Walking with Charbie

The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too.  ~Samuel Butler, Notebooks, 1912

Charbie absolutely loves the beach. He is such a happy boy out there running around in the sand, digging up shells and chasing waves. He especially loves “Shelly,” the large white clam shells. He runs from Shelly to Shelly, making sure he says hello to each one, while trying to decide which one he wants to take home. One could make himself dizzy following Charbie’s paw prints around in the sand. Every morning when we come home from our walk, he has sand on his nose and Shelly in his mouth, and he is just as proud as can be. I think what I love best is the look he gives me as we are heading back to the house. The look that says ‘hey, that was fun, thanks for taking me along.’ If only he knew that I enjoy our walks together just as much as he does…     

The most affectionate creature in the world is a wet dog.  ~Ambrose Bierce

 

More than we expected…

After several days of cold, wet weather, we decided to take advantage of the sunshine by enjoying a walk on the beach. I had taken a walk in the morning and came home with some nice shells that the storm had washed up, so we ventured down the road to see what else we could find.

DSC_0694We found some nice shells, but we also found some critters that didn’t make it. We came upon two sunfish that had been washed up, a couple of jellyfish, a pelican and most surprising, a Leatherback sea turtle. We thought her dead at first, her eyes already destroyed by the birds, but after looking her over a bit, we realized that she was in fact still alive.

DSC_0711She was just barely hanging on and we didn’t figure there was anything we could do for her, so we finished our walk back and then stopped into the Pea Island Visitor’s Center to tell them about the turtle. They were immediately concerned and calls were made to go check on her and see what, if anything, could be done. We went back to where she was on the beach and waited for the experts to arrive.

DSC_0722The aquarium crew arrived first, followed by the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife. After a very thorough examination, it was determined that the best thing for the turtle was to put her to sleep, she was just too far gone to save. They drew blood for testing, measured her, took pictures and documented the entire process.

DSC_0736Before the aquarium crew arrived, they had been a little way down the beach picking up a dolphin. The common dolphin had washed ashore and had to be put to sleep also. Common dolphins are deep water dolphins, so they will be performing a necropsy to see if they can’t find out what brought the dolphin close enough to be washed ashore.

DSC_0732Once the Leatherback turtle was euthanized, everyone had to work together in order to get her loaded into the back of the truck. They estimated that this turtle, who was about six feet long, weighed somewhere between 600-700 pounds.

DSC_0787Being in the presence of so many experts, we learned a lot about these amazing turtles. Leatherbacks are the largest turtles on earth and they are on the endangered list. Their shells are flexible and almost rubbery because they are deep divers, diving deeper than any other turtles. Jellyfish are their favorite food, but unfortunately they often mistake floating plastic as their favorite snack. This often turns deadly for the turtles. They are not often found near shores, so a necropsy will be performed on her to see if they can determine what caused her to be there.

DSC_0790I just wish things had turned out better for this beautiful giant. I am glad we stumbled upon her when we did, though, and that we were able to watch as she was taken care of. This was a once in a lifetime learning experience, and it won’t be forgotten anytime soon…

Update: The necropsy was performed on the leatherback today, February 1. They found a blockage formed by a wad of plastic bags.

Life on the OBX

“Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it is sent away.” ~Sarah Kay

We made it to the Outer Banks of North Carolina! We were all giddy little school children when we found out just how close to the ocean our RV pad is. There is a sand dune right behind us, and when I climb upon it and look around, I can see Waldo in one direction, and the Atlantic Ocean in the other. Off in the distance, the Bodie Island lighthouse guides ships safely home. We cracked the window last night and lay there listening to the soothing sound of the waves crashing upon the shore. What is it about the ocean that is so captivating?

Rob begins his volunteer position tomorrow. He will tour the island and get to know the visitor’s center for a few days, and then he will begin working on his own. It will be a nice, quiet job, especially since it is the off-season here in the Outer Banks. We will be here through April, though, so slowly the shops will reopen and people will return to the island, bringing more visitors to the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge Visitor’s Center.

I think we are going to like it here. We are going to like it a lot.