REFLECTION by Biripi Creator Michael Scarrott
Guraa garuwaguba is the Gathang phrase name for Saltwater Turtle.
Modern sea turtles as we know them became distinct from all other turtles at least 110 million years ago. They can be found in all oceans of the world, except for the polar regions, and are mostly found in waters over continental shelves.
Sea turtles can live for over 50 years and it takes decades for them to reach maturity to reproduce.
In the summertime mature females generally return to the beach on which they themselves were hatched decades prior, to lay their own eggs and continue the cycle.
Great care is taken by the female to cover her clutch with sand for protection, and after two months, when they are ready, the hatchlings collectively rise as a group from the sand and make a speedy dash for the sea together guided by the light and reflections of the moon and stars.
The hatchlings inundate the sea where predators lay in wait and the stampede helps to increase their chances of survival.
Sea Turtles are intelligent, gentle creatures, foraging on kelp and algae and some are known to have a broader diet including squid, sponges and sea anemones.
The sea turtle reminds of the much valued traditions that serve us well in relation to raising a family. A sea turtle could choose to lay her eggs on any beach nest site but instead she travels thousands of kilometres to go home and release her offspring there, surrounded by familiar sights and sounds, her kin. She knows from experience that place is safe.
More recently it has been discovered some species of sea turtle have evolved biofluorescence. This extraordinary trait means some deep sea turtles actually glow in the dark in colour, mostly green, orange and red. Scientists understand the effect can help lure prey but it is believed this effect may be a form of camouflage; biofluorescence is also found with some corals, sharks, fishes and seahorses.
The ocean absorbs all colours except blue, so these creatures have evolved means to display a contrasting colour.
For all these reasons Turtles are fascinating creatures that deserve to be respected and preserved.