Ancient instinct calls her to sea.
She scrambles with her siblings in the pulsing surf
rushing forward, then tumbling back.
Some find a channel and slide without effort into their new home
but she lands on her back,
struggling to find her feet
flexing new muscles in the tiny soft belly inside her tender shell.
She waves legs meant for water, useless in the air
attempting to right herself in this new world.
But turtle bodies are not made for somersaults on land,
even the bodies of nimble young turtles.
So despite all her struggles, despite the strong call,
she cannot grab the sand with her feet.
Another wave laps the beach,
pushing her back further, away from her goal,
but as she tumbles in the current, her tiny body is righted.
She scurries forward in wet sand where her new ancient heart
pulls her toward open water.
One more wave and she’s home
where she will face new struggles
that maybe she can survive
with a push from her own new strength and perhaps another pull
from the helping hand of the universe.
I witnessed this drama recently on a beach in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico. A crowd of vacationers watched and cheered when the little turtle successfully entered the water. We had all heard a biologist speak of his work with sea turtle conservation. Each eveining, he carefully gathers sea turtle eggs to protect them from pelicans and people in a safe enclosure for their 45 days of incubation. He informed us that only 1 in 100 of these little ones would survive their introduction to the ocean and only 1 in 1000 would grow to reproductive maturity. I wondered if that extra struggle would make the baby stronger to survive the countless other struggles it would face. Or if the extra struggle would weaken it too much to survive this dangerous new world.