Wednesday, May 4, 2011
a turtle called henrietta
one of my favorite animals is the sea turtle. sometimes i wish i was a sea turtle. wouldn't it be nice to swim around in the ocean all day long, just floating and eating and observing life without a care in the world, and only coming out of the water once in a while to lay your eggs and.....whatever?
i guess the next best thing to actually being a turtle is to swim in the ocean with a whole bunch of turtles. one summer in hawaii i had the opportunity to share my little spot in the sea with turtles, or i guess it would be more accurate to say, the turtles had the opportunity to share their little spot in the sea with me.
the first time i splashed into the calm, reef protected water during my week with the turtles i had no idea there were tons of the beasties swimming directly underneath me. i was absentmindedly swimming along on my back in the warm bathtub-like salty sea, when all of a sudden a fat chunk of driftwood popped up and floated along beside me. i squinted at it for a minute (i have wretched eyesight) and was startled to see the piece of wood open its mouth and blink.
without even realizing it i started talking to the wood - well, that is, by this time, after squinting some more, i obviously recognized the wood for what it really was - a loggerhead sea turtle. (i don't usually carry on conversations with wood.) wow, you scared me there for a second. you are one big turtle, henrietta.
once the words were out of my mouth i quickly looked around to see if anyone had heard me. there were quite a few people in the water. i felt my face getting red. phew, thank goodness, no one was swimming within earshot. how embarrassing. henrietta (for some strange reason i have this need to name animals) dunked back under the water. i dunked under, too, and opened my eyes.
the world which spread out before me and under me in five or six feet of clear water was extraordinary. right in front of me were three turtles, the mature henrietta, who had about a three-foot long shell, and two smaller loggerheads, about a foot and a half each. a short distance away i could make out the blurry shapes of several more turtles floating near the white sandy bottom.
the salt was stinging my eyes so i swam around on the surface for a while. in the days to come, whenever i went swimming with the mob of turtles (litter of turtles? herd? gaggle? pod? school? pack? bevy? covey of turtles?) i always brought my snorkel and mask, and we all had a very nice soak together.