August 13, 2003 GMT
Turtle time

Twenty kilometres of dirt, including three river crossings. In the dark. What for? There was none there. We waited. We went back to the car to get food and water. It had a puncture; we fixed it and returned to the beach. We sat for another hour. It was puzzlingly romantic, the six of us staring out to sea wondering if the turtles would lumber in from the sea. There’s a purity in waiting for animals to visit, not knowing if they’ll come. It engenders humility. A couple of bored guards swung their shotguns from shoulder to shoulder. The soup is supposed to be very good.

We waited some more. Our eyes saw more. Our ears opened up. The surf got brighter and louder. A bobbing torch moved towards us. The guy attached to it led us to a turtle further down. We kept the light off for the first ten minutes. She was
digging. Once the warden was sure that she was settled, we lit-up the area and huddled around. He scooped up several handfuls from behind her to show the hole she'd been working on. It was about 40cm deep and similarly wide. She was dropping eggs in twos and threes. It was delightful in its own way. The miracle of new life. Enchanting. I don’t know why I was so fascinated. But sometimes a moment just works.

turtle-eggs-sm.jpg
An evening's work.

When she was done she buried her work and jumped up and down to compact the sand. Then the waddle back to the sea began, a Mr Magoo affair lasting ten minutes. You can see why turtles have never taken over the Earth. Our beams followed her out beyond the surf until she dipped and dived down back into her element.

Turtle.jpg
Photos by Didier Martin
See his web site: http://www.ride4kids.t2u.com/

Posted by at August 13, 2003 04:52 PM GMT
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