In 1997, the new South Carolina Aquarium was just getting started; I was one of six people employed at the time, sharing office space on Hasell Street. As we planned the exhibits and animals for the Aquarium, my colleagues and I traveled throughout the state, observing the various ecosystems we’d be representing. One excursion took us on an overnight camping trip to Botany Bay with a representative from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to experience the state’s coastal islands and its sea turtle nesting season.
We ferried our families and ourselves to the island by boat, along with tents and equipment, setting up camp oceanside among the dunes. After spending the afternoon walking through the untouched maritime forest, we began the evening patrolling the beach, hoping to see turtle crawls. Around midnight, a 300-pound loggerhead quietly emerged from the waves and lumbered her way up past the tideline, settling behind low beach shrubs. Standing back, we watched as she dug her nest and deposited hundreds of eggs. Afterwards, she dragged herself down to the shoreline, finally disappearing into the dark water.
Back at camp, we were exhilarated, feeling privileged to have witnessed this. We stayed up most of the night, discussing how to convey what we had just seen through the Aquarium’s guest experience. We left the next day feeling closer to each other and sharing a new sense of commitment.
Two months later, the six of us made another overnight trip to the same spot and watched with excitement as a nest erupted under the full moon and a stream of hatchlings flopped and tumbled their way into the ocean. It was magical!
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Over 15 years we’ve heard stories about the lives the Aquarium has influenced and now we are asking for your help to capture these amazing stories and share them with the world.
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