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T for Turtle

S  ories & Poems

This is a collection of stories and poems submitted by those who found sea turtles endearing.

Please send us yours and we will put them on the website.

Historical dramas at the Quail Island Group

Story 1.     Uncharted Waters (Compiled & edited by Lisa and Andrew Raith)

Story 2.     Mail Run to Fish Reef (yet to be completed)

Story 3.     An Aviation Tragedy (yet to be completed)

Snack for a Crocodile

By Gwenda Jeffrey

4 October 2000


The crocodile yawned; he opened his big wide mouth and yawned.  His shiny white teeth gleamed like rows of white stars in the moonlight.  He slowly opened one eye and looked down the lonely beach.  Nothing moved; all was quiet.  No sound at all.


He moved from the water's edge to a stony ledge against the tall cliffs on the beach.  The day’s sunshine had warmed, the rocks, and the crocodile let the warmth spread through his body from head to tail.  He stretched lazily.  “I'm not very hungry, yet” he thought to himself, “but perhaps later on, I could do with a little snack.”  Then he licked his lips.  “Maybe I'll just have a quiet snooze for a few minutes.” And he closed his eyes.


Not far away, in the sea, a mother turtle was swimming to the beach.  She was feeling very uncomfortable because she needed to lay her eighty-two eggs.  They were heavy insider.  She left the water and headed for the soft dry sand near the sand hills, pushing forward with her strong front flippers.  She hadn’t gone far when she is smelt a smell of danger: maybe the smell of a crocodile.  She turned and looked back at the sea but nothing was there, so she started on her way again.  Such a tiring journey it was, but bravely she pulled herself forward.


At last, she found a good patch of soft white sand, just right for a nesting place.  Using her front flippers, she began digging very fast to make a hollow, big enough for her, in the sand.  As she worked, great showers sand were thrown into the air.  Silvered by the moon they made a shimmering, sparkling curtain behind the busy turtle.


The crocodile opened his eyes and saw the clouds of sand.  He knew exactly what was happening; he’d seen turtles nesting before.

“Aha -There's my little snack” he thought, and he slid quietly from the rocky ledge to the beach.  He crawled quickly up the beach, until the flying sand sprayed his head and misted his eyes.  He was nearly there.  The turtle was facing away from him and didn't see him until – snap! the crocodile opened his mouth to grab her.  But his mouth couldn't quite grip the turtle’s wide, hard, slippery shell, and she slipped out of his grasp.


Such a shock from other turtle!  She stopped her digging and moved faster than she ever had before, down to the sea.  Half running, half sliding, the crocodile chased her.  He caught up with her again, but again his mouth didn't quite hold her, and she kept moving.  She reached the sea, with the crocodile, close behind her; she knew that she could swim faster than he could, so she rushed into the water and paddled quickly away.  Perhaps tomorrow, she would lay her eggs.  Yes, it would have to wait until tomorrow. 


The crocodile sulked.  “Oh well, I'll try for crabs instead.  Anyway, she’ll become back tomorrow (turtles always do) and I'll be waiting for her.”


A long time passed.  About two months afterwards a boy and his dad pulled into the lonely beach in their fishing boat.  The man reached for his sandwiches and spoke to the boy. “Good spot for lunch Tom, but keep an eye out for crocodiles.  There could be some in the sea around here.”

They finished eating and were just about to leave when the boy pointed to hundreds of tiny marks on the sand.  “Look, Dad. Tracks - Fresh ones!”  And they saw that the trail of a crowd of baby turtles – hatchlings - which had made their way in the dead of night, safely to the sea.  The boy and his dad followed the trail back to the nest near the sand hills; they dug down and down again further, and further still; right down into the deep round egg chamber that the mother turtle had made with her back flippers, until they found an enormous pile of white, soft, leathery eggshells.  The boy counted them: ten, twenty, fifty, seventy, eighty-two.  All of those hatchlings had broken out of their shells, pushed their way up through the sand and scuttled to the sea. 


As for the crocodile, he soon forgot about the night he failed to have a midnight snack of juicy turtle.  Whenever he was hungry he always managed to find crabs and other tasty mouthfuls.

The Turtle and the Crocodile.


16 June 2000

The story of Myrtle, the flatback turtle, and how she escaped the evil three metre saltwater crocodile called Cedric.


At about 3 a.m. on Sunday the 18th of June 2000, when the moon was full, Myrtle had the urgent urge to lay her 60 eggs in the sand above high water mark on Boomerang Beach on Bigge Island in the Kimberley region in the far north west of Australia.


As she approached the beach, she became aware that Cedric, the nasty croc, was lurking in the shallows, which is what crocs do at night.  She wasn't sure that Cedric had seen her (of course he had - crocs aren't stupid), but as a precaution, she headed for the left side of the beach and moved up alongside the rocky wall.  But she came to a dead end, blocked by rocks and had to do a U-turn.  Once clear of the rocks, she moved up the beach at an angle found a good spot and started digging a large hole in which to lay her eggs.


Meanwhile, cunning Cedric had crept straight up the beach towards Myrtle, who was facing away from him, and didn't hear him.  With this slathering jaws wide open, he sprang at her.  He tried to get her shell in his mouth, but it was very slippery, and she wrenched herself free.


Then began the big chase - Cedric after Myrtle.  Myrtle was terrified and ran for her life.  She did a wide circle across the sand before heading directly for the sea but Cedric cut across the sand trying to head her off.  In her terror, Myrtle really ran very fast but Cedric who was running parallel to her was closing fast.  Eventually, Myrtle got to the water just in time with Cedric a mere three metres away.  Once in the water, she was off like a shot.


But she hadn't yet laid her eggs.  So next night, in the moonlight at high tide, she again crept up the beach, dug the hole and deposited her eggs and covered them with sand.  Where was Cedric? He had meant to be there but, on the way, he met a large juicy fish, which he had for dinner.


Six weeks later, Myrtle’s eggs will hatch and the hatchlings (the baby turtles) will make their run for the sea.

Tommy Turtle

Commonwealth School Paper

Queensland School Readers Book III. 

Issued by the Department of Public Instruction 1914.

Tommy turtle lived with his father and mother and brothers and sisters in the cool water off the shores of a small island in Queensland coast.  They were a very happy family, and spent their time playing about in the sea, rushing down to the bottom when any boats would come near; for they are all shy and modest, except Tommy, who was as vain as a turtle could be.  He was very large and broad and much bigger than his brothers and sisters, and he was so proud of this that he always wanted to show off, and let everyone see how fine he was.


His mother had often told him not to go on the beach; for, when turtles are out of the water, they cannot run very quickly, and their enemies can easily overtake them.  But Tommy was so vain, that he fancied he knew much more than his mother, so one fine sunny day, he thought he would go and have a walk on the beach, and show himself to the seagulls.  He invited his little brother, Timothy to go with him, but Tim was an obedient little turtle, and would not do what his mother had told him not to do.


“Stay here and play with the fishes, Tommy,” he said; but Tommy had made up his mind to walk on the beach, and did not want to play with the fishes.

“You’re a frightened baby,” he said scornfully to Timothy, and then swam off to the beach by himself.


There were flocks of gulls and other seabirds, but, to Tommy’s surprise, they did not take any notice of him, although he walked past them, very slowly.

“Stupid things,” he said to himself, “they do not know a fine-looking turtle when they see one.”  He thought he might as well go back and play with Tim and the fishes, for it was rather lonely with no one to talk to, or to take any notice of him. 


Just as he had made up his mind to go back to the water, he saw two men walking across the sand towards him.  “Ah!” he said, “they will admire me, so I shall wait,” and he sat down again and waited till the men came nearer.


He was not disappointed this time, for as soon as the men saw him, one said to the other: “Oh, there's a big turtle, the finest I have ever seen,” and they hurried towards him.  One man carried a long stick in his hand and when he got up close to Tommy he poked him with it. “He is a splendid fellow,” said the other man. “He’ll be worth something.” 


Tommy felt very proud when he heard this, and he stretched out his head to see what the men were like; but, before he could get a good look at them, he felt a sudden hard poke with the stick, and the next moment he was turned upside down on his back.


He did not like this at all, and felt very angry with the men for being so rude to him.  But it was no use being angry, for when a turtle is turned on his back, he is quite helpless.  Presently he was made still more angry, for the men began to drag him along the sand towards the water. 


He did not understand this kind of treatment at all, and he began to wish he had done as his mother had told him, and stayed away from the beach.  But it was too late, then to be sorry.


The men dragged him right down to the water's edge, lifted him into a small boat, and began to row out to sea.


Tommy felt very frightened, and wished he was back in the waves with little Tim, so he tried to crawl over the side of the boat; but he was still on his back and could not move.


In a little while the boat came up to the side of a small ship; and the men stopped rowing, and lifted Tommy out of the boat on to the deck of the ship.


Here there were several other men, and they all crowded round and looked at Tommy.  “He is a monster,” said one, and another said:  “You were very lucky to get him, Jack.”

Tommy knew they were praising him, and felt happy again, for he was so vain, that he liked praise better than anything else in the world.


In a little while, the men lifted him up again, and put him into a tank of water, where there are several other turtles, but none so large as Tommy.  The tank was quite small and not much like the sea, but still it was able to swim, he was much more comfortable than lying on his back on the deck.  And the men would come to look at him, and say what a fine fellow he was, so he felt quite content.


After he had been in the tank for some time, the ship stopped, and he, with all the other turtles, were lifted out and carried off the boat to a big building, which he soon learned was the Fish Market.  Here a lot of men came and looked at him, and at last two of them carried him away in a cart. 


He was beginning to get used to being moved about, and so was no longer afraid; and as every one that saw him set nice things about him, he felt happy and prouder than ever.


The two men in the cart carried him to a shop in the city, and here still more men looked at him and praised him.


“We'll put him at the door, where everyone can see him.” said the man who had brought him in the cart.  “Yes, and we’ll write on his back,” cried another, and they all agreed that would be a good idea.  Tommy did not know what writing meant, and he was quite excited know what they were going to do with him.


In a few minutes one the men brought a pot of whitewash and a brush and wrote on his back in big letters -SOUP ON FRIDAY, and all the others laughed and said it was splendid.


Then Tommy was taken outside and fastened in front of the shop for everyone to see.

He felt so proud that he hardly knew what to do with himself, for everyone the passed stopped to look at him.  Some said “That's funny,” and some said “We must come to see him on Friday,” and they all said he was as fine a turtle, as they had ever seen, till Tommy was as vain as he could be. 

He did not know what the man had put on his back, and as he had never heard of soup, you would not have minded if he had.  So for three days, he stood on the mat in front of the fish shop, growing vainer and vainer, and thinking he was quite the most beautiful thing in the world.


On Friday morning, however, was not put outside, but was taken into the kitchen to be made into soup.


“Oh, oh, oh,” he cried, “if only I had been not so vain and had done as my mother told me!”  But it was too late then to be sorry, for the next moment he was no more.


And on that day the people outside, when they passed, saw an empty turtle shell, and on it was written --SOUP TO-DAY.

Upon Turtle’s Isle

By Andrew Raith 

12 August 2007

Wax and wane of time and tide

Dance of moon and star

Make terrestrial mood and mode

Upon turtle’s isle


Shifted sand and ancient beast

Chance brood to hatch

With celestial guide and tide

Upon turtle’s isle


Ponderous lope and watery grace

Prance between berm and foam

Find ancestral reach of beach

Upon turtle’s isle


Instinct grim and mother strength

Glance with salty tear and sand

Past vestibule egg glide and hide

Upon turtle’s isle


Sandy womb and seven weeks

Lance tooth and shell

Reveal amniotal truth of turtle

Upon turtle’s isle


Starlit gaze and murderous hunt

Stance of Jabiru and heron

Mark ritual infanticide of sis and bro

Upon turtle’s isle


But young amass and risk reduce

Chance a few to breed

For ceremonial repeat of dig and lay

Upon turtle’s isle


Natator depressus and witness still

Trance of man and mother

In reverential grip of life on earth

Upon this turtle isle


By Andrew Raith (12/08/07).

Meet Tess and Samsam

By Evie Scully from Northern Beaches Christian School

Once upon a time in a misty, dark and gloomy city there was a supermarket and in the supermarket there was a girl.  A very special girl called Tess.  Tess loved the environment and was trying to sell her eco friendly green bags to people.

She spent so much time making dot patterns on them and she made it so special they would even save the turtles. But the customers that were in the shop wouldn’t even glance at the little girl nor were they interested in buying one of her bags to take their groceries home in.


Tess felt sad until “hello” the supermarket has run out of bags “may I borrow one of yours?” the lady said.

“NO NO NO”,  Tess said. That’s the point not to borrow to keep but you must pay for them that’s the way it is.

“Ok little girl, but where the money will go?”


“Well to save the turtles of course” said Tess.


“I shall wait “the lady said. And as she turned around she got such a shock for the plastic bag delivery service truck had just arrived at the supermarket.

Tess was sad and looked to the ground she could feel a tear running down her cheek when suddenly she felt a nudge in her. Something was telling her to follow something then a voice said “look around you what do you see?”. 

She tried really hard to see what was wrong when oh no she said as she had flung herself off her chair and was now running towards what she thought was a plastic bag. And as she got closer she knew that it was.  “ I have to get it but arrrrrrrrrrrr’’ she fell  into one of her brothers traps. “It’s getting away!” she yelled.

She sprinted over to it at the worst time because the cars on the road just got a green light. She couldn’t walk out onto the busy street, no not just for a plastic bag so she waited desperately for the light to go red. But she had already given up. But why was that? Because the bag was now rolling down the white squeaky sand beach  and was only inches away from the ocean.

“Gosh could this get an worse?” she spoke. But she spoke too soon  for the bag had just rolled into the water and was now mostly impossible to see.

Tess sat on the beach and looked out to sea as if she had done something wrong.

Well that’s what half of her was thinking the other half was thinking she did her best but she couldn’t figure out which one should be in her mind.


What's around the corner?

Tess sat there listening to herself . Thinking away.

Suddenly a voice out of the rock pools spoke “Help me! Please help me!”

Tess then realised that it was a turtle.

“I just swallowed a bag someone threw into the ocean. my home ,my habitat” said the turtle.

This bought Tess to tears.  “ I`m so sorry but it was me.  I tried to stop it but I was too late and it had already rolled into the ocean”.

The turtle glanced at the bag the little girl was holding in her warm hands. “What`s in the bag?” the turtle wondered. “oh would you like to see?” the girl excitedly spoke. “You’re the first person who actually wants to see”.

And there they sat for the afternoon unpacking toys that were turtles  books, posters and more things to come. They sat there on the squeaky white sand beach and told stories and had the time of their life`s. Until they both had to go home. “Bye “said the little girl. “Bye” said the turtle. “Oh and by the way my name is Samsam the turtle.  “Oh and mine is Tess”, she said.

Tess was spinning away into the distance repeating bye and see you later alligator don’t forget your toilet paper or Sunday it’s Sunday and all sorts of things. But she was so loud to herself she couldn’t hear the turtle that was now in desperate need of help . He was in pain and couldn’t move into the water. He was worried because he needed to get back in to stay wet. He was getting weaker and weaker by the minute. Tess was now out of sight.

“What will I do”, by the time the water rises I will be too weak to go back to my home and who knows what types of sea creatures could eat me like a shark arrrrrrr that would be terrible!!!!”

So Samsam decided the best thing to do was stay calm and rest and hope that there would still be a Samsam tomorrow.

Beeewooobeeeewooooerr the ambulance went as it woke Tess up in the morning. “What`s that I wonder?” as she glanced out of her window. There was a rush of two ambulances from Sea World rush past and on top of their roof was a red light flashing and a sign saying “emergency “.

Tess panicked and told her mum she was going to the beach. Her mum told her to be careful and be back for school in time. So off she set to investigate.


Quickly we have to go

It was still dark when Tess went down her stair case on her rush to the beach. And just as well she fell down them right down to the bottom and got a huge lump on her forehead.

Her mother and father rushed down to help and said it would be best for her to miss school and not go to the beach. Tess argued with her mum and told her she had to be at the beach to save her friend. Tess`s mum sighed and let out a friendly “alright, but come back in time for school” she repeated.

Tess didn’t like the staircase any more so she climbed out her window and started climbing down. As she reached the ground it was starting to rain but nothing was going to stop Tess. Not this time. For Tess was on mission of investigation.

As Tess reached the beach she new she was too late for all the commotion had stopped and there was no Samsam, no ambulance and no squeaky sand. It was not normal white clean colour it was now different like those chocolate and vanilla swirl cakes my mum cooks.

I felt those tears coming back and I thought this was the worst way to start the week. I hear my mum call me I don’t reply and I find her minutes after coming to get me in a rush.  

“Darling we have to go come on quickly or else we won’t make it”, she said “make what?”  “Come on I will explain in the car ok”. Tess answered.

During the car trip mum didn’t speak a word and I was becoming anxious on what we were in such a hurry for. I felt like it was something important and lots of things were going through my head again. When suddenly I drifted away into a long deep sleep like one sleeping beauty would sleep.

I woke up in a chair and everything was foggy .I guess my eyes were still waking up. But there in front of my eyes was Samsam the turtle. “Oh my what’s happened Samsam?” Samsam wouldn’t speak. “He is very ill right now and needs to rest”, the vet said. “How about we spend the day here?” mum said.  “And right now you can have some private time with Samsam.”

The vets from Sea World moved out and so did Tess’s mum. In fact everyone did and now it was only Tess and Samsam in a very quiet little room.

“I`m sorry this was my entire fault”. Tess said.

 I couldn’t believe it he still didn’t speak! And I was starting to think he didn’t like me anymore, thought Tess.

Kerrrrrrreeeekkk the door went as the vets and Tess’s mum walked in the door.

“Times up” the vet said.



Never leave me Samsam

“I think we should go now” Tess’s mum said.

“I think so too” said the vet.

Tess screamed and yelled as she was thrown over her Mum’s shoulder. She tried grabbing every doorway, anything in reach because she really didn’t want to leave Samsam.


This went on forever until the door slammed shut and the vets couldn’t hear Tess anymore.

They all let out “aahhhhh she’s gone” and you wouldn’t believe this but they were lifting Samsam up and into the Sea World car.

They were behind Tess’s car all the way home but took a right to the beach.

Tess saw them turn off and was now so excited and was looking forward to a trip there tomorrow. But during the night she couldn’t wait so she snuck out and ran down to the beach.

“Where can he be?” she wondered.

A dark shadow came out from the dark. “Hi there! Do you do know the beach is closed tonight due to the turtle that needs to rest?” said a strange man.


Before the man could even finish his sentence I barged in and I let out a FAROUT CAN I JUST SEE HIM! TREAT HIM? AND SAVE HIM ? FOR HE IS HOME NOW AND THIS IS THE ONLY PLACE I CAN SAVE HIM.

Right now the man stepped back and allowed me to see Samsam. As I approached, I started talking to my friend and tried to calm him. I also brushed his shell and then I reached into my bag that I take everywhere and I pulled out long plastic tweezers, reached down into his mouth and pulled out the plastic bag. This is amazingly GROSS and Tess ran down to the water and washed her hands then ran home and used her shredder and shredded the bag for good. Then, made sure that every strand made it to the bin. She snuggled up in her pink dressing gown and strolled down to the beach to say good bye to Samsam. But along the way she picked up glue from the shops and a Yellow fluoro road marker off the street.

“Hello Samsam”. And Tess spoke to him she glued the fluoro road marker onto his shell.

“You have been the best turtle ever!” Tess said as she carried him to the water’s edge and  pushed him into the water. As she started walking away she heard a thank you and also realized that the sand was back to its normal colour.

By the time Tess reached her bedroom and looked out at sea she saw a little yellow dot floating slowly away into the distance.

“You will always be safe on my watch Samsam”, she said.

And Tess snuggled up in her bed and fell fast asleep till morning

Photo Credit: Peter Jackson


By Blair Witherington

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