In Spring Not All Romance Occurs on the Beach

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In these warmer months of spring a lot of strenuous romancing goes on in the water off the beach. I refer to the carryings-on of Loggerhead turtles that congregate from distances of hundreds and probably even thousands of miles, and have for millennia in frenzies only recently mimicked by the Spring Break of our own off-spring.

The most colorful and authoritative account that I have ever read was written by Archie Carr who spent so many years observing and protecting sea turtles in Central America and the Caribbean. He wrote as follows:

"Sea turtles in love are appallingly industrious. It is not easy to observe their conduct because observations come only in snatches, when the turtles rise on wave crests. But the male turtle obviously makes an awful nuisance of himself. Why the female puts up with such treatment is hard to understand. To hold himself in the mating position on top of the smooth, curved, wet, wave-tossed shell of the female, the male employs a three-point grappling rig, consisting of his long, thick, recurved, horn-tipped tail, and a heavy, hooked claw on each front flipper. Sea turtles breath air of course so both sexes naturally try to stay at the surface during the violent mating engagement. This adds to the acrobatic problems of the male, and augments his intemperate scraping and thrashing at the shell of his intended. Besides all that, the female generally stays coy and resistant for what seems an unnecessarily long while. During that time other males gather, and all strive together over the female in a huge, frothy melee in which nothing, as I said, can be seen from shore except that it is pretty exciting."

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