Every spring, around this time of year, giant sea turtles begin migrating to shore to start laying their eggs. Palm Beach locals are well aware of this because if they have waterfront property, they're advised to turn off lights at night to prevent confusing the hatchlings.
Over at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach, true experts on the turtles and their egg laying processes scout out and map the current year's activity. They take responsibility for promoting ecosystem conservation, and one way they do this is through their guided turtle walk tours.
A Loggerhead Sea Turtle coming to shore on Juno Beach — Photo courtesy of Loggerhead Marinelife Center
The Marinelife Center begins accepting reservations in late May for turtle walks in June and July. These are the only two months that tours are offered. There's only one tour per day, at 9 pm, and they aren't offered every day of the week. Reservations can be made online, and dates have already begun to sell out. Walk-ins are taken on a first come, first serve basis, but that is a risky strategy to take. Prices for the walk are $17 for non-members, jumping to $20 if you wait until day of.
What does this turtle walk consist of, you ask? At a high level, the tour is meant to first inform you about the sea turtle egg laying process, and then allow you to observe it. The turtles lay eggs at night on the beach, which is why these tours go out at 9 pm and often last until midnight. The first part of the tour will be informational, while the scouts go out to the beach to monitor for activity. Once they find some, the group will be beckoned and the excitement really turns up a notch.
Seeing a live Loggerhead maneuvering up the beach, digging out a nest and laying her eggs is a truly eye-opening experience. Once people witness this act, they seem to automatically become more eco-conscious, developing a deeper love for wildlife.
The Juno Beach area is the densest area in the United States for Loggerhead nesting, and the months of June and July are when egg laying activity is at its peak. Having said this, Loggerhead nesting is not a predictable event. Most tours do end up seeing some egg laying, but it's not guaranteed. The time spent with the guides and at the Marinelife Center is well worth the price of admission, so don't think its "egg laying or bust."