Monday, October 13, 2008

Encuentre Roberto


Esto es Roberto. Sus amigos le llaman "Bob". Bob es una tortuga de mar. El tiene menos que un dia.

Meet Roberto.

This is Roberto. His friends call him "Bob". Bob is a sea turtle. He is less than a day old.

I decided to try to open up this entry in Bob's native language, in case he ever gets a chance to read it. His English was a little iffy when I knew him.

Bob was my best friend for the 8 minutes or so that I got to hold him before releasing him into the Pacific Ocean. In that 8 minutes, I think we bonded very closely. Just look at him waving at the camera:


What a ham.

In the wild, Bob's chances of making it to adulthood are about 100 to 1 against. We were told that thanks to release programs like this one, the odds are improved to something like 10 to 1. Not great, but better than the lottery or anything you'll get in Vegas.

As I've mentioned, I've been fortunate enough to have many opportunities to work with wild animals. On those occasions that I've actually gotten to hold a baby animal, I am always struck by how incredibly strong they are. We were instructed to hold the turtles with two fingers on the sides of their shells, as I'm doing with my right hand, above. When those little flippers pushed back against my fingers, it was all I could do to hang on to him. That's why I have my other hand cupped underneath him.

It was sunset, because sea turtles move toward the setting sun when they hatch. There were very specific instructions for handling and releasing them. We had to "wash" our hands in the beach sand, because sea turtles use the smell of the sand to know where they came from. We were to take three steps forward, place the turtle on the sand, and immediately take three steps back. This was to avoid accidentally stepping on any of the little critters that might happen to circle around before hitting the water. In 10 years, they'll come back to this same beach to lay eggs. Well, Bob won't, but his sweetheart will. (Just between you and me, I don't actually know if the turtle I was holding was a Roberto or a Roberta, but given that he pounded back a couple of Pacificos before diving into the water, I tend to think he was male. Maybe a college student.)

10 years. They're cold-blooded and they have a 10-year plan. Sure makes me think. I only hope that I'm able to haul myself up onto a beach in 10 years.

It was great. I felt really good about it. Quite frankly, I teared up a little. I know that the odds are only about 1 in 10 that Bob is anything other than fish poop at this point, but I prefer to think that if I could get back to that same beach 10 years from the time I plunked him onto the sand, I'd see Bob crawling back out and waving at me. We could reminisce, pop a few cold Pacificos (no lime, Bob doesn't care for lime with his cerveza), maybe a little Tequila Crema (Bob has something of a sweet tooth) and catch up on all the things we've been doing since we last saw each other. Bob's good that way. Who knows? Maybe his English or my Spanish will have improved by then.

The last picture is the last I saw of Bob just before a wave came and took him away. For a turtle, he was moving pretty darned fast. Ah, youth.

Adios, Bob. Vaya con Dios.

23 comments:

Bilbo said...

Good story. Next time, try the elephant release program. Those three steps you take backwards have to be REALLY big.

Herb of DC said...

Swim Bob swim! He will make it, I'm sure of it!

Gilahi said...

Bilbo - Thanks. I didn't know there was an elephant release program. Seems like a long swim to either Africa or India, and then they have to swim all the way back just to lay their eggs. There must be a better way.

Herb - Me too! I'm sure he's out there right now growing up, playing T-ball, learning to read, and all those other things precocious youngsters do at that age.

LivitLuvit said...

I'm heading to Costa Rica on Friday, and we're DEFINITELY making out way to the northern Pacific side, where there's 3 different types of sea turtles. I really hope we see some!

Gilahi said...

I hope you do too. I loved Costa Rica. They have 30 or 50 different varieties of hummingbird, more butterflies than you shake a stick at, and that's where I saw my first live armadillo. It's a beautiful country. Be sure to blog all about it when you get back!

fiona said...

ok gilahi are you deleting my comments or are they disappearing into cyber???? They were good ones too!

Gilahi said...

Fiona - I can assure that I've never had reason to delete anyone's comments from my blog. They'd have to be pretty darned bad for me to do that. Sorry if some of yours disappeared somehow, but I'd appreciate it if you could try to recreate them.

fiona said...

It's okay,wonder where they went???
Your comments page is an X-file!
Dodododo dodododo.
I feel a bit daft now :-)

Gilahi said...

Fiona - I certainly hope you didn't end up leaving a comment about your love of sea turtles on somebody's recipe blog.

fiona said...

Oh NO...Bob is soup!!!

Gilahi said...

That's it. I demand that one of your friends turn themselves over to the Interweb as fodder.

GreenCanary said...

I love Bob. I want a Bob of my very own. He can live in my bathtub.

Gilahi said...

Canary - It's hard for anyone to resist Bob. He's just one of those guys. When I see him again, I'll pass along your bathtub invitation.

GreenCanary said...

Please do! Better yet, grab him by the fins and tote him back to my place. The tub will be a-waitin'.

P.S. I tagged you! Check out my blog. Woo!

Gilahi said...

OK. If you should happen to move any time in the next 10 years before Bob comes back, please let me know your new address.

Kate said...

I want a Bob.

Gilahi said...

I'm assuming here that you're not talking about a hairstyle. Go to just about anywhere on the Pacific side of southern Mexico or Central America, and you can find programs similar to Bob's.

He'd appreciate it.

fiona said...

I'm asking santa for a bob or two

Gilahi said...

Maybe I should've come up with another name. This is starting to sound a little lewd.

fiona said...

What about Rodger?
Just a thought, just a thought...

Gilahi said...

Ah, Fiona... I would hazard that your humor is lost on a significant percentage of my overwhelmingly American readership (of course, given the size of my readership, it doesn't take many to make a significant percentage).

Would you ask Santa for a Rodger or two?

fiona said...

A life long Rodgering would be on my list! LMAO
Anyhooo I've Tagged you.
All that Evil Twins fault :-)
Check my blog Rodger...you don't mind if I call you Rodger??? ROTF here.

Gilahi said...

I don't mind if you call me Rodger, as long as you call me "The Best Rodger You've Ever Known".

And I have now responded to the tag by both Fiona and Green Canary.

 
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