Sea Turtles, I “AMP” You!

It is time like this when I feel like I am staring in the movie “Troy”.  Not as Brad Pitt of course, but rather one of the many soldiers who gets his point-one second of camera time.   But that is OK.  As someone who is reborn into this new generation of whoever participates wins, I am happy to contribute, fully aware of the likely outcome.   For yet another contest this time invited by HP, I hope the panel of judges will get what I am trying to say (sometimes even I don’t).  We know how the last contest turned out.  So I am going to stick with the drawing bits and leave out the music bits.   The title of this drawing is “A Sea Turtle Butchered – What Santa could do with the help from Wilfrid who in turn needs some money from HP to make a difference”.

One folklore goes something like this: For many years, the inhabitants of the underwater village Da’Touk Thump have lived a relatively peaceful time.  They spend most of the time frolicking in the sea, eating jelly fish, and mowing sea grass.   Once in a while, some females get knocked up and they take care of their “business” on dry land, away from Da’Touk Thump.   No one knows why eggs have to be laid in a place so far away.   But the sea turtles are not complaining.  They treat it as a seasonal holy pilgrimage.   Religion always manages to explain all the unknown unknowns, even for the sea turtles.

No one knows how the bipeds come into existence.   One sea turtle legend goes something like this: Once upon a time, there was a royal dispute in Da’Touk Thump.  Two princesses were fighting for the throne and eventually, Princess Ho’Mos-Api was ousted out of the palace.   Feeling the rage inside her turtle shell, she heaved herself out of the sea and vowed never to return.   Once she reached the shore, with super-turtle effort, Ho’Mas-Api yanked herself out of the shell.  And the unthinkable happened; she began to walk on two legs!   Over the years, the descendents of Ho’Mos-Api have populated the shore and named the village Aa’Rr Pop.  One day, they discovered fire.   Since then, they have incorporated sunny-side-up sea turtle egg and roast sea turtle steak into their menu of fruits de mer.  It was a sad day for the Da’Touk Thump inhabitants.

One morning, Tortu’Aga-Mari realizes that she is pregnant.  And she prays to the gods.  A rabbit appears and says, “Say no more!   I hear you!  Many times I’ve told you sea turtles the importance of abstinence.”  “What should I do now?” Tortu’Aga-Mari implores.   The rabbit pulls out a magical collar from his furry chest and says, “My child, you have two choices.   Wear this on your neck.  You may still face the choppers of the Aa’Rr Pop villagers but the wounds inflicted upon you will be amplified in a mysterious way.   However, if you choose to wear this around your tummy, all the fertilized eggs inside you will vanish.  But no sea turtle will bear any eggs in Da’Touk Thump – not today and never in the future!”

A hero or a zero, what is it going to be?  Visualizing how to take off the turtle suit is tedious enough.  Obviating the entire turtle race?  That is genocide in a turtle sense.  Tortu’Aga-Mari  gives it a little thought and has decided to wear the collar onto her neck.   At nightfall, Tortu’Aga-Mari tiptoes under a starry night onto the dry land where many of the sea turtles lay their eggs and some end up on a dinning table.   The bipeds are waiting.  Tortu’Aga-Mari does not stand a chance.   As the turtle-sacrifice is being chopped into pieces, the collar works its magic; all the women back in the Aa’Rr Pop village magically feel the blade and disintegrate into chucks of flesh.  Each time a piece of Tortu’Aga-Mari comes off, pieces of the same proportion come off from the women in the village.  There is bloodbath at the shore; and there is bloodbath in the Aa’Rr Pop village.   The men happily chopping the poor turtle have no idea that they are indirectly chopping their own women back home.   Soon, news of the village travels to the ears of the bipeds at the shore; scent of the shore intrudes the Da’Touk Thump inhabitants in the sea.   Shocked, the bipeds return to their village moan at their mishap; the sea turtles swim all the way from the sea and stare at a bucket full of turtle meat, shocked.

There are many versions of how this folklore ends.  Amongst all, this is my favorite: Out of nowhere, a rabbit materializes at the shore and screams, “Say no more!  I hear you all!”  The rabbit curiously looks into the bucket and in his surprise, sees a pounding heart.   The heart of Tortu’Aga-Mari.  He digs his furry arm into the bloody bucket, stirring vigorously as though he is a chef marinating the meat.   The sea turtles gasp at the scene and cry in silence.  The rabbit clicks his tongue, rolls his eyes to the night sky, and says, “I still hear you!”  After what seems like an eternity, in one swift motion, the rabbit pulls something out from the bucket.   It is the magical collar.  In one majestic gesture, the rabbit carefully wraps the pounding heart with the collar.  A blinding light immediately radiates to all directions, momentarily dazzles the sea turtle audience.  Metal zippers grow from the collar weaving their ways along the wounds of the mutilated limps and body of turtle-sacrifice.  In no time, Tortu’Aga-Mari becomes whole and in one orgasmic ending, the final piece of the collar – or what is left of it – permeated by the prayers of millions of sea turtles wraps around the newly mended Tortu’Aga-Mari, hardens and becomes a golden, grandiose shell.   The sea turtles are in awe of the miracle, a miracle they have unknowingly partaken.   The rabbit lets go a sigh of triumph and smiles, “My work here is done!”   And poof, he disappears.  Tortu’Aga-Mari is reborn.

*     *     *     *     *

Both my drawing and this posting are inspired by the CNN Hero of 2010 nominee, Oscar Aranda.   Oscar in the category of defending the planet does not win.   Voters seem to be touched more by the thousands of girls saved from sex slavery than the many mother sea turtles saved and thousands of baby sea turtles released back to the sea.  HP wants to know how I would make my Christmas holiday better than before (or in their technical lingo: How I “AMP” my Christmas).   With HP’s full financial aid, I am happy to spend two to three weeks in Mexico with Western Ecological Society, document the sea turtle preservation effort, and share with the online community my photos and journals.  Keep a look out on HP Facebook page.  I will need your votes to become Brad Pitt for a change.

PS. No sea turtles or turtles of any kind are harmed during the drawing of this featured picture.  I wish I could credit the folklore to some ancient civilizations that worship sea turtles, like the Moche people of ancient Peru.  But any resemblance to real life creatures alive or dead is purely coincidental.

External Links: An article by CNN on Oscar Aranda, Western Ecological Society Website (in English)

9 responses to “Sea Turtles, I “AMP” You!”

  1. Speechless. Just speechless. Now you are drawing and story telling. Will I see you dancing or demonstrating martial art in your post? 😛

    I see sea turtle with jelly fish legs and a fish that looks like a knife. Too bad the rabbit does not get the one minute fame on your doodle or perhaps it does and I missed it. 😀 I wish you luck in the HP contest and may Santa reads your wish list soon and should he grant you your wish, you might want to allocate some funds to personally thank him at the North pole! 😉

    • J – Unfortunately I do not dance, nor practice martial art at all … ha ha ha.

      The drawing supposes to contain these parts: The head of a sea turtle, the two flips (I find out that flips do have scales in real sea turtle!) – both mutilated and hence the drops of blood dripping from these body parts. The egg shape pattern that encloses the sea turtle head and flips can be thought as a shell. But the original intend is our “world”. Sea turtles are linkages to our world’s distant past. All the way back to the dinosaur days. The dark cracks are inflicted by humans – signifies by that knife. And the white crack in fact signifies hope that we give upon these sea turtles. Hence that little plant growing on that world or turtle shell.

      Surrounding the sea turtle are the sea turtle eggs. Usually, one would draw the eggs in one heap, at the center (imagine sea turtle laying eggs). But I have purposely created a hole at the center and put mother sea turtle there. Kind of an upset on how a visual association is traditionally formed.

      The drawing is inspired by the real event (the bucket of turtle meat, the pounding heart). And hence, the rabbit is not there … ha ha ha. Nice thought though.

      North pole?! You mean Santa is not in Christmas Island?! Somewhere near Australia? He he he.

    • J – It is a good question. I think what HP will do is to consolidate the posts at their Facebook page and let votes to vote. I will try to post something here once I have a better idea!

      Thanks in advance for your vote!

  2. Already, I can’t wait to hear your story about your trip to document the sea turtle preservation in Mexico 🙂
    I’ve had the privilege of witnessing sea turtle eggs hatched, I was finishing my last assignment in southern of West Java. It became one of my precious experiences. I broke my heart to witness how from more than a hundred eggs, hatched less than 60% (probably affected by the transferring from its original burial to the conservation yard), and the hatchlings were conserved for several days before releasing them back to the sea. And during those days the hatchlings fell prey to rats (the conservation house was basically a hut, very inadequate). We finally had to release less than ten hatchlings back to the sea.
    I regret that I didn’t have my camera back then but I was too awestruck to think about taking pictures (and basically I was a very poor photographer 🙂

    Anyway… sorry for the bubbling… I will vote for you 🙂 and wish you good luck! And I think this would be the best idea to “AMP” your christmas!

    • Raina – That is a very touching story you have! And please, you are welcome to drop as much thought as you wish for sharing here 🙂

      I read that each sea turtle produces up to 200 eggs during each nesting. It is rather sad to see only 10 hatchings return to the sea. I don’t even wish to imagine how many of them make it to adulthood.

      Ah … what poor sea turtles. What about now? You reckon the reservation house has improved?

      And also, thanks for your vote in advance!

      • I was there in 1998 and I don’t know whether the government has improved the facility or not, or maybe they have given up… i dare not imagine.
        When I watched the hatchlings being released to the sea… I don’t know how to describe it… I felt awed, despair, sad, anguished over the sight of those small creatures headed bravely, even eagerly towards the monstrous sea. I had to restrain my self from taking them in my hands and swim my self to the sea to release them there. I was told that i would make them more vulnerable and unable to survive. That was their test for survival and I hated it! Oo poor mother sea turtle…
        Anyway, the beach was beautiful and not so easy to reach, I could walk for hours and didn’t see anyone.
        So, if you find mexico to be too far to watch the sea turtle, you and Cynthia are more than welcomed to have me guided you to the site 🙂

        • Raina – Ah, this must be the most moving thing I have read this morning. Thanks for sharing. I can imagine the emotion to release those little sea turtles to the sea. Personally, I think if we participate in caring the nature in a tangible way, world peace may well be achieved. I mean, wouldn’t seeing the bravery of a baby sea turtle change one’s perspective? It would for me.

          Yes. We could arrange something with you as our guide. Thanks in advance!

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