Sea Turtles Dig the Dark!

The June 20, 2008 release of sea turtle Dylan prompted a rally calling for the adoption of a modernized beach lighting ordinance for the protection of the nesting habitat of the endangered loggerhead sea turtle. Jekyll’s current beach lighting ordinance is more than a quarter-century old and does not offer the level of protection for sea turtle nesting habitat that can be found elsewhere along the southeast coast.

Dylan, who has become nationally famous since her release, was rescued on Jekyll Island as a hatchling and has spent her life in the care of humans. In 2005, she outgrew her tank at her home at Jekyll’s Tidelands Nature Center and was transferred to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. She was sent to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island in May 2007, where she learned how to hunt for food such as crabs, mussels, whelk and sea snails.

Officials from the Georgia Sea Turtle Center said her carapace has grown enough that it is safe for her to survive on her own. The carapace — the upper shell and protective surface of the turtle — is more than 50 centimeters long.

Researchers have fit Dylan with a special satellite transmitter to study her movements and learn the differences between learned and inherited behaviors. Fans can keep tabs on  Dylan at the following web sites:

Photo courtesy of Carla Cook Smith, editor, Perspectives Magazine