RABBIT RAMBLING: Save the turtles

I guess we can call this the summer of the great oil spill. Of course, it isn’t really a spill, but an accident of monumental import, because it is all man-caused and seemingly of a nature that humans can’t much control. It is really unbearable seeing pictures of the pelicans covered in oil, dying before our eyes. One can only imagine what kind of death is going on in the waters.

If the reports of the biologists are correct, the whole ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico is going to be affected. The food chain will be disrupted in a major way and there’s no telling what will happen.

I am partial to sea turtles. There’s something very endearing about beings that seem so non-aggressive and so benign. They have been around for millions of years, and they apparently swim through all the oceans and seas, coming on shore just to breed. They seem so gentle and peaceful in their demeanor that the thought of their vanishing is to me just heartbreaking. I follow a Website of a turtle preserve and rescue center on the coast of Georgia. They receive sick and distressed sea turtles that are nursed back to health and eventually released back into the ocean. Documentaries showing turtles hatching in the sand and scrambling their way to the ocean have always been favorites of mine, and one of these days, I want to take a trip to observe this. I guess I feel like scooping them up in a bucket and taking them into the water myself to save them from all the predators waiting to eat them on that precarious run to the water. But then I’d like to save all the endangered species in the world.

So, it is with intense interest that I learned about a project to scoop up about 70,000 sea turtle eggs along one of the coastlines that is contaminated or potentially will be contaminated, put on temperature controlled airplanes and flown to the other side, the Atlantic side, where they will be released when they hatch. One scientist who is involved in the project was asked if this move might prove to be disorienting to the turtles that usually return to the beach where their mothers laid their eggs. He replied that we won’t know for 35 years since it takes that long for these turtles to reach breeding age.

I guess that 35 years is a blink of an eye in geological terms, but I won’t be around to find out if indeed these turtles return. But at this point, anything we can do to save some babies is a good thing.

A few weeks ago, my sister Emiko returned from a trip to Easter Island where she went to observe the latest solar eclipse. She went with a friend who helped cover some of her expenses. The trip involved staying on some islands in that area, and on one stay, she encountered a fellow whose mission also was to save sea turtles. In those parts, they are captured and sold for food, so he goes to the market and purchases the turtles to release them back into the ocean.

So, for a donation, Emiko and her friend were allowed to rescue a turtle, have it tagged, named and released. In honor of my love for sea turtles, this particular one was named after me. And so, somewhere in the Pacific, a green turtle named Chizu swims and travels the seas. I hope it has a long and productive life, and has many babies. We have all got to work toward saving our wildlife.

Chizu Omori is the co-producer of the award-winning film “Rabbit in the Moon.” She writes from San Francisco, and can be reached by e-mail at chizuomori@earthlink.net.

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