|We did this for awhile. What can I say we were hog-wild for hatchlings!|
The only problem was this was the first time Alli and I had ever been around when the babies make their way up out of the sand. We didn't know if they'd take another 10 minutes or 4 hours. Before sunset for photos? Takeout dinner in the hatchery? Sprinting pee breaks? Vital questions we had no answers for. We were glued to the wiggling sand, continually watching it move about. You could hear the hatchlings rumbling below. Amazingly these tiny creatures (the shell is around 3.5 cm long) can take a day or two to dig out a nest 40 cm below the surface. That don't sound too jolly, but we had a feeling they were bout to hit pay dirt, or in this case, outside air.
|Are them turtle heads poppin' up!?! Come on buddies...|
Moving on. After over an hour of staring one lil' bugger broke free. Another head poked out, a new flipper popped up and then it was a full-on turtle stampede. Flailing around and scurrying everywhere the hatchlings kept coming, like deranged Black Friday shoppers blood-thirsty for flat screens and video games. I can't undersell the moment. It was frickin' incredible. Watching a boil (who came up with this term!?!) of sea turtles come up like that is a surreal sight. And they just keep coming.
|The winner of the grand sand race finally shows! First one is out.|
|Can't stop, won't stop! More and more making their way to the top.|
|Counting babies and into the cooler they go!|
These babies came from a nest on Penut, a beach south of Juara Bay we monitor by boat. At 1am that same night we loaded up and headed out to release them. We always release from the location they were found. Some rocky reef was exposed on our walk in even though it was high-tide. These rocks are slippery. I was the one with the cooler full of hatchlings. I was concentrating a lot to not be the late-night dufus that dropped the babies. Nobody likes that dude or dudette.
|Alli lookin' good with a turtle...|
|... and this dude lookin' creepy.|
|Above: the entire crew before release. Alli: set them free girl!|