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Shell Shocked: Even turtles want romance

By Staff | May 21, 2019

Art Stevens

Terry Turtle came by the other day to set the record straight. She told me that she and her sister sea turtles are most appreciative that the Sanibel spotlight is falling on the turtle nesting season. She’s appreciative that the city of Sanibel has sent out notices to residents and visitors reminding them that turtles are in prime nesting season and certain conduct is expected of beach goers to maximize the chances of successful hatching.

“You know, Terry,” I said. “Sanibel takes nature very seriously. That’s why Sanibel is regarded very highly among environmentalists. I’ll bet you and the other sea turtles are very pleased that Sanibel does all it can to support your nesting season.”

Terry looked up at me with those huge turtle eyes and tried to scratch her outer shell. Nothing helped. “We are very grateful but there’s one thing missing in the instructions that Sanibel is issuing. And that’s why I wanted to talk to you today because of your vast readership.”

I was puzzled. “Terry, I read the notice from the Sanibel Natural Resources Department about what guidelines we should follow to enable you sea turtles to maximize hatching season. We know we’re supposed to do such things as turn the lights down, remove furniture from the beach, level all sandcastles, fill holes, pick up trash and honor the leash law. What aren’t we doing that we’re supposed to?”

Terry looked at me coyly, averted her eyes and said, “You’re forgetting one very important thing. Romance.”

“Romance?” I said.

“Yes, romance. Can you imagine if we turtles issued guidelines on how humans should hatch? It might read something like this: have a few glasses of wine first, get a rip roaring fire going in the fire place, be sure a thick comfortable bearskin rug is in place in front of the fire place, tell her ‘I love you’ many times, be tender and caring – and so on.

“It’s all about love, romance, tenderness, feeling, isn’t it? Why shouldn’t that apply to turtles as well? We want to be swept off our feet just as you do. Why don’t you include some of this in your guidelines?”

I scratched my head. “Frankly, Terry, I never thought of that. The guidelines that were issued are meant to maximize your success. We know how many things can go wrong with sea turtle hatching – predators, having a clear path from the water to the nest and so on. I don’t think it ever occurred to us that romance and true love should also be elements.”

Terry tried scratching her shell, couldn’t remove the itch and asked me to try scratching her with a screwdriver. “Well, try telling that to Tom Turtle. He’s been after me since we were hatched years ago on a Sanibel beach. We’ve been practically inseparable ever since. We swam the vast seas together and got married on a Costa Rica beach. You should have seen the ceremony.

“Well, one day Tom and I decided to start a family and we knew that Sanibel was the best place in the world to do so. You take such good care of us sea turtles there. And we were aware that the guidelines you send out every year are in our best interests. But we wanted your readers to know that turtles have feelings too and that we need romance just as you humans do.”

I was ready to help any way I could. “So what could we add to the guidelines next time around that will make us more sensitive to your feelings about romance?” I asked.

Terry started to crawl back to the beach. She tired after about five feet as turtles are apt to do. She paused in her journey, turned around and gave me a penetrating gaze. “Just one thing,” she said. “During our nesting season please have them plant some roses around our nests and play Frank Sinatra love songs over loud speakers. That will raise the odds of successful hatching a thousand per cent.”