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Eartha the Sea Turtle at TurtleFest 2013

TurtleFest 2013Every year the Loggerhead Marinelife Center of Juno Beach has their annual event, TurtleFest. This year I had the privilege of attending and signing copies of Eartha the Sea Turtle. I really enjoy the look on a child’s face when they see me write their name in the book, and sign it. TurtleFest is an amazing event that includes live music, art displays, gift vendors, food, and educational information as well. All this and you also get to tour the facility and see the sea turtles currently being cared for.

I had a copy of a personal photo album I created which contains many photos of the real Eartha. I was asked by several people if the book was for sale. (Lightbulb!) So I am currently preparing to publish the photo book by the end of this year. The book shows Eartha in her holding tank where I first met her, and takes you on a photographic journey which end with spectacular images of her returning to the sea. It’s a true successful rescue story.

 

Home to the sea

Yesterday my wife and I had the opportunity to watch three loggerhead sea turtles return to the sea. I’ve blogged before about the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. After all, that’s where I met Eartha and was inspired to write my children’s book. The gathering crowd was much bigger than previous releases. It looked like they called in every volunteer just for crowd control. So how do you get three loggerhead sea turtles to the beach, via turtle ambulance of course.

One by one each sea turtle was place on “turtle” stretchers and brought down the the beach. Rudolph was the first to go. Rudolph was admitted to the LMC after an encounter with a shark. There were lacerations on his flippers, and the flat part of his shell, from the sharks teeth. The volunteers placed him on the beach and he began his “walk” to the beach. Once in the water, Rudolph had a change of heart, he started heading back inland. According to one of the employees I spoke to later that day, their last meal was lobster. I don’t know about you, but lobster by room service sure beats having to hunt for your own food. I think Rudolph was thinking the same thing. Members of the LMC staff quickly helped Rudolph regain direction and he was out to the sea, after surfing a few waves first.

Next up was Lennon. I don’t recall what Lennon was admitted for, so if you do know, please leave a comment. Unlike Rudolph, Lennon couldn’t wait to get back to the sea. He  scootched his way down the beach and right into the water.

Morgan was the big dude. He was brought down to the beach on a cart pulled by an ATV. With all the spectators, it looked more like a parade float than a turtle release. Morgan was carried down to the water by two staff members. Like his friend Rudolph, he was a bit reluctant to head out to the sea (Note to the LMC, don’t give them lobster during the last day of rehabilitation.) After a struggle with a wave or two, he was off.

During each release I noticed a lot of people shouting toward volunteers to “move”, “sit down” or “get out of the way.” People need to realize this is their job. This is what they do. The event is not a show, or a theme park attraction. This is life. This is people dedicating their time to a cause they believe in. If a person cannot respect the fact that this is the way it is, then leave and go to a theme park.

Not everyone was displeased with the event. After each release the crowds cheered and applauded. It was hard not to. You could look in the eyes of the staff members and volunteers and know that those magnificent sea turtles touched their hearts. I can relate to that feeling with Eartha. I have a large 16 x 20 photo of her on my wall and I find myself asking, “I wonder where you are now. ”