Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fight Like a Turtle

This past weekend my family dragged ourselves out of bed a little more than an hour before dawn (yes, you read that right—BEFORE) and drove to a nearby national park. Rangers were scheduled to release a clutch of recently hatched baby turtles into the sea, and since we’ve missed several other releases, we were determined to make this one—as it is very possibly the last of the year.

Seeing those little guys crawl toward the water was worth getting up for.
I’m not going to get into the details of how these particular turtles are an endangered species and how every sighting/nest is supposed to be reported and yadda yadda. Let’s just say that the rangers incubate the eggs (the mothers abandon them) and then, when they hatch, release them in a safe environment to give them the best chance for survival.

So the ranger takes these tiny little turtles, which are smaller than my palm (a kid-sized palm, FYI) and sets them on the sand. Then each little turtle has to crawl a distance of what must seem like miles to them, in order to reach the water that will be their home. They struggle. And they crawl. And crawl and struggle, until finally, a good and powerful wave sweeps up and picks them up off the sand…

Pushing them backward.

So, they craw and struggle some more until the next wave picks them up. Every once in a while, one manages to stay afloat long enough so that the wave carries it out to sea, but most of them end up fighting a battle that basically pushes them back as often as it carries them forward.

Still they fight, and they crawl, and they move on their own with zero help from the hundred or so people watching. And wouldn’t you know it, eventually, every single one of them manages to not only reach the water, but to remain in it.

Because be it instinct or encouragement from peers, those little guys never once thought to give up. They just kept crawling until they found their own wave that would carry them out to where they needed to be.

As I witnessed this miracle of life, the sun came up over the water and turned the water to gold and the sand to burnished copper, leaving me with one parting thought.

Humans can learn a lot from turtles. 

1 comment:

Melanie Fowler said...

Oh so jealous! Baby turtles are the cutest! And the ocean is just lovely too!