This is a short story based on actual events that Gordon wrote for a children's book about environmental issues coming out next year - enjoy!
Malu was a sea turtle that lived in Hawaii. Her name meant “peace” in Hawaiian and it was the perfect name for her because she was very peaceful and would never hurt anyone. She could hold her breath for a long time, staying under the water to eat her favorite seaweed. People on the beach would see her from time to time when she would pop up to the surface of the ocean to breathe. They would call out “Honu!” which is the Hawaiian name for the sea turtle.
One day while Malu was eating seaweed for lunch on the reef where she lived, she took a bite of something that did not feel right. It was hard to see because whatever it was had no color. Malu started to swallow and began to choke on the strange stuff. It got stuck in her throat and a big ball of the stuff was hanging out of her mouth. Malu began to turn and spin and roll over to get rid of it but the more she struggled, the more Malu became tangled in the strange, stringy stuff. It wrapped around her neck and it got so bad that one of her flippers was caught in it too.
A couple months passed and Malu was still tangled up. The stuff started to dig into her skin and was very painful. It also pulled her head to one side and made it difficult to swim straight ahead. She could not eat because some of the stuff was still in her throat. It got so bad that when Malu was fighting to get the stuff off, a bone in her flipper broke. Malu was miserable and in a lot of pain – and getting very hungry.
One sunny day, a man and a woman went to the beach to go swimming. They brought their masks so they could enjoy the beauty of the reef and look at all the fish. The water was very clear with just a few clouds in the sky. They put on their masks and jumped into the sea. The man started to follow some fish and the woman noticed a small sea turtle not too far away. As the woman got close to the turtle, she noticed that it was having difficulty swimming. She got closer and saw that there was FISHING LINE wrapped around the turtle’s head and that the fishing line had pinned one of its flippers to the bottom of its shell.
“That poor turtle!” the woman thought.
Now you and I know that the turtle was Malu. The woman wanted to help and Malu thought the woman might be able to rescue her. The woman was so surprised when Malu swam right up to her! But sadly, the woman had no way of helping to get the fishing line off of Malu’s head and flipper. The woman patted Malu on the shell and swam back to the man to tell him what she had seen. They were very upset because they both loved the ocean and all of God’s creatures in it.
When the man and woman got home, the man was very quiet. The story his wife told him about the turtle kept bothering him. That night, it was hard for him to go to sleep because Malu was on his mind. Around three o’clock in the morning, he got out of bed and said this little prayer:
“Dear God, I love all the animals you made. Right now, I would love nothing more than to help one of your creations.”
With that, he got back in bed and had a restless night.
The next morning, the man and woman got up early to see the sunrise and take another swim. As amazing as it sounds, at the very moment that they got to the beach, Malu popped up near the shore to take a breath of air. The man and woman looked at each other: was it possible that this was the same turtle from yesterday? The man ran all the way back home and grabbed some scissors and his swim fins because he knew he would have to swim very fast to catch a turtle – even a small one that only had three good flippers. As he got back to the beach, Malu was still there. He dove in and swam as fast as he could. Malu tried to swim away but the man with his swim fins was too fast for her. The man caught her and gently steered her toward the beach.
By now, some people saw what was going on and came to watch. The man brought Malu onto the beach and began to cut away the fishing line from her head and flipper. He even pulled out some of the line that had been stuck in her throat all that time! The man and woman carried Malu back to the sea and said goodbye. Malu felt better right away but she would always have a broken flipper to remember the fishing line for the rest of her life.
To this day, whenever the man and woman go to the beach, they look for Malu. Sometimes they see her and swim out to meet her. Malu knows these people helped her and she is not afraid of them. They became friends and the man and woman are grateful that their prayer to help was answered. Malu is happy because she can swim across the reef again and eat her favorite seaweed, even though her flipper will never be normal like the other turtles.
If you ever find trash or fishing line on the beach, be sure to pick it up and throw it away. But be careful! The fishing line might still have a hook tied to it. If we keep the beaches clean, the trash won’t go into the sea. That way, we can help make sure that the whales, seals, fish, dolphins – and turtles – have a healthy ocean to live in.