Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sea Turtle Rescue


  1. I will never be the same when it comes to sea turtles and human beings. We were just in the Galapagos, that heavenly outpost of nature in all its Disneyland-ish glory…right?

    Wrong. The park forbids any kind of human interference in the lives of the animals. One day, just as we had come out from snorkeling and watching boobies dive for fish in the water, we were told sea turtles were hatching on the beach. We ran up just in time to see three little baby creatures scurrying down the sand. But it was the wrong time of day and it was too hot. One come up against a small ridge of sand and stopped, the second stopped too, probably just from the heat. But the third little guy accidentally flipped over on his back and started struggling like mad, a little ferocious fighter. The naturalist ordered no one to interfere as we watched in deepening horror at his failure to right himself. My husband and I whispered quickly together and then, as one mind in accordance, he ran quickly to the baby and flipped him over. But it was too late. Soon frigate birds sailed quietly in to pick them up in a ceremony of nature that felt like peace to me (“closure” is dreadfully overused but it fits here).

    The outrage our act provoked nearly defies description. A naturalist from another boat came up and started to give my husband the third degree, acting as if he had broken the law. A male tourist got in our face and yelled. I told him that I kept aspirin in my purse in case someone in my vicinity ever got a heart attack, and said I supposed he didn’t agree with that kind of interference either. He actually said he wouldn’t take it from me. As if. Another man said that he supposed we wanted to cut open the birds to rescue the turtles. My reply to him is not publishable: he forfeited the right to a reasonable response by being evil. I kept saying “We are human.” to our naturalist but it fell on deaf ears. He was cold to us for the rest of the trip. And no one, not a single other person on that beach, came to our defense.

    I know we cannot help all things at all times and to fully comprehend the suffering of the world would drive us all off the cliff into the sea. But the suffering that comes in our path!

    I understand that in the case of a man-made disaster we owe it to the animals to help. But why, truly, is one type of suffering more deserving than another? Shouldn’t we always be like the lone man on the beach in Loren Eisley’s The Star Thrower?

    “The stars throw well. One can help them.”

  2. I don't think that I could have stood by and watched. I don't think I could stand it.

    Cetaceans have been shown to try to aid other species who are in trouble. So too have some primates. How is it not evolved then for us to give aid when needed if we have both the capacity to recognize that it is needed and the capacity to give it?

    "A nation can be judged by how it treats its animals." ~ Gandhi