In Pursuit of the Earth's Last Dinosaur
by Carl Safina
In this information-packed book, the author literally travels the globe to learn about and observe sea turtles. The focus is mostly on leatherback turtles, but also greens, ripley's and loggerheads. He goes along on boat trips- both those full of scientists trying to net turtles for study, and fishermen who catch them unintentionally, in order to see both sides of the turtle issues. He talks to activists and conservationists, flies in aerial surveys, visits crowded holiday beaches and far-away remote islands where turtles come ashore, sometimes protected by turtle patrols, at other locations endangered by poachers stealing eggs. Most of the studies were looking at human impact upon turtles: what was causing turtle numbers in some areas to drop alarmingly, and in others to rebound? Tracking devices reveal where the turtles go on their oceanic journeys: the results are astonishing, and make it very clear that how one country treats the turtles off their shores (intentionally or not) can have a strong impact upon numbers of turtles that show up in other parts of the world- because they go all over the place! I learned a lot about some amazing people who work to save sea turtles, and to study them. And a lot about the turtles themselves- did you know that sea turtles co-existed with dinosaurs? that they can regulate their body temperature in ways that both mammals and birds use, being in this sense a warm-blooded reptile? Sea turtles dive deeper and travel farther than even the whales. It was fascinating to learn about their habitat and all the aquatic life they share it with: swordfish, sharks, jellyfishes, shrimps and many others. It's all pretty incredible, but the amount of information here is staggering, and that's probably why I didn't quite enjoy this book as much as The Eye of the Albatross (by the same author). After a while all the facts just started to weigh on me.
Borrowed from the public library.
Rating: 4/5 ......... 383 pages, 2006
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