CITIZEN JOURNALISM – RESCUE ON THE BEACH

COASTAL, ON-LINE ISSUE 02

By Mark Bradbury

CITIZEN JOURNALISM -Recue on the Beach

Olon Turtle

I start most days in Olon with a walk on the beach; it’s a great place to set your mind straight and get yourself in a good mood. After a good breakfast, I head to the beach.

One day, I was poking along, looking for interesting things when I spotted what appeared to be a black trash bag stuck in the sand up ahead of me. I was upset that someone would leave something like this on our beautiful beach, so I worked my way up to the tide line to investigate. When I got to the "trash bag" I got a bit of a surprise. 

It wasn’t trashed at all! It was a good-sized sea turtle caught up out of the shallow water. It appeared to be dead, or so I thought upon my initial inspection. Since I was the only person around, I began talking to the turtle, hoping to get some sign of life. I was rewarded when she raised her head slightly and opened her sad eyes, looking helplessly up at me. 

My guess is that she came up during the night to lay eggs on the beach and couldn't get safely back to the water before losing her strength. Since the tide was very low, and had gone way out, she was about twenty yards or so from any water at all. I don't know how long she was lying there, but the sun was shining brightly overhead, and it was probably cooking her inside her own shell. The sun here on the equator is very intense, and it doesn't take long to get a sunburn, so it made sense that she was probably extremely dehydrated. Her shell was hot to the touch!

CITIZEN JOURNALISM -Recue on the Beach

Swimming Turtle

Having never encountered a sea turtle quite so close-up and personal, I wasn't exactly sure what to do, but I knew she needed to get into the water to have any chance at life. I got a grip on her shell at top and bottom and tried to lift her into the water. She was heavy, and since I have a balky back on a good day, it took me a while to get her into the shallow water. I dug a little trench in front of her and pushed her along as best I could until the incoming waves started to roll over her a bit.

I heard a woman's voice behind me asking me if the turtle was alive. I turned and told her it was, and she came down to the water to help. The two of us continued pushing the turtle into deeper water, and after a half-hour or so, she started showing some strength. Her flippers and back legs responded, and she was making every effort to swim into the waves. But she wasn't quite strong enough to swim through the crashing surf, so she kept getting washed back into the shallow water.

My assistant thought that everything was okay and left me and the turtle alone, continuing her walk back towards the center of town. I spent another thirty to forty minutes helping my new friend back into the deeper water, but every time the incoming tide forced her backward.

She seemed to take a deep breath and made a valiant effort to break through, flippers pumping and holding her head up high. I was pretty stoked, but unfortunately, she still didn't make it through the waves.

She was pushed back once more into the shallow water, but this time she turned around on her own and headed back out. She raised her head and looked right at me; I could almost feel her gratitude. And then she started pumping her flippers and off she went, under a breaking wave. I think she made it that time because I didn't see her again.

I've had some adventures since arriving here, but this one was probably the best. The worst part of it is that for the first time in weeks I had gone to the beach without my camera. I don't have a single photo of this event, but I have some terrific memories!

markbradbury

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