Long version: The Turtle Crawl Triathlon is an annual fundraiser for the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island. Since opening in 2007, the GSTC has rescued, healed and released 2500 animals including island wildlife in addition to sea turtles. This is the only sea turtle rehabilitation center in Georgia. Current patients include Green Sea Turtles, baby Terrapins, and two Loggerheads. One is adoptable for $50. Adopters receive updates on his care and progress and after release, reports from his tracking device.
Visitors to the center can see the giant turtles in their tanks and view their activities on overhead mirrors. The hospital is enclosed in glass and visitors can observe the staff’s unique handling, precision surgery, gentle cleansing and healing of wounds, as well as routine care such as blood draws, weigh-ins, and vitamins.
The island residents are tuned in to the importance of the turtles’ schedules. During spring months the Terrapins frequently cross the highway to get to the nesting areas in the marshes. Residents drive slowly and leave space between cars to enable traffic stops; flashers are on and drivers wait until the turtles are safely across.
During the incubation period residents observe lights out on the beach and flag the nests for protection. Near the end of the period, volunteers baby sit the nests, watching for hatchlings to notify the center. Protective escorts help the hatchlings make their way to the water by protecting them from predators until they reach the sea. To date there are 7 nests noted and 19 eggs in the center hatchery.
The sea turtles are endangered and live in hazardous conditions due in great part to human carelessness. But human caring has rescued twenty five so far this year, and daily traffic stops have protected many uncounted. Jekyll Island residents take pride in the care they give to the sea turtles and hope to educate visitors as well. The GSTC increases awareness of the turtles through education, rehabilitation, and research.
So, I came to be part of the triathlon event, and sell my books. But, our daughter also lives in Brunswick. I loved visiting the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. Did I mention they have a wonderful gift shop? Dave played golf with our son-in-law? Mother’s Day brunch? I sold books.