Dodd, C. K. 2021. Book Review. The Last Turtlemen of the Caribbean. Waterscapes of Labor, Conservation, and Boundary Making. Bibliotheca Herpetologica 15(11):113-117. Published October 15, 2021.
Perhaps from the time of first human settlement along the coasts and islands of the Caribbean, the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) has been a source of sustenance. Its eggs were obtained easily along the sandy shorelines, and its meat has been much sought after by coastal peoples worldwide. As an added advantage, the shell and bones could be used as utensils and carved as tools. Although not as tasty as Greens, Hawksbill Turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), too, oviposited protein-rich eggs on the remote islands, and their beautiful shell has been desired by craftsmen through the ages in all parts of the world. When European imperial fleets, pirates, traders, and slavers entered the Caribbean, they found an “inexhaustible” supply of food in Green Turtles for their long voyages and to feed crews, workers, and slaves on land. Hawksbill scutes offered a further lucrative trade item. But the turtle populations were not inexhaustible, and nesting areas of former abundance, particularly in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, and the Dry Tortugas, were decimated.