The Long Journey

November 9th, 2023

The four-wheeler speeds down the deserted beach. It’s about 9:30 p.m. on a nearly moonless July night on the island of Wassaw—a 3-mile-wide piece of land 14 miles southeast of Savannah, Georgia. From the driver’s seat, Kris Williams Carroll scans the area ahead that’s lit through red filters on the Kawasaki’s headlights. She’s looking for trails in the sand, evidence of sea turtles.

“It’ll look like tire tracks,” she says over the engine’s hum. “You can’t miss them.”

They don’t take long to spot: 3-foot-wide parallel grooves running up from the ocean. She cuts the engine. “Wait here,” she tells the three volunteer assistants in the vehicle. Williams Carroll turns toward the sand dunes, and the glow of her red headlamp disappears into the dark. (The red lights disturb sea turtles less than white lights might.) Two minutes later she returns. “She’s still digging. We’ll approach very quietly.”


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