Wild animals, savage people

by Eric Lucas


The 8-year-old boy chasing the young sea turtle down the beach was having “fun.” His father stood by, glancing up occasionally while he texted a football bet to a buddy.

Green sea turtle by davidd via Flickr CCL.

Also enjoying themselves were the two dozen beachgoers who had surrounded a full-grown, 4-foot-long green sea turtle in the water at shore’s edge at this lovely, famous island resort. As the turtle drifted back and forth in the swells, trying to get out to sea, its “admirers” followed it to and fro, cell-phones clicking incessantly so they could capture the special moment for Instagram and Twitter and Pinterest and Facebook. Some were barely a foot away. I wondered if they knew that a turtle has jaws strong enough to easily clap off a finger.

But sea turtles are gentle creatures; too gentle, actually, as they were long easily captured until international outcry brought them protected status. Now, U.S. law requires that people maintain a respectful distance from sea turtles, not encircle them or block their path to the open ocean, or otherwise bother or annoy them.

The penalty for violating this law runs up to $20,000. It’s called Level B harassment, which sounds serious indeed; but in our brave new world where all of the earth is on display for all of humanity, in person or digitally, the law means little. Nor, I’m afraid, do simple standards of decency, integrity and care.

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Paying It Forward on the Greek Isle of Alonissos

by Irene Lane

It started out as an experiment. Would I be able to travel with my six-year-old son, mother, and two aunts to a small Aegean island and actually be able to shoot a short documentary film about its ecotourism efforts in a week? The Greeks are known for many things – love of life, great food, proud history and genuine kindness, but they aren’t necessarily known for sticking to a timeline.

However, after a summer when the world was served numerous news stories about Greece’s near economic collapse and violent riots, I viewed it as a chance to both spend some special time with my family and shed some light on a little known good news story. Little did I suspect that the travel experience would energize me, educate my son and change a tiny island’s conservation funding prospects.

They certainly don’t make it easy to get to Alonissos. All told, the journey from Athens took two hours by bus and another three hours by boat – all of it extraordinarily scenic. We passed by some very picturesque islands including Skopelos (where the movie Mamma Mia was filmed) and, as we made our final approach toward Alonissos, some surprisingly choppy seas that reminded me of the movie Castaway, where the island was protected by a band of rough seas, yet also disconnected from the rest of the Aegean Sea.

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It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a Giant Slug?

by Charmaine Coimbra

Just south of Big Sur on California Highway 1, we hit the brakes when something akin to a 15-foot long slug caught our attention. Born and raised not far from the Pacific Ocean, I never saw such a creature on any California beach. It was 1997, my husband and I had been living in Santa Fe for nine years, and we were on vacation in California.

There were few legal places to pull our rental car off the highway, so we broke some likely vehicle code and parked as close as possible to this giant slug sunning on the beach. As we neared the beast we heard from the crashing shoreline something that sounded like a Harley Davidson revving its motor inside an empty warehouse.

“Did we just enter the twilight zone?” I asked my husband. We paced through the ranchland grasses west toward the beach. Eerie noises seeped between the fog and sand, and more slug-like creatures appeared.

“What are they?” we simultaneously questioned each other.

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Nature Nurtures In The Amazon

by Dale V Atkins

I just returned to Manaus from the Anavilhanas Jungle Lodge in the Amazon (actually on the River Negro which is indeed a black river not due to dirt but due to tanens from leaves and organic matter and has NO mosquitoes at all on the water...unlike the "muddy river" which has apparently has PLENTY.) Did I really need those malaria pills?

It is unbelievably wet there....it is not called a rain forest for nothing..You cannot go out for 10 minutes without a rain jacket unless you don't mind consistently walking around looking as if you just lost the jungle wet tee shirt contest. I opted for the rain jacket (which doubled as my icebreaker a week ago when I was marching around in crampons on the Moreno glacier in Argentina but let's stick to one rain jacket adventure at a time.).

Just so you know, before I go any further, I am as happy as I can be. I look just like a hairdresser's nightmare (or dream depending on your point of view) as my roots are huge and my curls are wilder than in the '60s. It is good that HAIR has returned to Broadway because I may go directly from the plane to a casting call. Truth is, as soon as I land, I am going to the grandkids to give and get some great hugs and smooches followed immediately by an appointment with the hairdresser.

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