Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Yesterday, I was saddened to read that Lonesome George of the Galapagos Islands has died. George was only 100+ years old. He had to potential to live to 200. He was of a subspecies of Tortoise, the Pinta Island giant tortoise, and the only one left of his kind. I've always had an affection for turtles. Here in North Carolina, especially after a rain shower, one would often see them usually crossing a road. I have stopped many times to rescue an Eastern Box Turtle from being squashed. One day as I was on the approach to a highway, I saw two large Box Turtles in extreme danger in the road. I stopped and saved them, and kept them in my bathtub for a few days until I could drive down to the Uwharrie National Forest to release them. I still have the painting studies I did of their shells, which I bet are as individual to turtles as fingerprints are to humans. One time as I was driving my VW convertible on a winding road out in the country, I spied a small turtle on the roadway, apparently in no hurry. I quickly pulled over and managed a rescue. The little fella didn't particularly like being in the floorboard of my car and was scurrying around. Turtles are not always the slow critters depicted in the cartoons. They can get some speed on them. Unlike the beautiful, agreeable, and genteel Eastern Box Turtles I had saved from the road, this little guy was not particularly pleasant to be around. He lacked any markings on his plain brown shell, and he had a disagreeable odor; in other words, he stunk to high Heaven! After I described his appearance to friends, someone said he was likely a mud turtle. Since mud turtles are semi-aquatic, it is a good thing I let him go at a little creek. Hopefully, eventually he found a pond somewhere nearby, because today, the area where I found him has more housing developments than you can shake a stick at. Back then, the area was considered 'out in the country.' Now, it's just another example of humans penchant for sprawling, controlling, and obliterating the natural beauty of the land. I tend to like tangled bunches of blackberry bushes, wild roses, and meadows than the paved over civilization man creates. It is becoming more difficult to find those little Edens. Along with the scarcity of the little Edens, these days one rarely sees a turtle after a rain shower. Where have they all gone? One day will the native turtles in America be extinct like Lonesome George? It is heartening and sad at the same time, to read that there were people who tried to save George's species by introducing a bevy of girlfriends to him in hopes they would produce little George's. Sadly, George was not interested in reproduction and was happiest in his enclosure munching away on whatever it is giant tortoises munch on. Adios Lonesome George! I have sculpted a few turtles in the past. This little one pictured is a hatchling, just breaking out of his shell. This one is on ebay currently. To find my ebay listings, search for ebay seller i.d. wally_doodle. The second image is of a sculpture I created of a Corgi puppy riding on a turtle. (sold)