Yesterday, on Miami Beach near 15th Street, when I saw the yellow caution tapes, I thought a piece of dangerous metal had washed up; but no, it was a sea turtle nest. Human beings were the danger. We were warned to keep away.
The only thing I knew about sea turtles I learned from Tennessee Williams's "Suddenly Last Summer"--O, how literature can shape the mind. (There is a film version with Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift, and Katherine Hepburn). Hepburn plays Mrs. Venerable, who gives a terrifying speech about the death of most newly hatched sea turtles: their soft underbellies are torn to pieces by sea birds. This is still true. The female uses her hind flippers to dig a nest, and lays up to 200 eggs, which take 45 to 70 days to hatch. On their own, the hatchlings try to find the water, which in this case is only a few dozen feet away. Most are eaten. Yet the nest on Miami Beach amidst the sunbathers is a sign of their survival. There's no reason why I can't think of Tennessee Williams's Mrs. Venerable and her terrifying view and at the same time admire the perseverance of the female sea turtle who dug this nest.