Summer vacation at St. George Island…full of fun in the sun! We had interesting housing and weather experiences the last couple of years (air conditioning malfunction, no electricity due to a waterspout, etc.), but this year the stars aligned. Which left us ready to enjoy a great week at the beach.
We snuck out for a paddle boarding session on the bay side of the island and found this cute little beach to launch from. The water was glassy and very clear; the whole trip was made in about 3 feet of water. We ducked low and laid on the boards to go under docks and around several fishing lines. We hugged the shoreline, watching stingrays, which would see / feel us coming and dart away. We probably saw 20-30 rays, some just 12 inches across and others with a wingspan of up to four feet. Most likely they were Southern Stingrays, but no pictures, as they were just too fast for me!
During the week, the local dolphins visited us in front of the beach house; several of them looked very familiar from past visits – one we call Shark Bite is missing the whole top part of his dorsal fin, and another one has a bit of cough. We will never know if they were the same dolphins or not, but it sure looked like it! It is fascinating to watch them swim and fish, darting gracefully through the water and playing.
This blue heron was waiting patiently for the fisherman nearby to throw some treats his way. This spot at Sykes Cut is really pretty; at high tide there is a small tidal pool that forms on the safe side of the rocks – perfect for checking out hermit crabs and other local sea creatures.
The week brought quite a bit of wind, which made the paddle board not so fun for paddling, however we found a good use for it as we started surfing lessons 101! Everyone got a chance to ride the waves (very small ones), from the seven-year old to the adults. Lots of fun and lots of work! My niece is a dancer, so when she finally stood on the board, she looked to be standing in a dance pose. How appropriate!
I checked our area of the beach for turtle nests, and although there were a couple, the hot spot was further down towards the cut where there are fewer houses and lights. I found several false crawls (when a turtle comes up on the beach but does not nest). Sometimes this is due to the turtle encountering man-made objects on the beach that are in the way, e.g. lawnchairs, kayaks, etc. It is important to clean up the beach when you go in at night to leave the area clutter-free for sea turtles to nest.
St. George Island Volunteer Turtlers have recorded over 236 sea turtle nests this season! Thanks to them for their work to protect sea turtles and educate the public about the turtles. The group protects the nests (best as they can) from coyotes (and people!), and monitor each nest throughout the season. We went to the Turtle Talk at Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve (ANERR) the week we were there. This is a chance for the general public to learn more about turtles and how they can help. The morning of the talk I saw a mother and daughter looking at the turtle tracks on the beach, so I told them about the Turtle Talk that day. Ever better – I saw them at the Talk! One more family that is better educated about sea turtles…
Overall, a great week at the beach. We love to see dolphins, rays and turtles in their natural environment, and we are privileged they share it with us! Our final evening gave us a gorgeous sunset to remember the week. The clouds exploded with orange and then left a beautiful glow on the water. Perfect!