The Incredible Journey
OK, so itís not very exciting.
But thereís a sublime kind of satisfaction to watching this
well-made documentary about one loggerhead turtle, who remains nameless, but
for ease of storytelling, letís give it a shot:
Deborah. The Judge in the
Bible by that name was a powerful, solitary figure who was guided by her own
lights, right? (Judges 4: 4-10) Same
with Deborah, the turtle.
Deborah begins her life on the coast
of Florida, as one of hundreds of little sea turtles who are instinctively
breaking through their eggs, and then climbing up through the sand on the
seashore, scurrying as fast as they can to the sea, some 100 yards away.
But thatís a perilously long
distance for a newborn sea turtle, on dry land.
Many of the hatchlings are lost to swooping pelicans and even
carnivorous crabs. But Deborah
finally makes it to the open ocean, some atavistic impulse deep within her
pulling her out to sea, where she moves more easily than on land, but still
has to come up for air.
Before long, Deborah finds the warm
Gulf Stream, which will propel her all the way across the
. Itís an enormous blue highway for
all manner of fish, including hammerhead sharks and dolphins, and soon
Deborah finds a nice, cushy clump of seaweed that she uses as a raft,
pleasantly discovering that she can eat the Portugese Man-of-War without
being affected by its venomous sting: eons
of evolution, perhaps?
Thereís a huge detour:
, a kind of dead spot in the middle of the
, where thereís no wind or tide or current, and many species flounder and
perish there. But somehow Deborah
learns to survive on her own, and hangs out alone there for oh, about five
years. She even gains enough strength
and acuity to feast on the same type of crabs that once devoured her
siblings. Then, finally, she is ready
to resume her trek across the
Incredibly, she rides the warm
all the way to where it bumps into the cold Artic Stream, creating an
effusion of fish, which is like an incredible feast for those who can manage
to eat instead of being eaten. Then,
Deborah rides the equatorial current along the west coast of Europe,
settling in the Azores, the islands off
which offer her plenty of food, shelter, and security.
She grows into an adult. Sheís
now 21, but feels herself with a different kind of stirring within, one that
drives her all the way westward back to the coast of Florida, where she
meets other loggerheads also following their primal urges, and with barely
so much as a ďHow do you do?Ē, she chooses her mate.
And then promptly abandons him to recover her precious solitude.
Now thereís a different kind of
natural desire: to lay her eggs in a
proper nest. For Deborah, itís back
to the very beach where she herself was hatched.
Itís different now; there are high-rises within sight.
But the sand is still there, and so she traverses it, stronger now,
certain of her destination. She digs
a hole, she lays her eggs one by one, and she returns to the sea from which
she came. So that the life cycle of
countless centuries can begin again.
Melanie Finnís writing is prosaic,
poetic, and sometimes presumptuous. Miranda
Richardsonís polished narration is certainly a plus, and the veteran
National Geographic Director, Nick Stringer, is certainly not afraid to let
the majesty and grandeur of nature speak for itself.
This is a quietly elegant documentary suitable for all ages, though
itís unclear why, two years after production, itís been released to
movie theaters rather than to the Discovery Channel.
Itís educational, but will be largely ignored by thrill-seeking
theater audiences everywhere.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Co-Pastor,
United Presbyterian Church,