2013-09-06 / Letters

Turtle On Memory Lane

Dear Editor:

The photograph of a sea turtle in the August 30th issue of The Wave reminded me of a humorous adventure I had as a member of the Department of Oceanography, BCHS, back in the day. I don't recall what year, but it was early in BCHS' existence.

A student from Breezy Point told me that there was a large turtle washed up on the beach at Breezy Point. After school Matt Lerman and I rushed to his Volkswagon and immediately drove to the location. We got there just in time as the sanitation crew were about to bury the turtle. We asked if we could have a few minutes to remove its head and bring it back to the Oceanography Museum at the school. They looked at us as though we were nuts. It took some time convincing the sanitation people that we were quite normal and serious. They finally obliged us and Matt and I quickly, to the horror of the onlookers, gingerly cut the head off with a saw and placed it into a large plastic bag.

We stuffed it into the vehicle and drove off. It wasn't long before we realized that the turtle, unfortunately for us, was a bit riper than we thought. Matt lit up a cigarette (he smoked at least three during the trip) and I stuck my head out the window to avoid both the smoke and the head's odor. Needless to say the people we passed must have had some thoughts of their own about the strange Volkswagon's passengers. When we got back to the school we prepared the turtle's head for removing its flesh, which took over about two weeks. The turtle was a Leatherback as is the one in the Wave's photograph. The skull was on display for many years until my retirement (I was curator) so I have no idea what happened to it or the Oceanography Museum or in fact, Morgan, the live snapping turtle raised from a pup for many years.

One other thing re: the corrosion of the comfort stations (they remind me of the tripods in War of the Worlds). If the metal in question is steel then corrosion or rust (iron oxide) is quite possible unless the steel is painted or otherwise protected.

STEPHEN YAEGER

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