A Christmas morning surprise: a dead loggerhead oceanic turtle is found on a Florida beach.

Loggerhead turtle found on Bunche Beach Christmas morning. 2020 Paul Goldfinger photo.

 

By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor. Tropicanaforum.com

 

Nature knows no holidays. I went to the beach at 8 am on Christmas morning hoping to find someone in a Santa hat.  As I walked towards the beach entrance, I met a tall young man heading my way carrying a serious photo rig identifying him as a nature photographer.  His lens was about 15 inches long. He came up to me, seeing my camera, and he said that a dead loggerhead turtle had washed up and that it was a very rare finding. He said that this time of year would be unusual for a loggerhead to show up because it was their nesting time.

I walked onto the beach and saw the creature immediately.  It was about 3 1/2 feet long. There were red marks around the head and neck.  A Ranger was also on the scene.  He thought that the animal may have been about 50-70 years old, but he couldn’t say if it were male or female.  Its life expectancy is up to 80 years.  In general these sea turtles are survivors having been around for 100 million years—or so they say.

He turned to rush back to his Jeep to make a call.   He and his colleague would move the animal to a special lab where it would be autopsied with the tentative cause of death being “red tide” which is found in Florida now, but not as bad as last year.

Then a young couple appeared while I was photographing.   They told me that they were active in a group which travels around concerning itself with survival of turtles and other oceanic wildlife.  She showed me her colored bracelets signifying marine places where she has gone to help the cause. These big turtles are considered endangered.

The loggerhead seemed so sad to me, partly because it was Christmas morning, and the couple said that it was not there yesterday. They also agreed with the red tide diagnosis.

The first image was intentionally obtained in color and to show the turtle’s size and its location on the beach.

But then I switched to a monochrom camera with a portrait lens.  This creature seemed like it was dignified in its way and maybe I could reveal that with a black and white photograph.  (See portrait on Dec 26)

The face of the turtle revealed big dark eyes which almost seemed to be staring ahead.  It’s body was encrusted with barnacles as if it had reached old age.  But it looked strong and well nourished, so maybe its luck had run out in a cruel natural oceanic world.   There were signs of violence on its body, and that clashed with the idea of “peace on Earth” which prevailed today.