海龜回家

:::

1987 / 6月

文‧鄭元慶 圖‧鄭元慶


爬過沙灘,方一觸到清晨涼冽的海水,半個多月來的懷疑和疲憊,驟地消失。然後我開始認真思考所謂「成見」的問題。

 

或許真的和年齡、閱歷有關;有了這兩次經驗,我對人類的看法的確有了改變。


我是只「海龜」,作學問的稱作「綠蠵龜」,身長九十公分,寬六十公分,體重目前總在一百廿公斤上下。

海中歲月長。閒著也是閒著,我常常一邊遊、一邊想些事情。據說,在二億五千萬年前的龜類已在地球上這麼遊著了。除了海龜,還有陸龜、淡水龜,細分種類有二百五十種之多。最小的只七公分長,最大的有六百八十公斤……。不知道它們是不是也和我一樣,聽、嗅、視覺靈敏,能辨別顏色卻看不遠?並且愛思考?

我好比那淺水龍困沙洲

今年四月十八日,天氣有些悶熱,我遊著、想著,忍不住打了個盹兒,不想醒來卻跟一群傻魚兒困在張大網堙C挨到日落,漁民收網時,看到我縮頭縮尾(怕嘛)地躺在網堙A就有人眉開眼笑地嚷著可論斤出售,還有個年紀大些的叫著說:「海龜肉比牛肉好吃哪!」

曾經聽同伴們說過,日本南方小笠原群島的居民,有吃海龜肉的習慣,難道這堛漱H也一樣?我對人類感到失望。

我仍然把腦袋和四肢都緊緊縮在殼堙C海龜類壽可百歲,除了天賦,就靠這身雖薄卻硬的甲冑了。相信嗎?它貌不驚人,卻經得起鱷魚大咬一口呢。

還是得想個辦法,慌亂之中倒也心生一計;當下就儘量伸展前腳,「秀」出腿上的不袗「護身符」。一位眼尖的漁民看到了問:「這是什麼?」一陣議論,他們終於承認,我是只不平凡的海龜,也就不敢隨便「處理」。

大難不死,必有「後福」

說起這道「護身符」,那也是不知多少個日出日落、潮來汐往之前的事了。那時我還是只幼龜,在美國夏威夷群島附近給人打撈了起來。一陣虛驚,這些夏威夷大學的海洋生物研究人員並沒有太折騰我,只觀察一番,在我兩隻前腿各套了一片號碼牌後竟把我放了。

感謝上帝,我邊遊邊想,原以為此命休矣,沒料到能夠大難不死,至於前腿上的牌子也不算太礙事。更沒想到的是這回,它又成了我的「護身符」。

但他們終究沒有輕易放掉這筆發小財的機會,為了想探聽探聽「行情」,他們找來一個叫陳恆裕的中年人。

聽他們說起來,這陳先生是位貝類專家,當年龍宮貝殼和白蝸牛就是他發現的,他也是省立博物館的榮譽標本製作專家。自從老伴中風後,就在此地(台灣南端的恆春)買塊地,做起進口貝殼的生意。

陳恆裕果然是個內行人。看了名牌後面的英文字,他立刻知道我是夏威夷大學用來作研究的,我有責任在身,他主張把我放掉。

海龍王的恩賜?

漁民們卻認為我是海龍王的恩賜,至少要「意思」一下才能放我走,承蒙抬舉,我的身價還真不低,陳恆裕搖搖頭,走了。

我暫住在其中一位漁民家堙C

過了半個多月,漁民們終於明白耗下去也不是辦法,決定削價賣給陳恆裕。五月六日。我永遠也不會忘記的日子,這位陳先生帶我回到他家,歇在有打氣幫浦、住來還挺舒服的池堙A接著他打電話給墾丁國家公園管理處,請他們協助放生,並寫信給夏威夷大學告知此事。

當天就有報社的駐地方記者聞風而至。第二天,我的新聞和照片果然見了報,小出一陣鋒頭。那天傍晚,還有一家雜誌社的編輯遠從台北趕來(真快!四百多公里的路,我得爬多久!),慷慨的陳恆裕慇勤接待,又為他解釋我的來歷。他說:

「海龜的成長速率很慢,夏威夷的海洋生物專家,曾經捉了六百隻年幼的海龜,標示後放生。過段時間捉回七十隻,但多數沒有明顯變化。他們推測要一、二十年,才達到成熟階段。跟大多數動物比較起來,海龜的成長真是夠慢的了。」

到底是專家,由於上回「大難不死」的經歷,知道得比我還清楚,原來,我還對研究萬物生靈的學術界有點貢獻呢!

老祖宗占卜用

他又說:「海龜具有迴游特性,多數都固定在一個地方覓食,然後到另一處產卵。有一種海龜會集體從巴西海岸,遊過一千六百公里,每年二月左右到達非洲和南美間的亞松森群島的沙灘上產卵。它每隔十二天產下幾十個蛋,六月之後又集體遊回巴西海岸覓食海草。這種海龜每隔二到三年就迴游一次。」

這我就知道得比他更清楚了(家務事嘛!),但他提到另一件事卻令我驚訝。他說,在古代中國的商朝,人們若有疑問不能解決,就用龜甲占卜算卦,以定凶吉,並將結果刻在龜甲上。這還發展成中國最古老的文字「甲骨文」。我縮了縮頭,想不到咱先祖還有這段歷史。

第三天上午,我又認識了一個來客。這人叫鄒燦陽,畢業於台灣大學海洋研究所,是墾丁國家公園管理處保育研究課的工作人員,他開了一部車,帶了幾個幫手——一看就知道是來送我回「家」的!

重返大海

這鄒燦陽,帶著一身南台灣燦亮的陽光,笑咪咪地指著我說,海龜是國際自然保育聯盟公佈禁止捕殺及販賣的動物。墾丁國家公園管理處成立後,已明令漁民不得捕捉,被捉的多半是像我一樣,自己卡在定置網中的。除了少數知識不足,又貪點小便宜的漁民,大多數網到海龜的漁民,多會通知管理處處理,「海龜放生,我們最拿手了」,他說:「已經放過好幾批啦!」

說著他們把我搬上車,行前在我身上寫了幾個字,就像前腿的「護身符」一樣,這也證明了我不平凡的際遇。往海邊的旅途雖然顛簸﹐但一想到即將重返大海﹐也就忍了下來。

行程中,我又開始思考:海中多年,也慣見弱肉強食的生存本質,但畢竟大自然堙A除了優勝劣敗的生存競爭,還有些別的。

車子停在一個叫「風吹沙」的地方,大夥兒合力把我放在沙灘上。

嗅著海風的味道,看著水面的反光,我急切地向前爬去。一步步的腳印留在身後,算是我曾「到此一遊」的見證。

然後,我重返大海。

〔圖片說明〕

P.112

我的長相就是這樣,不難看吧!陣陣漣漪是吐氣時造成的。

P.113

(上)美國夏威夷大學研究人員替我掛的名牌,成了我的護身符。

P.113

(下)龜甲很硬但不重,它護衛了我一生,我喜歡這個甜蜜的負擔。

P.114

要爬回海裡,還有一小段路。慢慢爬吧!

P.114

他們怕我再被抓,留了些醒目的標記在我的背上。

P.115

哇!還剩幾步路就可重返大海了。

P.115

再見了,恆春的好心人!希望不要「後會有期」。

相關文章

近期文章

EN

A Sea Turtle Goes Home

Arthur Jeng /photos courtesy of Arthur Jeng /tr. by Peter Eberly

As soon as I touched the cold morning seawater, the doubts and fatigue I had felt over the past few weeks suddenly vanished. And then I began to ponder what I had been through.

Maybe it had something to do with age and experience, but my idea of people had changed.


I'm a sea turtle, Chelonia mydas japonica to the scholarly, 90 cm. long, 60 cm. wide, and about 120 kg. in weight.

We've got plenty of spare time in the sea, an I do a lot of thinking while I'm drifting about. They say turtles have been around for some two and a half billion years and come in over 250 different species, ranging in size from 7 cm. long to 680 kg. in weight. . . . I wonder if their vision, hearing, and sense of smell are as good as mine? If they can see colors but are nearsighted like me? And if they like to think?

This April 18th I was drifting around thinking, when I dozed off and woke up caught in a net with a bunch of stupid fish. The fishermen gave out a shout when they saw me and started jabbering about how much they could fetch for me. Why, one old guy even cried out, "Turtle meat is tastier than steak!"

I had withdrawn into my shell in a panic and had to think of something fast. Then it came to me. I stretched out a front leg and flashed my stainless steel "lucky charm." A keen-eyed fisherman who spotted it said, "What's that?" After some discussion, they recognized that I was no ordinary sea turtle and shouldn't be "disposed of" quite so summarily.

This "lucky charm" of mine goes back a long ways. When I was young, some marine biologists from the University of Hawaii plucked me out of the sea near Hawaii and fixed a numbered tag on each of my front legs before letting me go. At the time, I was just glad I was still alive; I never realized these little tags would become my "lucky charms."

The fishermen didn't give up so easily, though. To find out my "market price," they called in a crustacean expert from Hengchun named Ch'en Heng-yu. He took one look at the English on the back of my tag, found out that the University of Hawaii was using me for research, and recommended that they let me go.

But the fishermen seemed to think that this only increased my market value, and they kept me in one of their houses to see what they could get. After a couple of weeks, they realized they were getting nowhere and cut a deal with Ch'en Heng-yu.

May 6th. That's a day I'll never forget, the day Mr. Ch'en drove me to his house, put me in a comfortable, aerated pool, and called up Kenting National Park Headquarters to ask them to write to the University of Hawaii about what had happened and to help him let me go.

The same day some local reporters turned up, and the next day my story and pictures were all over the papers. That evening a writer came in from a magazine in Taipei (he was really quick! I hate to think how long it would have taken me to crawl all that way!) and Mr. Ch'en explained my background this way:

"Sea turtles have a very slow growth rate. The marine biologists at the University of Hawaii marked 600 young sea turtles. They caught 70 of them a while later but most had hardly changed at all. They suspect it takes ten or twenty years for the turtles to mature, very slow when compared with most other animals."

He knew more about it than I did; at any rate, it seemed I was making some contribution to research!

He also said: "Sea turtles migrate, mostly from a fixed feeding ground to a place to lay eggs. Some turtles on the Brazilian coast set out in February for Asuncion Island, halfway to Africa and 1,600 km. away, where the females each lay dozens of eggs every twelve days until June, when they all swim back to Brazil. They do this once every two or three years."

Now, this I know more about than he does (family business, you know!) but he mentioned something else that surprised me. He said that the Chinese during the Shang Dynasty (16th to 11th centuries B.C.) used turtle shells for divination, carving the answers right on the shells. These "shell-and-bone inscriptions" are China's earliest preserved form of writing. I never imagined my ancestors had this kind of history.

The morning of the third day I met a new visitor. His name was Tsou Ts'an-yang, and he's a graduate of National Taiwan University's Institute of Marine Science who works at Kenting National Park. He came with several assistants-and as soon as I saw them I knew they had come to take me "home"!

This Mr. Tsou said that both Kenting National Park and the International Nature Protection League prohibit the capture of sea turtles, and that the ones that are caught have usually gotten themselves stuck in nets like I did. He said that most of the fishermen, except for a few greedy ones, notify the headquarters if they catch one and have it released. "We've let a bunch of them go," he said. "It's our specialty."

They carried me to the car, and wrote a few words on me, like those on my "lucky charm," to protect me. The road was bumpy, but I put up with it when I thought of where I was going. On the way I pondered: in the sea it's strictly the survival of the fittest, but Nature it seems, also has something more.

The car stopped at a place called Fengchuisha, and everybody pitched in to carry me onto the beach.

Sniffing the salt sea air and catching the sparkle from the water surface, I crawled as fast as I could. The prints I left behind me were my "Kilroy was here."

And then, I was back in the big blue sea.

[Picture Caption]

Here's what I look like--not bad, huh?

(above) The. tag that the researchers put on me is my lucky charm.

(below) My shell's protected me all my life; it's a burden I don't mind bearing.

Still a ways to go yet; just keep up the pace.

They put these marks on my back in case I got caught again.

Wow! Just a few more steps.

So long, friends! Hope we don't meet again!

 

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