Growing up in California, I thought the west coast was the best coast. From food to entertainment, California rules, BUT even this native Californian has to admit: St. George Island State Park has changed my perception of how heavenly beaches can be, especially when graced with nesting loggerheads.
I visited St. George Island for the first time in the summer of 2016. Growing up in California, I was accustomed to coarse sands, the freezing cold ocean waters, and the trash that lined our beaches – but at St. George, Mother Nature really shows out. St. George’s towering, curvy dunes fortify the horizon, her soft, powdery sands sooth my salty skin. Running across the shoreline feels like jumping on clouds, and the birds float above like small, feathery angels. Here, I am free. I approach the water like an old friend and the waves engulf me in a warm embrace. Floating, I just coast, bobbing at the surface in true relaxation.
On one of my many repeat visits to this calm shore, I was lucky enough to witness a loggerhead sea turtle laying her eggs. Her gargantuan fins struggled to move her body up the shore. At the perfect spot, she entered a trance, her focus unparalleled. Her determination is what drove her to swim across the ocean to her birthplace and lay her legacy in these sands. It’s moments like these that make me feel most at home in my new state. It’s my responsibility as a new Floridian to protect our balance of life here.
While the sand is softer and the water warmer in Florida, the trash is still the same. Litter, from plastic straws to beer bottles, is sadly commonplace. But we save what we love, and now more than ever I want to fight for St. George Island’s longevity. In her powerful waves, I found my power and my ability to affect change. Just as the mother loggerhead is determined, I am determined to protect this precious, priceless slice of paradise.