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TURTLE WATCH
May 4, 2010
 
I saw her from a distance, and swam toward her for closer look. But she was too fast for me, and sped away: turtles on land are famously slow, but sea turtles more than make up for them, and she was far away by the time I had to surface. Off in the direction in which she was headed was another human. "Turtle!" I called, and pointed to the water between us. We submerged and both saw her again, watching until she had disappeared off into the distance. "Thanks!" he called, when we were both up again. Oh, but she was beautiful! So streamlined, the underside of her body so creamy, her flippers so efficient, propelling her through the water with such power.



Her world was a wonder: the sun through the clear water, the coral forests through which she slalomed so expertly, the huge boulders on the sea floor, immense technicolor parrotfish pecking at each one with the hard beaks that, with their amazing coloration, give them their name. Through canyons of coral and rock you swim, ignored by everyone who lives there, those remarkable beings always in motion, endlessly intent on their feeding. Look down and you see a faint disk in the sand: it is a flounder, flat as a pancake, with both eyes on one side of his body. Or watch a little pile of rubble: it is an octopus' nest, and she may emerge. Watch out for the beautiful urchins, peeking from a crevice in the rock: one of their black spines can ruin your day. And respect the barracuda, who glares at you from his corner: give him his space, and he'll leave you alone. You won't win a fight with him.



These places are already very different from what I first encountered beneath the sea thirty years ago. For one thing, there are fewer turtles. Fewer squid, who swim together in wedge formations, the way geese fly. Some of the coral is grey, empty of the life it held then. There are not as many beautiful parrotfish. It is not the same down there.



Oil continues to flow from the ground in the Gulf of Mexico. When a tanker spills, you at least know how much was in it. But this is oil from the earth itself -- what is to end its flow? Better find a way to cap it, because you're not going to drain it dry.



Sea turtles breathe air. They're not fish, they're amphibians: they have lungs. They must surface, up through the slick of oil, breathing great gulps of the gas that hovers over the slick for miles and miles around. And this is their spawning time: they all return right there. Right now.

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For the Conservation of Natural Resources

Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth, you made us fellow workers in your creation: Give us wisdom and reverence so to use the resources of nature, that no one may suffer from our abuse of them, and that generations yet to come may continue to praise you for your bounty; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-- Book of Common Prayer



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My thanks to the many Farmers who made gifts to help defray the Geranium Farm's modest expenses. I'm happy to say that we have enough now to get us through the year.



Although many wrote to tell me that I should not feel sheepish about asking for this support once a year, and I do agree, I'd still much rather ask for support for other causes! So, if you did not give, and still wish to help, may I suggest that you sponsor me in AIDSWALK/NY, which will be on Sunday, May 16th. Visit http://www.erany.org/ and click on "click here to register." Then on "sponsor a walker" over on the left of the screen, and type in my name, Barbara Crafton. My goal is $5000 for AIDSWALK/NY 2010.
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