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Circle of Life...


It's been several years since the last time we drove to watch this phenomenon of nature!! Wake up everybody!!! It's o'dark thirty, and time to hit the road!!! Bud and I got up early on Sunday morning, I first got on the phone and called the hot line. The time was here. It was shortly before 5 a.m. and it's about a 30-40 minute drive from home; must get dressed and head on down the road. In the dark hour of the morning just before sunrise. The drive is over the causeway to North Padre Island. After crossing the causeway from downtown for about 15 miles or so, there is a small settlement of hotels and resorts, homes, and businesses all incorporated within the Corpus Christi city limits zone. Driving beyond that on Park Highway 22, you can drive for another 15 miles or so and you reach the end of the paved highway. From there it's all 4 wheel driving on the beach for approximately 60/70 miles to the man-made channel that separates North Padre Island and South Padre Island near Brownsville, Texas.

Okay, we got the directions straight, I'll move on. Getting to the end of the paved road, there is Malaquite Beach [pronounced MAL ah keet]. This is an area with a visitor's center for the Padre Island National Seashore Federal Park. Miles of beach, that is uninhabited, pristine and filled with wildlife of all sorts. At the Malaquite Center there is also a huge facility that incubates the endangered turtle eggs found along the sandy shores to save them. Once they hatch, they're ready for releasing into the Gulf. Hundreds upon thousands of eggs are hatched here [each year!], and if you follow the dates and call ahead to their hot line, you are then told when to show up to experience the bitter sweet journey of the hatchlings released into the wild. I say bitter sweet because it's a happy time and a sad time...they're free...yet, how many but just a few will survive the cruelties of life on their own? They're fish bait, they're so very vulnerable to the predators of the sea and nature's malice. We got up, drove to the island, went through the park entrance gate [fees are waived on release dates just prior to the release time around 6:15 a.m.]. At this early early hour on a Sunday morning, the parking lot was filled with vehicles!! And getting up to the center, the people of all ages are already here!!! From the center pavilion, the trek is down hill over a fence lined boardwalk, off the dunes and down to the beach. The area on the beach is set up for the turtle protection...netting high above to keep the sea gulls from snatching up the hatchlings, the volunteers are lined up with bright flags with colorful streamers for 'scare tactics' of their natural predators:  And we human spectators by the hundreds form a fence surrounding the vast area cordoned off by 'cautionary tape', for protection also.  A HUMAN FENCE as seen partially in the photos below.



...and the styrofoam coolers are opened and with gloved hands the baby turtles are placed on the sandy surface and the 'race is on'....their small flippers push the sand as they head for the Gulf!!! No more needs to be said: Just follow their lead and see that you'll probably feel what I feel as I watch them head out to a life unknown...





Farewell sweet princess!!  Parting is such sweet sorrow. May flights of angels protect thee.  Hope you survive and live a long happy life!! And maybe someday, when mature, you'll return here to share your fruitful times with more fertile eggs so we can see your offspring return safely to the deep...


From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
There's more to see than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done
There's far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high
Through the sapphire sky
Keeps great and small on the endless round
It's the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life

Lyrics from Lion King
words by Elton John


ADDENDUM: 11:00 am July 6th
    Life History and Reproduction: Nearly 95% of worldwide Kemp's ridley nesting occurs in one confirmed arribada ("arrival") in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico. A small amount of females nest consistently in Veracruz, Mexico, and at Padre Island National Seashore, Texas. Sexual maturity is estimated to be 7 to 15 years of age. Female Kemp's ridleys return to nest on the same beach where they were hatched (from May to July) — usually in the daylight hours — to lay two to three clutches of approximately 100 eggs, which incubate for 50-60 days. Upon emerging from the buried nest, hatchlings weigh roughly half an ounce (14 g) and measure around 1.5 inches (3.8 cm).   Read more on the turtles here...

112 comments :

  1. Oh my goodness!!! How exciting!!!! What wonderful pictures too!!! Just amazing!! Lucky you!!! We haven't been to Corpus Christi and South Padre Island since Ron's mother passed. Have a grand day!

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    1. I enjoy it...but when they reach the water, I shed a few tears knowing their survival rate is very slim.

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  2. How sweet and precious it must be to witness such a sight. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Precious indeed...but it can really tug at the heart strings!!!

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  3. Anni, thank you so much for the pictures of the turtle release. I will probably never be able to see it myself and your words and pictures are the next best thing. And I too would probably shed a few tears as I wished them God speed.

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    1. ...well, we can both say it's the salt water!!!

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  4. I cried, just thinking about those fragile little lives, and then the Lion King song lyrics, well you just got me undone this morning, Anni. Beautiful and bittersweet indeed. Thanks for getting up and taking the time to watch this incredible phenomenon and then share it with me. :-)

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    1. You're so precious D J....I am happy to know it was enjoyable to you, tho as we both agree, it's IS so very bittersweet.

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  5. This is so amazing! Thank you for sharing! I hope a lot of them are surviving!

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    1. Let's hope a LOT of them survive....I so agree.

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  6. Aw such adorable shots from the sea, I also hope that a lot of them make it.

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    1. Very few do, since records are kept and the hatchlings supposedly return to their 'home' when mature. To nest.

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  7. Only one time have I seen the hatching of sea turtles that were in the dune nest and their travel to the ocean. It was beautiful, but sad, too, because the seagulls snatched so many before they reached safety in the sea and then I had to imagine their struggles to survive even there. I really like your Circle of Life writing.

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    1. Ya, that is why the use of the netting during the releases. They ALL at LEAST make it to the sea. But then, what happens after that point is beyond human control.

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  8. Anni what a gorgeous sunrise....that photo enlarged would be a conversation piece hanging on the wall especially when you tell the story of the precious turtle release. What a special opportunity to see the release.
    Hug madi and mom

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    1. They are so darned cute at that stage.

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  9. Oh my goodness, amazing photos! Those teeny turtles.

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  10. Anni, that is really delightful, and such fun for you to see. Even if you did have to get up early and make the trip

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    1. We're usually morning people, but before 5 a.m.....on a Sunday...that was pushing it. LOL

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  11. What an incredible post for the day, Anni!! I do love the little turtles and Elton John's song and the words are SO perfect for your photos!! Thank you as always for sharing the beauty of your world!! A great way to begin my day!! Have a wonderful new week!!

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    1. ...thank YOU Sylvia!! Your kind words made my day.

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  12. An amazing sight - thanks for sharing! Great photos.

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    1. it's good to know you enjoyed this mick!

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  13. Good to see all those baby turtles being released!

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    1. yes, it was a good feeling when they reached the water safely...but oh to think what happened next. I just hope at least half survive for a long while.

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  14. Let's hope the majority survive their passage into adulthood.

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  15. I find this post so interesting. I would think it was worth your time to rise early and make the drive. No Anni I don't consider you a lurker. I have a reader who thinks blogging is silly but can't resist checking me to see what I post. Another who admits she reads but won't comment. lol

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    1. That's good to know!!! Thanks Paula.

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  16. Anni, what a spectacular sight to see the babies rushing for the water. I saw sea turtle nest sites when visiting FL for a June wedding several years ago. I was exhilarated just to see the marks in the sand where the females pushed themselves to choose a nesting spot. Seeing these babies (your special photos) does make the circle complete. Glad you got up and made the journey!

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    1. ...glad you enjoyed this post Barb!!

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  17. Sweet shots of the baby Ridleys! What a sight that must be to see! They are also along the east coast, Ga and the Carolinas ~ Lovely photography!

    Quite the sculpture and wonderful photo ~ great composition and texture!

    Happy Week to you,
    artmusedog and carol

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    1. I am not sure the Kemps are on the East Coast...never heard that....I was always told the Gulf of Mexico. Learn something every day.

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  18. Good luck little turtles. May your life be a very large circle. This would be so fascinating to watch

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    1. Good luck to them, indeed!

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  19. Oh Anni, I am so happy to have seen this. Such a lovely post ... I can't imagine anything more heartwarming than to have actually seen the release. How absolutely wonderful. Thank you for sharing. And thank you to those who work to ensure the K-R species survive.

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    1. ...the rangers/docents were so very helpful to the turtles and those wanting photos and only had cellphones too!!

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  20. That is so cool! I loved your photos. Thanks for getting up early and sharing with us.

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    1. ...thank YOU Mari. Positive feedback is always appreciated.

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  21. We have baby turtles here too. But nowadays the mommy are coming less and less frequent.

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    1. ...that's not a good sign!!

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  22. Touching to see the incredibly cute turtle babies. Good luck everyone!

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  23. How amazing and very moving! Lovely shots.

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  24. What an incredible experience! I watched over nest ( no idea really what kind of turtles) while in South Carolina but never saw them going into the ocean. Lovely pictures .

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    1. This makes me happy knowing you enjoyed the photos/post.

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  25. I would love to see the release. What long odds for turtles to survive.

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    1. I'm surprised that you HAVEN'T seen a release before since you've lived nearby some time ago in Victoria.

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  26. I have always wanted to see this all take place and perhaps someday I will however in the meantime it was lovely looking at all you great shots o fthem and the gulls, Anni

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    1. I'm sure you will get to experience this someday Margaret.

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  27. That is just the coolest thing. I want to volunteer, but I live in Chicago

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    1. Awwwww, maybe you can take a vacation down here sometime and work with them then.

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  28. One of your great stories there Anni

    If ever leaving your bed too early this occasion was surely it?

    Seeing newly hatched turtles setting out into the big wide world has to be one of the best wildlife experiences ever.

    Great to see so many people giving them a hand too.

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    1. These people are VERY dedicated!!!! Trust me. They work around the clock during nesting season...they're on patrol on the beaches always. And then the lab.

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  29. What a beautiful post. The baby sea turtles are so cute. What a great project this is and hopefully will increase their chance for survival - at least until they reach the water.

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    1. Yes, who know what evil lurks in the deep...that is why it's so bitter sweet for me each time I see one make it to the water's edge and swim away!!

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  30. such awesome pictures. have really missed visiting your blog.

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    1. Long time no see Denise!!! It made me smile big time to see you had stopped by! Hope you're doing well dear friend.

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  31. Hello Anni, what a great post. It is cool seeing the baby turtles. I hope they all survive. I am glad the turtles have help. Enjoy your day!

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  32. With tears of salt running down my face, I say thank you for this share, so happy sad yes and what a sweet journey to bid them farewell. God be with them, it has to be so difficult. Hugs~

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  33. I just wanted to let you know that I have included your blog in my "Top 10 Wildlife Blogs You Need to Follow" List. The post is on my blog now.

    Mersad
    Mersad Donko Photography

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    1. Wow...thank you so much for your kindness, and ultimate recognition!!!

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  34. I'm so glad you did this, Anni! I was wondering if you would. I've been following them on FB this season. So fun, maybe next year we'll come down form SA. Thanks for sharing!

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  35. We used to take the high school science class down to study Kemps. This is a lovely posting!

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  36. So exciting, Anni!!! Oh, how I would love to be part of this wonderful event! I always pray for the baby turtles successful journey into the ocean when I see films about this. What great "midwives" are there to usher their journey on, and pray for their success! Thrilling!!!!!! And I loved your poem.

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    1. Thanks Marie. Well, it's NOT a poem, it's song lyrics.

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  37. Oh Annie this is magical I have tears in my eye thinking of the journey ahead for the little guy. Love the lyrics of the Lion King Circle of Life. Thanks for sharing this. Hug B

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    1. I'm so happy to know you enjoyed this Buttons!

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  38. Hi Anni, I am glad I came to visit. I have always wanted to watch turtles lay eggs or baby turtles hatching. Thank you for sharing these photos.

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    1. You're welcome Nancy...glad you stopped by and was able to view this little adventure with me.

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  39. Unbelievable! How wonderful to get to witness this miracle! Hubby and I both enjoyed your photos this morning. Swim on little ones!!! Hugs Diane

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    1. Thanks Diane...it's nice to know you AND your husband enjoyed this.

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  40. tiny things! vulnerable, indeed. thanks for sharing this experience.

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    1. ...thanks Ms. T. It's always a pleasure having you drop by...and hosting Good Fences.

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  41. Wow! Incredible blog post and photos. I really enjoyed this. Have a lovely day, Anni.

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    1. ...thanks for visiting Mildred

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  42. Oh, yes, I definitely feel the joy and sadness...such a sweetness of life, mixed in with fear and dread, and hope that they survive. And knowing that it is just not meant for all to live a long life.

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    1. You stated it perfectly Rose.

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  43. It is a bittersweet journey for these tiny creatures. One wonders why they are put through such an arduous test---ah--circle of life. But they are babies I cry!
    MB

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  44. This story touches my heart ... the circle of life and then there is the human interruptions that cause so much loss of wildlife and habitat. And yet there is hope when you see new life being released into the vast unknown. I read more and read about the effect of the oil spill. Our earth will be blessed when oil ceases to be the center of our existence. You told this story so well ... have you ever thought about writing as a hobby or avocation? If young people could see your pictures and read your words, don't you think they would carry on the torch for nature and the love of life? This made my day Anni ... thank you :)

    Andrea @ From The Sol

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    1. Your comments each week are always so eloquently put. I enjoy reading your responses.

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  45. What a lovely event to witness and be part of. And because of this little helping hand they do at least make it to the shore.

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  46. pure joy and sadness, but a wonderful read!! i really love those black headed seagulls!!!!

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  47. Well I know there was a fence here today but those little turtles just stole the show. They are so adorable. I just loved your photos, that last one was especially sweet.

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  48. Wow! Job well done on the photos.

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  49. Incredible~~ I love this story of the turtles and their way to the future. What great pics and the human fence priceless. Great story and thanks for sharing this part of Texas and the work being done.
    Have a great weekend. cm

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it this week!!!

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  50. Oh wow... I got chills looking at the photos...... I love sea turtles and I know they face so many challenges... Michelle

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    1. ...glad you enjoyed this Michelle

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  51. Bon voyage, little turtles!

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    1. awwww. that's mighty sweet.

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  52. Tiny little wonders.

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  53. Such precious little living sea creatures.

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    1. ....they definitely ARE precious.

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  54. What an exciting day. To be a part of such a release must have been rewarding. - Margy

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  55. What a gorgeous sunrise!! I love the turtles too! One of my favorite creatures.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the post!!

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  56. I've only seen these little guys on TV. What a wonderful experience it must have been!

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