May 14 2017 34357 1

Dated: 05/14/2017

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Image titleOur South Walton Turtle Watch coordinates dozens of volunteers every year for turtle season, which runs from May 1 through October 1. During this time sea turtles return to the same place on our beaches where as hatchlings they emerged and crawled into the Gulf for the first time. It's a mystical, wondrous experience to witness their tracks (they usually make their nests in the dark) and later to see signs that the nest has hatched.

SWTW volunteers walk every foot of our beaches before dawn, at first light. They proceed through driving rain and cross  challenging outfalls at times, when the coastal dune lakes pour into the Gulf. Sudden lightning storms and even a waterspout sometimes drive them to leave the beach or hunker down under a stairway. 

When a new nest is located, it is marked carefully and dated. Occasionally a nest must be dug up and relocated--very carefully, one egg at a time. After about two months volunteers watch closely for hatchling tracks, and a few days after that the nest is excavated to make sure every turtle escapes safely. 

It is always exhilarating to discover a new nest, but some of the Panhandle volunteers had an incredible experience recently. They discovered a rare leatherback nest--from the largest of our four species of turtles here in the northwest Florida. One of the volunteers attempt to straddle the tracks in the sand and was unable--these turtles are gargantuan!

SWTW volunteers receive training in Panama City annually--anyone interested can contact them at: http://http://www.southwaltonturtlewatch.org


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Joyce Hogue

Joyce brings to her real estate practice her well-honed communication and analytical skills from three decades of professional health care and education. Her work ethic can be summarized as "going....

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