An opportunity came up earlier this week to witness something extraordinary. A juvenile green sea turtle named Terra-Tiger had been caught in a dredge in the Mayport area awhile back. She was scheduled to be released back into the Atlantic Ocean after being treated and rehabilitated by the good folks at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, the same place we visited just a few weeks ago. There was never a question as to whether or not I would attend, but I had to decide if pulling Elle from school was a good idea or not. Because I’m a firm believer in creating personal connections with nature, I invited Elle to come along and promised her she wouldn’t get into trouble with her teacher.
I had never been to one of these before and I was a little taken aback by how involved the crowd really gets. The whole thing is pretty emotional, in that bittersweet kind of way. We all cheered as the handler brought Terra-Tiger around for everyone to get a good look. The auxiliary officer even encouraged the little ones to chant, “Go, turtle, go!” over and over again. The kids loved it!
The handler walked out into the Atlantic until she was waist-deep. There she waited for a break in the waves before releasing Terra-Tiger into the water. When she threw her hands up in the air, the crowd cheered and clapped and, yes, some of us even got a little teary-eyed.
How could you not get at least a little teary-eyed? Especially because Terra-Tiger’s handler kept looking over her shoulder as she headed back to shore, maybe hoping to get one more glimpse.
This is definitely one of those moments the kid and I will always remember. So long, Terra-Tiger.