The kayak glides effortlessly through the turquoise water and at first, all we can see is the long fishing line with it’s white floating devices and markers. Some are made of simple plastic bottles some of styrofoam. “Turtle!”, Guy points at the second floating marker and yes, there is a beautiful medium sized hawksbill turtle swimming around close to the surface right by the side of our little boat. It’s strange that he is not getting scared of us and our paddling movements…
Guy puts his mask on and slides in to the water: “It’s stuck, there is a hook right by the left flipper”. I put my own mask on, sinking into the water, letting go of the kayak and swims towards Guy and the completely terrified turtle. “It’s ok, it’s ok little turtle…” The closer we both get the more desperate his movements becomes. The fishing line jerks back and forth but it’s no use, the turtle is trapped and the more it moves the more it is hurting itself. “You have to get the hook out”, says Guy, “I will hold the shell and when I’ve got it you can try to wiggle the hook out”.
Guy grabs the shell of the turtle from the back. I’m prepared for a big struggle. Seeing before my eyes the fighting turtle trying to get away and us holding our breaths and doing our best not to sink.
But then something astonishing and completely unexpected happens. The turtle suddenly stops all it’s movements and relaxes in Guy’s hands. Both the flippers are hanging passively by the sides of the shell and the little head with big, dark eyes just looks at us. No time to waste, I take a deep breath putting my head underneath the water and grab hold of the hook using all my strength to move it out and away.
It turns out to be quite a complicated task. After a while we swap places, now I’m holding the shell of the turtle and Guy is working on the hook. Trying again and again. The little turtle still motionless in my hands. The hook doesn’t seem to give away, and the whole thing is starting to feel hopeless. What shall we do? Guy and I feel the same strong and steady commitment. Leaving the turtle is just not an option…
“Ok, let it go, let it go!”
I don’t know how much time that has passed or how many breaths we have captured on the surface to be able to stay under water. But all of a sudden the hook is out and I can feel myself letting go of my grip of the shell. The turtle swims away within a fraction of a second (to my eyes it all happens in slow motion) and disappears in the greenish water.
Guy incapacitates the hook and I swim to get the kayak that’s been floating away in the direction of the beach. We are both quite taken by the whole thing. Of the “in the moment action” where nothing else matters. Of making a difference. If not on a big scale then at least to this one turtle.
Perhaps we saved that turtles life, I don’t know. The feeling of being able to help though (in the end) is felt in the whole body. It’s strange but on one level it feels as if it has saved us.