Unidentified flying objects that feel suspiciously furry brush against my face as our group treks through dense foliage on our way to the beach guided only by the moon. Advised to wear long sleeves and pants, despite the heat of a June evening in South Florida, I’m glad we obeyed. When we finally reach our destination, she is ready. Our guide assures us we won’t disturb her once she begins laying her eggs.
The massive Loggerhead is in a trance, oblivious to all. Regardless, our guide provides only a dim light for viewing but allows the young ones to crowd around as the first few perfect globes, shining in the moonlight, appear. The children gleefully count out loud until they reach a hundred and three. One hundred and three beautiful, perfect eggs soon, by the grace of Mother Nature, to be one hundred and three baby Loggerheads.
The mother, using her great flippers, laboriously and rhythmically scoops large quantities of sand over the nest. In the morning, an enthusiastic group of marine biologists will arrive on an ATV, record the nest, and mark it with only a small, numbered stake protruding from the sand to protect it.
When the nest is fully covered, the turtle makes her deliberate way back across the beach and slips into to the water, vanishing silently. She leaves behind nothing but the tracks of her great body in the sand and one hundred and three tiny lives to face a host of perils alone before finally reaching the sea.