When we visit Bald Head Island each summer, we know there is a chance that we will either see a nesting female turtle or a hatching. Chances are slim on either, but there IS a chance.
I saw a nesting female many years ago, and it was awesome. But only this year did I finally get to see a precious baby. The first nest of the season hatched while we were there, and three days later, a team does a public excavation.
They gingerly dig up the nest to count eggshells, find unviable eggs, and maybe, just maybe, find a "straggler". Those babies that didn't quite make it out with his or her siblings.
Does it seems kind of sad? Like they left her behind in their mad dash toward existence, following the reflection of the moon on the night ocean. One little one, not quite ready, maybe not even hatched. Counting on a village to release her when it is safe for her to come out.
What you may not know is that only one in a thousand of these babies will make it to adulthood. During their sprint to the ocean, they are defenseless targets to birds and crabs. That is if their nest even survives the egg-eating foxes. I have watched this clip many times throughout the years, and if you can make it past the annoying ad, it is spectacular.
This is why the BHI Conservatory has a turtle patrol, out all night on ATVs, watching for new nests. They cover it with mesh and clearly mark the nest. So many people caring about the littlest members of our community. And look how excited they are for this one tiny baby.
Do you see where I'm going with this? My girl is about to be the littlest one in her community. A kindergartner! She is that baby, waiting for the others to go, making sure all perceived dangers are out of the way. And I've been worried about it. She doesn't dive right into the water like her brother, but she will slowly get in and love it, even as she struggles through her anxieties.
But maybe she is onto something. Maybe by hanging back, avoiding the dangers at first and learning by watching, she will be just fine. This little baby who didn't make it out of the nest had hundreds of people cheering her on. She had safety, love, and a little help from kind strangers.
I hope that is what is in store a few weeks from now, when my little one leaves our nest.
PS- The team ropes off an area for the baby to crawl on her own out to sea as we all watch from a distance. She made it, of course.