Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Turtles & Art

I don't know if anyone has received the email that's been circulating for a while showing Costa Ricans taking bags and bags of sea turtle eggs from a beach there, but I wanted to make a couple of comments. Don't worry, I'm not going to soap-box this time; I'm leading into a great program on-island.

I do need to lead in though...I am going to ignore the argument that these pictures prove that the disappearance of turtles has nothing to do with global warming, simply because I believe both can be at fault (I'm logical that way); however, there does seem to be more of a story behind the pictures. Here's a link with more pictures and a response to it. This harvest seems to have been part of a legal government program. Turtles, in fact, can come to shore to lay eggs several times over a season and usually head for the nest they just dug, tearing it up, and laying another batch of eggs on top. Other turtles can come in and screw up older nests too. I actually saw this happen in Grenada. I think the thinking in Costa Rica is to come in and grab the first batch (which is not going to make it anyway) and let the locals sell the eggs. This gives them income and food. The next batch of eggs is off-limits, hatches, and the hatchlings try their luck in the ocean. I'm ok with that theory except that I can't see how they can know which batch they're taking; nor am I convinced they wouldn't become greedy (look at the ongoing fight over ivory; tons and tons of which, seized in raids, are currently piled up in warehouses while elephants continue to be slaughtered). Whatever is happening, it's still sad to look at.

St. Kitts doesn't get hundreds of turtles like that, and has enough to deal with regarding dogs, cats, mongoose, and monkeys without having to add humans into the mix. Here, the St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network, in conjunction with Widecast, has come up with a great idea. First, they clean up beaches so the turtles have somewhere to come without getting caught in plastic or tangled up in washed-up fishing lines. Then they take the glass bottles that they find, and have the folks who used to catch and kill the adult turtles make products with the glass. It's a win-win. The beaches get cleaned up, the glass gets recycled, and the fishermen make money without killing anything.

Beach glass can be converted to earrings, pennants, and wind chimes; glass bottles can be melted down and blown into beads for various uses. SKSTMK can give/sell you the products to sell at parties or fund-raising events. I bought two things for myself.

And two for my Mom for Christmas, which I'm not going to show. winky-2

The turtle group is trying to re-engage the Only in St. Christopher store*, which does have one pair of glass earrings left to buy. The goal is to get more products marketed in more outlets and really make it a viable business. If you're interested at all, let me know, and I can get the goodies for you. Kind of like a Tupperware party, but for a better cause. You can actually order what you want - earrings, rings, pendants in whatever color combination that floats your boat.

*You must go to the Only in St. Christopher store in the Treasury Building/Port Zante if you want one of a kind gifts that were actually made on the island. Island Hopper by the Circus is good too.

turtle BTW, turtles are expensive to feed, so there's also an adoption program (no, you don't have to turn your bathtub or pool into a turtle habitat).

Looking at these unique items reminded me how much I miss art/street fairs back in the States. I was whining about this to Tina (the woman I just bought the glass from - I now know 2 Tinas on island) about this, and she matter-of-factly asked me why I didn't organize one. Huh - I guess I could. But I would need help. Lots of it. If you'd like to help me get this going or would like to market your products in such a thing, hit the Contact button on the blog's sidebar and let me know. We could pick a weekend and sell to both visitors and to locals looking for unique but handmade gifts (Christmas, birthday, etc.). We could have stands for art work, jewelry, ornaments, soap/lotions, dolls, food products, masks, cards, whatever. I'm sure there is a lot of talent on this island and it's time to show it off!