Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Turtle Walk at Archie Carr Refuge



Halfway between Melbourne and Vero Beach on the east coast of Florida, is the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge. This 20.5 mile stretch of beach is designated to provide protection to the 15,000 to 20,0000 sea turtles that make their nests here every year. Located on this strip of land is the Barrier Island Center, a 34 acre sanctuary and educational center with interactive exhibits and presentation hall. I was thrilled to learn that in partnership with The Sea Turtle Conservancy, they offered sea turtle walks during the summer when the loggerheads, green, and leatherback sea turtles make their way to shore to find their perferct spot on the beach for nesting. So, I booked my daughter and I a spot (my little guy was too young) and we took off for the weekend to learn about these awesome creatures.

The Barrier Island Sanctuary, where the turtle walk is held, is an educational facility on the refuge that has intereactive exhibits, a presentation hall, classrooms and a library that invites you to learn and explore. My son loved the exhibits and could distinguish between the different species of sea turtles before we left!

As the sun set, my daughter and I geared up for the turtle walk. We sat in the presentation room and learned about the different crawls of each species of sea turtle. On our walk we spotted a green sea turtle laying her eggs. We couldn't get close, though, because this species of sea turtle is endangered. We walked the beach a while and saw a loggerhead come out of the water, but she decided not to lay her eggs and went back into the ocean. We learned that this was called a "false crawl" and sometimes the turtles do this because the beach is too lit up or they are not satisfied with the sand or by some other disturbance. In the first photo below, you can see the tracks coming out of the water on the left and turning before nesting to go back out in the water.


False Crawl Tracks

We actually saw two different species of turtles and three different kinds of sea turtle tracks. 


           Loggerhead tracks                  Green Sea Turtle tracks             Leatherback tracks

 These are the three species that nest on the refuge with the Loggerheads being the most common. We  learned that the Loggerhead alternates their limbs to crawl and there is no center tail drag in their tracks, while the Green Sea Turtle also alternates their limbs to crawl but does have a center tail drag as shown in the middle photo above. The Leatherback is a massive turtle with a track extending 6-7 feet and move their limbs simultaneously with a faint center tail drag.

We had a super fun time learning all about these amazing creatures! Below is a list of sea turtle crafts and activities we also enjoyed doing, some links to help you learn more about sea turtles and some fun facts!
   
SEA TURTLE FACTS
-There are seven species of sea turtles:
Loggerhead
Green
Leatherback
Hawksbill
Kemp's ridley
Olive ridley
Flatback
For more info on these species go here.

-Six of these seven species are classified as threatened or endangered. Mostly because of the way humans live or their actions. To see how you can help be a friend to sea turtles go here.

-For fun facts about green sea turtles click here


SEA TURTLE CRAFTS
Paper Plate Sea Turtle from Sun Scholars
Rock Turtle from Preschool Daze
Sea Turtle Hatchling Craft from Raising Arizona Kids
Egg Carton Turtle from National Wildlife Federation Kids
Recycled Bottle Cap Turtles from Inna's Creations




6 comments:

  1. wow what an opportunity. Love how modern "museums" have interactive hands on things for the children to do.
    The turtle tracks are brilliant, and the sky is beautifully coloured.
    over from #countrykids

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! It really is fantastic how much more the kids learn with hands on activities!

      Delete
  2. Amazing, I have really enjoyed reading this and the false crawl, how wonderful to see one even if too far away to photograph. Their tracks are huge and well done on identifying them. A great adventure, thank you for sharing with me on Country Kids

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! It was a wonderful experience!

      Delete
  3. OMG that's amazing. We have just adopted a turtle for our son - he'd just love this.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This looks absolutely fantastic. Visiting from #Countrykids and really enjoyed this (feel I learnt a lot too!)

    ReplyDelete