were threatening and ominous. Luckily, I only saw lightning once, but I walked so fast that my poor legs were so, so tired. When I finally reached the end of my patrol section and turned to head back to my car, a mile-long walk, I began to think that the rain had missed me and gone around the beach.
I have never been more wrong.
(Please note in this photo that the lighthouse is far away on the lefthand side of the photo. In the photo above, the lighthouse is almost directly in front of me….I had to walk that entire distance, plus a little extra, and then back to the lighthouse).
I saw it coming down the beach towards me. I watched people further down the beach begin to run for cover, but it was too late for me. It took about sixty seconds for me to get soaked from head to toe when the rain finally reached me, and these raindrops stung each time they pelted me. Luckily, I had a relatively water-resistant bag that I was able to roll my phone and keys up in, and I tucked it under my shirt. Within just a few minutes, my socks and tennis shoes were wet, too, and I squished along.
Now, because of all the rain we’ve had over the last few weeks, many of beach access paths are flooded. And by flooded, I mean a foot deep in murky, mosquito-infested waters. I kept trying to find a beach access that I could use, but they were all underwater. So I kept walking down the beach, dripping wet. Right as I reached my car, the rain finally let up. I had to rush back to the house to shower and make myself presentable before work. But my tennis shoes are ruined forever.
Despite my Tuesday morning turtle patrols never yielding any turtle tracks or nests, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I witnessed so many beautiful sunrises this summer, and I took some incredible photographs. I also found that time walking alone on the beach to be a great chance to be alone and think. Every week, I was reminded that Ryan and I are incredibly blessed to live as close to the beach as we do.
I’m not sure how next year will work with the Island Turtle Team and if I’ll automatically have a spot next year, but I’m planning to find out. I really hope I’ll find some tracks and nests and that I’ll get to see some hatchlings next season.
So long turtle season! Thanks for the memories and the beautiful sunrises.