The Case of the Green Turtle: An Uncensored History of a Conservation Icon

The Case of the Green Turtle: An Uncensored History of a Conservation Icon

by Alison Rieser


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The journals of early maritime explorers traversing the Atlantic Ocean often describe swarms of sea turtles, once a plentiful source of food. Many populations had been decimated by the 1950s, when Archie Carr and others raised public awareness of their plight. One species, the green turtle, has been the most heavily exploited due to international demand for turtle products, especially green turtle soup. The species has achieved some measure of recovery due to thirty years of conservation efforts, but remains endangered.

In The Case of the Green Turtle, Alison Rieser provides an unparalleled look into the way science and conservation interact by focusing on the most controversial aspect of green turtle conservation—farming. While proponents argued that farming green sea turtles would help save them, opponents countered that it encouraged a taste for turtle flesh that would lead to the slaughter of wild stocks. The clash of these viewpoints once riveted the world.

Rieser relies on her expertise in ocean ecology, policy, and law to reveal how the efforts to preserve sea turtles changed marine conservation and the way we view our role in the environment. Her study of this early conservation controversy will fascinate anyone who cares about sea turtles or the oceans in which they live.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781421405797
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 07/15/2012
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Alison Rieser is the Dai Ho Chun Distinguished Professor of ocean policy in the Department of Geography at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, and a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction: From Seafood to Icon 1

Chapter 1 Turtle Kraals and Canneries 14

Chapter 2 Turning Turtles on the Great Barrier Reef 30

Chapter 3 The Turtle Islands of Sarawak 42

Chapter 4 The Gifted Navigators 62

Chapter 5 The Geography of Turtle Soup 76

Chapter 6 A Turtle Flap in London 86

Chapter 7 The Buffalo of the Sea 96

Chapter 8 Who Will Kill the Last Turtle? 110

Chapter 9 Red Data for the Green Turtle 130

Chapter 10 Reptiles on the Red List 151

Chapter 11 You Lost the Turtle Boat 165

Chapter 12 One Man's Opinion 183

Chapter 13 Down on the Farm 199

Chapter 14 Conservation through Commerce 213

Chapter 15 The Best Available Science 229

Chapter 16 A Global Strategy 247

Epilogue: Supply and Demand 263

Appendix A The 1966 U.S. Classification of Chelonia mydas as Rare and Endangered 265

Appendix B IUCN Principles and Recommendations on Commercial Exploitation of Sea Turtles 266

Notes 269

Bibliography 315

Index 329

What People are Saying About This

James R. Spotila

"The science, economics, and policies in this case are central to all conservation issues that the world faces today. The lessons learned from this story are applicable by all those interested in saving what little is left of our natural world. It is one of the most important books of its kind in the last 30 years."

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