Tiny Turtles

Where the Wild Things Are
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Animal Watching Adventures
Even Hollywood special effects wizards can't compete with the wonders of Mother Nature. The good news? You don't have to travel across continents to see wild animals roam. Here's our short list of family-favorite U.S. animal watching adventures, all easily accessible.

While you're never guaranteed to see anything when you're seeking out an animal in its natural habitat, these places are about as close as you'll get to a sure bet.

“I see a flipper!”

"Little heads!"

Suddenly the hole in the sand became a squirming mass of turtles. We watched as the soft, shell-less babies wiggled through the opening and scurried to the sea.

The moonlight hatching of loggerhead turtles is a spectacle you won't soon forget. The best way to catch the babies' journey is to sign up for a nighttime turtle walk on Bald Head Island, North Carolina. Thirty miles south of Wilmington, this privately owned island is a sea turtle sanctuary.

Each spring, beginning in May, female loggerheads come to the island to dig nests—often up to 100!—and lay their eggs. About 60 days later, hatchlings begin to emerge and are drawn to the sparkle of moonlight on the sea.

Once the turtles have emerged, you'll follow them slowly cross the sands and watch as the surf lifts them out to sea. Don't worry, after-dark turtle watchers are equipped with flashlights covered with red film; red tones don't bother the turtles.

Mainely Moose
“Look! Look!” the youngest of our group shouted. Standing in a shallow bog was a massive bull moose with a long, wrinkled snout and antlers dripping with stringy, wet weeds.

We watched him for several minutes before he lumbered off into the northern Maine woods. We paddled the kayaks a few more minutes and around the next bend discovered a mother and her calf.

Maine boasts more moose per square mile than any other place in North America (even Alaska). Of course, you could cruise back roads at dusk and dawn in search of Bullwinkle look-alikes (and you'd probably see them). But we like the Moosehead Lake kayaking safaris. Paddlers follow Socatean Stream, a five-mile route, to where it empties into Moosehead Lake. The slow-moving water is perfect for little tykes, and moose are nearly always seen along the way.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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