To the Editor:
On Sunday, Feb. 5, I got up to take an early morning bicycle ride. It was perfect weather, peaceful and quiet. I decided to head down to Tropical Point, enjoying our fantastic bike path and the beauty of another glorious day on Pine Island.
Before going too far, I noticed a very large turtle on the side of the path by the cattle field. He was impressive. I felt privileged to see such a magnificent creature going about his daily routine. Briefly stopping, I took his picture before he quietly slipped away toward the field.
After reaching my destination at Tropical Point, I visited for a few moments before heading back. Shortly I saw the Pine Cove and Flamingo Bay signs in the distance. Then to my horror, a large black object was in the middle of the road. It was awful as I felt it might be the turtle I had just came upon an hour before.
Cars were speeding by, going around it, but no one was stopping. By the time I reached the point where he was, I could see that he was actually moving. His head bobbed in every time a car sped past. The thought of this turtle being crushed before my eyes was too much to bear. Frantically, I waved while stepping slightly onto the road hoping for the cars to stop.
The events that happened next were a true miracle and restored my faith in the goodness of people. I would like to thank the following persons:
The lovely couple that slowly stopped their truck, made all the traffic behind them come to a complete halt as well. They patiently waited while I used my bicycle tire to nudge the turtle safely off the road. Thank you.
The concerned citizen named Joan from St. James City stayed with me while trying to figure out a way to move him off the grass away from the road. At this point he was digging in for dear life. She brilliantly came up with the idea of using her bike lock and rubber coated chain to get the turtle to latch on to it with his mount and pull him across to the sidewalk. Joan, you were not only ingenious, but courageous as well. I will never forget watching you pull the turtle across the grass with your bike chain firmly in his mouth. Thank you.
Gareth from CROW, the wildlife rescue organization on Sanibel Island an-swered my emergency call. He dealt very professionally with my situation while obtaining information about the turtle, the injury to his shell and our location. He was reassuring that he would immediately try to locate a CROW volunteer on Pine Island to come and help. Thank you.
A young man in a white pick-up truck pulled over to check if we needed help. I told him that I wish I had a box or something to move the turtle to my house while waiting for the rescue volunteer to arrive. At that point he said he would be glad to help. He said he was familiar with that kind of turtle. He picked it up, placed it in the truck without incident and brought it to my yard. He then helped place it in a bin. Thank you.
Phil Buchanan was the volunteer from CROW. I believe it couldn't have been more than five minutes after the turtle was in my yard that he called saying he was on his way. There was a real sense of concern and compassion as he gently transferred the turtle to another box for transport. Thank God for people like this that selfishly give their time to help injured animals that can't help themselves regardless what time of the day it is. Thank you.
It was about 30 minutes start to finish for this Pine Island turtle resident to be rescued. I thank all those involved from the bottom of my heart.
Let's try and be like the helpful people mentioned above and make a difference when we can.
St. James City