Monday, July 29, 2013

On not having turtles

Huge sea turtles swim by the beach in front of our condo nearly every day.  They are so serious but also so comical, so ancient and also so alive.  It makes me laugh out loud every time I see one. 
Several days ago,  woman walked by at sunset, with her lip pushed out in disappointment.  You just don't see that many people pouting on the beach in Hawaii, especially at sunset, so I eavesdropped.  
"THEY have turtles, two condos down" she complained to her friend, and she pointed at the ocean in front of our condo where, just for a moment, no turtles were swimming by.  
Well, actually, no, I thought but did not say.
 No one HAS turtles
even the fortunate condo complex 2 doors down.  
The next day.  Another beach, another sunset (don't mean to make that sound like I'm bored or anything - just setting the scene, you understand).  A guy is standing in the surf, smoking and casting out a fishing line when he snags a turtle with his hook.   I  know nothing about turtles, only that they should not be on the wrong end of a fish hook, so I jump up to help.  Somehow.  Do something.  
The guy has no knife. Let me pause here to say, ok, I dont know anything about fishing, either, but I do know not to go fishing without something sharp to cut line with.  Anyway, he has nothing, so the fishermen and I conceive a ridiculous plan that I am going to wade into the waves as close as I can get to the thrashing turtle and "cut" the line using a lighter I find on a park bench.  I clamber down the rocks, but before I can get to her (really, probably this is best for both the turtle and for me), the line snaps.  I can see the bobbin  still on the water as she swims fast and sure out out out to see.  
No one has turtles.
I call a hotline and report the fisherman and the turtle.  Before I made the call the fisherman had told me he "just moved to Maui from California" but when I get the hotline on the line, he claims to be "just visiting."   Turtles are protected in Hawaii.  Someone told me later that the fine for injuring one is $10,000  - probably why the fisher dude was so cagey about his locale.
"The turtle was swimming?  Swimming away? Caught in the fin? Oh, I think it'll be fine," says a confident sounding voice on the other end of the hotline.  I allowed myself to be reassured by the voice, to imagine that the turtle shook off the line and bobber as soon as she got to deep water, that she's swimming still, unhampered by line and hook and sinker.
No one has turtles.
I've been remembering this Roald Dahl short story called "The Boy Who Loved Animals."  I can't remember much about it, only that a strange, intense little boy at a beach resort is frantically trying to save a turtle from being made into turtle soup and in the end he rides away to sea, high on the shell of the turtle.  It isnt quite clear, but I think the turtle is saving the boy from people who dont understand him, as much as the boy is saving the turtle from the soup pot.
No one has turtles.  
If anything, they have us. 

1 comment:

  1. Speaking about possessing turtles the movie Turtle Diary speaks to the human/turtle interconnection.