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Dec 1, 2012

A leatherback turtle was found on the sandy beach of Glefe, Accra, Ghana at about 7:30pm yesterday (Friday 30 September) by residents of the area. The giant turtle was seen nesting quietly on the beach.

Before she realized what was going on, a large crowd had gathered as people kept running back and forth to call on their family and friends. Mobile phones were not left out in spreading the news resulting to a near chaos situation and the darkness of night also made it almost impossible to get a good snap shot of the beast.

I however was able to get a shot with a coastal guard posing on the turtle while she was still busy laying eggs. In my estimation, the turtle should be over 250 kilos in weight and over 6 feet in length.

On getting to the scene after been alerted by a neighbor of the happening, I spoke with the coastal guard and a few of the native fishermen around. They all have different spiritual connotations to the creature. Some believe that she was a water goddess that helps in the sea whenever their fishing boats get into trouble on the sea. Some said, since they have never seen it before, and they have never heard of any history with their ancestors, they rather not have anything to do with her and she must be returned to sea as soon as she finished nesting.

duncan abel_green_turtleAs the interview was going on, we heard the crowd shouting and rushing towards the sea. I moved in that direction to catch glimpse of whatever is happening, behold, another leatherback turtle making its way to shore.

The fishermen didnít waste time in deciding on what to do with him. They immediately swam to meet him and turned him back to sea. Pushing and forcing the beast to change direction back to sea. Of course, he bowed to pressure and left honorably. It was agreed by all that that is the husband looking for his darling. Since it could be a bad omen for him to be welcomed, the natives would rather have him leave at once.

On getting back to the beach, they hardly waited for the female to finish covering the hole in which she laid her eggs when they started dragging her back to sea. As the turtle touched sea water, she headed back for land but met the resistance of the fishermen, so, she finally made up her mind to leave but she swam along the coast line not going deep like the male.

This reaction of the giant leatherback turtle got me thinking. Its either she is too tired to return to sea immediately after labor so, she moved along the coast so that she could go back to land as soon as she can sense some quiet environment or she didnít complete the nesting due to human interference so she covered the pit quickly to go and find another spot for nesting.

Whatever the case, I hope she will find her mate so that sea life can have a meaning once again.

Duncan Abel

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