Sunday, February 10, 2008

Fire in the Turtle House

This past weekend, I finished reading Fire in the Turtle House - The Green Sea Turtle and the Fate of the Ocean, by Osha Gray Davidson. As I wrote last October, I thoroughly enjoyed Davidson's Best of Enemies and wanted to read more of his writing.

In this book, Davidson describes the struggle of the green sea turtle, which has suffered from an epidemic of fibropapillomatosis (FP), which causes debilitating, and eventually lethal, tumors. He focuses primarily on observations and research conducted in Hawaii and Florida.

Unlike Best of Enemies, which slowly builds hope in the reader with a giant burst of inspiration at the end, Fire in the Turtle House is depressing throughout, which underscores the seriousness of the problem and the grave danger faced by all species on this planet.

Like Best of Enemies, Davidson explores the lives of the researchers and conveys the meaning that the fate of the turtles has for them. Humans, as a whole, go through their lives with such destructive and myopic thoughtlessness that it's refreshing to learn more about researchers with so much interest and compassion.

This book may leave you questioning your diet. From learning about the frightening consequences of hog lagoon sewage in our coastal areas and the devastating effects of shrimp trawlers on our coral reefs, you may decide that fasting for impeachment is the logical alternative.

Finally, I would say that the chapter entitled "Cells from Hell" is one of the most riveting chapters that I have read in any book. Dinoflagellates are scary little organisms.


  1. Dinoflagellates are also responsible for some of the bioluminescence in the sea. Swimming among them is to swim in sparkling lights, like swimming among stars. They are not all bad, and some are quite beautiful.

  2. Thanks for pointing that out! I should have known better than to denigrate all dinoflagellates. Pfisteria does sound pretty scary, though.