Deep Sea News

i-13c02e3b55dfd4b029963d7b0f19f07b-1185892918_sm.jpgJ Nichols of the Ocean Conservancy and Ocean Revolution is a hero for the environment. He works with fishermen off Baja California to spread the word about sea turtle conservation. One of the problems he faces is the Mexican tradition of consuming sea turtles and their eggs during Lent. We covered the story last year concluding that if the Pope won’t save sea turtles, supermodel Dorismar will. She’s willing to try, anyway.

This Easter, J blogs about the ongoing problems for sea turtles off Baja in a post called Easter Ocean. Go check it out. An excerpt is below.

“Easter season can … be rough for turtles. Around the world it’s the time when people travel to the coast to vacation and dine on sea turtle eggs and turtle soup. The tradition stems from the Lenten tradition of forgoing red meat for seafood. Technically, sea turtles ARE red meat. Alas, they’ve been included on the Easter Week menu anyhow.

The result is that thousands of turtles and turtle eggs perish during the days called Semana Santa or Holy Week when the demand for seafood throughout Latin America peaks.

Since 2002 we have petitioned the Vatican, lobbied the Pope (Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict) and appealed to local priests and parishioners to give turtles a break. Our argument has been based less on phylogenetic clarification than conservation urgency, as turtle eating during Lent is a big contributor to the endangered status of sea turtles worldwide.”

Comments

  1. #1 Gindy
    March 23, 2008

    Another superstition/belief system kills wild life.
    I am so glad I left this stuff behind by age 9.

  2. #2 Jonathanseer
    March 23, 2008

    Umm, instead of sanctimoniously advocating the elimination of this tradition, try converting it into a “sustainable practice.”

    In doing so the turtles will gain “economic value” which will over time enhance the desire of the locals to preserve them and protect them from over-exploitation.

    As it is now, no one owns the turtles.

    So no one cares who takes one.

    Invest the community with ownership.

    Provide the community with some sort of benefit/profit whether it be from eating during lent and/or tourist money and you’ll see the threat to the turtles disappear.

    As long as wealthy westerners demand poor 3rd. worlders give up something in return for nothing whilst they dine on seafood anywhere, anytime like at red lobster Etc. locals who are aware of this will declare the well-meaning words of the environmentalists and scientists are just self-serving noise meant to deprive them of a much needed meal high in protein in order to give the rich people something to “marvel” at.

    In many ways it probably increases the desire of locals to kill wildlife, if only as a way to vent their frustration at the environmentalists who constantly propose solutions that require the poor to do all the sacrificing.

  3. #3 Peter
    March 23, 2008

    Point taken, I am quite sympathetic to your argument, but Dorismar is not a wealthy westerner! ;)

    Actually, J is grass roots people like yourself, Jon, if you read his blog article you’ll learn about the SEE Turtles project that is connecting coastal communities with sea turtle watchers to put a non-consumptive value on turtles to tip the balance in their favor.

  4. #4 Lassi Hippeläinen
    March 23, 2008

    Suppose the Pope accepts science and declares turtles as red meat. In the next moment a zillion good dead catholics will be yanked from heavenly delights back to the Purgatory to be cleansed of the sin of Eating Wrong Food During Lent. There might even be a class action suit against priests for teaching a falsehood.

    Don’t expect it to happen anytime soon.

  5. #5 J.
    March 23, 2008

    Many of the people who can afford to illegally eat endangered sea turtle at the beach in public during Lent are “wealthy”, powerful, or both. Which is why they can afford it and stay out of jail (the law says 12 years for harming a turtle). It’s not always the case…and when it’s not I agree with you. Alternatives are required. My experience has been that turtle eating in Baja is usually not done out of need…it’s a far more complex mix of emotions and drives (not just $) involved in the illegal consumption of endangered wildlife. Many coastal community members and priests are now engaged in sea turtle protection for reasons that include but aren’t limited to financial gain. -J.