On Clearwater Beach, Florida, I stroll with my ankles knee deep in water under the glistening stars.
I listen to the waves rushing onto me tugging at me like small children trying to express their emotional pain. The green sea turtles need help…
Why are you not listening to us?
Why are you not hearing our cries?
I have my my bottle of water, small beach chair, and granola bar in hand. Suddenly from out of the darkness through the foaming ocean waves, emerges a huge green sea turtle.
She cautiously strolls up high onto the beach, where every year hundreds of green sea turtles climb on shore to dig nests and lay their eggs.
Her shell is glistening in the moonlight, and she moves slowly and with purpose. She begins to build her nest for her young: a deep hole in the soft white sand, twice as big as herself and about three feet deep.
I lingered back to honor this mystical moment. The green sea turtle mother carefully pushes her egg tube into the hole. Out plop eggs like wet ping-pong balls until about 100 eggs lay clustered.
As her final show of love and protection before departing, she flaps her flippers to cover the eggs with sand to protect them from predators and leaves her young to fend for themselves.
Having finished with her motherly duties, the tired green sea turtle slowly crawls back to the ocean. Mother Nature’s blanket of waves will allow her to rest. She can simply enjoy her ride back into the depths of the ocean from which she came.
I settle in my beach chair beside the nest. I treasure the midnight hours staring up at the twinkling stars and stand guard for these unborn sea turtles.
For the next two months, each evening until the early morning hours I sit beside them under the stars until one night I finally hear the scratching sound from the nest.
It was time. The little baby green sea turtles have worked as a team, and made their way to the surface of the sand to begin their long journey towards the brightest horizon.
As I watch the little ones scurry with enthusiasm towards the ocean, the moment of conflicting emotions sets in for me.
Ones of happiness for having had the privilege to be part of Mother Nature’s circle of life… and of sadness and guilt, for what seems to be unfairly knowing that the majority of these young green sea turtles will be eaten by sharks and other carnivorous fishes during their long hard journey.
As I stroll back home in the early morning hours I think to myself, yes, maybe I do think Mother Nature can be cruel at times and I don’t understand her reasoning for how and why she does things the way she does.
But, what I do know is these two months of standing guard over these beautiful little creatures was one of the most beautiful experiences in my life. I am proud to have been part of helping at least one little turtle make it through their long journey. And possibly I have have helped one female turtle to return one day to this very same spot to lay her eggs and begin Mother Nature’s circle of life once again.
For the Ocean and our future children.
By Krista Dunlop, PADI Divemaster (207237)
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