The moon wouldn’t be full until the next night, but they must have been anxious to begin their lives in the sea. I was working late, now and then looking out at the moon-bathed Caribbean that, at the same time, was mysteriously calling for the baby turtles. It’s a silent siren, but I know I sometimes can hear it, too. Not really audible, just the stirring of a prehistoric gene that sometimes shudders when I’m near the ocean. Perhaps it’s sighing with recognition, delighted to be near the water from which life long ago emerged, that water to which the baby turtles would scramble to enter under a moon not quite full but good enough.
I almost missed it. Had a squawking bird on the beach not alerted me, the turtles would have journeyed to the water without an audience, an audience mesmerized by the mystery and majesty of nature. The moon was riding high. The reef, a couple of hundred yards out, tossed up the ocean in sparkling waves, and the turtles heard the call. They felt it.
Bandida, who has decided she must accompany me always to the beach, sat and watched the babies, too. She also must have known she was witnessing a miracle because she made no effort to stop them or investigate them. She’s a smart kitty. Spot was somewhere off deep in sleep, dreaming of his next meal.
There were only nine, and we had almost given up on their births. In June, Lesley and Marilyn saw the mother turtles burying their eggs on the beach. They built a turtle nursery, fashioning small chicken wire fences around the nests to protect them from our traffic. Then we waited. I almost removed the fences after the last full moon failed to coax the turtles from the nests, but I thought I’d give them another month even though the incubation period was far past all the days I’d read online. I’m glad I did.
Bandida and I stood guard, lest a bird or other predator try to make off with one of the babies. Their escape to the water was quick, predetermined by their GPS, a system far more sophisticated than anything we can put together. They knew where they were going.
We watched, mesmerized by their little bodies furiously moving to the safety of the ocean. One by one, they entered the water. Then they were gone, and there was nothing left but mystery and night.