Of Honeymoons and Conservation, Part I

I already knew that I had picked an awesome Life Adventure Buddy (aka husband), but I think our honeymoon added an extra layer of confirmation to that idea. Rob and I didn’t plan any sort of theme when we decided on Palm Beach, Florida; we just wanted to do fun things in the area. And for both of us, “fun things” ended up meaning trips to natural parks, wildlife centers, a zoo, and beach, beach, beach! It’s pretty fantastic when you share quirky interests 🙂 Since we had a great time on our trip, and I’m eager to relive the sun and the sand, I figured I’d share some of our journey along with the conservation tidbits we picked up.


The first day of our trip, we spent a day (of course) at the beach where I was reminded of the vast awesomeness of the ocean. I know all the geographical facts (Europe is that way, Africa is that way), but when you stand on the shore and realize just how tiny you are—it’s hard to explain, but the majesty of the ocean just feels like anything is possible, that limits don’t exist. If I could fly, I would soar as far out into the blue as I could and revel in the utter freedom. If I could sail my own ship directly above the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, I would sing every song I know, as loudly as I want, and never have to stop or bother with that whole being “in tune” business. And who knows…with thousands of square miles of the open sea, maybe there really are elusive dragons or a ship of femme fatale pirates still searching for treasure out there—all just waiting to be immortalized in the pages of fantasy. Besides my dreamy side, the oceanic perspective was a mindbender in a spiritual or philosophical sense as well: if God is all-powerful and the universe is infinite, how can I not even comprehend the bigness of some saltwater? Not even a drop in a proverbial bucket of planets, stars, and hosts of galaxies? Yet here it is…so open that I can see no end. Mind boggling.




Of course, the other strange thing to wrap my mind around is how my seemingly insignificant self can impact something so great. Many of us are aware of our oceans’ troubles (rising sea levels, rising temperatures, non-point source pollution, etc), but I always want to remind folks that we really can make a difference! Even if you’re landlocked, the simplest things like recycling, opting for reusable shopping bags, turning off lights and electronics when not in use, and minimizing pollutants that make it to the oceans via run-off and watersheds—all of that can make a tremendous positive impact for ocean conservation if we make a collective effort.


After a glorious day of splashing through waves and making sand art (I got pretty fancy), we visited a sea turtle rescue facility called Loggerhead Marinelife Center. On any given day, volunteers and staff are caring for loggerheads, greens, Kemps Ridleys, hawksbills, and even leatherbacks that have somehow run afoul of nature or humans. On the day we visited, one lucky loggerhead was about to be released after a thankfully mild experience with a fish hook and line! Other turtles (like Betty White, story below), had been at the facility for a few months while injuries or infections were carefully tended to by skilled vets.



Rob and I with Shertz, a loggerhead sea turtle who had been cold-stunned in Cape Cod and arrived at the center with a hole in her carapace (top shell). She’s progressing well and will hopefully be released soon!


A vet and volunteer performing routine check-up on Betty White


Betty White’s story



The center also kept track of sea turtle nesting on the beaches in the area. Since humans and artificial light sources can pose a huge problem to little hatchlings, volunteers try to make sure sea turtle babies are able to safely incubate, emerge, and seek out the ocean uninterrupted.




Turtles and the ocean are pretty darn cool, but the adventures didn’t stop there! Next, we visited Manatee Lagoon, a manatee education center sponsored by one of Florida’s energy companies. What I loved about this facility was its bluntness about threats to manatees, yet still the accessibility of the information. Boat strikes are a huge problem for manatees, and the material at Manatee Lagoon didn’t shy away from this. However, the information was still presented in a truthful yet gentle enough way for even children to learn to be responsible boaters as adults. Plus, the manatee life history information was presented from the standpoint of “Mia,” a cartoon manatee ready to share valuable information to families!




While at the lagoon…we were super lucky! Only one manatee passed by the facility all day, and it just happened to be during our short visit! I might have squealed a little bit…



The one manatee to pass by all day…so excited that we saw her/him!


Hey look! We got a picture with a manatee!

Well, we had a few more days of exciting, but I think I will leave you with a cliff-hanger. What did we see next?? I guess you’ll have to come back to check 🙂


Peace, love, and manatees!

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