May 11, 2010

Voyage of the Turtle

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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Silent Griot


  1. I never knew turtles dive so deeply. Sounds like a fascinating book!

  2. I did NOT know that sea turtles coexisted with dinosaurs! How cool! I think turtles are lovely - when I see them plodding across the road by one of the lakes in town, I usually stop and scoop them up and cross them all the way across the road so they don't get smushed. Which, er, doesn't help sea turtles to stop being extinct, but it makes me feel better about myself. :P

  3. Wow this sounds so good Jeane!! I need to get this one! I love sea turtles so much and it's been sad hearing the reports of them washing up on shore along the gulf :( Especially since the species that is washing up is endagered :(

  4. Bermudaonion- It is! And there's lots more I didn't mention here, of fascinating facts.

    Jenny- Isn't that awesome? (the dinosaur part). So glad you rescue the little land turtles from cars! (I've never seen one roadside or I would, too)

    Chris- I was thinking of those poor turtles the entire time while reading this book. Which species is washing up? the leatherbacks?

  5. I rescued turtles also when I was in the US...haven't seen any here. Land or sea, they are the niftiest creatures.

  6. I am so glad this is good. I have it on my pile of books to read this year. I love turtles and tortoises!

  7. Bybee- I saw a turtle once in a walk through patch of woods behind our house, when we lived in a different part of Virginia. It's the only time I've seen a turtle out and about!

    Stefanie- This is an awesome book for any turtle-lover. I think you'll like it!


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