Beachgoers help turtle hatchlings reach water

Turtles hatch during Fourth of July fireworks

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - The birth of some baby sea turtles on Miami Beach gave more excitement to beachgoers Wednesday night than the Fourth of July fireworks.

"We're here year after year to watch the fireworks," said spectator Lissette Gardia.

It was a Fourth of July that started out like any other. The fireworks were about to begin, and Garcia had scouted the perfect spot to sit on the beach.

"We're making s'mores. All the kids are with their sparklers running around. Finally, the fireworks start," she said.

But, as soon as the colors started to burst in the sky, a different type of show erupted from the ground.

"All of a sudden, one of the girls just jumps up because something is on her leg," Garcia said.

Baby turtles began to hatch from an unmarked nest beneath the sand off Fifth Street and Ocean Drive.

"It's kind of like a fountain of baby turtles coming from underneath, and it's pitch black," Garcia said. "All of a sudden, we notice that they're all walking toward the light, and the lights were the fireworks."

The crowd ignored the fireworks they came to see in order to help guide the baby turtles toward the ocean.

"This is when we all get our cellphone lights and our camera lights, whatever we could get that has a light, and we start directing them towards the shore," Garcia said. "You can see fireworks any day. This is once in a lifetime."

The little turtles made it to the freedom of the ocean.

"Everyone was clapping," Garcia said. "We did it. We did something great. We saved the baby turtles. That's why we were here today."

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