GOOD NEWS

Small Beach Wedding Becomes Even More Amazing With Baby Sea Turtles

"Two once-in-a-lifetime events: Marrying my soulmate and getting to witness sea turtles hatch."

Just before sunset on July 23, Josh Moore and his soon-to-be-husband Jeff Calvert were about to join hands and walk to a seaside arch set up for their intimate beach wedding, when Moore suddenly stopped in his tracks.

It wasn't cold feet.

Moore was making way for a hundred or so baby loggerhead turtles, who'd hatched right at the moment that the couple was supposed to be getting hitched and were now racing down the Florida beach and into the Gulf of Mexico -- through the couple's wedding arch.

"Two once-in-a-lifetime events," Moore told The Huffington Post. "Marrying my soulmate and getting to witness sea turtles hatch. My heart was overjoyed with happiness!"

Matthew Stewart, a guest who was videotaping the wedding, also captured the above video of the hatchlings' journey.

You really couldn't have gotten an RSVP from these little ones if you'd tried.

"If anyone was smart enough to let us know when the nest was going to hatch in advance so they could plan to be there, we'd want to know their secret," said Theresa Arenholz, director of program management at the nonprofit Sea Turtle Trackers. "Then we'd ask for tomorrow's lotto numbers."

This is the season when turtles are hatching up and down the Florida coast, breaking through their shells, digging out of their sand nests and then run run running into the sea, where -- if they're lucky -- they'll eventually grow from wee to about 250 pounds.

Sea Turtle Trackers biologist "Turtle Joe" Widlansky told the Gulfport Gabber -- which first reported on this magical happening --  that more loggerhead nests have been counted in 2015 than in any previous year since the group began monitoring southwest Florida's St. Pete Beach and Shell Key some 35 years ago.

Ninety nests have been counted so far. That's up from an average of 30 or so per season prior to 2011, Widlansky said. (To help keep those figures steady, visitors should keep the beach clean and dark and stay away from nesting females.)

But even with this relative abundance, the sea turtles -- who are classified as "threatened" in Florida and "endangered" in other parts of the world -- don't usually show up before dark.

Or, you know, on command. 

"I think that was a little special gift," said Bruno Falkenstein, the founder of Sea Turtle Trackers.

Now back home in Knoxville, Tennessee, Moore and his husband have begun collecting sea turtle memorabilia for their house to remind them of their uniquely charming, much bigger-than-expected nuptials.

"We keep joking now we had over 100 groomsmen/groomswomen," Moore said.

The couple is also planning a big reception for all the family and friends who couldn't be there for the first event.

They've got a few hundred humans on the guest list. Obviously no one can say for sure yet how many other creatures will also put in an appearance.

Get in touch at arin.greenwood@huffingtonpost.com if you have an animal story to share! 

Also on HuffPost:

PHOTO GALLERY
Radical Sea Turtles

 

 

 

CONVERSATIONS