Giant seagoing turtles rise up out of the sea with each wave, first swimming, and then, as their feet connect with the rippled bottom, they lumber slowly on the beach, passing over the flat wet packed area, to the soft, deep sugar sand. Back and forth they sweep their legs, moving the sand to each side. Soon a hole is deep enough, about 18 inches, to deposit eggs, and slowly the soft, white eggs drop into the safe zone.The turtle covers the eggs, turns, and slowly crawls back to the beckoning waves.
In 1987, Benini and I walked Playalinda Beach, a narrow stretch of dune separating the ocean and Mosquito Lagoon, on this Canaveral National shoreline.
It was quiet that day, rather private…and beautiful.
We first noticed the disturbances. Here and there. Sand piled up next to a hole, with dried eggs, now brittle and twisted in the hot sun. Raccoons, with their sharp dark claws had come like bandits in the night, scraping and scratching into the precious cache and sucked the eggs, discarding the shells.
As horrific as it was to discover the slaughter, there was to be a gentle promise the loss was not all just painful.
Benini immediately went into an artist's awe mode. He was captivated by the shapes, the contours, the hollows, the shadows, the points and the endless possibilities created by this clash of birth and death. He gently gathered the eggs and cradled them like tender offerings for the goddess of art.
He has them still.
These shells, most likely from loggerhead turtles, became inspiration for the Playalinda series - seven paintings ~ five white, two black, all with blood red centers.
We learned volunteers and rangers walk the beaches during the turtle-laying season and secure wire mesh over the nests to keep them safe from predators. Occasionally, the predators gets there first. In this case; however, the ravaged nest gave birth to creativity in a new form. ...Lorraine Benini