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Charlie and Me

I was 19 when I saw my first sea turtle in the wild.

One beautiful summer day, my father and I went skin diving. We donned our face mask, snorkel, and fins. My father had his handmade 3-prong fiberglass spear and t-bar. The water was crystal clear that day. You could see clear to the sandy bottom. It was like glass. There weren't any clouds in the sky, the breeze was light, and the sun was glorious. It was a perfect day!

We got in the ocean and it was warm and clean. My favorite part about getting in the ocean is submerging beneath the surface. The water fills my ears and all I can hear is the beat of my heart. I can hear myself breathe, at first they are shallow, quick breaths. Soon they calm and become long, deep breaths. It is the most peaceful feeling in the world!

Popps and I were in the water for about 2 hours when we came up on a gigantic coral head. The water was about 20 feet deep so the coral head had to be at least 15 feet tall. It was huge. My father dived down to see if there were any big fish under the coral. I followed him halfway down. That's all I could handle because my ears started to pop.

All of a sudden I saw this huge shadow on the ocean floor. When I looked up, the creature casting the shadow was a green sea turtle. It was the most beautiful thing. I instantly called him Charlie. I believe he told me his name! Charlie looked like a bird in flight in slow motion. My father unknowingly scared him from beneath the coral head.

Charlie looked at me, winked, smiled and swam further off into the ocean. The sun framed his shape and I will never forget him. I have loved Charlie ever since and have only seen him once after our first meeting. I have seen other turtles but none of them have winked and smiled at me like Charlie.

Every replica of a sea turtle reminds me of him. I left the ocean that day with a warm, fuzzy feeling inside and a love for my Charlie!

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