Where do I meet for the start of the program?
You will meet the patrol team at Great Dunes Beach Deck in the parking lot next to the largest pavilion (the one immediately to the left of a bathhouse) – look for the sea turtle patrol team in a Utility Task Vehicle (UTV) labeled with the Jekyll Island Authority logo.
When is the best time of year to see nesting loggerhead sea turtles?
While sea turtle nesting begins in early to mid-May on Jekyll Island, we typically do not see regular nesting activity until late May. Nesting remains consistent until the end of July when activity slows down. The last nest on Jekyll is usually laid in early August.
When is the best time of year to see hatchling loggerhead sea turtles?
Since it takes about two months for the eggs to develop, we usually see hatchling activity begin in mid-to-late July. Peak hatching season is in August and September, with the last nest hatching most often in early October.
What makes the Ride with Patrol programs so unique?
These programs allow participants to step into the shoes of a sea turtle researcher. Ride with Night Patrol and Ride with Dawn Patrol are unique in that they allow the general public to experience a typical work day of permitted biologists. No two Ride with Night Patrol and Ride with Dawn Patrol programs are ever the same. The unpredictability of sea turtle nesting keeps your time on the beach interesting and exciting.
What will I be able to do while taking part in these programs?
Guests that participate in our Ride with Night Patrol program may or may not encounter a sea turtle while surveying the beach. If a sea turtle is encountered, participants are encouraged to use specialized equipment to do the following at the discretion of the GSTC biologists on site: count eggs that are laid in a nest; measure habitat features; record data for state and national nesting records; use Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) equipment to record activity location; and mark nests.
In our Ride with Dawn Patrol Program participants will focus more on the nest monitoring and management side of sea turtle research. Procedures such as nest excavations (inventories) and nest monitoring (observing presence of depredation or signs of hatchlings) are the featured activities during this early-morning program. In addition to excavations and monitoring, participants are encouraged to assist in: covering and marking nests laid the previous evening; recording data and notes for state and national nesting records; using GPS equipment to record nest and crawl locations; and, taking photographs for research databases.
My family consists of more than four people, can you accommodate larger groups?
Due to limits on the number of passengers our UTVs can seat, we cannot accommodate groups larger than four people. Maintaining small group sizes also allows our programs to be much more intimate and hands-on for all participants.
Is there a minimum age requirement for the programs?
Yes, you must be 6 years of age to participate in both Ride with Patrol programs. Children under 16 years of age must be accompanied by a participating adult.
Are any souvenirs included in either of the two programs?
Ride with Night Patrol and Ride with Dawn Patrol programs include general admission to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and a gift bag with some turtle swag and educational material.
Am I guaranteed to see a sea turtle or hatchlings during my program?
The unpredictability of the habits of wild animals is a major part of the nature of our work on the beach. Therefore, we cannot guarantee that you will encounter a sea turtle or hatchlings on your program. Some nights see more nesting activity than others and it is difficult for us predict what will happen on any particular night program or morning program. While there is not a guarantee ensuring the observance of sea turtles, we can guarantee that you and your family will have a fantastic time out on a beautiful barrier island beach with us!
What is the difference between Turtle Walks and Ride with Night Patrol?
Ride with Night Patrol participants can ride the beach with our sea turtle patrol team in one of our UTVs for the first half of the night, whereas Turtle Walks are usually on the beach for just one hour. Additionally, the Ride with Night Patrol program is much more up close and personal than a Turtle Walk. When a Turtle Walk group gets to watch a sea turtle on the beach, the group cannot participate in data collection. Ride with Night Patrol participants are allowed the opportunity to help with data collection should they encounter a sea turtle.
What is the difference between Sunrise Walks and Ride with Dawn Patrol?
Similar to the difference between the night programs, Ride with Dawn Patrol is more up close and personal than a Nest Walk. Nest Walk guests witness a nest excavation and help record data on that nest’s success. Ride with Dawn Patrol participants remain on the beach with our patrol team for the entire morning (or as long as they wish), assist in sorting eggshells during a nest excavation, help with daily monitoring of all sea turtle nests on the beach, and help relocate any at-risk nests.
Still have a question for us? We would be happy to help!
We can be contacted at (912) 635-4131 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.