Sea Turtles have existed on Earth since before the age of the dinosaurs. They are a part
of our past and remind us of another time. The life span of a (lucky) turtle can be as
long as 80 years, although the majority of turtles die soon after hatching.
Depending on the source, adult sea turtles reach sexual maturity between 10 and 25 years old.
These gentle souls will travel hundreds, even thousands of miles, to breed and lay eggs on
beaches away from their foraging (feeding) grounds.
Over several weeks during the mating season, a female turtle will lay several batches of
about 100 eggs each.
The eggs not eaten by animals (and men) will hatch in about 2 months. The sex of the sea turtle
is determined by temperature. At 82 degrees F, all hatchlings are male. At 90 degrees F, all
hatchlings are female (the women are hot). Born on beaches around the world, baby sea turtles
are left alone by the parents to make a mad dash during the night to the open seas with
hundreds of other vulnerable siblings. It is estimated that only 1 or 2 out of 100 hatchlings
will survive the first year.
Most of their lives are spent in the ocean and sea turtles are well adapted to their
water environment. Compared to their land counterparts, the shells of sea turtles are lighter
and more streamlined. They have flippers for limbs, which make sea turtles efficient and
graceful swimmers (as this bronze and stone sculpture depicts). Adult turtles tend to feed on
sea grass and algae pastures.
Culturally Speaking . . .
(The above findings were researched via the Web and have not been fact-checked by this writer.)
All sea turtles are endangered. You can help them by not buying turtle meat or products
made from turtle shells. Dispose of trash properly (much of our ocean life is killed by human
garbage making its way to our oceans). Support an environmental group or research operation to
help us gather more information about the lives of these gentle creatures and enforce laws to
protect them. Another fun way to support all ocean life is to chose to travel/vacation in places that promote
conservation of our natural wonders. But please respect the life you see while spending all of your
money in these earth-friendly communities!
- In Hawaii, the green sea turtle is known as honu. Traditionally prized by fisherman, the
honu is now kapu (protected) by federal law.
- The Samoan word for sea turtle, I'a sa, translates literally to "sacred fish". According
to Samoan folklore, sea turtles have the power to save fishermen who are lost at sea by
bringing the fishermen safely to shore. Perhaps because they are considered sacred, sea turtles
have traditionally been harvested by the Samoans for food and use in important dance ceremonies.
Their shells were often made into fishing hooks, combs, bracelets and even a ceremonial headpiece
worn by a Samoan princess.
- Unfortunately, the sea turtle is also used as the feast animal in sacred ceremonies in Bali.
For the ceremonies, hundreds of (some reports say 1,000) turtles are slaughtered each year.
- Throughout the world there seems to be a similar idea of a bearer who holds the world up.
One of these bearers is the "Mother Turtle". She represents the land, floating in a vast primal
sea. The turtle is a sign of health and stability.
- In Greek mythology, the sea turtle represented the feminine power of water and was the
emblem of the goddess of love, Aphrodite.
I chose to use bronze for the turtles and kelp because that medium allows one to
have thin parts that extend away from the center of the work in a way that stone and clay
do not. I was hoping to portray flowing kelp and express the freedom that turtles must feel
as they gracefully swim among the plant life in the ocean. For the base, I looked for a stone
that suggested the ocean floor with a simple texture that would compliment the detail in the
bodies of the turtles. Limestone seemed the perfect choice. Each piece in the edition of 30
will include a hand-carved limestone base.
Sea Turtles I took 1st place in the bronze category (and won the "People's Choice" award) at the
Elisabet Ney Sculpture Conservatory's 11th Annual Student/Faculty 1997 Show in Austin, Texas. See how it was made.
Check out "Sea Turtles II."
Original: Artist's Proof, owned by Kelly Borsheim (Texas)
1/30: Private Collection (Florida)
2/30: Private Collection (California)
3/30: Private Collection (Texas)
4/30: Private Collection (Texas)
5/30: Private Collection (Florida)
6/30: Private Collection (Hawaii)