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Volume No. 1 Issue No. 53 - Tuesday January 06, 2004
Of Myths and Legends:Turtle Lightning
by Thomson Fontaine


On the remote beaches of Dominica, predominantly along the Eastern coastline, in the dead of night, once maybe twice a year something unusual happens. The sea turtle works its way slowly from the Atlantic Ocean crawls up to the isolated beaches and begins the process of digging a hole in the sand in order to deposit its hundreds of eggs.

It will then carefully cover the eggs and head back to the open ocean. If all goes according to plan, the eggs will eventually produce young ones and they in turn will find their way back to the ocean, and maybe return years later to begin the process once again.

Local legend has it, and many locals swear by it that in this simple act of coming ashore, something remarkable happens. Lightning and thunder will herald the coming on shore of these creatures to perform their ritual. In fact, local hunters will use these tell-tale signs of ‘Zai-claire Tortie’ translated ‘Turtle Lighting’ to predict the coming on-shore of these sea creatures.

The lightning streaks that accompany the coming on shore of the sea turtles are usually deep blue in color, there is hardly ever any thunder and there is never any rain. In the past, local hunters have used this particular signal to determine when the sea turtle is coming on shore. In the isolated villages of Dominica, there are many stories of hunters going out during that time and capturing the hapless prey.

Is this just a local myth, or is there something as yet unexplained that inextricably bounds the turtle to the elements of nature? Interestingly enough, the pronunciation for the first part of the patois word for lightning (Zai..) is also the very same patois word used for egg.

For most of the year, turtle hunting is illegal in Dominica as officials make a desperate effort to preserve the dwindling population. Turtle meat is highly valued and the eggs are almost always taken away and consumed thus threatening the continued survival of the wonderful creatures.


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Volume No. 1 Issue No. 53
Exploring a Better Future
Billy Doctrove: International Cricket Umpire
What the Caribbean Needs
Of Myths and Legends
Sanford Shines in Windies Loss




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