OK, I'm a sucker for pretty much anything that has to do with the ocean. With that being said, I jumped at the chance to give this book a read.
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.