A Turtle Rescue April 2009

Marcia Bales

Sometimes we have experiences that feel like we are just a touch closer to God. One of those experiences graced my path recently. There were a lot of baby turtles washing up on the beach with some unknown malady. A couple of weeks ago, I found one washed up on the beach during low tide, yards away from the cooling sea water. It was small, about 6 inches from its nose to the tip of his shell. At first I thought it was dead, but I picked it up so that I could put it in the freezer and return it to CEA to study it.

I stuck it in a discarded plastic cup with some sea water and it seemed to move its flippers. Excitedly, I took it back to Mayan Beach Garden and emailed CEA. Someone quickly emailed me back and told me to put it in a large bucket and feed it fish. After a day, the little turtle seemed to be swimming about in the water and bumping his nose into the edge of the bucket, so we put him in a large wash basin and he livened up but wouldn't eat any fish. For two days I tried, despairing that he might starve to death in my container. As a result of having shrimp on the restaurant menu, I tried it, and he gobbled it up. After about 4 days, he was eating a jumbo shrimp a day and was looking quite perky. And I had fallen completely in love with him!

On day five, he was getting pretty strong, swimming about the wash basin and leaping toward the shrimp. I knew it was time to release him. About a 100 yards from shore, I let him go. At first he didn't know where to go, zigzagging back and forth in all directions. After a time he headed out to the reef. I was surprised at his strength. He would dive down to the bottom and then swim up to the top for a breath and then back down to the bottom, doing most of the swimming down at the bottom and resting at the surface. It was one of those close to nature experiences that leave an impact as I following this little turtle in the huge Caribbean. He would turn around knowing I was there and then continue to lead me to the reef. I was astounded at his strength and ability to swim so far after being so close to death just a few days earlier. Occasionally he would rest, floating like a little rock on the sea surface. No wonder less that one in a thousand actually live to adulthood - they would be so easy for a bird to pluck them out of the water or a barracuda to chomp them in half! At the reef line, sadly I realized I had to leave him and turned back to Mayan Beach Garden. But when I looked over my shoulder, there he was!!!! Following me! I knew that wasn't good, so I started swimming faster and lost him, but not without a moment of panic and loss! Amazingly, I have been blessed to seen a turtle every day I have snorkeled, but none are MY baby turtle! I realized how possessive we of the human race can become (and I don't like that feeling one bit!) I still find dead baby turtles, but I've not been able to rescue any of them. I look and wonder if any of them are My baby turtle and hope he remains one of the 1 in a 1000.

Mayan Beach Garden Inn and B&B
21.5 km N. Camino Costera Mahahual-Punta Herrera
Mahahual, QRoo, Mexico

Marcia Bales

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