The Animal Story Book - online children's book

Edited By Andrew Lang And With Numerous Illustrations By H. J. Ford

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318 DOLPHINS, TURTLES, AND COD
however faint, they instantly dive and swim to some other place; but if nothing is stirring, they land on the shore, and crawl slowly about with the aid of their flappers, until they find a spot' that seems suitable for the hatching of their eggs, which often number two hundred, laid at one time. The operations are begun by the turtle scoop­ing out a hole in the burning sand by means of her hind flappers, using them each by turns, and throwing up the sand into a kind of rampart behind her. This is done so quickly that in less than ten minutes she will often have dug a hole varying from eighteen inches to two feet. When the eggs are carefully placed in separate layers, the loose sand is laid over them, and the hole not only completely hidden but made to look exactly like the rest of the beach, so that no one could ever tell that the surface had been disturbed at all. Then the turtle goes away and leaves the hot sand to do the rest.
In course of time the young turtles, hardly bigger than a five-shilling piece, leave their shells, and make their way to the water, unless, before they are hatched, their nest has been discovered by men, or by the cougars and other wild animals, who feed greedily on them. If they belong to the tribe of the green turtles, they will at once begin to seek for sea plants, and especially a kind of grass, which they bite off near the roots, so as to get the tenderest parts. If they are young hawk-bills, they will nibble the seaweed, and soon go on to crabs and shell-fish, and even little fishes. The logger­heads grow a sharp beak, which enables them to crack the great conch shells, and dig out the fish that lives inside, while the trunk turtle, which is often of an immense size but with a very soft body, loves sea-urchins and shell-fish. All of them can swim so fast that they often seem to be flying, and it needs much quickness of eye and hand to spear them in the water. Even to catch them on shore is a matter of great difficulty, and in general more than one man is required for the service. The turtle is raised
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