In 20 years of taking kids out on to the Gulf of Florida to trawl the grassflats. we have never hauled up a seaturtle.
We see them of course.
They cruise by occasionally, popping their head up for a breath, and then slipping back beneath the surface.
We keep our trawl times very short, ... about 3-5 minutes just because they are out there. Our net is tiny, with an opening that is probably two feet by 3 feet and sea turtles are fast as the dickens in the water, so we NEVER really expect to catch one.
Still, just in case, we make short hauls so that any sea turtle in the net is not overly stressed or drowned.
When the kids ask, "Will we catch a shark or a seaturtle?", I always tell them no.
It just doesn't happen.
Yesterday, when the kids hauled the trawl net aboard, they started yelling, "We caught a turtle! We caught a turtle!"
I was sure they were mistaken, and I said so.
"It's probably just a big horseshoe crab in the grass." I said in my all knowing science teacher way.
It was a seaturtle ... a young loggerhead.
UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE!!
OKAY, I THOUGHT IT WAS A YOUNG LOGGERHEAD, BUT A LONG TIME PUREFLORIDA READER, MYAMUHNATIVE, GENTLY CORRECTED ME AND MYAMUH IS RIGHT. IT'S A GREEN AS EVIDENT BY THE 4 PAIRS OF SCUTES ALONG THE SIDE ... LOGGERHEADS HAVE 5.
AT THE TIME I THOUGHT TO MYSELF, "THAT IS ONE PRETTY TURTLE FOR A LOGGERHEAD" .
I SHOULD TAKEN THAT TRAIL OF SELF DOUBT AND KEYED IT OUT BEFORE PUBLISHING, BUT WHEN YOU ARE FULL OF YOURSELF SOMETIMES YOU IGNORE THESE LITTLE SIGNALS.
THANK YOU, MYAMUH!
We got him out of the net quickly, held him on board for about 30 seconds, just long enough to take these shots, and then slipped him smoothly back into the Gulf.
... Talk about some stoked kids! They were ecstatic!
So was I.
I couldn't help think that he may be a grandkid of mine since the thousands of baby loggerheads I hatched as a National Park Ranger in the 80's have been laying eggs for several years now.