Riding the waves of the Atlantic Ocean to shore, as they have for millions of years, female sea turtles deposit their eggs in the sand before returning to sea. The hatchlings encounter significant threats from predators, pollution, and disappearing habitat. At best, only 1 out of 1,000 survive to maturity.
The same waves once brought ships to shore, ships that deposited enslaved peoples from Western Africa. Many did not survive the trip across the Atlantic Ocean and many more did not survive the cruelty they were met with on these shores. Descendants along the lower Atlantic coast endured to become the Gullah/Geechee nation.
Today, through their own resilience and perseverance and the work of committed advocates, the Gullah/Geechee Nation and sea turtles draw life from the same ocean and upon the same shores, thus bringing hope that this diversity of life and culture will continue here. This story is dedicated to them.
Robin Carter, Author
Queen Quet is the Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation. She is an environmental advocate and published author who shares her wealth of knowledge with audiences around the world.
Robin Carter is a former social worker, social justice organizer and, for seven years while she lived on the coast, a member of SCUTE (South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts).
Al Hawkins is an artist whose works have afforded him many accolades including the 2016 Alice and Arthur Baer Award.
From leatherbacks to loggerheads, six of the seven species of sea turtles are threatened or endangered at the hand of humans. Their size varies greatly, depending upon species — from the small Kemp’s Ridley, which weighs between 80–100 pounds, to the enormous leatherback, which can weigh more than 1,000 pounds.
Sadly, the fact is that they face many dangers as they travel the seas — including entanglement in fishing gear, the loss of nesting and feeding sites to coastal development, poaching, and ocean pollution including plastic.
Charleston County, South Carolina - home of one of the leading sea turtle hospitals in the southeast - has banned single-use plastic items such as carry out bags, plastic straws and foam takeout containers. Without other efforts of this type and actions taken by governments and individuals to decrease the use of plastic, many endangered and threatened species in our oceans could be lost.