Of Man and Turtles
Trip Start Dec 25, 2006
6Trip End Jan 02, 2007
Suddenly, the sailor kicks his legs and rolls over. Then his eyes snap open, startled. He is no longer alone. Something has found him. He cannot see what it is, yet does not want to move to find out. Instead he lays there, still- very still. Whatever it is, it is leathery, large and silent. Maybe it will go away? No, now he is under attack. The creature is throwing sand up onto his body, burying him alive. Unable to take the suspense any longer, the sailor is about to kick when the sandy attack suddenly halts
Fast-forward 12 years and that sailor, a bit older, a bit grayer, is welcoming guests to his Oldhegg Turtle Sanctuary. Located on the same beach where he first met the mystery reptile of the sea, Orton King now spends his life raising, nursing and releasing sea turtles. Orton King, known as Brother King to the respecting locals, takes a young French girl, with her excited and quizzical blue eyes brightened by her bleached blond curls, to introduce her to Busy Body, a 7 year old Hawksbill sea turtle.
Located near Industry Bay, on Bequia's rugged and isolated northern coast, the open aired cement agricultural-looking shelter that houses the Oldhegg Turtle Sanctuary is perhaps Bequia's best, if not only, bonafide tourist attraction
Reached via a beautiful walk through Spring starting from Port Elizabeth or via taxi, visitors will gain a unique opportunity to meet these amazing creatures in all stages of their life. Not only will visitors see turtles up close, they will also learn about their triumphant life cycle and the dangers they now face from Brother King, who is always eager to discuss his full-time hobby.
A full-grown hawksbill turtle can reach three feet in length and weigh up to three-hundred pounds, although the average weight is more likely between one-hundred and one-hundred and fifty pounds. They are named for their hawk-like beak and can be distinguished by their clawed flippers. Every year between April and November the female turtle returns to the same nesting spot to lay her clutch of roughly 140 eggs. They do this four times every season
The hawksbill turtle has been considered an endangered species since 1970. Their main source of food is sponges, commonly found among coral reefs- also endangered. Over the past century the hawksbill population has experienced a decrease of at least 80%. This genocide of their species is due to continued illegal poaching for their shells, loss of habitation for coastal development, disorientation by hatchlings trying to reach the ocean as a result of beach lights, hungry predators, watercraft injuries and commercial fishing. It was these startling facts that inspired Brother King to dedicate his life to reversing this trend.
Brother King's relationship with turtles began much earlier than his beachside encounter. As a local Bequian skin diver, he was always bumping into these underwater creatures and as a child he use to keep them as pets. In this light it really doesn't seem odd to see him put Busy Body, his current pet turtle, on a leash and go snorkeling together. To Brother King, this is natural due to the bond he has developed with the species.
The turtle rescue process begins upon the turtle's laying of the eggs
But it's not only the fascination of the rescue process that brings travelers to Brother King's Oldhegg Turtle Sanctuary. What draws people here is the desire to discover the secret of the turtle. This desire to understand and to learn is what draws travelers from all over, including the old sailor Brother King, to the Hawksbill turtle.
The legendary sea turtle is perhaps the greatest traveler of all
For More Information:
Oldhegg Turtle Sanctuary: 784-458-3245 Oldhegg@vincysurf.com
Bequia Sweet: www.bequiasweet.com
Bequia Toursim: www.bequiatourism.com
Read more at Klenske, Ink.