Bhitarkanika Sanctuary: An Indian Getaway Into the Wild

The darkness of the night and the troublesome roads were worrisome, and at first it was a relief to get out of the car, but then the destination itself proved to be a scary proposition. Our ferry in the moonless night looked sinister. And when we thought about the fact that we had entered the terrain of ferocious crocodiles, the scene in front of me seemed straight out of the famous Anaconda movies. The lone lantern lighting the boat and the stillness of the water around us felt menacing. At first, most of us laughed to ward off our fear.

And then none of us spoke. Did we fear waking the reptiles? I do not quite know for I had become too numb to think coherently. Do not mistake me; I am not one of those who succumbs to fear very easily. But when it came to the prospect of being eaten by crocodiles, my mind became my own worst enemy. I kept repeating to myself that the creek was full of salt water crocodiles and I kept replaying the visuals of the Anaconda movie. In retrospect, and with objectivity, I can say that the boat ride was actually peaceful and serene.

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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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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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