Waves of white foam lapped the edge of the sand before I noticed her. Upon her back she carried a dark greenish-brown and black shell of hard. Her back legs of two were elephant-like with paddles in front for digging, I presumed. Oblivious to the world surrounding her, Mama Turtle began to cross the width of the beach. Secrets of life-to-be were nestled within the softer inside of her.
Mama Turtle inched forward on a lengthy journey where a small crowd of MAN gathered ‘round her. When approaching too close, she stopped in damp tracks, not moving or looking back. Man retreated. Once safety was assured, Mama Turtle forged ahead.
With her hard shell of dark greenish-brown and black, Mama Turtle focused on a specific area of protected land just off the beach and over the dunes. Hills and valleys of buttery beige called to her. Grasses of wild grew and blew in the breeze. Tall with tips of emerald-green and colored in lime swayed, blowing breaths from the sea.
Watching Mama Turtle scale a small dune of sand was akin to Man climbing Mt. Everest. With every inch forward, sand flew up and above, to the right and to the left, before sprinkling back down to the ground. Mama Turtle struggled, forcing her heavy shelled body inches closer to her destination through the instinct of motherhood. Once she reached the summit, she stopped to munch on lavender wildflowers near blades of grass, low to the ground. A few moments later, she disappeared over the first of the protected dunes. Once again, sand of dry rained from the clear of the sky, and although I could not see her, I knew that she would make it.
The gathering of Man had dispersed. I was the only one who stood on the beach during an early sunrise to witness nature’s miracle from beginning to end which spanned about 45 minutes. Earlier that morning, pictures were snapped from my balcony before I skipped out, unfortunately forgetting my camera phone. Still, the entire scene will forever play in my mind like a National Geographic Special.
In the right place at the right time….
*Gopher Turtles are a dry land turtle protected by the Endangered Species Act. Often found in Florida, they can live up to 80 years. Gopher Turtles nest in burrows, laying 3-15 eggs the size of ping-pong balls. Only 5-10% survive.
**Sunrise and Beach pictures copyright, Kim Gosselin, 2016. Gopher Turtle photographs copyrighted and protected by individual photographers, courtesy of Google Chrome.