Toward the end of 1998, I was in Hawaii doing a winter drive-about on five of the islands, Hawaii, Oahu, Maui, Lanai, and Kauai; when I heard that there was a beach where green sea turtles* came in to shore to rest. I hurried over to the other side of the island, the north rainy side, to see the turtles. At that rainy beach I saw several of one of the largest species of turtles in the world, laying heavily on the sharp, black sand, just inside the surf zone, as if they could not drag themselves one flipper further. I had expected a barrier to protect them, perhaps even a fee to see them, but there they were, just lying there on the beach in apparent exhaustion, heads down. I saw also that they had some large divots cut out of their shells, from collisions with boats? I compassionately wanted to sooth them, selfishly wanted to experience them, excitedly wanted more of them...so I scuttled over, moving toward them as much like a turtle as I could. (A passerby stood at the ready to capture the moment of encounter.) In that photograph, I look crabbed, my hair slicked back in the rain rounding my head like a turtle, my arms and feet seemed like scrawny flippers. Definitely stranged, as in made inexplicably strange. The weary, possibly ill or dying turtles slightly raised their heads toward me, and shamed me for bothering them. They made no sound. I prayed a quick blessing as I hurried to leave them in peace. Now I know that they are endangered.**
* “The Green Sea Turtle gets its name from the color of its body fat, which is green from the algae and limu it eats. Limu is the Hawaiian word for seaweed. Adult Green Turtles are herbivores (eat only plants) while the juveniles are carnivores. They feast on jellyfish and other invertebrates.”
** See also: http://www.answers.com/Q/When_did_green_sea_turtles_become_endangered.
Caption: Green Sea Turtles (endangered),
and Annmarie Throckmorton in Hawaii 1998.