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Borrego Springs, CA

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Off to the swamp!

Yesterday, 12 volunteers and two staff headed off for a day long fieldtrip into the swamp.  Our destination was Big Water which is reached through the west entrance.  It’s a 70 mile drive from the east entrance, so we packed lunches and dressed in multiple layers for this on the water adventure.

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After many days of overcast skies, Friday dawned clear and cold.  By a little after 10:00, we were on our way in three refuge boats to enjoy the cypress swamp area of the refuge.

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We motored our way through Billy’s Lake to then thread our way through the canoe paths.  One of the pluses of volunteering at this refuge is the number of fieldtrips that we are able to do so we get a true feeling of the swamp that we can relate to visitors.

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It’s hard to explain the beauty of traveling through this wilderness.  Alligators lurk around many corners, and I find the cypress knees especially wonderful to look at.

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After several miles of travel, we arrived at our lunch stop.  Connor, the new biology intern, was in the front of the boat I was in and scooped up this turtle as we arrived at the shelter.

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Little did any of us know, but the poor turtle had a fish hook through his lower mouth that had fish line wound around a large tree branch.  It was trapped, and surely would have perished if we hadn’t come upon it.

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Within minutes, a set of dikes was found, and the operation to free this guy began.  What else could all of us wildlife loving people do?

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         It wasn’t long, and the surgery was over.  Can you believe the size of those claws on its feet?

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In short order, it gave us one last glance, and dove into the swamp with, I’m sure, a new sense of freedom.  Why is it that unthinking fishermen don’t understand the consequences of leaving their tangled lines in the swamp?  How much effort could it have taken to clean up their tangled line?  After all, the only way they got here in the first place was by using a motor less boat that could be maneuvered to retrieve the line.  I’m happy we arrived in time to provide a happy ending to this situation.

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After our turtle rescue, we tied up the three boats to the shelter dock, and some of us went through various contortions to make our way up to the picnic table and porta-potty.  I thought better of taking pictures of that hilarious situation.  Flirt male  My seat for this excursion was on that middle board of the lower right boat.  Thank goodness there were plenty of hands to help me out.

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There are several of these shelters provided in the wilds of the swamp wilderness.  I know all of us appreciated being able to get out and stretch our legs, use the facilities, and enjoy tasty packed lunches.  What a peaceful place to sit back and enjoy.  I think sandwiches always taste better surrounded by the wonders of nature. 

We weren’t even half way through our travels for this day, but I think I’ll save the rest for tomorrow’s post.  This is long enough for one post.  I will say that the second half of the day was even better for me as I not only got to check something off my bucket list, but there was also a moment when we thought perhaps we were lost in the swamp.

Thanks for stopping by…. talk to you later,  Judy 

40 comments:

  1. What a great trip. I swear that turtle has a smile on his face after the hook was removed. By the way, you'd be great as a bird tour guide at Padre Island. They'd be lucky to have you.

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  2. That's one lucky turtle. Good for you!

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  4. Looks like that little guy had a big smile on his face after you removed the hook.

    Beautiful header photo.

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  5. So glad you were able to rescue the turtle. Minnie's Run is one of the most magical areas of the swamp, especially when traversed in a canoe. Have paddled along side otters through there.

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  6. Good for you folks on the turtle rescue!

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  7. aw ... little guy! that is so cool. I, for the life of me, do not understand the people who come to the lakes, rivers, streams, forests ~ whatever part of nature they come to visit ~ and leave their trash along with fishing line that anyone ... I don't fish! and I know better than to leave that sort of stuff around... blows me away.

    I didn't know turtles could have such long claws... he looks so happy ;)

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  8. Totally agree that little guy looks like he is smiling after the hook was removed. Hate to think what the claws would feel like. Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

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  9. I agree...it did look like the turtle had a smile on it's face! Kudos to all of you! There is nothing quite like a picnic you had today and the way you enjoyed nature.

    Can't wait for part 2... It's always so fun to check things off the bucket list. Can't imagine what it was! Will have to wait till next time!

    Thanks Judy...I love your pictures of the great state of Georgia!

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  10. I totally agree...the turtle is smiling. Thx Judy.

    Cat Lady

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  11. Poor guy. I'm so glad you were able to rescue him.

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  12. Is there NOTHING a pair of dykes can't do?

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  13. I really like your header photo and as all the others have commented....the turtle is definitely smiling...great job

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  14. Oh that turtle thing was certainly serendipity, wasn't it!!! Looks like things are starting to 'green' up there, right?

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  15. I thought that turtle looked like he was smiling, too! What a great day for everybody!

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  16. Now that made ME smile, I love happy endings!

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  17. I can't wait to hear about part 2 LOL So glad you could save the turtle. Heroes each of you!

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  18. Thanks to you and all the others for saving that turtle. He really does look like he's smiling.

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  19. Just found and joined your blog. Love the pictures and the story of the saving of the turtle. Good for you!

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  20. I sweat that turtle was smiling after getting the hook removed. Nice job done by all.
    Don't understand why people can't pick up those tangled line bearing hooks. Even just the line is bad news.

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  21. I love reading about your adventures...(lucky turtle).... those field trips sound wonderful! You make me want to start looking for a place to volunteer this coming summer.

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  22. What a great post! I loved reading about the turtle rescue and I can't wait to read part two. I have so much respect for you and your volunteer work. You really are an amazing woman. So glad you're feeling better.

    I always try to pick up trash when I'm "in the wild" but now I think I'm going to be on the lookout for fishing line, too.

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  23. Great photos and a very good story with a happy ending!

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  24. Free at last! What a lucky lady you are to share in the adventure!

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  25. We just left the Everglades so I am thrilled to see the swamp again. Just love it. What fun that you get to go way back in. Thanks to you all for saving that turtle. This was his lucky day. Given where he was, what are the chances of a good outcome. Clearly there are some mighty lazy and selfish fishermen out there.

    Wish you could have taken pictures of him to make a poster out of and require everyone who fishes there to see it. Oh well...........

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  26. What a wonderful way to spend a day. Not to mention the lucky turtle that you passed his way!! Love the photos, and can't wait to see how you spent the afternoon!

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  27. Glad you were able to help the turtle.

    Fishing line and cigarette butts...two of my pet peeves!

    Glad you're feeling well enough to enjoy the swamp.

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  28. butterbean carpenterFebruary 17, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    Howdy Judy,
    GREAT PICS AS USUAL!!! Thanx, for the 1/2 tour; looking forward to part 2!!! I would think getting in and out of the boat wouldn't have been good on the 'new' hip, though... It was a beautiful day for picture taking... My feelings as to the turtle rescue are mixed; I love ALL creatures that God made, but as a fisherman turtles are a ways down on my list... This could have been the trapped-turtle scenario; a fisherman, fishing for 'eating' fish lost his bait to the turtle, who wrapped the line around the stick-up, then he had no other choice but to cut his line and let the turtle go with the hook & line... What I HATE to see is a huge mess of line where someone changed line and JUST THREW IT AWAY!! Hope part 2 is as good as part 1 !!!!

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  29. Always a great adventure when we "ride" along with you. You certainly made that turtle's day.

    Looking forward to Part 2. Is that where you meet the Creature from the Black Lagoon?

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  30. You are always in the middle of the most interesting situations! For me, I'd rather face bears in a forest than a croc or gator in the swamps! They scare the hell outta me.

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  31. So good to hear you are back on field trips with the refuge, Judy!
    Great timing for that poor turtle!
    Kathy

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  32. In the photo you took after the hook was removed, the turtle sure looks like he's pleased with the efforts to free him.

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  33. I have been told that the hooks rust off or fall out rather quickly on fish. Is this not for turtles or is this not true for fish and turtles?

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  34. Lots of fun! I am sure the turtle had a good day too:)

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  35. That turtle had a better day than you. And your day was awesome!

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