The Turtle and the Tree


Loggerhead Sea Turtles

Invasive Species


NOAA National Ocean Service

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Florida Department of State

National Estuarine Research Reserve System

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

Forest and Kim Starr

Adrienne Serra

Katelios Group

Brian Gratwicke

Steven Sheri

Dan Clark - USDI National Park Service

Upendra Kanda

Jim Wilson

Daniel di Palma

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NARRATOR: The Turtle and the Tree. Once upon a time, a group of Loggerhead turtles established Keewaydin Island as a home.  Warm weather and sandy dunes made it a perfect place for nesting.  Hatchlings could easily make their way to the ocean from these beaches.

But trouble was looming on the horizon.  The turtles saw trees they had never seen before being planted on their beach.  These trees were known as the Australian Pine.

Residents were putting them there to protect their homes from wind and storms.  Little did they know that this pine would cause major problems in the ecosystem.

You see, this tree didn’t normally grow there.  And it wasn't like the other plants and animals that were native to the island.  It had shallow roots and would fall over easily, often trapping the turtles or blocking areas for nests.  The pine was an invasive species, and it wasn't long before many of the turtles stopped coming to the beach to nest.

Fortunately, a group of heroes came to the turtles' rescue.  They sought to restore the balance in the precious ecosystem. Hundreds of acres of Australian Pine were cut down and burned.  In their place, the heroes grew more than a dozen species of plants that were common to the island.

The turtles were filled with joy.  Within one year, more nests began popping back up along the beaches. 

And as the years passed by, the ecosystem eventually found its proper balance.  The Loggerheads of Keewaydin Island had returned to nesting on the beaches that their ancestors had long called a home.

And every summer, as the hatchlings make their way to the sea, we are reminded of the dangers of an invasive species.  And that is the story of the pine.