The problem of “and” / The power of “but”


Thanks to Cura Earth, I got to meet this wild olive ridley turtle. The olive ridley is not the species that I went to Nicaragua to photograph. That is the hawksbill. However, you can’t choose who decides to show up every night so you take what you can get.

In this case, you accept the realities of the situation. You don’t know what turtle (if any) will show AND you don’t know when AND you don’t know where AND when you get notified that one is on the beach you don’t know if you’ll get there in time AND if you do you can’t use regular light. As usual, when you are facing a deluge of AND’s, you make contingency plans. I invested some research time and money into a set of infrared photo gear that met my quality requirements BUT also was highly portable. I accepted that what I wanted to do was quite difficult BUT worked with others to simplify the process, trusting them to let me know when they found a turtle. In the end, it was stressful, but it all worked out and I got this shot.

Here, the critical “BUT” was “BUT what if I use infrared?”

This is, in many ways, similar to the problem the turtles themselves face. They are endangered because of widespread habitat loss, as people develop beaches for housing and shrimp farming AND they have to deal with increased chemical pollution from fertilizer runoff AND the increased microbiological blooms from that runoff. They also face poaching for their eggs AND their meat AND their shells. They have to deal with the change in lighting sending their young the wrong way once they hatch AND once they hatch they have to find their food without eating so much plastic they die.

The problem is that, unlike my personal problem with the AND’s, we haven’t yet found the BUT’s that will help them to survive. That’s what Cura Earth is trying to do. Maybe the critical BUT will be like we found with frogs:

“BUT if we dip the entire frog in this mild solution, the deadly fungus will be killed, but the frogs will be fine!”

Maybe the critical BUT will be like we found with wolves:

“BUT if we protect them long enough for people to forget they were afraid of them, they’ll survive!”

Maybe it’ll be something brand new:

“BUT if we trace this infection to where they got exposed, we can save them much more economically.”

This is what they want to find out. If you can, please help them by donating to their fundraiser in its final days:

Either way, please share this post so, at the very least, you get to see more turtle pictures in the future.