Turtle Walk

September 25, 2015, Chennai

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If it hadn't been for my daughter's school - Vruksha in Chennai - taking my seven-year-old on this Turtle Walk, we would have been home, watching Dance India Dance Doubles on Feb 4, 2011.

But the school gave us an opportunity, and for my daughter's sake, I went along.
The harsh man-made light on the beach was a disappointment. But it gave us an opportunity to sit around our guide, Arun Anna, and find out more about Olive Ridley Turtles. Except for knowing they were endangered, I had felt no curiosity about them. But that night, I was amazed that there are a set of people who give up their sleep periodically just to ensure that the eggs laid by the mother turtles are transferred to safety so that they may hatch in peace, and have better chances of survival.
The beach at night is like listening to soft music. The dark night enveloping the dark waters, the monochrome broken by the white waves that hit the dark sandy brown beach, the white crabs near the shore. To see a turtle peep from the slope would have completed the romance of the night. But that was not to be. We only saw a dead turtle. And a nest - an amazing work of architecture. A neat pit with a cylindrical passage down the wet sand. Eggs soft and small like ping-pong balls, laid in layers - 105 of them! A few broken, but at least, not because of human intervention, unlike the dead turtle.
But the beach itself was sad. Dirty, littered...
Can man not respect nature? Is it a compulsion to destroy what we have and then rebuild from scratch artificially?
Somehow, while enjoying the prospect of seeing a turtle, I felt like an intruder.
--Meera Srikant

 

If it hadn't been for my daughter's school - Vruksha in Chennai - taking my seven-year-old on this Turtle Walk, we would have been home, watching Dance India Dance Doubles on Feb 4, 2011. But the school gave us an opportunity, and for my daughter's sake, I went along.

The harsh man-made light on the beach was a disappointment. But it gave us an opportunity to sit around our guide, Arun Anna, and find out more about Olive Ridley Turtles. Except for knowing they were endangered, I had felt no curiosity about them. But that night, I was amazed that there are a set of people who give up their sleep periodically just to ensure that the eggs laid by the mother turtles are transferred to safety so that they may hatch in peace, and have better chances of survival.

The beach at night is like listening to soft music. The dark night enveloping the dark waters, the monochrome broken by the white waves that hit the dark sandy brown beach, the white crabs near the shore. To see a turtle peep from the slope would have completed the romance of the night. But that was not to be. We only saw a dead turtle. And a nest - an amazing work of architecture. A neat pit with a cylindrical passage down the wet sand. Eggs soft and small like ping-pong balls, laid in layers - 105 of them! A few broken, but at least, not because of human intervention, unlike the dead turtle.

But the beach itself was sad. Dirty, littered...

Can man not respect nature? Is it a compulsion to destroy what we have and then rebuild from scratch artificially?

Somehow, while enjoying the prospect of seeing a turtle, I felt like an intruder.

--Meera Srikant