Old Turtle

Posted on October 27, 2009


Loggerhead_Sea_TurtleMy favorite place in the entire world right now is Jekyll Island, Georgia. I first visited this barrier island way back when I was in 8th grade. I didn’t find it as interesting as nearby St. Simon’s Island, which had many shops, restaurants, etc.

Then last March we went up for a weekend on my husband’s 50th birthday. I was enchanted. Very little had changed since my first visit all those years ago. The same gift shop was there, where I’d bought my Mom a tiny little three-legged trinket box she has since gifted to me.

Why do I love Jekyll Island? The big wide open beaches, the gorgeous driftwood, the views of St. Simon’s and it’s lighthouse, the bike trails, the tiny little grocery store – all of it. But I was especially touched by the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center opened in June 2007 as a very well-equipped rehab center for injured turtles and tortoises. There is a wonderful reproduction of an ancient turtle fossil, which is so enormous as to defy belief. There are also really fun exhibits and great crafts for kids.

But the best part is the turtles themselves. On our first visit the entire family fell in love with Dylan, a giant loggerhead turtle. It was feeding time, and we were thrilled to watch her work to remove the fish from a block of ice. When she raised her head to breathe and met my eyes over the edge of the tank, I was stunned. There were so much intelligence and wisdom in those seemingly ancient eyes.

Dylan was originally found on Jekyll Island. She was a hatchling who didn’t make it back out to sea, but instead was stranded on the shore. She spent several years on the island in the Tidelands Nature Center. When she outgrew her home there, she travelled to Atlanta to the Georgia Aquarium where she became a very popular resident.

Then last year she was moved to the Sea Turtle Center for her final rehab before being released into the ocean yet again. On June 30, 2008, Dylan was released back into the Atlantic Ocean. Watching her on the news, I was happy yet sad. Mostly I was struck by her determination as she slowly made her way into the waves.

Dylan is now a heroine in our house. We keep track of her wherabouts via a satellite transmitter monitored through the Georgia Aquarium. Anastasia, my daughter, asks nearly every day to see where Dylan is now. I love to think of her swimming free. With those ancient wise eyes.

To see Dylan’s release video, or learn more about the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, visit their website at


Photo courtesy of:  Mike Gonzalez (TheCoffee) This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License.

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