During the long, silent and star-lit walk down to Ras al Jinz beach, the most easterly point of the Arabian peninsula, I felt the rumble from the waves pounding the shore reverberate through my body. Knowing this is a popular nesting place for the Green Sea Turtle, it was hard to imagine that a turtle can make it ashore under such hazardous conditions.
But the first hint to the surprising size of this prehistoric creature was when I saw the scale of the pits it makes to lay its eggs. Scattered across the beach and large enough for me to fall into, these craters can be up to 1 meter deep.
My first sight of a Green Sea turtle took me by such surprise. It took me a few seconds to process the vastness and solidity of the turtle, and then I was truly able to understand how it can weather the power of the waves. I had read many times the dimensions of this species in digits but nothing prepared me for the reality.
Part of the 3 hour long nesting process is the hatchlings dash to the sea. Tiny and delicate enough to tumble into the footprint made by our guide yet with an air of such determination that they almost feel credible and mighty. But the sound of the pounding waves close by, a consistent reminder of the drama that awaits them. My heart was in my mouth watching a new born scurry towards the water. And yet, when the time came, there was a normalcy and elegance to the way that the gentle post-break swell rolled up to greet the hatchling and sweep it away to its fate and fight against the unbearably low odds.
Surrounded by a crowd of more than 60 tourists, the air filled with the sense of the ‘me-first’ crowd mania, I was waiting to dislike the experience of watching green sea turtles nesting on the beach at Ras al Jinz Turtle Reserve. And I was chomping at the bit even more to dislike humankind for their ability to disrespect nature. But on numerous occasions I felt tears prick my eyes as I was shown how mankind inherently respects the natural environment. Our guides broke us into small groups and gave us clear instructions on how be respectful to the turtles. And to my surprise everyone remained silent, including small children, for the full two hours. There was not a peep from anyone while the search for a turtle went on for longer than anticipated – somehow understanding that nature doesn’t provide on demand. Something about this group respect for these prehistoric creatures made me feel emotional. It was like we were silently joining together in a connection to something deep and, possibly, something primal. Humans and wildlife can live together harmony with the right set up and education.
Am I getting up at 4am for the morning tour? Absolutely yes!