Turtles Don’t Rescue Us

Sea Turtle Maldives

Turtles rescue drowning human beings and bring them back to the shore. Their shells were hard enough to protect humans from the razor-sharp shark teeth. I used to believe that story from my mother when I was a kid. And I found comfort at the thought that if I accidentally fall off a ship, a turtle will come to my rescue. I grew up near the mountains, far away from the sea so I believed in this all my life until I found my way to an island.

I’ve never heard of a human being saved by a turtle, except if the latter is a ninja and the first is a female news anchor who looks like Megan Fox.

Turtles are quite delicate and the survival rate for them to reach the age of maturity is less than 20%. They aren’t safe from predators, animals, or humans. So with this, you already know that my mom’s story is deceptive for gullible little girls.

Dark puffy clouds loomed over the island yesterday, it looked apocalyptic. The wind picked up at 19mph, strong enough to sway palm trees and create bigger waves.

Swimming under the pouring rain was never an issue for me. Why worry when I’m already wet. I’ve done that so many times before. I’m not scared to do it again. So yesterday, even with the threat of heavy rain, off I went.

Water, fluid, and shapeless in nature looked harmless to me until it thumped my head mercilessly, like an old angry teacher hitting my head with a thick textbook. My dense-less body rocked like a boat on the surface, pummeled by the fierce waves along with other floating items like plastic water bottles, coconut, and  slippers.

To top it off, I had a huge sodium intake. I could pass as a savoury seafood platter, grilled to perfection without going through marination.

I could not see anything underneath, it was almost dark anywhere under eight meters and that’s what scared me. To swim in waters where you don’t see anything is like walking in a deep dark forest without a lamp or any other form of light. You know something lurks behind those thick bushes and tall trees but you could not figure out what that is until it takes you by surprise.

The blacktip and whitetip sharks enjoyed the strong waves and had a feeding frenzy while the nurse sharks couldn’t care less and just lazily slept under table corals. A yellow triggerfish with its two front teeth as big as mine wiggled about sideways and a long dark brown moray eel slithered on the seabed, hunting for octopus and other probable meal. The school of batfish meandered about their territory above the electric reef and jack fishes with their huge round eyes and thick protruding lower lips roamed the surface like Mafia kings waiting for their kill. And then I saw a huge turtle, munching through some snacks on the sea bed, oblivious to the hectic world around it.

Relief washed over me with the sight of it. Not that I still believe it can save me, I know it couldn’t.

In the sea, I am just another foreign body, small, weak, and prone to endangerment. So are the turtles. And this gives me some comfort, to know that I am not alone in that expansive translucent universe.

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