The following is an edited excerpt from a letter written by Kate Livingstone to her mother, Barbara Keenan, who shared it with The Coastal Star. It describes the rare, before-dawn encounter Livingstone and her family had with a green turtle on the beach in Gulf Stream last year:
She would have been born on this beach, and had traveled thousands of miles to return here to give birth.
She was lovely and hard at work. She had already dug out the small, deep cavity with her front flipper and deposited approximately 100 to 150 eggs. By the time we saw her, she had already moved 180 degrees and was busy covering up the much larger hole behind her with her powerful back flippers. She was so intent and engaged, not once lifting her head to acknowledge us. …
Our turtle gave a few more sweeps of her back flippers and then raised her head. The sun was in her eyes as she labored. …
Then, with rather graceful moves, she started her descent to the water. It must be sheer instinct, or perhaps relief and excitement, for she quickened her pace as she approached the wet sand, and then the surf. With a few strokes, she was in the water, and eased gently into deeper ocean.
She was magnificent. Only once did we see her raise her head for air. A tiny dark spot on the water’s surface was the last we saw of her.
The boys think she was saying goodbye to her babies.
Perhaps she was.