Experiencing (from a distance) the magic of a sea turtle climbing through the surf and powering up to dunes’ edge to lay her eggs is one of the reasons we come to Melbourne Beach. This stretch of coast, part of the 20.5 mile long Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, is the most important loggerhead sea turtle nesting area in the western hemisphere. It also is the most important nesting area of green sea turtles in the United States. In fact, 15-20,000 sea turtles nest here each summer. These two species, along with the other 4 sea turtle species found in US waters (leatherback, hawksbill, olive ridley, Kemp’s ridley) are federally-listed under the Endangered Species Act.
Last night, we set out around 9pm to walk the moonwashed beach. The waxing gibbous moon was bright enough we did not need headlights. Three generations of women walking hand and hand with thunder rumbling far in the distance and clouds playing hide-and-seek with the stars. Skyla’s 3-year old legs tired of walking the beach before we saw a single nesting turtle. We didn’t mind. It is enough for us to know that the turtles are here…and to see their tracks each morning.