I am part of a family of creatures called the common green turtle and I would like to share my life with you. My kind was once common in the warm oceans of the world, but we may be looking to change our name soon, because we are no longer what anyone would consider common. In fact our population is steadily declining due to a number of issues threatening our survival.
My first memories were of the Galapagos Islands. My mother laid the eggs of my siblings and me in a nest on the very same beach where she was born and I will do the same when it comes time for me to have children. She dug our clutch of eggs high above the water line deep in the sand to avoid detection. There were only about 100 of us in our cozy little nest, but mother had a total of 4 real nests with about the same numbers in each. She also dug many fake nests to confuse predators. Luckily our clutch was not raided during the 65 days we spent inside our eggs in the sand. Our brothers and sisters in other nests were not as lucky.
The day I hatched and scrambled out onto the sand was the beginning of a long and difficult journey for me. Immediately upon emerging into the wide bright world my family began to be torn apart. Predators attacked my siblings on all sides while the rest of us scrambled towards the relative safety of the ocean. I was one of the few who made it and we let the ocean currents sweep us away from our birthplace towards the Eastern Atlantic.
As soon as we were born it was every turtle for themselves and my family and I separated forever. Once in the water it was difficult to keep track of everyone and try to avoid being eaten at the same time. I can only tell you what it was like for me after that point. I spent an undetermined amount of time drifting along with the ocean current and avoiding fishermen and predators.
When I was still very young I ate whatever I could in the shallows of the ocean. Mostly things like seaweed, sponges, jellyfish, insects, pelagic snails, and small fish when I could catch them, made up my diet. As I’ve grown I’ve developed quite a taste for salads. I barely eat fish at all anymore, and try to stick to healthier stuff like sea grass and algae. Every once in a while I’ll snack on a drifting invertebrate for protein. I’ve met other turtles who have much the same diet.
Much of the lessons I’ve received in my life have been gained through observation. Without parents around to teach me I’ve had to learn a lot about life by myself, but luckily I have good instincts. I have moved far from my birthplace, but it will soon be time for me to return and have children of my own. I will find my way back easily enough using light to navigate. I only hope that the distracting lights of human settlements don’t cause me to stray from my path. Once I get back home I will find a suitable mate, we will mate in the shallow water, and I will bury my eggs above the water line just as my mother did with us. Some clutches will be deeper than others and the temperature will determine whether my children will be boys or girls. By then I will already be long gone back into the ocean and my children will have to fend for themselves.
I only hope that some of my offspring will have the luck that I have had in life. I have avoided hunting from predators and from humans who would have used me for soup, oil for cosmetics, and shoe leather. I have been lucky enough not to get caught up in the debris and filth that people have dumped into our once clean and beautiful water. I have never fallen ill to the diseases which have claimed many of my friends and I’ve stayed well away from fishing nets and boats. I’ve even been lucky enough that my home hasn’t been tainted by the black gold that humans fight for. I have been blessed as one of the few who have been allowed to grow up and I wish for my children to have the same chance.