Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sea Turtle Savin'

Tonight, as I walked out of the university after my evening class, I almost stepped on a baby sea turtle.

Let me explain. The university is literally across the street from a beach. And apparently there was a nest which had hatched, and a group of babies were crawling towards the lights of the university, rather than the moonlight (it's cloudy tonight).

So when I nearly tripped over my flip flop to not squash the little guy, and I stared down at him, flippers desperately swimming across brick, it took me a second to register. Then I called to the night watchman and the few local university students who were sitting on the front steps, lost in their own conversation:

"¡Hay tortuguitas del mar!"

They all stopped mid-sentence and rushed over and with the light of a flashlight and a few cell phones, we counted several more. Just then, a few motos came racing down the hill (per usual), to arrive at the U. We scooped up the babies and carried them to the safety of the sand across the road.

Another student went searching for a local teacher/researcher for the National Park, Juan Carlos. He quickly found a shallow bucket and filled it halfway with sand, where we then carefully deposited each of the lost but not yet discouraged baby sea turtles.

Suddenly we were a group of ten or more, scanning and scoring the beach slowly in the dim lights, minding the sleeping sea lions, as we searched for more turtles.

After a while, with no more new discoveries, some photos were taken, and the babies were escorted into the evening tide.

Such a random thing to happen, but I was so glad that it did (and that we were able to gather seemingly all of the turtles, obviously, duh). They were smaller than my palm. Their almost fleshy-feeling flippers were so strong and stubborn, like thumb war winners, scales so fine and smooth. I picked them up by their miniature yet sturdy shells. My memory was flashing to all the times I've snorkeled with these giant graceful beings, my favorite sea creature by far.

What a beautiful night!