Voyage of the Turtle: In Pursuit of the Earth's Last Dinosaur
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"Magnificent . . . A joyful, hopeful book. Safina gives us ample reasons to be enthralled by this astonishing ancient animal―and ample reasons to care."
―Los Angeles Times
As Carl Safina's compelling natural history adventure makes clear, the fate of the leatherback turtle is in our hands. The distressing decline of these ancient sea turtles in Pacific waters and their surprising recovery in the Atlantic illuminate the results―both positive and negative―of our interventions and the lessons that can be applied, globally, to restore the oceans and their creatures.
We accompany award-winning natural history expert Safina and his colleagues as they track leatherbacks across the world's oceans and onto remote beaches of every continent, including a thrilling journey from Monterey, California, to nesting grounds in Papua, New Guinea. Throughout, in his peerless prose, Safina captures the delicate interaction between these gentle giants and the humans who are playing a significant role in their survival.
heard from a chorus of turtles. It’s easy to sense that, in a better world, doing science and mentoring his students would be his definition of pure satisfaction. He tells me, “There is no other animal in the world that compares to a Leatherback. Other turtles are nice, but they’re not Leatherbacks. A Leatherback is a truly regal creature; I think it’s the most beautiful animal in the world. It’s the biggest large wild animal you can walk up close to without getting attacked. They’re certainly a
1980s had tens of thousands of Leatherbacks, and three beaches that each had as many turtles as this beach had. Now they have virtually none. We, at least, still have a viable population; Mexico’s seems almost finished.” He reasons, “Mexican turtles and Costa Rican turtles go and live in the same ocean, so they likely face the same fishing threats. Why are there virtually none left in Mexico, and still some here? It’s gotta be something on the beach that’s different. “Mexico’s had very heavy egg
she clears the site and settles down, embedding herself into deeper, moister sand. Each female encounters a different set of challenges every time she hits the beach. She may come in where the beach is too steep; she may come on the wrong tide; she may arrive where the beach is too narrow; she may ascend to find a wrack line obstructed with drift logs and trash—or a man with a machete. I’m grateful for the moonlight. She’s a surprisingly leather-bound beast: no scales, not on flippers, head,
thrust the point deep enough to prevent its pullout during the struggles. In the fatal geometry now unfolding, we head straight, the fish heads straight, and the vectors intersect so flawlessly that as we cross the fish’s line of travel Franklyn is directly over its head. It’s as though the fish has offered itself and something predestined is playing out. Franklyn hits the Swordfish so hard it turns sideways, drifts stunned a few moments, then, with the seeming serenity of a clean miss, the
Asia’s ninety turtle species are endangered.) Nowadays the Indonesian island of Bali hosts perhaps the world’s largest centralized sea turtle slaughtering place, with as many as 20,000 Green Turtles brought into the markets annually. Boats scour the sea for up to two months for enough turtles to fill their boats, hunting them as far away as Borneo and Sulawesi. The pressure threatens nesting populations over a large region. The trade is deeply rooted in tradition and custom, and you can see how