Arnavon Marine Conservatory

The kids and I have been challenging our creative writing skills lately.  We’ve been learning how to be detailed in our descriptions and tantalize the reader’s senses with our words.  Our amazing experience releasing newly hatched Green Sea Turtles provided a fantastic opportunity to write. 

Here’s my initial brainstorming…

Young Green Sea Turtle…

Sight: seeing nothing but the sea that awaits me, the waves I will climb, the dangers that loom, the glorious kiss of the tropical waters on my new skin

Smell: salty, ocean breeze

Feel: soft suede shell, light rubbery paddles propel me over the rough sand like oars, I scramble towards the rushing rhythm, scuttling over my litter-mates, the tissue-thin skin gathers at my neck as I stretch to see my destination - the sea. What does it hold for me? What will I find there? Do I dare? Determination, instinct, craving, yearning, desperate to answer the call, no looking back, I must go.

Sound: the insisting whisper of the ocean, waves beckoning me like a curling index finger 'come, come', the caws and cackles of the seabirds soaring along the horizon, like children pressed against the candy store window. thwump of my rubbery flippers floundering over the sand as I haul myself ever closer to the sea, my soft underbelly dragging along the warm sand.

And Elizabeth’s detailed account…

Yesterday we took a walk with the local rangers to the turtle beach. Once we reached the beach, hundreds of mosquitos started landing on my feet, arms and even my hand! Quickly while having the mosquitos buzzing in our ears, and doing the mambo, we lathered up with the sticky gloop that is supposed to make us 'bug free'. One guide pointed at a newly laid nest. It was covered with a wire mesh to keep the monitor lizards and megapodes away from the eggs. A yellow styrofoam pad with dates written on it, stuck in a slit on a wooden post tells the rangers when the eggs were laid.

Only a few paces along the trail, the guide stopped, took off the wire protection over a nest, and started digging. As he dug, another ranger took a coconut and made a crevice in the sand so the turtles have a straight path to the sea. One explained that the hatchlings were ready. 'Why do the rangers have to dig up the turtles? Can't they dig out on their own? Or have they learned that eventually someone will come to get them out?' Questions rushed to my mind when suddenly he took out of the hole a small baby turtle.

He kept taking out small dark, almost black turtles. Handfuls and handfuls! Some kept going back in to the hole but others went down the path. They looked like they were racing each other. He said we could hold one and when I did it felt so, well, magical! Its flippers felt like they had nonskid pads and they were so strong!

As the last turtle washed in to the sea, birds were diving and eating the helpless baby turtles. It was really sad watching the feeding frenzy. Fish splashed the surface. The ranger said only two or three out of the hundred we released would survive and come back to the beach to lay their legs.

The Last Turtle
This is Michael’s description…

BABY TURTLES (once in a lifetime!) 

Today we went on a walk with some Rangers on a marine reserve and came across a spot in the sand that was covered in wire mesh. "A totol lay egz hia," said a Ranger. "Wow!" I whispered to myself. Another Ranger was removing the wire on another reserved area in order to reach the eggs, at least I thought they were eggs he wanted. I noticed Elizabeth helping make a path with a coconut in the sand. Huh? And then I saw them. Itty witty little baby turtles scrambling to reach the water first.

My heart ached as their puny flippers pushed them along the path and towards the crashing waves. They kept on coming, a whole army of at least 90 waddling along the makeshift highway. I was dying to hold one. And then, as if he read my mind, a Ranger said I could carefully pick them up in my hands. I probably had the biggest smile on the planet. As I tried to resist holding him too long, a bunch of turtles reached the water. As I was distracted, the one I was holding squeezed out of my grasp and leaped onto another turtle. Oh, they truly were the cutest thing EVER!


  1. Hi
    I just jumped aboard from MN. Outstanding pictures so far and I look forward to keeping up with your blogs during our long winter. I've sailed some in the Apostle Islands (Lake Superior) with some Christian single friends and look to join them this winter in the BFIs.


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