Just like Ariel had Flounder the guppy as a BFF, Arias has Nala the sea turtle. (Named by her).
It’s not everyday you get to experience a close encounter with a large, wild animal. Well yesterday was that day for our little Arias. (Size is proportionate: this turtle is large next to our 5 year old’s body.)
Yesterday, as we snorkelled around the bay we spotted two turtles lazily eating seagrass on the ocean floor. We floated near the surface, watching and admiring. Hoping they would come up for air, coming closer to where us air-breathing-humans are forced to stay. We have taught our girls well, that when watching turtles you float motionless, so you don’t scare them away. And if you are lucky they will come up for air somewhere close to where you are and you will get a better look at them.
Seeing humans is NOT foreign to these specific turtles. We are in a known spot for snorkelling and underwater life. These turtles are extremely accustomed to seeing big blobs of fleshy humans floating above them yelling “A SEA TURTLE!!!” as this place is a hot spot for tourists and locals alike. These turtles must also be used to seeing OUR faces because we swim these waters daily and have a preference for observing these two in particular.
As we floated at the surface we watched the big turtle start to swim up for air, towards Arias. We floated very still, almost lifeless. She came right up under Arias, pretty mush laying her shell in her hands!
Now I fully understand why people are not supposed to touch wild animals, it can be harmful for both parties, but I wasn’t going to yell at the turtle, “No turtle, get away from us humans” and I wasn’t going to yell at Arias “swim away from this beautiful creature that is letting something extraordinary happen”. So I let it happen, and it was amazing. The turtle stayed at the surface with her for several minutes, letting Arias pet her shell. I kept my distance because clearly it wasn’t me she was coming to visit, and I didn’t want to scare her away. Yes I was completely jealous of my five year old, that she was getting this experience and not me, but so is life.
When she dove back down, we were both excited at what had just happened and sad that it ended. Although, for a turtle to hang out at the surface, with two humans, for that long is impressive in itself. But it wasn’t over. It happened again, and again!
Three times this turtle came to hang out with Arias. She had made the decision that this child was ok. And my Mama senses felt the same about the whole scenario, it was more than ok. They were quick BFFs.
The smile on our little mermaid’s face was huge. She was in awe of this creature and treating it with such gentle care and love. Every time the turtle returned to the bottom Arias would try and join her as deep as she could dive, and although her little lungs wouldn’t let her she knew to just wait at the surface and the turtle may come back again.
I was hesitant to post these pictures because I know there will be people that say our daughter should not be touching wildlife, and getting the animal used to human contact. I know that. We have raised our girls with a big respect for nature, above and below sea level. However, this scenario was different, it was quite spectacular. It truly seemed like a extraordinary moment and I am glad I saw it with my own eyes. So say what you will, I am happy this happened.