High tide is when the moon pushes water from the ocean in towards shore. This influx of water rushes into jetty’s and channels along the coasts, causing many fish and other wildlife to come in towards the shore. High tide is the best time to fish, snorkel, and kayak for the most clarity and sightings. This is why at Jupiter Outdoor Center, Turtle Time focuses on directing guests to the best local spot for viewing turtles in the wild. Right near our location is the cove where the Turtles swim up for air and graze on the sea grass beds below. Before we began our adventure, JOC showed us the basics of “turtle etiquette” to ensure that we knew not to touch or approach any wild sea creatures. My first time going was the absolute best time of my life as i had never swam so close to a Sea Turtle before. We paddled against the current first which was quite a workout, but when we arrived, it was well worth it. We were able to clearly see below the surface in our new Crystal Kayaks. These transparent bottom kayaks provide up to 20 feet of visibility for a combination of kayaking and snorkeling. Fish and a Spotted Eagle Ray swam right under us and we were able to see them with full clarity. As we drifted up towards the cove, at least 4 sea turtles poked their heads out of the water. We parked the boats up near shore and got our snorkel masks out for a closer look. As we were putting drops on our lenses, a juvenile sea turtle rushed by our feet and disappeared into the distance. I had never seen a turtle move so quickly in my life! The water was very warm and crystal clear as we began our snorkel around the cove. For the first 20 minutes, we didn’t see any more turtles and started to get a bit discouraged. Then, out of no where, two huge adult sea turtles swam in my direction together. I turned on my GoPro and waited quietly so they were not frightened. They swam up almost within arms reach and began drifting slowly along my path. After they disappeared, I set my camera up on the sea floor to see if we could get a close up of the next one feeding. Sure enough, another beautiful turtle came right up to me and swam right in front of my camera, grazing on the grass in front of it. After that, the Turtles were too abundant to count and we swam with them continuously for about an hour and took as many photos and videos as possible. We only had two masks, so I gave my snorkel gear to my cousin to try and started towards the shore. When the water reached my waist, i came up on what looked like a large cloud of sand in the water floating towards me. I didn’t think anything of it until all of a sudden, a little gray face popped its head up for air! At that moment i realized that i was standing next to a giant manatee the size of my Kayak! It startled me so much that i jumped, but when i realized what i was seeing, the moment became magical. I had never seen animals in the wild that close up and for a manatee to swim right up to me, was something i could have never imagined. He swam around us for about 20 minutes until he made his way out into the channel. After that we saw at least 10 more sea turtles swimming under and around us hanging out, waiting to go up on the beach. Dusk was setting in and on our way back to shore, we looked back how our experience was way more than we expected. Many people will never see a turtle in their lifetime and who would have thought we would see over 15 in one day. It is truly a blessing to live in such an amazing place with such a vast array of ecosystems and wildlife to explore. Turtle Time will be the time of your life as it was for my friends and I.
JOC is also pleased to announce a collaboration with Dr. Larry Woods of The National Save the Sea Turtles Foundation to assist in collecting research on these beautiful creatures.