I brake for turtles! Frequently while driving around in Delray, Boynton and Boca, I'll see a turtle in my path and I'll apply my brakes; being big guys they are easy to see. However, last week I noticed a tiny turtle, no bigger than a quarter, on the black asphalt while walking from my car to the front door of my home in Delray Beach. I took the critter (can turtles be called critters?) in to my condo and promptly Googled for any turtle info I could find. What kind of Florida turtle was Palmie (oh yes, I gave "it" a name) and what was the best care I could provide for my new little friend.
I couldn't, with any absolute (other than it not being a sea turtle), determine the species from this research but the research did dissuade me from thinking I could give Palmie the proper care for his well-being. And, the actual best and most humane care I could give would be to release the little guy. Thus, I placed Palmie on a nice grassy spot, near a lake, and far from any asphalt. I wished him good karma and walked away feeling I was doing the right thing.
Here are just a few of the many interesting things I found out during my turtle research session:
•· Florida has named the Loggerhead turtle as the state's official saltwater reptile. This designation came in to place on July 11, 2008 and it is a new designation for the state.
•· June and July is the time that different species of female sea turtles make their way here to our beaches, and in the night's darkness the turtles dig a hole, and lay their eggs.
•· There are 18 places along Florida's coastline (15 on the east coast of the state and 3 on the west coast) that are state licensed to offer the public the opportunity to join in a Turtle Watch -- where it is possible to join a group and witness this pre-historic turtle ritual. (see the map below for locations and see below for the website's of the various locales many of which are within close location to Delray Beach.
The nearest turtle watch location to Delray Beach is in Boca Raton at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center http://www.gumbolimbo.org/. I was too late for this season to reserve a place; turtle watches and walks are limited by state regulations. I've marked my calendar to reserve early for next year. Looking at Gumbo Limbo's website informed me of the many other wonderful programs they have in place for adults and for children. I will need to visit them soon! There are two other locations in Palm Beach County that offer turtle watches: the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach http://www.marinelife.org/ and in North Palm Beach there is the John D. MacArthur State Park http://www.macarthurbeach.org/ All of these websites offer an enormous wealth of information on their programs.
Here's a link to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center : http://www.marinelife.org/Allaboutturtles it will give you interesting info on the 5 species of sea turtles we can see in our local ocean