Turtle Talk: Superstar
In recent years, Highway 30A in South Walton has become a destination for the rich and famous. We’ve had country singers galore, football players from colleges and the NFL, movie stars, and music execs. We even had a movie filmed here back in the 90’s, The Truman Show, and country singer Luke Bryan filmed a music video along the Emerald Coast.
It’s almost become humdrum to hear about ANOTHER celebrity sighting.
But there is one star, a superstar, that can still cause hearts to jump.
I guarantee if someone on our crystal sand beaches were to yell, “SEA TURTLE,” everyone in hearing range would come running. Miley Cyrus and Kelly Pickler would be left in the dust.
There’s something magical about seeing a sea turtle. And even though we should always leave them alone whether they’re nesting or swimming in the Gulf, we all secretly dream of sneaking a peak at these elusive and beautiful creatures.
Here in South Walton, we have our own superstar species: the Loggerhead sea turtle.
Loggerheads are so named due their, um, large heads. Personally, I think their big ol’ heads are adorable. This species is on the threatened list, which means they could easily become endangered. Last year, Walton County had 54 Loggerhead nests along our Emerald Coast.
Adult Loggerheads live for around 40 years, and they grow to weigh up to 375 pounds. The females nest every two to four years and often return to the same beaches to nest.
According the the Sea Turtle Conservancy website, Loggerheads are mostly carnivorous and love to dine on shellfish, crabs and clams. That big head has big jaws, perfect for crunching up their dinner.
The biggest threat to these stars of the deep is the loss of their nesting habitats. Development along the coast and human disturbances such as too much light on the beach can cause disorientation.
All of this can be disastrous for mama turtles and their hatchlings.
Although we occasionally have other sea turtle species along 30A, such as green sea turtles, Kemp’s Ridley, and the rare Leatherback, our most frequent by far is the Loggerhead.
But like most celeb sightings, let’s be courteous and allow her to enjoy her time here at our beach. Just like it’s rude to disturb Kenny Chesney while he’s having dinner at The Red Bar, let’s leave the Loggerheads in peace. I know it’s tempting to try to get a selfie with those stars, but it’s also disruptive. If you’re lucky enough to spot a sea turtle, please be content with the special memory of the moment. The moment you spotted a…..
By Elaine Parrett
For more information about volunteering to help us spread the word about the 2015 nesting in South Walton, visit https://www.friendsofswturtles.org/get-involved/
For more facts about Loggerheads, go to http://www.conserveturtles.org/seaturtleinformation.php?page=loggerhead