Group Title: Olasee Davis articles
Title: Leatherback turtles' past, future intertwined with Virgin Islanders'
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 Material Information
Title: Leatherback turtles' past, future intertwined with Virgin Islanders'
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Creator: Davis, Olasee
Publication Date: March 22, 1996
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: CA01300919
Volume ID: VID00131
Source Institution: University of the Virgin Islands
Holding Location: University of the Virgin Islands
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text

Leatherback turtles' past, future

intertwined with Virgin Islanders'

Though we re ll God's creation,
mny of u do not py much atten-
lion to our natural environment,
particularly the younger generation
The Virgin Islands' naual his-
tory is a pt of our cltum that our
ancestor helped build. Those in the
older -ge on wih their incred-
ible knowledge about the natural
history of these islands, need to be
passng on this knowledge to our
Only then, wil we all be able to
appreciate our birth place and inher-
it the rich and ancient culture ofthe
Virgin Ilands.
George A. Seaman. a natualist
who is a native of SL Croix. under-
stands this view. A man that has
lived his life to the fullest, he appre-
cates the serenity nd beauty of life
in these islands, particularly in
"Santa Cruz," St. Croix. He is a


man that knows the Virgin Islands
from the inside OUL
How many children know that It
this time of year. sea turtles come to
our shores? Seaman described their
arrival at Sandy Point as a "tryst of
monster and beckoning sea-beach"
where a sometimes tragic play is
enacted deep in the night
He described the play this way:
"For ancie and enigmatic asons
best known to herself, this special
spot holds survival charm for the
great, lumbering turtle mother.
"Her monstrous body tingling

with the thneless urge of reproduc-
tion, she moves to the sandy egg-
drop site of her choice with an
assurance and navigational skill
confounding the two-legged preda-
tor hiding behind the seagrapes to
rob her treasures."
The predators Seaman refers to.
of coue, are humans.
Today. leatherback sea turtles
are an endangered species probably
throughout most of the world. The
shores of the Virgin Islands In
ancient time used to have thousands
of se turtles. Even as late as the
early 1900,s sea turtles used to
migrate in abundance on our shores.
Sandy Point today is known as
one of the target leatherback nest-
ing sites under the U.S. flag. The
other popular nesting site is Cule-
bra, Puerto Rico. Research has been
V See DAVIS, facing page

matNalyNa.Fhdday. Much 22,186 21


conducted in tboh places to find o
more about leatherback turtles'
behavior the natural word.
Although aleatberL rs and oter
ea utmues am protected under the
Endangered Species Act of 1973,
they are still threaten by those
who believe they reabove e law.
Stray poahes are only par of
the problem. Developers have a
special liking for beach-fro land
It alsh o hpps to be prime mea-
lg gounWs for ealriack turrIes.
Last year, however, sea tutles

worldwide won a big cae when a
U.S. edtenl judge ruled that coa-
Ior expoting shrimp to ate United
States must adopt a sea tut con-
vsrvamien program by May 1 1996
or else face an embargo of their
shrimp product. The suit was
brought by a coalition compriing
the Humane Society. Sierra Club,
American Society for the Preven-
ton of Cruely to Antimals. eorgia
Fishermen's Associaton, and Sea
TaIde Reoration Project.
Todd Steiner, director of the Sea

Turte Restoration Project, stated
1Ibis decision will save more han
100.000 endangered sea turtles
fresm eedlessly drowning n shrimp
Severy year. ending the largest
kiUing ofendanged species occur-
ring in the world right now." He
estimated that at lean 124000 tur-
ties may be captured and killed
every year in the nets or foreign
shrimp boasi.
This case has set an important
precedent, ensuring that sea tunes
will be around for our grandcil-

dren. Perhaps they will be able to
tell their children tat sea turtles are
included in the natural history of
those icsands.
After all. that's how sea tuncs
have survived this long, by telling
their offspring to ne in the Virgin
Islands, where their history also
Oisee Dmas, who hods a rms
ter of science degree in range man.
ageme and forestry ecology. I a
St. Croix ecolog5is, activist and


2-P M4M LWWs~r

22, 1996


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