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Bali, Indonesia  |  October 24, 2000

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Straddling the Wallace Line, continued
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From where Wallace developed the basis for human understanding of evolution a century ago, I pondered how fit we truly are. Humanity is counter-evolutionary. Instead of adapting to our world, we adapt our world to us. Our resulting manipulations never come close to the simplicity, beauty and complexity of nature and often times produce disastrous results.

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On Gili Air, as throughout the trip, we did see sparks of hope. Sea turtles larger than me elegantly glided through the water. They cocked their head to turn and look at us. Wise eyes contemplated invaders in their aquatic realm. Suspiciously and deliberately, they continued along with their business.

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Scientists predict that Sea Turtles will be extinct in twenty years. Kath and Ernest, divemasters and owners of the Reef Seekers Dive Shop on Gili Air, are doing something to thwart the inevitability. Their marine turtle conservation operation, funded by divers and generous supporters, rescues baby turtles from careless and malicious humans.

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Eggs are bought from markets, buried at their turtle sanctuary, hatched and then released back into the sea when they have the best chance for survival. Sick turtles are tended. Locals are introduced to and educated about the turtles.

Resorts on Lombok, the neighboring island developed for tourism, refuse to turn out their lights the few nights that turtles hatch on their beaches. Local boat operators and friends of Ernest and Kath collect the confused hatchlings, who by instinct walk to the brightest evening light, that end up in the resorts and bring them to the sanctuary.

At Shark Point, a local dive spot, we saw over twenty hawksbill and green sea turtles. A fellow diver suggested renaming it Turtle Point. Thanks to Ernest and Kath's twenty years of dedication, the population seemed to be thriving at least near Gili Air.

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Nine months are fading fast into fantastic memories. Back in DC, we are re-integrating ourselves into fast-paced-twenty-first-century American life. Cell phones, PC's and careers have been switched on.
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Car, credit cards, and mortgage payments have again become a reality. Will and I try to keep the gray hairs, anxiety and wrinkles at bay by remembering what a wonderful time we had on our adventure. As we take the next steps towards the future, my emotions are a reactive fusion of optimism and fear for this new decade, century and millennium.


End Notes
As information on conservation organizations has been requested before, contact information for the Turtle Sanctuary and a recommended Indonesian Orangutan Foundation are listed below:

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