Voyage of the Turtle: In Pursuit of the Earth's Last Dinosaur

Voyage of the Turtle: In Pursuit of the Earth's Last Dinosaur

Carl Safina

Language: English

Pages: 416

ISBN: 0805083189

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

"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.


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beach, above the vegetation. Nest density dropped from sixty nests to eleven. The next year more turtles nested, but sixteen hundred hatchlings became disoriented. Seventy-five percent never found the ocean. The following year the power company adjusted the lights’ angle; disorientations dropped to twelve hundred hatchlings, and 25 percent died. Then Florida’s transportation department removed the light poles and installed light-emitting diodes embedded in the road, wholly invisible from the

this world. When a beach is yoked to a job it wasn’t meant to do, or the land is forced to work, the magic ebbs. But here an accommodation is being struck, and this is the surest proof that it is effective: turtles come. A few years ago, the total number of Leatherback nests in Florida reached five hundred; the next year it was over nine hundred. At an international scientific conference Kelly Stewart and Chris Johnson recently delivered a paper titled “An Explosive Increase in Leatherback

jungle-curtained dirt road sparked by fireflies. Scott Eckert, his face framed by a short, graying beard, grips the steering wheel as we bounce along the ruts and roots of a place he loves. Rain-forest trees silhouetted by a half-moon line the sky. Above, a see-through veil of cloud is scudding across the lunar wedge. Where forest yields abruptly to palms dancing in the warm breeze, surf rumble overtakes the trilling jungle. Rounding a turn and arriving finally at the beyond of nowhere, I’m

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,

thank, deeply, the dedicated, courageous scientists and conservation workers worldwide whose efforts are the reason we still have sea turtles. Some of the best among them generously allowed me into the field, sharing decades of insight and hard-won scientific understanding, providing entrée to the magic and mystery of seldom-seen realms. They are true professionals who make the difficult look easy. By helping me they have graciously shared themselves with you. I hope I have done some justice to

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