OK, I don’t want to hear anything negative about the police for at least … five minutes. Because we must spend that time recognizing Florida officer Derek Conley as a sea turtle hero.
While patrolling near Florida’s Lido Beach Resort at around 1 a.m., Conley noticed a bunch of baby turtles tooling around the parking lot, some of them heading for the door of the hotel. If cops’ attitude towards underage turtles in parking lots resembles their attitude towards underage non-turtles in parking lots, I’m going to guess that he originally intended to hassle them, maybe see if they were drinking. But they weren’t, and instead he ended up personally escorting the hatchlings into the water. Conley and some resort guests put the babies in a box and dropped them off in the nearby Gulf of Mexico.
At least three of the turtles did not survive their parking lot adventure, but Conley estimates that he and his helpers transported 90 to 100 turtles safely into the sea. That’s a survival rate of at least 97 percent, which is pretty good considering their odds from here on out — only about 1 in 1,000 sea turtle hatchlings survives into adulthood.
The outlook has always been a bit grim for baby turtles — hence why some of them learn ninjitsu — but it’s definitely not improved by human influence; a newly hatched turtle instinctually moves towards the brightest source of light, which is fine when it’s the horizon but not great when it’s the lobby. Thankfully, there are conscientious police officers like Derek Conley to help even out the odds.
Get Grist in your inbox