Brachauchenius and Sea Turtle, Dan Varner
Sound drowns in the ocean. Ears have little to do with the constant ambience of waves and currents. Odors spread, shapes and colors flash, and motions push and shove, but sound has little to do here. Nothing sings or chirps. No clicks echo into the water. The lullaby of the Niobraran Sea is a melody made solely by physical oceanography.
It was on the shore, in air, not water, the turtle discovered her sense of hearing. She labored for two hours, hauling her hulk on the sand, digging a nest, dropping eggs into the pit. The whole time, the world felt richer. Suddenly, life included birdsongs and wind, the hush of leaves in the breeze, the hollow drumroll of waves landing—even the sound of sand thrown onto her back as she dug, and her own labored breathing. It was new and bewildering. In the Kansas Sea, she was embraced by its constant drawl, but on the beach, she was surrounded by variety.
Back in the sea, the currents and waves hum again. When Brachauchenius comes, there is no sound, no splash, no roar, no battle cry, no soundtrack of menacing horns or terrifying strings. Just a silent shape that advances and splits into shell-crushing jaws. In that panicked moment, a vibration fills the turtles ears that overcomes the drawl of the ocean. It is her own terrified, thudding heartbeat.