I am going to create 2 posts on this book - this one and one at my Slow Library blog. I liked it a lot :-)
Carl Safina has sometimes been referred to as a Rachel Carson for the 21st century. Having just finished his latest book, Voyage of the Turtle: In Pursuit of the Earth's Last Dinosaur I can understand why. Voyage of the Turtle is a compelling natural history of the Leatherback sea turtle, the largest turtle of the day. Like many sea turtle species, the Leatherback is endangered, although it is making a come-back in some seas. As one could guess, the brink of extinction was at our hand - harvesting eggs being the main culprit. Safina's writing is beautiful and inspiring. A few examples: On indiscriminate forms of fishing:
Each nearly invisible net is one small brick in the Great Wall of Hunger with which humanity interrupts the travels of sea life worldwide.On the ocean:
You can travel a mile across the ocean and not see any change. But travel one vertical mile into the ocean, and pressure, temperature, and oxygen change in ways so profound you pass through other realms like falling into a magic well.On a factory sardine boat: ...
sixty or seventy tons of sardines in that hull, removed from nature mostly to feed not people but farm animals. When next you eat meat, taste the ocean.On sea turtles in general:
Turtles may seem to lack sense, but they don't do senseless things. They're not terribly energetic, yet they do not waste energy. Turtles don't have the intellect to form opinions about greed, oppression, superstition, or ideology, yet they don't inflict misery on themselves or other creatures. Turtles cannot consider what might happen, yet nothing turtles do threatens anyone's future. Turtles don't think about their next generation, but they risk everything and provide all they can to ensure that there will be one. Meanwhile, we profess to love our own offspring above all else, yet above all else it is they from whom we daily steal. We cannot learn to be more like turtles, but from turtles we could learn to be more human. That is the wisdom carried within one hundred million years of survival. What turtles could learn from us, I can't imagine.
Voyage of the Turtle describes an incredible creature (it is amazing how far they will swim in their quest for food and a place to lay eggs) with an uncanny ability to return to the beach of its birth and is a tale of a complex ecosystem where our actions on one small beach can determine the fate of an entire species. Something we should pay some attention to.