While on our most recent family vacation on the coast of South Carolina, we enjoyed the usual excitement of swims in the ocean, sand castle construction and beach sauntering… but on this trip we had a certain special adventure. The beach looked a little different during this week due to stirrings of the previous hurricane. Marsh grass had been uprooted and carried onto the shore by the tide and created piles of straw that lined the entire beach. This brown swamp debris, while not particularly pretty,was actually kind of fun and lead to interesting additions to castles and forts built all along our walking path to the pier.
On one of these walks, upon investigating the stranded grasses, our 6 year old son discovered a baby Loggerhead turtle stuck inside the muck. He was a cute little fellow, but we quickly realized that one of his fins was injured and that he was not feeling good. Being the soft-hearted child that he is, my son immediately wanted to know what we could do to help him. I suggested that we could call the Turtle Rescue! Insert children’s theme song here: “Go, Diego, Go! Vamos Diego, Al Rescate!”
Charged with the care of this vulnerable creature, our son decided the turtle needed a name. So, he put “Charlie” in a bucket of sea water, and we promptly took him back to the house. Not knowing the phone number to the turtle rescue, my husband called 911, they replied “we know exactly who you need to call!” and put him in touch with the local Sea Turtle Hospital. The rescuers were quite friendly and helpful and amazingly responsive. After a short phone exchange of instructions -“Put sand in the bucket so that Charlie can rest and conserve energy”- and directions -“Oh we know where your beach house is, we’ll be right there,” the two enthusiastic rescuers showed up in no time at all. Literally in 10 minutes these two volunteers were at the house, had assessed the situation and had a plan for Charlie.
They explained that Charlie and many other young Loggerheads were washed up in the marsh grass and were injured by other critters on the beach. They said that Charlie’s torn fin was probably from the pickings of a crab. They thanked us for saving the turtle and said to be on the lookout for others because left to their own devices, Charlie and his friends would die on the beach. Charlie was too young to be admitted to the hospital but they were going to release him in the inlet where he would have more of a chance to make it out to sea.
Saving Charlie the Sea Turtle was a positive learning experience for my son, and it started me thinking about what it means to save others…all other living creatures. Our Partner Agency The American Red Cross saves thousands of human lives every day from emergency situations and disasters including hurricanes. And then there are the many United Way Partner Agencies that save thousands of fragile and suffering lives from the devastating and often times fatal ills of poverty, homelessness, substance abuse, domestic violence…. The list of crippling circumstances is long….
Why is it that sometimes it is more acceptable to talk about saving our animals? People need saving too. Humans, not unlike Charlie, need that place to rest and conserve energy when they are injured and weary – our community shelters provide this place. Humans, not unlike Charlie, need others to cheerfully come to their aid, to care and to be with them, to assess what they need, to give them hope and to help them out – our community services provide this support. Humans, not unlike Charlie, need a fighting chance. They deserve to be lifted from the battered shores of their lives out of harm’s way and ushered into safer places where they can heal, gain more solid footing or fins and SWIM. Insert children’s theme music interlude #2: “Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming…”
We don’t know if Charlie the turtle made it, but we hope so…and we can rest a little easier knowing that we did the most we could to give him a greater chance at Life.