No matter where in the Caribbean it might happen (or how often), I am always, always, always thrilled to come across sea turtles!
I know they’re around whenever I’m in the water, of course, removing a good bit of the chance from our encounters.
When I do see them, though, my level of surprise and excitement consistently registers at the level of five-year-old me; my heart racing, my smile as big, broad and bright as can be.
Such was my state soon after arriving at Magens Bay in St. Thomas a few short weeks ago. I had just walked back to the far east end of the beach, where I’d parked my rental car, after exploring the full length of the sandy shore.
Inspired in part by this early-morning swimmer, I was getting set to splash through a few strokes of my own. That’s when I saw her.
From the shore, her tiny head peeking above the waterline could’ve been mistaken for some random detritus on another day or another beach with choppier surf conditions.
On this day, though, at this beach, the water couldn’t have been more calm, more clear; the turtle head more indistinguishable.
I swam out slowly so as not to spook her. It was just a few minutes before our paths crossed…
She glided along, mostly paying me no mind, dipping and darting in a dance all-too-familiar, yet as exhilarating as ever to witness in person once more.
Upon returning to shore and looking back out to sea, I noticed that my new friend was accompanied by a gang of other turtles; at least four or five in number, all of them inside the swimming buoys.
More people showed up and entered the water oblivious to the turtles. The turtles didn’t care either. They simply continued to swim among them, everyone sharing the shallows.