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Atlanta Magazine Custom Media


Jekyll Island Is Always On The Clock

Photograph by Brian Austin Lee

Noon or night, somebody on Jekyll Island is always on the clock—whether you see it or not. Follow this 24-hour journey across Jekyll, from a sea turtle center to a water treatment plant, and get a behind-the-scenes look at everything happening on the island at all hours of the day.

1:16 P.M., Jekyll Island Miniature Golf

Photograph by Brian Austin Lee

The brontosaurus at Jekyll Island Miniature Golf is not exactly prehistoric, but it is the attraction’s oldest, and maybe most beloved, resident. The green one has been around since the 1960s, and now watches over (among other obstacles) turtles, the standard windmill, a familiar-looking bulldog and a red-nosed egg. Dustin Corbitt (pictured) puts a fresh coat of paint on the big dinosaur.

3:10 P.M., Georgia Sea Turtle Center

Photograph by Brian Austin Lee

Taking a turtle for a walk is not exactly like taking a dog for a walk. But it’s close. “Even if they just sit and don’t move,” Allison Hardman, a rehab tech for the GSTC, says, “we try to keep them out there. Vitamin D is very important for their metabolism…” Volunteer Mary Kathleen Ritter (pictured) watches as recovering gopher tortoise Pherus takes her daily stroll.

4:00 P.M., Historic District

Photograph by Brian Austin Lee

With some 25,000 artifacts to inventory, the custodians of the island’s history are always busy. Rose Marie Kimbell (pictured) uses a new scanner to make a digital copy of an historic manuscript. “The end goal is to make a lot of our collection more accessible to the public,” says Andrea Marroquin, Jekyll Island Authority’s curator. “This is a huge step forward in bringing us in that direction.”

7:01 P.M., Around the Island

Photograph by Brian Austin Lee

“Light Lady” Delores Johnson has been hanging the island’s holiday lights—as many as half-a-million of them—for 13 years. “I look forward to it each year,” Johnson says. “I’m up on that lift quite often.” It takes her and a team a few weeks to get everything untangled, but the lights start to go up in September and come down in January.

10:17 P.M., Near Ocean Oaks 

Photograph by Brian Austin Lee

Jekyll Island’s Wildlife Response team—(912) 222-5992—is always on the ready. “People call us for everything and anything as far as animals go,” and that includes, once, an escaped guinea pig, says wildlife biologist Joseph Colbert. “Who else you gonna call but Wildlife Response?” Here, Colbert and AmeriCorps member Collin Richter measure and tag a wayward gator before relocating it to a wetlands area.

1:15 A.M., The Beach

Photograph by Brian Austin Lee

Every night from May through July, UTVs patrol the beaches of Jekyll, searching for nesting sea turtles. The Night Patrol team (and guests on a ride-along) measure the turtles, conduct tests, check or apply ID, then set up protective fencing around the nests. “It allows us to see a lot of beautiful nights, a lot of interesting turtles,” says David Steen, a research ecologist for the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, “and some great sunrises.”

6:30 A.M., Practice Putting Green at Indian Mound Golf Course

Photograph by Brian Austin Lee

To keep Jekyll’s four award-winning golf courses in top shape, Aaron Saunders’ crew is on the mowers by 6 every morning, before the first guests tee off at 8. Saunders (pictured), the director of golf course maintenance, also checks that the fairways and greens are free from disease, and don’t have too much (or too little) moisture. “There’s always something,” Saunders says.

9 A.M., Water Treatment Plant

Photograph by Brian Austin Lee

On any given day, hundreds of thousands of gallons of drinking water and wastewater stream through the Jekyll Island treatment plant. It’s constantly tested for safety. “We have a state certified drinking water lab, as well as the wastewater lab, which runs all the samples on the wastewater side,” says Alan Thurston, the island’s water superintendent. Lab supervisor Lydia Crawford (pictured) checks samples for acidity.

11:29 A.M., Jekyll Fishing Center

Photograph by Brian Austin Lee

Captain Larry Crews (pictured) and wife Judy have been on the Jekyll Island fishing scene for 22 years. Dragging for live bait—shrimp— is part of what they do at the Jekyll Fishing Center. When they drag is not up to them. “We go by when we need it,” Judy says. “Also by the tides. It’s never a consistent thing. It’s kind of Mother Nature’s time frame.”

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