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2 July 2015:
Sea turtles nesting under full moon in Florida

July 2-3, 2015: This is an unusual entry for the storm gallery, but this night was such a beautiful immersion in nature, I thought I'd share it here. I joined Peggy Willenberg and several of her friends, many experts on turtles, as they ventured out on the beach on Florida's east coast to look for nesting sea turtles. The search was in the vicinity of Floridana Beach (just south of Melbourne Beach), and we went out in a light rain just after dark. White light and flash photography should not be used when observing turtles, so all of these photos were taken in almost complete darkness. It's not only almost impossible to focus in these conditions, but I had to use a high ISO, resulting in grainy images. Still, the full moon helped, along with (occasionally) a red light held by one of the observers that is deemed safe to use while observing these endangered creatures as they nest. Once a turtle begins nesting, and especially when she begins laying eggs, one can get quite close to her without disturbing her efforts. (Learn more about observing turtles here.) We saw a couple of turtles early in our search, and then, after a lull, saw several more until we stopped about 1:30 a.m. We saw about ten sea turtles in just this one evening. Share

Click on the thumbnails to see a larger image.

    Peggy Willenberg creeps close to a nesting green turtle. The double image is due to the slow shutter speed (13 seconds).
    The turtle-watchers use a safe red light to observe as the green turtle leaves the nest.
    The green turtle heads for the sea as the observers watch. The light here is deceptive; it was almost completely dark. (Shot at ISO 6400, f/1.8, 2 seconds)
    After nesting, the green turtle heads for the Atlantic Ocean.
    The observers shine a safe red light on a green turtle heading back to sea after nesting. You can see rain falling in the shaft of light.
    Again, a safe red light shows the green turtle heading for the sea after nesting.
    A green sea turtle digs herself in deep while nesting. This shot was illuminated only by moonlight.
    Under a full moon, a green sea turtle heads back to the ocean after nesting. This photo, converted to black and white, was taken without any artificial light.
    Under the full moon, a green sea turtle heads back into the ocean after nesting.
    A green sea turtle digs a nest for her eggs.
    Two green turtles nest simultaneously (the second is digging the dark hole at upper left).
    A loggerhead turtle comes ashore to nest.
    The loggerhead changed her mind and started back to sea.
    The loggerhead turtle returns to the ocean.
    This green turtle, heading back to the ocean, was safely lit by a red light; photo has been converted to black and white.


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All photos copyright 2015 by Chris Kridler, ChrisKridler.com, SkyDiary.com