Once, Twice, Three Times a Turtle: A Local Reflection

Bees, Trees and Turtles

Along with rain forest deforestation and honeybee colony-collapse disorder talk in recent decades, the plight of the sea turtles has come onto our radar as a serious environmental concern.  Deforestation affects many other species of plants and animals—not to mention the oxygen supply and possible overall weather patterns.  The honeybee issue is atrocious in its severity although much of the general human population hasn’t realized it yet but may if our food supply is abruptly altered one of these days.   Meanwhile I live in south Florida where it so happens that a few endangered species of sea turtles come to nest annually including the Green, Loggerhead and Leatherback sea turtle.  As a child growing up on the east coast here in Florida it wasn’t uncommon to come across a nest of turtle eggs and there were no public pushes to “save them”—little did I know that one day I’d be a grown-up where turtle talk would be critical to our survival in addition to those of other plants animals such as the bees and trees.

Turtle Walk: Not What First Comes to Mind

The Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) is located in Juno Beach, Florida and their website is www.marinelife.org .  It turns out they have something called a “Turtle Walk” where attendees arrive on a scheduled evening and learn more about the details of the sea turtles’ habits and the kind of research and direct assistance to the sea turtles that the LMC provides through generous donation of volunteer time and public donations.  At the same time, there are “spotters” in communication with staff indoors as to whether there is a turtle sighting—they inform if is there a female turtle approaching the shore in order to lay her eggs in the dark.   If a turtle comes ashore that matches the species allowed by state permit for LMC to view with a tour then the visitors are chaperoned down to the shore in the nighttime with the assistance of red flashlights that will not hamper or scare the turtle.  The general purpose of this Turtle Walk is to educate visitors through education and viewing in real-time the tedious work of a sea turtle to try against many odds to secure the next generation’s survival.

Last Tuesday: No Turtle Show

I had the opportunity to participate in a Turtle Walk event last Tuesday at the LMC in Juno Beach.  Unfortunately our group didn’t have the chance to view a turtle laying in real-time, however, the information I was able to learn in a couple of hours from some of the staff that evening was really enlightening.  Among my favorites: learning that the water evacuating from the pipe from rehabilitation turtle tanks has been treated with a hydrogen peroxide solution that affirms my intuition that has allowed my children and I to enjoy the water play by the shore from it, the fact that leatherback turtles are our best friends because they eat their weight in jellyfish(!) and that LMC’s presence in our area has helped to make significant changes that benefit humans as well as turtles with keeping the nearby beaches cleaner and calmer with less ambient light.  Also, “hot chicks, cool dudes” was the phrase coined to describe the fact in the 1980s biologists realized that sea turtles undergo temperature-dependent sex determination–i.e. the temperature of the sand encloses the egg nests on the shore will sway whether an egg hatches a male or female sea turtle.

Mean Green Clean

If you have had the opportunity to read some of my earlier blog posts you will already understand my anger about our shorelines being treated as an open sand landfill or ashtray—seriously, what possesses us humans to think it’s okay to discard our trash on purpose in a place we all share with each other and the other animal and plants?  On July 5th the LMC organized a beach cleanup and invited the public to come out and utilize tools to pick up any and all trash that could be found after a major holiday.  I brought one of my young children along and when faced with a tantrum I gently sang to him as to why we needed to clean up—for the turtles, for the trees, for the bees and for you and me.  It was both impressive and sad to see how much the public had left in the sands only inches and feet away from wooden markers indicating a sea turtle nest.  Although it is great to have public beach cleanups organized, I feel it’s incumbent upon anyone who steps on a beach to refrain from littering and to pick up any rubbish they see and properly discard.

Local Paper Highlights

Within the same week of attending a LMC Turtle Walk night and participating in a public beach clean up our local paper The Palm Beach Post had a fun Accent front page story entitled “On the trail of turtles” written by Barbara Marshall and photographs by Greg Lovett: http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/lifestyles/on-the-trail-of-turtles/nYc6g/  It was a fun piece that highlighted a snippet of what volunteers, biologists and physicians do at the LMC to help ensure that the leatherback turtles who nest on our shores are able to continue their calling as part of our ecological balance in the ocean–did you know they may actually be natives of the Asian oceans? Also, they eat jellyfish, I repeat: THEY EAT JELLYFISH.  There is more to be written on the need to assist the sea turtles, of course, but it is good to see that the information continues to come out no matter how big or small.

Turtle Time

It is understandable that we can get so overwhelmed by any news that affects the survival of animal species, plants and the frightful fluctuations of our climate on this Earth—so that we actually are moved to not move, we become paralyzed and apathetic.  My hope is that we can at the very least become more aware of our immediate environment where we respectively live and do our best to assist outstanding issues with wildlife other concerns.  We cannot disassociate ourselves from the fact that we depend on each other and other building blocks in our physical world to survive and thrive as we strive to become a better human race overall.


Some newsworthy links:

recent article on honeybee CCD: http://science.time.com/2013/05/07/beepocalypse-redux-honey-bees-are-still-dying-and-we-still-dont-know-why/

recent article on rainforest destruction: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22706402

Making Love With Words – Seashell Philosophy by She


Seashell Philosophy by She: Part 6 in Series

Act 1: The Stage Background

This morning in Palm Beach County, Florida we were blessed with a beautiful sunrise scene that showcased scattered clouds reflecting a shattered rainbow in the color scheme—a fantastic visual that made me drunk with that same seductive emotion that overcomes us when in love.

There are so many words for love in my parents’ native language of Greek: in the Ancient Greek it breaks down to four main ones and I’ve gleaned the following information from www.en.wikipedia.org .  Agape means “love” as in “I love you” with traditional qualities in its definition.   Eros is a passionate sort of love that can apply to anything more than just a friendship and although sensual in nature that doesn’t have to be defined as sex-lust kind.  Philia can mean friendship or affectionate love in Modern Greek and is mostly as that general kind of love between friends, family and community but can include lovers and mutual events.  Storge is the affection felt for the relationships like between a parent and child.

Act 2: Back to the Beach

This alluring morning beckoned me to take my sons in tow with a picnic plus shore gear and head to one of our favorite spots: Juno Beach by Loggerhead Park.  As we walked across A1A and to the edge of where the sand clings to the asphalt, we got the first glimpse of a calm Atlantic Ocean kissing the shoreline.

The sky still had a wallpaper of clouds and seemed to drip into the ocean’s horizon line—the color scheme now had switched to the hues of blue, white and light grays that had a calming effect following the rapturous sunrise we’d endured hours earlier.

The shells were plentiful in quantity as well as quality—even the rocks and coral pieces were intermixed, a cornucopia of gifts from the tide going out.  I noticed that there were some people around but everyone seemed to keep to themselves.  My sons and I made a presence by the sheer fact that we were digging in sand, building structures, picking up trash, running in and out of the shoreline, myself leaping into the beckoning blue sea with the glee that my youngest displayed as he broke down castles smaller than he.

Act 3: How Do We Love By Talking?

As I was enjoying a simple day at the shore with my sons I realized that most people here today were also attracted to the inviting blue water and the abundance of shells.  The way the waves broke over the line of shells and rocks provided a great game consisting of spotting a shell that you wanted and then lunging downward to pick it up before the water took it back again.

After recent articles and books I’ve read about how our human society is battling loneliness despite increased inter-connectivity via our mobile devices and computers—it hit me that we are all able to battle this unnecessary tragedy of feeling isolated when here were a bunch of people today all at the beach for various reasons but for this moment in time we are together.

So I used the obvious icebreaker of saying something to someone about the shell-picking opportunities today or remarking about the boat offshore experiencing an engine fire.  I made it a point to speak to everyone who came within 12 feet or so of me or my children.  It became easier after the first few people and it was enlightening to engage in conversation with everyone.  After about an hour or two I felt so comfortable and relaxed—it seemed everyone else did to as the dozen or so folks in this area who hadn’t been talking to each other now were and even shell-picking or enjoying the surf in closer proximity than before when it seemed everyone had been in their own invisible cubicles just past the high tide line.

Act 4: Love, Love, Love

I was filled with joy today.  I simply lived in the moment of being at the beach, engaging with other people around us and digging my hands in the sand, leaping into the surf, dodging waves for the next best shell.  By far the best part was the love of today.  It wasn’t just my sons that I loved as I handed them refreshments and played with them.  I loved reaching out to other beach-loving spirits and sharing with them as I learned from them.  I truly believe that each time people connect with words it is a form of loving each other if only that it affirms we are not alone.

We all need love and as there are so many kinds of love and ways to give love, why not give as much as we can even in the little ways?  Maybe we make life too complicated—sure we have the trials and the unexpected tragedies that we must weather in a fallen world like Earth but how much stronger are we when we face these things together?  I wish us all more Love in the time we are living now as it is the one thing that is priceless, timeless and most vital to our survival here.

R. V. Saridakis Bean


Seashell Philosophy by She: Part 5 in a Series

This morning in Palm Beach County, Florida most of us awoke to a heavy sky with warm rain drizzling throughout the morning, afternoon and evening.  As mother of two active little boys I immediately realized this was going to be a challenging day as I sought various indoor activities.

The local public library was a good start to the gray blanket of a day but it was short-lived as the new activity for the boys became racing through the stacks and taking out as many books as possible.  We tried to visit a few folks that we haven’t seen in nearly two decades since we were in the neighborhood by the library but they were still in bed around 10-11am (I will not deny I felt jealousy at that moment in time). I was heading for the local zoo when the youngest passed out so the trip became drive-thru subs for lunch while giving my older son a car tour of where mommy used to go to school and other highlights that he may or may not recall later.

Fast forward to the late afternoon where we’ve found ourselves back home and the cozy play inside has now escalated to dangerous trapeze tricks off cribs, beds and other not-so-safe heights.  Having recalled our car tour earlier in the day, there was a green flag on the beach when we made a hairpin trip to see the water.  So there we were at just past 2:30pm and I was changing everyone into their bathing suits and grabbing a light bag with towels, provisions and toys.

We arrived at one of our favorite beach parks and it was deserted with only 2 or 3 cars in a lot that usually was filled to capacity at any given day with sunshine–contrast that with the muddy sky that couldn’t commit to a steady rain like an emotional person that isn’t sure they need to cry or not.

Unfazed by this blatant not-beach-day, I got everyone out and across A1A to the shore.  We were pleasantly surprised by the other diehards present on the beach that truly did have a nice green flag flapping at the life guard tent.

We proceeded to enjoy the next few hours building in the sand and tearing down that magical section where the land and water kiss again and again.  Life is full of satisfying surprises like this if we can manage to look past what we think is the “normal” mode and just go for immersing ourselves in the moment even when it means getting caked with sand on a drizzle of an afternoon in Florida.

The shells and rocks were also lackluster in appearance and selection but that didn’t stop us from tossing them into the shore break and tearing apart the “shipping” canals we were building with these shards and coral bits.  We can’t allow ourselves to be so bound by what we think is the status quo or the right equation.

Today’s strangling conventional wisdom would say: no sun and gray, rainy day equals no beach time in south Florida.  I’m happy to have found out with my boys that this wisdom is unfound and there is a nice crowd of other fellow humans who were able to embrace the joy of the beach day out regardless of the messy precipitation.


Juno Beach: Pictured Above On Another Day Unlike Today’s Gray Weather!

Seashell Philosophy by She: Part 2 in a Series

The Extraordinary Among the Mundane

Jumping and running through the surf of the brisk February surf on our Atlantic shore this month has yielded a few precious finds: shiny granite bits, coral pieces and other small shells.  However, I was trying in vain earlier this week to find some fun shells at the “white line” underneath where the surf breaks onto the sand.  When I realized it was time for my sons and I to leave the beach I found the best shell as we stumbled through the thick mounds of dry sand many yards away from the water.  If I hadn’t kept my eyes toward the ground I would have missed the smooth shiny olive shell (note:http://www.squidoo.com/lettered-olive-shells) that was beautifully intact.

How often have we assumed that what we’re looking for is somewhere exotic and apart from the place we’re at?  Or forget geographical thinking: how about seeking happiness in a change of circumstances rather than finding happiness in whatever circumstance we’re in?

The simple lesson I was reminded again of when I picked up that nice olive shell was that I need to remember that there are extraordinary treasures hidden right where I dwell physically and where I reside in my state of mind.  It’s not to halt the explorer spirit but just help temper that impatient traveler within by knowing that there’s still new adventures to be found locally.