by Aubry Forsyth
Nature photographer and devoted member of the Sea Turtle Preservation Society for over 20 years, Carol Hansen has a lot to share. She has always loved to travel, even living in Korea while she worked for the Red Cross, serving as a Donut Dolly. Carol and 6 other women took donuts and coffee to the soldiers in remote locations, which is where she met her husband Ronald. She has crisscrossed the globe, visiting places like Germany, India and Panama. Travelling through Central America was especially memorable because when her husband retired from the Army in 1974, they drove their van camper from Panama up the Pan American Highway, to the USA and on to South Florida.
They settled in Ft. Lauderdale, where Carol loved to stroll along the beach. While out walking one day, she saw strange patterns in the sand. Wondering what they could be, she went home and researched these strange patterns to find that they were turtle tracks! After that, Carol was hooked!
While building their Melbourne Beach home in 1993 Carol and Ronald travelled up the East Coast and into Canada, camping at various beaches along the way. Carol and her daughter still reside in Melbourne Beach today.
She started doing both night walks and nesting surveys for STPS, but that eventually got to be too much. She now commits her time to the nesting surveys on a regular basis. Carol says that since she’s much more of a morning person than a night owl, the nesting surveys work better for her.
Ever since Carol moved to Florida she has spent many days, and nights, walking our coastline. She has a passion for nature and photography and has combined those two loves into her photography business, Carol Hansen - Nature Photography. She travels to the Florida wetlands to take photos of the diverse bird species and sells her photographs at area art shows. Carol has donated pictures for auctions at Sea Turtle Conservancy events, Florida Sea Turtle Permit Holders Meetings and Southeast Regional Sea Turtle Meetings. She also has some of her work for sale at the Barrier Island Sanctuary in south Melbourne Beach. If you’ve ever been to the STPS gift shop, then you’ve probably seen some of her pictures. However, there are a couple special pictures that have a story to tell… While out on a nesting survey Carol and her team found a green sea turtle nest. That nest in particular needed to be checked to see how many eggs had hatched. So, they proceeded to dig. Through the sea of evacuated egg shells, one of the eggs was complete - except for the fact that it had a small dip in its shell. The team’s leader placed the egg aside on the ground. Lo and behold, a baby hatchling’s head popped out! The newborn turtle struggled to break free of its hold, but when he eventually did, he got a special escort to the water along with a lot of photos to remember him by. Carol also took the picture that is on the Sea Turtle Preservation Society’s Nesting Survey Team shirts. That picture is actually of the same turtle that hatched during the nest excavation.
Carol’s favorite thing about volunteering for STPS is getting people interested and involved by educating them about sea turtles. Want to get involved yourself? Carol’s advice is to sign up and figure out what you like doing best!
When asked her favorite quote, Carol offered these wise words,, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” These comforting words have gotten Carol through difficult times, including when her son and then husband passed away. Ronald was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors, and we thank him for his service.
In closing, Carol has spent many years helping our sea turtles survive, and we are all grateful for her dedicated work.
Photos are copyright by Carol Hansen.