Why the loggerheads commute to the United States is anyone's guess. In the past, when turtles were more abundant in the Caribbean, the beaches there may have been fully utilized by greens and hawksbills. Green turtles, incidentally, are not named for their external coloration, which is commonly olive©brown with dark streaks, but from the color of their body fat which was once made into soup.

Adult turtles are of such a size that they have few natural enemies. The need to bury the eggs on land has always been the sea turtle's greatest vulnerability. A sea turtle on shore has always been a turtle at risk. In the past, there was a natural balance at work as long as the traditional nesting sites were left intact. It was the arrival of Europeans that changed the balance in our part of the world.

Early explorers quickly recognized that sea turtles were an ideal fresh meat source. On sailing voyages, turtles could be kept alive indefinitely aboard ship by keeping them on their backs. Eventually, turtles became popular food in Europe. In England, the clear soup made from the green turtle soon became a status symbol at important banquets.

Today, all species of sea turtles except the loggerhead are classified as endangered. The loggerhead is a threatened species. It is not only illegal to kill sea turtles for their meat or to steal their eggs, it is illegal to import turtle products into the U.S. Until recently, only researchers, scientists and poachers usually saw the nesting process. But new public awareness programs are allowing more of us to witness this spectacle. Few things are more memorable (or emotional) than watching a sea turtle complete the nesting process. Raccoons may dig out and destroy her eggs while she is still depositing them, but an eggªlaying turtle perseveres nonetheless, rarely stopping for any reason.

It's as if she is the only remaining survivor of her race, and that her successful nesting is the only thing that matters in the world. For most people, the sight and the sounds of the nesting process are unforgettable, an experience that never completely leaves them.