Sandcastles and Sea Turtles

Wednesday and Thursday, February 3 – 4, 2021

Wednesday was a very quiet day. We tried driving to Boca Chica Beach (where yesterday’s launch occurred), hoping to see what the launch pad looked like after the crash. However, the road was closed for cleanup, so we returned to our spot on the island.

We then took a walk to locate what is billed as “The World’s Largest Outdoor Sandcastle.” It’s located just a couple of blocks from our condo, just in front of the South Padre Island Chamber of Commerce. This is an ongoing project by sand castle artist, Andy Hancock, a former American Sand Sculpture Champion. Hancock also teaches sand castle classes if you are interested.

South Padre Island considers itself to be the Sandcastle Capital of the World, and celebrates Sandcastle Days every October (except for last year, due to COVID.)

We walked a bit further toward the downtown, but then headed to the beach, where we walked to the far south end of the island. It was a beautiful day for walking, many people were enjoying the water and sand.

On Thursday, we drove as far north as we could on the island, planning to spend some time on the beaches there. However, when we got out of the car, the wind was so strong, we could barely stand up. It felt like we were being sand blasted – ouch! After a few minutes, we concluded that this was no fun at all, so headed back to town.

Most of our time had been spent on the gulf side, so we decided to check out the bay side. After lunch at a beachside bar and grill, we walked to a nearby display of sandcastles – yes, more sandcastles! This was the Holiday Sandcastle Village, which showcases the work of several artists, who started working on the display last October. After the sculptures are finished, they are sprayed with diluted glue, and will be on display through February. We are amazed at the skill of these artists.

From here, we visited Sea Turtle Inc., an organization dedicated to the rescue and protection of sea turtles. The organization was founded by Ila Loetscher, a former pilot (friend of Amelia Earhart), who developed a passion for turtles. She began caring for and educating about turtles, and eventually started the non-profit organization, Sea Turtle, Inc.

Most of the rescued turtles are returned to the gulf once they have healed, but a few remain as permanent residents because their injuries or defects make it impossible for them to survive in the wild. Many of the turtles have become entangled in fishing line or plastic bags, some have been snagged by fishhooks, and will end up stranded on the rocks or the beach. There were several turtles from Massachusetts, that had been “cold stunned.” This is a type of hypothermia that happens when the temperatures quickly drop below 50 degrees. The turtles are brought to this center, where they slowly warm up and become active again. Then, they are released into the gulf.

Among some of the permanent residents are those whose flippers have been so damaged that they no longer function well, or the flippers or shell are misshapen. One turtle, Alison, only had one functioning flipper, so staff developed a prosthesis for her, a rudder-like fin that allows her to swim, dive and surface for air.

The air was hazy tonight, probably from the sand being blown around, so the sunset was perhaps not as brilliant as it is some nights, but still beautiful.

About kcbernick

I love to travel.
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