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Kian Barker
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Kian Barker

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info@shakabarker.co.za

A lose - win situation

Greetings and Salutations,

Sometimes, in fact most of the time, our society is driven to win. Often I hear the chorus: did he or she win? or,  was he first? or,  they must win at all costs! (This sounds like the Australian cricket team, doesn't it?). It simply must be "a win-win situation".  However, this little cameo of a story is about the ultimate "lose - win" situation.  What do I mean by this rather unusual scenario? Setting the scene is important.  A little while ago I wrote about the "De Aar" of Maputoland.  This is where the scenario is set every year, and in fact every night, for about four months of the year.  First of all we get the "De Aar state" : this is when all the female turtles emerge onto the sultry warm beaches of the East Coast of Africa to deposit a clutch of titanium oxide white eggs.  Then the "lose - win" situation occurs some 55 to 60 days later! Still wondering what this situation is about?  A good citizen of St. Lucia asked me about the De Aar of Kosi Bay, so I am sure there are a number of people out there wondering about this "lose-win" situation.

So wind back the clock, past New Year into the Old Year, past the early morning headache following the late night, back to the trashed credit card. and Christmas with all the surprises.... even further back to receiving your bonus and back to the end of November, and yes, a little further back to around mid-November 2007. This was when a gravid loggerhead turtle emerged onto the sultry, tropical beaches of Kosi Bay one night. She would have done this under the cover of darkness for a very specific reason , this reason being mentioned on all Shakabarker turtle trips. She would climb up the beach to just above the high tide mark although some female turtles  would   pass beyond this mark and go a little higher, but this is the exception rather than the rule. At  this elevated point on the beach she would have dug an egg pot, then covered the nest in a very elaborate fashion, and then finally returning to the sea. Now wind the clock forward, past the period when you had a full bank account, later blowing this money on a variety of Xmas presents, past the New Year headache, and then to the morning you woke up on the 14 January 2008. That same night, the eggs laid 55 days ago would be hatching!

The scene is set on this dark beach next to the Indian Ocean, Kosi Bay. The little hatchlings emerge onto a darkened beach that looks relatively safe. They have about a 20m dash to the ocean,  which seems relatively easy, making the expression "walking the gauntlet" sound like a "walk in the (proverbial) park!".  " Isimangaliso!" will do nicely.  These little hatchlings have no idea what lies in wait for them after emerging from the warm maternal beach sands of Kosi Bay . They simply have no idea! With this hatching thing, the rule of thumb is not to be the first, nor the last. If you are in the first batch  just as you are about to reach the warm gravity -free, nocturnal Indian Ocean waters, there is a barrage of ghost crabs waiting patiently and they are stacked in a row of about a meter wide. The first few hatchlings are carried off for consumption by those eight-legged nocturnal demons, and while the nocturnal fiends have their claws occupied with the luckless few that crawled into the barrier of crustacean psychopaths, the slightly slower sibling turtles can slip past into the dark waters and swim to safety into the central part of the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean. "Hasta la vista hatchlings, and say a quiet prayer for your brothers and sisters  that were faster than you."

Because the slower turtles  won the race to safety, we can see that there are certain situations demanding that you stick with the crowd, but don't stay  too far back. At the back there is a risk of being picked off by other hungry crabs joining the feeding frenzy.

Hasta la vista,

The Turtle Guru

Posted by Kian Barker

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