ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WALA) – Folks along a stretch of Orange Beach got to experience a rare moment Thursday, July 21, 2022. A baby sea turtle emerged from its nest in the heat of the afternoon sun, hours after the rest of its clutch left the nest.
It was past noon in front of Seaside and Tradewinds condominiums in Orange Beach. Word had spread that a sea turtle nest had hatched overnight. Many were disappointed they missed the show, including the Gregory family. Little did they know they were about to have front row tickets to the encore.
“I just saw this movement and everything and I looked,” recalled Charles Gregory. “I was like, holy cow. This is an actual turtle. This is perfect.”
Within seconds, the baby loggerhead had drawn a lot of attention and as the crowd gathered, the cheering began.
“Several times, he fell in somebody’s footprint or a divot that somebody made but he flapped his little arms and legs and craned his little neck and flipped himself back over,” said Jimmy Romines.
Sea turtles generally hatch together. Power in numbers offers better odds for survival as they head to the water. The saga of this unusual clutch began about 11:30 the night before. Jeremy Richey and his daughter, Mary Evelyn were on the beach when some movement caught Jeremy’s eye.
“And he was like there are so many crabs over here and he picked up three of them and he was like, oh no,” eight-year-old Mary Evelyn excitedly said. “These are baby turtles and he set them down and he was turning to run away, and he shined the light on them and so, they were following him.”
“There were turtles everywhere,” laughed Jeremy.
Richey reported the hatch and Mary Evelyn helped Share the Beach volunteers corral all the babies they could find and get them to the water. There were 64 in all. Share the beach officials say the hatchlings were disoriented by lights on the condominiums and had scattered, making it a difficult process with just their red head lamps in the dark.
The 65th waited for an audience to make her grand entrance. After the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico welcomed her home, folks just stood around in amazement.
“This is the first turtle nest that we’ve seen so we have watched it every night and to see the turtle hatch was just amazing,” said Trisha Guenther. “It was so small, but it knew right where to go.”
“It was really, really cool because I live in Colorado, so we never see stuff like this,” a young Lainey Townson said.
“It was the most amazing thing ever,” Lainey’s mother, Jennifer added. “I’ve wanted to see that my whole life.”
This was just one of 59 sea turtle nests found on Alabama’s beaches this nesting season. The nests are marked and have a sign with a number to call if you see hatching activity.
Share the Beach officials want to remind folks that interfering with turtle nests is a federal crime.
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