At the beach by the Hilton, I’m swimming on top of a sea turtle. It’s quite small in size. Maybe a large dinner plate. Not sure why I always compare turtles to kitchen items. Tables, dinner plates.
The turtle’s only a couple of feet away. I’ve been watching it for a while. It’s nibbling seagrass on the rubbly reef off the beach. We are so close to shore. Both me and the turtle are washing around in the surf. It has sand all over its back.
If I wanted, I could put my foot down and touch it. I’m inspecting its shell, its patterned flippers, its head and neck. What the heck. I start talking to it. Even more amazing; it starts to talk back. Well, I think it does.
Me: How come you’re not scared of me? I’ve never met a turtle in the Caribbean who isn’t scared of people. Not even a little bit.
Turtle: Why should I be scared? You people with mouth tubes come and stare at me. There’s nothing scary about that. Or is there? Is there something I don’t know?
Me: Good question. It’s complicated. What kind of turtle are you? You look like a hawksbill turtle. You have a beautiful, iridescent shell and a bit of a pointed beak – but you’re small, so I’m wondering if you could actually be a juvenile green turtle? There’s another one a few metres away. That turtle definitely seems like a green turtle.
Turtle: Yeah, that guy. We hang around together all the time. This is our patch of reef. Might not look like much – I’ve seen those brilliant green patches of seagrass in other places, but I like it here.
But seriously – you people with the mouth tubes are complicated. You give us all these strange names. The guy next to me wont know. Trust me – he’s all good looks and seashell for brains. Us turtles are who we are. By the beach, eating the seagrass.
Me: Yeah, about that – is that’s all you do? Eating? Any time spent exploring? Do you ever head past the lagoon for example, and check out the reef? Or I don’t know, do you spend time chatting to seashell for brains?
Turtle: Firstly I’m going to need to get some air, so if you don’t mind giving me a bit of swimming space. Don’t worry – I’m not going to swim into you. You don’t need to look so nervous. A couple of breaths and back down. That’s better
Since you asked, I’ll tell you what I like doing. You see this rubbly reef? Like we said before, it’s not the prettiest reef. Or the best looking seagrass. So I’m on a mission – an important task. I gave it to myself. Seashell for brains is onboard too. We’re cleaning it.
Me: Cleaning it?
Turtle: Yep. It’s non-stop, it is. Cleaning every nook and cranny. Tidiest-looking reef thanks to us. Now, do you want to get down here and help? Or is all you do is talk?