The Case of the Green Turtle: An Uncensored History of a Conservation Icon Hardcover – May 31 2012
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While I recommend this book for readers interested in sea turtle and herpetological history, it will also give readers with no knowledge outside of academia a glimpse into the world of policy and politics in the conservation of amphibians and reptiles. -- C. Kenneth Dodd, Jr. Herpetological Review Holds many lessons for those interested in the conservation of marine creatures and of biodiversity in general. Choice The story of efforts to save green sea turtles, including by farming them, illustrates conflicts common to conservation work. Science News A marvelous study of the history of global efforts to conserve the wide-ranging green turtle... Rieser's tour-de-force makes compelling reading because it is packed with intrigue, almost like a spy novel. It is a page turner and a must-read for all those engaged in trying to stem the illicit trade in wildlife products. -- Nigel Smith AAG Review of Books Rieser shares with us an exhaustive, rich and mind-blowing historical narrative supported by crucial evidence and resources. [ The Case of the Green Turtle] is an extremely valuable contribution to understanding Latin America's wildlife conservation and an important story for all those concerned with saving our natural world. -- Rikke Schmidt Kjaergaard Journal of Latin American Geography
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.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
To begin with, this is NOT a book that describes the natural history or biology of the green sea turtle. What it IS, is an account of the exploitation and conservation history of this iconic species, including policy proposals, implications, legal battles, and national and international players, including nations around the world where sea turtles live, and where their products were consumed (e.g., turtle soup, wax, tortoise shell-products, leather, etc.).
Rieser, a professor of marine policy at the University of Hawaii, is well-trained and well placed to write this history. Her credentials and experience greatly increase the value of her book.
The story of the green sea turtle and almost all sea turtle species has a happier ending (at least so far) than that of just about any other exploited marine resource. If the topic of marine conservation interests you, you might consider reading The Unnatural History of the Sea for more examples of humanity's exploitation of the sea.
Anyway, the general pattern of human exploitation of wild populations of commercially marketable marine species (whales to seaweeds) goes something like this:
1) Discover a resource
2) Create a new market or exploit an existing market for/with the resource
3) Develop luxury status for resource if possible to drive prices up
4) Continue to exploit the resource as quickly and with the largest possible harvest possible so you get as much of the resource as possible before it falls below levels that can be harvested profitably
5) Having decimated the resource...move on and start exploiting a similar resource or exploit the same resource, but in a different location
Rieser tells the story of the exploitation history of the green sea turtle, a species with a world-wide tropical and subtropical distribution. It was exploited for its meat and its eggs. You will be amazed at how many eggs have been harvested annually when you read the book. You will also be amazed at how oblivious we (humans) were to the impacts our hunting of adult turtles and collecting eggs their eggs, together with coastal development and destruction of nesting beaches, were having on the populations of sea turtles worldwide.
I have to admit that I found the first chapter or two a little dry, but once I got rolling, I really enjoyed the book. Rieser's writing does not get in the way of the story being told. She also does not editorialize or act the pundit as the story unfolds. She simply lets the story and related events unfold and tell the story on their own.
This is not a bleeding-heart tree-hugger book. It is, instead, a meaningful account of the exploitation, then overexploitation, and then conservation efforts made to protect the green sea turtle.
5 stars, even though it has a slow start. I'll be adding this to the book list I provide to my marine biology students.
This book focuses in on the 1970s when a fierce debate was waged between those who believed that fostering commercial farming of the turtles was a viable way to take pressure from hunting the animals in the wild by providing an abundant quantity of superior product. Other scientists argued that commercial farming would only causea greater threat to the wild population by increasind demand for the sea turtles and thus making poaching more profitable. Leaders on bothe sides of the debate were sincere in their beliefs, working from the same available information (and handicapped by the lack of more detailed information). In the end, conservation decisions were more the product of ideology than science.
This book covers the effort to protect green turtle populations world wide. It is a 'reality show' of enormous proportion, with all the complications of commercial profit interests, personal livelihood, and even scientific integrity. For the average reader this book may be somewhat overwhelming; the writing is dense, and full of detail. But for a person interested in conservation activity, well worthy of five stars. Certainly every student of natural resources or conservation should read this book to gain insight into the complicaitons that need to be overcome.
Much of modern biological training is focused at the molecular level, yet the fundamental issues of feeding and sustaining Earth's growing population are directly tied to sustainability of natural food sources. This book should be seen as a detailed examination of one example that holds implications for the world as a whole.
Ms. Rieser is a professor of ocean policy who is most interested in getting the story right. We learn about the factors that drove turtle populations towards extinction over the course of many decades of commercial exploitation, consumerism, drift nets and the loss of the turtle's native habitat. We meet the people who cared about the turtles enough to study them and who sought to develop strategies to save them. As legislation lagged behind the reality of the turtle's rapidly changing status from threatened to endangered, the author reconstructs the heated debate that ensued between mariculturists and conservationists as to determine the most appropriate response to the turtle's decline.
Full of insights about humanity's relationship with a natural world in peril, I highly recommend this outstanding book to everyone.
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