Sea Turtles Journal

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Sea Turtles

Sea turtles live with the cycles and rhythms of the global ocean. They are strong yet vulnerable survivors of an ancient lineage. Depicted in this card are the nine species of sea turtles in different phases of their cycles of life.

Dawn breaks on a tropical beach as hundreds of hatchling Kemp's Ridleys scamper down to the nurturing sea. Weighing only 3/4 of an ounce they run a gauntlet of predators. The surviving hatchlings (only 1% in some cases) will increase their weight 8400 times by adulthood.

A Loggerhead Turtle turns toward a jellyfish below the swimming young turtles. Sponges, shellfish, sea grass, algae and even windblown insects may be eaten as well.

It is believed some young turtles live an early pelagic (open sea) existence. Only large fish and sharks pose natural danger to adults. In the face of unnatural threats; habitat loss, pollution, and direct exploitation by humans; sea turtles have little defense. To help counter this, turtle farms and local education programs have taught the value of helping to sustain turtle populations.

The largest sea reptile on earth (2000 pounds) is the Leatherback Turtle seen coming up and over the cabbage coral. A 70 inch carapace protects the massive behemoth as its powerful flippers propel it in almost weightless flight.

A mating pair of Green Turtles are seen in the moonlit tranquility. Reproducing by internal fertilization, all species lay eggs. Females lay many clutches of eggs after mating with several males at the beginning of the nesting season.

Above the Giant Leatherback, an Olive Ridley is seen heading for the surface to sip the night air. A Black Sea Turtle, seen diving to the left of the Olive Ridley, may stay submerged for a considerable length of time; many species dive below the ocean surface for 18 to 30 minutes to depths of 3200 feet. Above them both, a female Hawksbill, her lungs full, dips just below the surface to feed in the tropical coral reef garden that is her home. Under a tropical moon, thousands of female Olive Ridleys converge to lay eggs. Called "arribada”–the “arrival” still remains a mystery to science. The lesson is perhaps this: cooperation insures survival.

Only a group effort between those who would exploit the turtles, and those of us who struggle to understand them will save them from extinction. When we realize our own connection to the Earth and its inhabitants, as well as all of its cycles, we will regain the power to achieve respectful coexistence with all beings.

artwork and text by Dan Burgevin © 1995

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