Merlin | The Mind of a Sea Turtle

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Merlin | The Mind of a Sea Turtle

November 28, 2017 - 00:52
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One of the characters, a green sea turtle

While the intelligent awareness and emotional nature of our pets is accepted increasingly in our society, a strong prejudice lingers against the idea that animals considered 'cold' and 'low,' such as fish, amphibians and reptiles, could be sentient. This book shows how mistaken such an attitude really is. This week it is featured in a on

The lives of sea turtles in the context of a society that hunts them are revealed in vivid words in this account of the rescue of sea turtles in Tahiti. Their actions in different situations provide a revealing glimpse into their minds. Each one has his own perspective on things, one that very much matters to him. These exquisitely designed marine reptiles were able to plan ahead, cooperate against their own instinctive drives, and use deceptive strategies. They remembered abuse, took steps to try to avoid more suffering, and their behaviour was flexible according to the circumstances. Such evidence of their self awareness, and conscious approach to life, provides another reason to insist on their protection from extinction—from sacrifice as "by-catch," and through the enforcement of protective laws.

The author, an ethologist, wildlife artist and rehabilitator, came into sudden contact with them in the South Seas while on a kayak trip to intercept some whales, when local fishermen showed her where a sea turtle was floating, about to be smashed on the reef. Thus she began learning about sea turtles close up, and this book describes what happened.

The events are set within the Tahitian culture, which maintained that the sea turtles were put there by God for them to eat, so the people defended the right to eat every one. For that reason, no laws protecting them were enforced, and any sea turtle was in mortal danger. The difficulties involved in trying to save their lives within this menacing culture spice the story, while the actions of the sea turtles are captivating.

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