Voyage of the Turtle: In Pursuit of the Earth's Last Dinosaur
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Voyage of the Turtle: In Pursuit of the Earth's Last Dinosaur

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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  280 ratings  ·  51 reviews
The story of an ancient sea turtle and what its survival says about our future, from the award-winning writer and naturalist

Though nature is indifferent to the struggles of her creatures, the human effect on them is often premeditated. The distressing decline of sea turtles in Pacific waters and their surprising recovery in the Atlantic illuminate what can go both wrong an...more
ebook, 400 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published May 30th 2006)
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Emma
Interesting, inspiring and frustrating are but a few words I could use to describe this book. It took me a chapter or two to get used to Safina's punctuation happy writing style but once accustomed I was hooked (no pun intended). As much as this book helped me form a better picture of leatherback populations I perhaps spent equal measure in wonder and outrage when reading it. I was in awe of the animals themselves, their habitats, the journey and the volunteers and scientists working tirelessly...more
Thon
Rarely have I found a book to be both illuminating and frustrating in equal measure. Safina writes superbly, his eloquent tales of his travels and the state of global sea turtle populations are only occasionally marred by repetition and some quite jarring punctuation. While the Leatherback is (unsurprisingly, given the cover) afforded the greatest coverage, other seagoing species are not ignored - far from it. The reader will emerge illuminated with regard to the status of and conservation chall...more
Melody
I read a lot of natural history. I enjoy it a great deal, and I find it gives me perspective on my own place in the world. I rarely close a natural history book in tears. This one had me weeping numerous times both in despair and in hope. There were times, reading Safina's lucid prose, when I thought perhaps the only thing we could do to save the turtles was to spread some targeted virulent human plague amongst ourselves. There were other times that the stories he told of conservationists made m...more
Elizabeth
07/21/08
Yup, sea turtles are one of my favorite animals ever. This book is filled with wonderful, informative sketches of an amazing animal that make you realize just how much poorer our world will be without them in it. The author has a lyrical style that informs without being dry and pedantic. The book is also filled with a wonderfully realized cast of characters that help the author on his quest.


07/01/08
Picked this up for the Guatemala trip. Have I mentioned that sea turtles are one of my fav...more
Meen
Dec 13, 2008 Meen marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Meen by: Abigail on True North
Damnit, I'm gonna have to broaden my bookshelves again. I need an nature/environment one.

But yay, turtles! I will stop my car and get out to save a turtle trying to cross a road. I love them.
Kimberly
This book was an awesome overview of the complex, amazing and interesting lives of sea turtles and the many dangers they are facing due to humans. Although it was depressing to read about the countless different ways that we are pushing sea turtles to extinction, it was inspiring to read about the individual people who are dedicating their lives to saving them. It really shows that a few people can make a difference. But it is an ongoing fight, and if you are interested in the subject, this book...more
Elizabeth
I loved this book. I will probably read this again. The author does a great job of making something that could be scientifically heavy and hard to get through and making it light and actually fun to read.

The journey is mostly about the Leatherback Seaturtle but delves into the natural history of the other seaturtles as well. The author travels the world trying to understand the life history of the most ancient reptile on the planet. He follows the journey of the great mothers as they heave their...more
Cheryl
I get pretty excited about learning new things and even more so when it is written beautifully like this book and takes you around the world and makes you feel and know you are alive on a wondrous planet. You go from beaches in Florida wall to wall with high rise condos to a dangerous lawless Mexican beach; from the romantic mystery and fog of Monterey Bay to the practical and hardworking fishermen of south Carolina who protest any regulations to protect anything other than themselves (which I g...more
Mary
This turned out to be the perfect book to read on a trip to the Caribbean, the region Safina identifies as the greatest success story among recent efforts to revitalize declining sea turtle populations around the world. The opening chapter in which he recounts watching a turtle nesting and laying eggs on a beach in Trinidad is enchanting. In general, his strategy of presenting facts about turtles--their extraordinary migratory habits, their monumental size and physical abilities, the many threat...more
Anna
Sep 25, 2008 Anna rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in turtles, oceans, and nature.
Shelves: 2008, nonfiction, ocean, nature
This book was upsetting and uplifting, but maybe heavier on the upsetting. It brought me to tears several times when Safina detailed the treatment of turtles in nations around the world - but especially in the far East. The author paints a bleak picture for the prospects of sea turtles in much of the Pacific (as well as for many other kinds of turtles in Asia). The turtle hunting there for food and religious sacrifices unsustainable, and many species are already endangered. And then there's fish...more
Misskei Quigley
Carl Safina writes fluidly - if somewhat floridly - about the extraordinary lives of sea turtles. He takes the reader on a journey throughout the world to all the places turtles nest. From nesting beaches in Trinidad and Costa Rica to New Guinea and up to Cape Breton, he paints a picture so vivid that you often don't notice the steady stream of facts he's peppering you with.

For example: Turtles always return to the beach they were born on to lay their eggs. The bulk of their diet consists of jel...more
Stefanie
Carl Safina's book is packed with information about sea turtles -- particularly the Leatherback Sea Turtle - and it's told in beautiful prose, mixing natural history and narrative. If you wish to learn more about this incredible animal -- over 65 million years old -- then this is definitely the book to read. Safina travels around the globe seeking to understand how the global migrations of these creatures are linked to their survival -- and human endeavour. What he (and the reader) discover is j...more
Joel
Before reading this book I never gave much thought to a sea turtle. I kind of thought, "ah sea turtles", another thing swimming around the worlds oceans. This book puts the turtles in their own world, and you get to ride along with the turtles. I was amazed to find out that sea turtles are warm blooded and probably the last surviving true dinosaur. Many great stories surrounding the sea turtles and many great ones for the turtles themselves. I think half way through the book I was already search...more
Irene
I'm not very patient with puzzles. However, each chapter in Safina's book, interesting as a stand-alone, builds upon the next to create an "earth from space" view of the whole sea turtle story and I came to appreciate the pace and the way the pieces fit together. I really liked his descriptions of extraordinary nesting beaches and how local cultures affect the future of sea turtles. The writing goes a little flowery at times, but not so much to make me put the book down. Safina makes a strong ca...more
Amy
NF Science

349 pages

The turtles have been around since almost the beginning. Some cultures have turtlr creation stories. Turtles are built like surviving machines, but they are striving to survive today. Carl Safina took me on a voyage with the turtles.

Christopher Griffen
Carl Safina travels the world mostly in search of the elusive leatherback turtle. If you weren't a conservationist before you read this book you will be afterward. The stories of human carelessness toward our environment and the species that share it with us are both fascinating and poignant.

Safina is mostly cautious not to strike an accusatory tone but there are moments in which he eloquently calls human brutality and neglect on the carpet.

I really enjoyed Safina's accounts of his voyages, par...more
Kelly
Carl Safina is a spirited and engaging ecologist who is enamored by language and aquatic life in equal measure. His examination of the habitat and history of sea turtles is also a personal travelogue, including diversions into the worlds of swordfishing, egg poaching, real estate development, longline regulations, and conservation advocacy. Sanfina seeks to draw a compelling portrait of the status of sea turtle populations as they currently exist in relation to the continuing threats to their su...more
Alexa
Sea turtles are far different than pond turtles--and infinitely cooler. They are gigantic and seriously endangered and they live mostly in the water, making them truly incredible. Safina highlights their plight, their incredible lives and staying power (they've been around since the dinosaurs) although once in awhile he gets very poetic about how much we as humans have done wrong.

Fortunately, there's enough focus on what we're doing right to save the turtles, and enough information about how coo...more
Zoe
This book made me fall in love with sea turtles in general. Safina does an incredible job of writing about a "big issue," in this case the decline of the oceans and human's impact on our planet, by focusing on a detail in the puzzle- the Leatherback. It's a very effective style, and it reminds me of how Micheal Pollen writes about food.

I highly, highly recommend this book. It's heartbreaking and hopeful and will stay with you for a long time. It might also make you stop eating shrimp. Sorry abo...more
Eson
I adore turtles, so this seemed like the perfect book. The narrative was very smoothly written from the perspective of a man learning more and more as he goes. That's a nice approach that makes it sounds like a fun and kind neighbor is writing this book. So it feels like you're in good company when reading this book.

The middle parts went a bit long in some areas, but I could overlook that pacing problem rather easily. As a whole, this was a very good, enjoyable book well worth adding to your bo...more
Jenn C.
Safina lays out the dire situation of and human impact on the leatherback population in a realistic way, not demonizing subcultures for their negative impact on population numbers, but explaining the people, their impact, actions, and cultural background, and revealing ways the scientific and layperson communies are trying to implement positive change within these cultures. Sadly, I will never eat shrimp with a clean conscience again after reading the chapter involving shrimpers (and i love shri...more
Mariah
This is a fascinating and often beautifully written book. It is a bit too long, has a winding and repetitive narrative, and could have used a lot more editing. The author also shows very little restraint when it comes to using bad puns. All the time. That said, I learned a great deal about sea turtles, ocean life, and the lives of those who make their living from the sea. I'd definitely recommend this book, but would also recommend reading it with a great deal of patience.
Flora
It's largely about the leatherback, and it's well written. I particularly like the chapter about jellyfish life off Monterey Bay. The Atlantic portion is uplifting, the Pacific kind of a bummer. Sometimes it slips toward loopy-environmentalist mode, but for the large part the author's great about writing clean and with a great voice.

*This also made for lousy vacation reading. (I ended up reading a trashy romance instead. Twice.) Definitely more of a commute book.
Daniel
Voyage is a fascinating account of the Leatherback turtle, its near-total collapse, and the recent efforts to prevent its extinction. Safina has the heart of a conservationist, but to his credit he writes like a journalist. In addition to working alongside the scientists struggling to save turtles, he also spends time with shrimp boat captains, egg poachers, and property developers.
Suzanne
Apr 05, 2010 Suzanne rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dotty Dysard, Jana Mathieson
Recommended to Suzanne by: Earthwatch
I admit that part of the reason I enjoyed this book so much is because I am going to Trinidad in May to work on an Earthwatch project with Leatherback Sea Turtles. That being said, I found that this was a facinating book - I learned a great deal. I recommend it for anyone even remotely interested in sea turtles, the ocean and/or the environment.
Juls
Jan 30, 2009 Juls rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone concerned about our world's oceans.
Wonderful writing. It's not only about sea turtles, but also about the impact of the commercial fishing business. There are conversations with individual fishermen about the state of the oceans and what the government is doing to help endangered species. Also, what the government is doing to help the commercial fishermen get around these policies!
Devin
Excellent account of sea-turtle biology, global sea-turtle species' state of being, and specificlly the history and conservation of leatheraback sea-turtles. Excellent writing from a traveller, biologist, and leading conservationist in our time. One of the best natural history books I have read.
Whitney
Sep 28, 2008 Whitney added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loves Science Fridays
If you don't think this book is AWESOME then we probably can't be friends anymore.

I didn't finish reading this book because 1) it needed to be returned to the library, 2) I had learned a lot about turtles, and 3) I got distracted by another book.

Good read as far as I got...
Steph
A beautiful very literate treatment of a fascinating subject, could not put it down. We should now more than ever know what is happening to our Oceans and their citizens. We should see what human activity is doing and what is needed. Please read this
Melissa
Takes a bit of time to get through, but well worth it. You learn alot about sea turtles, the ocean, sea life, conservation, extinction, and other cultures. Well written. You can tell the author cares alot about the subject.
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Carl Safina is president and co-founder of Blue Ocean Institute, and author of several writings on marine ecology and the ocean, including the award winning "Song for the Blue Ocean"(1998) and "Eye of the Albatros" (2002).

Carl Safina's childhood by the sea led him into scientific studies of seabirds and fish, and to his doctorate in Ecology from Rutgers University.
During his research and recreatio...more
More about Carl Safina...
Song for the Blue Ocean: Encounters Along the World's Coasts and Beneath the Seas The View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World Eye of the Albatross: Visions of Hope and Survival A Sea in Flames: The Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout Nina Delmar: The Great Whale Rescue

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“People have been on earth in our present form for only about 100,000 years, and in so many ways we’re still ironing out our kinks. These turtles we’ve been traveling with, they outrank us in longevity, having earned three more zeros than we. They’ve got one hundred million years of success on their resume, and they’ve learned something about how to survive in the world. And this, I think, is part of it: they have settled upon peaceful career paths, with a stable rhythm. If humans could survive another one hundred million years, I expect we would no longer find ourselves riding bulls. It’s not so much that I think animals have rights; it’s more that I believe humans have hearts and minds- though I’ve yet to see consistent, convincing proof of either. Turtles may seem to lack sense, but they don’t do senseless things. They’re not terribly energetic, yet they do not waste energy… turtles cannot consider what might happen yet nothing turtles do threatens anyone’s future. Turtles don’t think about the next generation, but they risk and provide all they can to ensure that there will be one. Meanwhile, we profess to love our own offspring above all else, yet above all else it is they from whom we daily steal. We cannot learn to be more like turtles, but from turtles we could learn to be more human. That is the wisdom carried within one hundred million years of survival. What turtles could learn from us, I can’t quite imagine.” 6 likes
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