Off we go with Ollie

Wide-eyed and wonder-struck

right now, am sort of soaked

and black, you could say

or rather…, dark grey

I am a hatchling you see –

my mommy came from the sea

guided by earth’s magnetic field

sisters, friends, together they streamed

quite a journey it would’ve been

traversing the oceans, gliding the aquamarine 

taking thousands of miles in their stride

arriving in style, with pride

not a feat for the ordinary

from feeding grounds, to the phenomenal nesting rookery

from a long way afar

to the beach right here, in Rushikulya*

looking for the perfect spot

not too cold, not too hot

a tropical beach to pitch in

not one to rest or give in

she strove with all her might 

a nest had to be dug alright

ploughing the earth with flippers at the back 

and absolutely no room for slack

One foot and some more she dug

a cone of a hollow deep and snug

big enough to lay 100 plus eggs, may be a li’l less

all set for a nesting fest

they call it the ‘arribada’ you bet!

its Spanish for ‘arriving by sea’, could you guess

she nearly went into a trance henceforth 

spawn set, a thumping dance was in accord

next was all about tossing some mud around

to ward off nosey predators that abound

safe and secure the eggs had to be 

for 45 or 50 days in the least

leaving us in our cosy hideaway

 she headed back to the waters right away

one, two, three, four, almost eight weeks went by 

we grew inside – my siblings and I

and then it was time

breaking shells open, out we climb 

biding, waiting, and on cue from cooler night-time

we jostle to the moon-lit waves, led by their sparkle and shine

once afoot, there isn’t a moment to waste

many precious lives get saved in that haste

for dangers lurk in the dash toward the sea

 crabs, dogs, jackals could creep upon us gingerly 

many of us made it through the blast

into the waters – safety at last 

ocean currents would now be the compass

as we dip, spin and swim in the vastness

onward and beyond, we plunge

miles and miles onto the ocean we’re flung

‘lost years’ and many lost mates later

 we return to the waters long farther…  

* Rushikulya river mouth, along the coast of Odisha in India, is a mass nesting site for olive ridley turtles – one of the largest such sites in the world. Categorized ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red list, olive ridleys feed in the Gulf of Mannar, along the Sri Lankan coast, and elsewhere in the Bay of Bengal, and make annual migrations to the Odisha coast to nest.