She is lying on her back. Her strong yet tiny flippers move crazily around while she tries to turn herself upright again. She flipped over into one of the many footprints that tourists leave on this beach in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. This little green sea turtle is determined; she has to get to the sea. She is struggling desperately and I so badly want to help her. I look up and meet the gaze of another onlooker.
“Gosh, I wish I could help her,” says the middle-aged Argentinean man. His hands are deep in his pockets, fighting his urge like me.
“I know! I’m going to count up to ten,” I say, hoping he won’t give me the evil eye if I ‘interfere’ with nature.
I am only up to three when she successfully flips herself over. We both cheer and laugh with relief as she continues her long journey to the ocean. She reaches the shore and a wave covers her with water. The next one takes her to her new home. I look on as she vanishes before my eyes and I marvel at how amazing animals are.
“Watch out! There is another just behind you!” Hal warns me.
In fact, there are three baby sea turtles running directly toward me. They have a bunch of deep footprints to walk through. I use my foot to even out the hilly sand in front of them, a highway for turtles. Two of them happily take it.
“They’re using your highway!” Hal says with a big smile
“I’m not interfering. That’s how their beach should be, not with all these footprints.” How’s that for an excuse?
“Maybe one day one of these sea turtles remembers you and saves your life,” Hal says as we watch them swim away.
I smile. My brainwaves take me twenty years into the future. I am lying on a turtle’s back while she takes me to the safety of the shore. A shore with no footprints.
Zoologist and wildlife photographer. She has worked in the field with jackals, wolves, cheetahs, & leopards. She serves on the Board of Directors of SEE Turtles, a non-profit sea turtle conservation organization.