If I could talk to the animals, learn all their languages, maybe take an animal degree, I’d study elephant and eagle, buffalo and beagle, Alligator, guinea pig and flea – Bobby Davro
And this is one I’ve been thinking on, and I’m possibly spurred on my old pal, Ireland’s Travel Writer of the Year Isabel Conway of Travel Times.
She is walking in Kinsale, Co. Cork for endangered animals. Although while she’s doing something I’m more Mr Do Little than Dr Doolittle.
So to launch this series (and I’ll try and stick to this one this time) I’m starting at the beginning…
Where we came from, the sea, and celebrate all things who live there, big and small, colourful and grey, beautiful and those who only a mother could love. First off turtles…
Yakushima, Japan: Now my first issue in getting to know our old friends from the sea is that I’m not a great swimmer, and an even rubbisher snorkeller.
And more of that later but here’s how you can see a sea turtle without even getting your feet wet.
The rainforest island of Yakushima, off Kyushu‘s southern coast, is home to the largest spawning grounds for loggerhead turtles in the North Pacific.
Between May and August, more than 500 turtles take over the shores of Inakahama Beach and lay their eggs.
And here’s where it becomes a spectator sport.
Because later in the summer we get to see the newly-hatched infants scramble their way to the ocean.
And we’re limin’ in Barbados
As magical as that sounds you really want to try and dip your toe in the ocean.
And strap on that big rubbery snorkel and mask to the face… and believe me if I can do it you can too.
The first encounter I had with turtles in their natural habitat should have been on my first trip to Barbados.
Only I’d overdone it on the rum, both that early morning at Foreday Morning.
That’s the booze, mud, paint and Soca festival for the locals.
And then on the boat which took us out to meet our heroes in a half-shell.
And so while I did see schools of beautiful fish I never did get to meet Mr Turtle.
Fast forward a year though and I was back and determined to catch me me turtle.
As fate would have it I didn’t just get to shake snorkel and shell with one turtle but two.
I was staying at Club Barbados couples hotel, alas alone…
I had invited the Scary One, perhaps not very clearly.
And maybe when one of her beloved gardening or interior decorating shows was on and she had distractedly said no.
Before coming back at me a few days before I travelled to ask me why she couldn’t come.
Anyhoos I went out solo and found that I was the only single in the hotel… and the ocean.
Like the Scottish buses you wait all day for one, and two come along the same time, Mr and Mrs Turtle.
And because this is a family blog I’m not going to tell you what they were up to.
And you’d better bring your fins with you when you go to SeaWorld in Tampa Bay in Florida.
That is where I met me sea turtles that were recuperating (and few better places) before being returned to the sea.
Where they’ll swim for years in a loop from the Atlantic Ocean to North Africa.
Before using magnetic fields to find their way back to within 40 to 50 miles of the beaches where they had been hatched.
And to think that I can’t even get to the end of my road.
Without having to either ask someone for directions or call for a search party.
Now again because it’s all about us the turtles have been known to make their way to the nest beaches of Marco Island and Naples.
And those who make it their life’s mission to know and protect our turtle friends say.
That the Paradise Coast at the southernmost tip of Florida is where to go for your turtles.
And here in Kuramathi and its wee sister island the 1.2km Kandolhu you get so close to the turtles they become your friends.
Which obviously means giving them names.
Selma was the superstar in Kuramathi in the Maldives when I visited, well the half-shell superstar.
Her keeper Vanessa, a German from the Black Forest, well away from any sea, is the human superstar as she runs the Island Eco Centre.
If you can snap a new turtle with your Go-Pro camera.
It is left out in your room for you on Kandolhu then you too can adopt a turtle.
Now since us humans are all making such a mess of it since we wriggled out of the seas and evolved.
Into the flawed form we now occupy, wouldn’t it be better if we slithered back into the seas.
Only, the turtles probably prefer us to keep our distance.