Friday, September 29, 2006

Seminole Boys Riding Sea Turtles

While articles about hunting turtles and their eggs are more likely to injure our sensibilities today, than to whet our interest, they can also be a source of information about sea turtles and other curious matters.

The best turtle divers in the Gulf of Mexico are the Seminole Indians. They have been known to bring an eight hundred pound turtle from a depth of forty feet; but the Bahamians are even more daring and successful. The easiest way in which a novice can acquire the art is to jump on a turtle while it is sleeping on the surface and then hold on like the traditional "grim death." It may be that thus rudely awakened it will attempt to get rid of its unwelcome jockey by plunging downward, but you have only to press the knees against the lower part of the back and lift the front and you will master the situation and the turtle too. This is a favorite diversion of the Seminole boys. It results in much spitting of water and shaking of long, dripping hair, but with care there is no harm. The only danger is from sharks, which, in the excitement of the chase, they may fail to note the approach of. Ordinarily, so clear is the limpid waters of the bay and so white its pure, clean, white-sanded bottom, the approach of those monsters of the deep can be seen in ample time to avoid them.

Tales of Old Florida ed. by Tony Meisel & Frank Oppel. Secaucus, NJ: Castle, 1987. 77 - 78. (An edition of facsimile reprints from turn of the century outdoor magazines and pamphlets.) From "Turtling in Florida" by J. M. Murphy. The Outing Magazine, November 1890.

Related items: