An Olive Ridley Turtle talks about her family and her life, and shares her biggest fear. She explains the importance of her life and the longest journey she has to undertake, because she knows its not just about one life, its about one whole life-cycle.
Many say I am a survivor, strong and resilient. My mum was one, and two of my elder sisters. I had a younger brother too—he was a fighter. However, a few years ago, we lost him on one of our journeys North.
On what we thought was just another usual day, Aadi drifted a little farther away from us to look for food. He didn’t return for a long time, and we kept waiting, trying to look for him. Two days later, we found him when one of our friends saw him struggling, entangled in another one of those fiddly cages.
He tried to swim along with us for days, but the weight of all the objects entangled in the web kept pulling him down. We kept trying to help him, but there was only so much we could do without the risk of getting trapped ourselves. A heroic struggle later, he was unable to swim up to the surface with us for a breath.
The ‘net’ had severely lacerated his right fin, and my baby brother couldn’t fight the current anymore. I’ll never forget the sound that came from mum that day. Or the look on her face. We had to clasp her fin and tear her away from him, as he sunk to the ocean floor.
I’ve never experienced her pain, yet. I’m scared of what the future holds. She has already lost so many children, some of whom she never even got to embrace. We don’t know what happened to them. Vultures, animals, crabs—heaven knows whose stomach they ended up in. Mercilessly. Every year, I’ve waited for months for mum to return home from her journey far North. I’ve seen the hope in her eyes for months after, hope to see her children return. I’ve shared the faith with her, the prayers and the wishes. But I’ve never fully understood the pain.
This year, I will be going with mum. I’ve never been as far North as where we go to lay our eggs before. The others tell me stories of the journey to the coast, swimming 3000 kilometres, three months in the water, and most of the time without any food. All of this with multiple threats lining the way, from sharks to ghost nets and fishing nets, to I daresay—humans. Humans with their boisterous ships and menacing tools. I’ve heard the stories in hushed voices—someone being taken away by the humans to make their beauty products, adorn their belongings with leather and even eat the one helpless eggs.
Our family tree, which is supposedly the most abundant among our species, is shrinking each year. Yet, the deathtraps are becoming increasingly unavoidable. To say I am terrified would be an understatement. Even though I have survived the journey back to mum, there is no saying I’ll ever be able to see my beautiful home again. Or my children.
Many say I am a survivor, strong and resilient. I am an Olive Ridley Turtle. A species away from the limelight, despite being a fundamental link in marine ecosystems. A species helping to maintain the health of coral reefs and sea grass beds. I will take this journey tomorrow, because I hope, my future generation will be able to live without this fear. I will take this journey, to purvey this hope—because if I am unable to, it’s not my a life lost. It’s a life cycle lost.
So I ask you, a fellow inhabitant of this planet, from one survivor to another, to help me in this endeavor to make the oceans a safer place. The oceans that are one of our greatest resources for survival. The oceans that sustain all life on earth.
Can you take a pledge, to give 60 seconds from your 86,400 seconds—just one minute from your day to change a #1MinuteHabit and make a difference?
Your choice to not use that plastic bag. To remember to switch off the lights. To dispose off your garbage correctly. To choose reusable items over disposable ones. The smallest things make the biggest difference. I implore you, please, do you bit and make me and my future generations feel safer in our home.
Note: The Olive Ridley Turtle is a species listed as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. A species that is as endangered as the tigers in India. Like the Olive Ridley Turtle, over 50% of the world’s species are estimated to be at risk of extinction. Today, on World Sea Turtle Day, we ask you to take a one-minute pledge. A pledge through which you promise to make a difference in your life, to make a difference to their lives.
#dropledge #oneplasticatatime #savetheoceans #oliveridleyturtles