Tag: sea turtles

Yes, You!

Yes, You!

_TSL6602I have struggled for a very long time with acknowledging the value of the work coming through me. People say, “Wow…love your work!” and I’m like….What work? 

Over the past ten years I haven’t held a regular job…you know where I punch a clock and sit at a desk and fade until Friday. Since young adulthood I promised that if circumstance allowed, I would give myself completely to the work that wanted to come through me. I would do it and forgo the ‘security’ of a regular paycheck. And then it happened.

Simone Lipscomb 6352A land sale gave me the opportunity and I leapt into the Unknown, following up on that promise. Yet I have struggled with the value of the efforts put forth. There’s not a lot of financial payoff and so I find myself stumbling with it at times. But not always. There are moments of complete clarity and I release the fear and ego’s cynical voice and surrender…and walk forward….fly forward on wings of light.

We are so conditioned in our culture to assign value to work based on money. It has been a struggle to continue creating books, photographs and paintings, not because I don’t want to but I wonder….am I wasting resources by following my wild heart? Many other questions arise that lead me to doubt the Vision that calls me forward in perfect trust and love. Sometimes there’s doubt. Other times….those wings of light grow bigger.

Simone Lipscomb 6354Today a story popped up on my Facebook feed from my friend Christiane Pelmas. She so eloquently writes about value of who we are and what we bring to this wounded world. Here’s a bit of what she shared:

“How do we become people who perceive a greater story unfolding, of which we are an inextricable part? In order to see the web of wholeness and healing, we must have the capacity to acknowledge our value. If we cannot, or do not, acknowledge our value, we walk around like the living dead…..We all must know our value, our important and humble place in the order of things. We must know that we matter to a larger story. If we do not acknowledge that we matter, we throw a wrench in the whole extraordinary process, that relies, so very simply, on the fact that all things exists, and thrive, in healthy relation and relevance to each other.” Christiane Pelmas.

_TSL6139The next time you wonder if you make a difference on this planet, stop and know….You! Yes, YOU! are part of the greater whole and like Christiane reminds us, “we thrive in healthy relation and relevance to each other.”



Work With What You Have

Work With What You Have

_tsl7170The moon was supposed to be in crescent phase. No clouds were forecast. I was ready to play with stars!

So the moon was half full and there were clouds. And there was wind which made sea oats blur with time exposures. But moonlight illuminated the snow-white sand and the clouds provided an interesting addition to some images. And waving sea oats provided an element of flow to the stillness of the heavens.

_tsl7169As I stood on the beach adjusting shutter speed, ISO, f-stop and focus, I thought how wonderful it is to be surprised in life. As I counted to 25, 34, 41….I considered the joy that can come from working with what we have, not necessarily what we want. The photographs looked really nice in my LCD screen so as I stood there, under the multitude of stars I thought, Who cares if there are clouds and the moon makes photographing the Milky Way challenging or even impossible? Isn’t it awesome that the sea oats are dancing?

_tsl7187If we always have exactly what we want, how would we learn to be creative? Anyone can take the formula for astrophotography and make a decent shot. But what if conditions are simply not conducive for the sought after goal? Give up and go home? Or play?

Life is like that. We wish for events to turn out as we envision but it’s not always like that. And in the end, sometimes it’s even better. I aimed my camera and counted off the seconds with the shutter timer over and over. This morning a shooting star awaited me. Never expected that….but what a nice surprise.

_tsl7193More than anything though, the night of photographing stars finally helped me illustrate the feelings of wonder and awe I experience when monitoring sea turtle nests under such amazing celestial beings on the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico.

“We show up, burn brightly, live passionately, hold nothing back, and when the moment is over, when our work is done, we step back and let go.” (Rolf Gates) And sometimes we yell with joy, “WOO HOO!!!”


Pretty Work

Pretty Work

_TSL6105I heard the phrase, pretty work, echoing in my fatigued brain as I was crawling into bed at 1am. It was a busy night on the beach. My life coach has used the phrase for as long as I can remember.

What a night!! But this was last week, the night before Hermine brought us high tides and surf….and nothing else. But that’s for later in this tale.

Nest B25 was ready to tarp and I went as a tarp helper and to take photographs of sky and waves. I helped dig the trench and release 17 babies from the previous night that had been in ICU. Magic. Beautiful sea turtle magic.

_TSL6840I was leaving because the nest wasn’t that busy, it was my third night in a row of sea turtle work and three other women were there. But just as I got to the car, my friend got a call that babies were under a house nearby.

Cathy and I ran and met Jan and another seasoned team member. Tourists had found them every freaking where. We didn’t know the source of the turtles. I was putting them in my shirt (basket made from shirt) and they were tickling my belly. We were finding turtles almost to the road. Cathy and I found about 14. Jan found some. Jim did as well. Tourists put about 50 in the water. I tracked and tracked and finally found the nest. Just a little sink hole in the sand almost at waters edge with high surf. I helped Jan excavate it and we had almost a complete boil. And every turtle was within three or four feet of water and they went to house lights. We figure 70 made it to the water.

_TSL6931Stop a moment and think about that. The hatchlings were only a very short distance from the Gulf of Mexico and they chose to go to lights under houses, street lights….every single track went away from the water towards lights…or death. If the tourists had not found them and helped us we would have possibly never known the nest hatched due to rising water from Hermine.

The nest had been marked as a false crawl earlier in the season. That mama surprised us with her ability to conceal her nest among her tracks.

We were leaving that wild experience and got a call that Ken monitoring another nest had turtles emerging. The three of us ran down to B24 and helped oversee the babies journey to the sea. The tide was coming up high. Really high. We broke down part of trench after they boiled due to tide and waves.

SL21HThe next morning brought heartache. I arrived by 6.30am to help with B22 which was flooded. Two teammates and I found 61 perfectly healthy hatchlings with their egg sac completely absorbed (meaning they were ready to swim into the Gulf). Unfortunately they had drowned. We had permission to excavate the nest due to the impending flood and the sounds that had been heard for two to three days prior to the storm (meaning they had hatched and had not emerged from the nest). It was determined that we could wait until the next morning….but it was too late.

SL21DWe know that every turtle counts when a threatened species is involved so a loss like this hurts deeply. And we potentially lost eight nests due to flooding and erosion from the storm…the storm that wasn’t even close to us and produced maybe three drops of rain here. Only three of our remaining eleven nests remained dry and unaffected by the storm. That’s just in our 3 mile stretch of Laguna Key team’s beach.

It has been a record year for sea turtles across the southeast. At the beginning of the season, when we knew the female loggerheads were about to break Alabama’s record, I suspected we would have a storm. Somehow they know.. the mother turtles know. Of course that’s antidotal and biologists might scoff at the connection. But even in just the five season’s I’ve been a sea turtle volunteer I’ve noticed this trend.

SL30AThe day of the storm was exhausting…emotionally and physically. After four hours sleep from the previous night’s wild goings-on, the excavation of the drowned hatchlings and another team member and I surveying a section of beach for nest damage…and getting ‘lost’ due to the rising tide and waves…I was ready to rest. We all were.

Searching for hatchlings in a flooded nest.

So many people compliment the work we do. It’s work of our hearts. Not everyone on the team participates at the same level due to work commitments, time constraints or simply lower interest levels. But those of us who are there no matter what, who lose sleep and exhaust ourselves, who wade through nasty, foamy water to dig out dead hatchlings as the waves wash underneath….who get screamed at by local homeowners who can’t grasp the need to walk near their property to access the beach….we cry, we laugh, we save sea turtles, we lose sea turtles….those that stick with it and dedicate themselves to these precious sea friends…we do pretty work. Even though it’s not always pretty.



Go Gently

Go Gently

So great is the darkness the only way I can see the hatchlings is to rest on my hands and knees. The moist sand, illuminated with phosphorescence, mirrors bright stars overhead.

The waves are rolling long. Just as two baby loggerheads find water, a wave washes far, far on to the beach and envelopes me with warm, salty water. I freeze, watching carefully for the tiny beings, small dark spots on this dark night. They find their way to the sea and I relax and feel myself connected….with all life.

Working with sea turtles brings me back to rhythms of sea and shore, light and darkness. They challenge me to find balance within myself, with nature…the cosmos.

Go gently little ones….go gently.


This is the Time

This is the Time

moonsea2This is the time I love. When all is quiet except the sea. The only voices I hear are in the waves or maybe the stars singing those high treble notes or the full moon bringing her deep alto soothing voice to my starved ears.

mooncloudsThe sea turtle hatchlings made their bold appearance and are now swimming towards grandmother moon through the silver moon glade.

moonseaThis is peace. This is living. Alone, but not really. Nature spirits dance in wild abandon at the miraculous birth of ninety-three loggerheads and who knows…I might soon join them in their dancing.