Vacationing on St. George Island, Florida, once again provided us with many opportunities for fun and interaction with nature. We started most days with a bike ride in the early morning to explore the neighborhood, admire the many beach houses and sweat a lot. Then we moved on to paddle boarding and kayaking, and ended with a beach walk on occasion when our weary legs could take it. There are lots of stairs in beach houses!
Offshore winds most days left the Gulf of Mexico a crystal clear blue-green color, perfect for snorkeling! We saw starfish, sand dollars, sheepshead fish, dolphins, turtles, small bonnethead sharks, tarpon, ladyfish and more from the shore, the kayak and the paddle boards.
The dolphin would swim right up onto the sand bar to catch their lunch, then take off playing in the waves. The baby dolphin practiced and played at “tail slapping” the water, like an adult dolphin does to stun fish. It was like watching a toddler play house or pretend to cook. They swam around the kayak and the paddle board, sometimes curious and other times ignoring us completely.
We saw several loggerhead sea turtles out in the deeper water, and one day we saw a small turtle that we believe was a Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle swimming on the sand bar. She really liked the shallow sandy bottom, and clear water, filled with ladyfish and other tempting treats. Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles are the most endangered of all sea turtles. It was super cute!
We did also manage to find a few geocaches, see some interesting clouds, check out sea turtle nests and take some pictures of the St. George Island Lighthouse.
This sea turtle nest is so large because a Leatherback Sea Turtle nested right in front of the house we were staying in about two weeks before our arrival. Leatherbacks tracks look like a bulldozer has rearranged the beach, and the actual nesting site is very large, as they move around a lot of sand. It would be amazing to see! As a comparison, see the Loggerhead sea turtle nest size in the second picture below. One is about four feet across, and the other is 15 – 20 feet across.
We send a big THANK YOU to the St. George Island Volunteer Turtlers for all their work to locate and protect the nests each year.
It is important to clear the beach of all your belongings each night and fill in all holes that were dug in the sand; turtles can and do get stuck in the chairs and tents and holes that people leave on the beach. Also, turn out your lights at night at the beach because Sea Turtles Dig the Dark!
We were taking pictures of the “new” St. George Island Lighthouse, which isn’t all that new anymore, but I realized I didn’t have any photos of it. So while we were picking up pizza for the USA World Cup Soccer Match on TV, we found some neat photos of the “old” lighthouse. It was moved to a new location and refurbished for rather obvious reasons, after it collapsed into the Gulf of Mexico in 2005.
And last, but not least, interesting clouds and a nice sunset!
We hope you get a chance to enjoy some of the hidden treasures of the Gulf Coast of Florida!