Today, we were snorkeling at the very busy Gilchrest Blue Springs. As I was snorkeling near the vent, I saw a good size turtle swim up out of it and head out toward the spring run (in the direction of the river). When the turtle made his appearance among all of the people in the spring, things became chaotic. I stopped swimming and just floated with my head and mask in the water to see what would happen with the turtle.
The turtle was clearly trying hard to find a way out of the mass of people. But each way that it went, kids (around 10-13 years old or so) chased it. They swam after it, trying to touch it and catch it. Some were yelling for people to pick it up. I felt so bad for the turtle, which couldn't find a safe way around all of the people. If someone did pick it up I was resolved to tell them to leave it alone. The turtle did not find a way out past the crowd where about a dozen of these kids were cornering and chasing it, so it turned back toward the vent and headed into the depths of it.
I was appalled at watching the way these kids behaved at the site of the turtle. They were clearly harassing it and causing it distress. When I stood up out of the water I heard one father tell his two kids to not touch the turtle, to leave it alone. I was glad there was one parent there telling their kid that, but there were too many others who were not being told that, and they were at an age that the should know better not to harass the wildlife.
Please teach your children to observe the wildlife, but not harass it. Our goal is to live side-by-side with other sentient beings, and not cause them harm. There's no reason at all to chase and harass a turtle like this.
Earlier in the same day we were snorkeling five minutes from this spring at Poe Springs. There were at least five good size turtles swimming around in the vent area of the spring, but nobody harassed them. We all snorkeled and the turtles swam calmly and it was all a beautiful thing. Just the way it should be.