Tuesday, April 14, 2020

L is for Loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles (Folktales of Endangered Species)

Welcome to the 2020 A to Z blogging challenge! This year my theme is Folktales of Endangered Species. I am researching cool traditional stories about rare, fascinating animals - to raise awareness of what we might lose if we don't get our collective shit together. Enjoy!

Species: Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) and other assorted sea turtles (I wanted to talk about sea turtles in this series somewhere but S was taken)

Status: Endangered

The turtle nuts of the vonu tree
Legend from Fiji

According to legends on Koro Island, there once lived a beautiful woman who was the wife of a chief. She went fishing to the reefs with her daughter one day, and was kidnapped by fishermen who showed up in a canoe from a nearby village. The women called for help, and the god of the sea transformed them into turtles. Ever since then every year the girls of the village go to the beach to sing, calling the turtles to come to shore.*
In another story from Koro, from Nacamaki village, the yearly ritual of calling the turtles was observed for generations. After decorating themselves with flowers and dancing and singing on the beach, people had to turn around and go home without ever glancing back. Tradition dictated they should stay in their houses for a night and the next day, leaving the beach alone to the mysterious activities of the turtles.
According to this story, one man was curious to see what the turtles do on the beach, and was not afraid to invoke the anger of the gods by breaking tradition. He hid himself among the mangrove trees to spy on the turtles after everyone went home. As he watched the beach swarming with turtles, suddenly a cloud showed up, and a voice spoke to him, reproaching him for breaking the sacred tradition, and not respecting the turtles' privacy. The spirit in the cloud turned the man into a vonu (turtle) tree to stand on the shore forever, bearing turtle-shaped nuts.

*Sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. This is a very vulnerable time for them, and the eggs also need protection until the baby turtles can find their way to the sea.

Sources: Read the stories here, and here.

How can I help?

Read about conservation efforts here, here, here, and here.

What do you think the turtles do on the beach (besides laying their eggs) when the humans are not watching?


  1. The second tale is so charming--a true tale of conservation.
    Can you imagine how many species of flora and fuana must be flourishing these day as humans are forced to 'retire' indoors?

  2. Love both the stories.
    I love turtle. they are such fascinating animals. And I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they indeed to something mysterious and magical on those beaches. LOL!

    The Old Shelter - Living the Twenties

  3. Lovely tales, and it would be fun to know that they are doing (as you said, besides burying eggs!)
    L is for Landscapes

  4. A nice conservation story! If people really do believe that they must leave the turtles for the night, then they can get on with what they are there to do.

  5. I love the honor the humans in the stories give the turtles.

  6. The Hindu mythology also has a story about Lord Vishnu taking the form of a turtle (Kurmavatar) Guess this is yet another story that has transcended cultures.

    Btw, due to the ongoing lockdown in India, thousands of Olive Ridley turtles have turned up on the sea shores for nesting. Guess we have been ruining nature all this time

  7. Those are nice tales. We should still leave the turtles to the beaches at nesting time! And hatching time needs to be dark. It's heartbreaking to see the little turtles hatch and run the wrong way, towards city lights instead of the ocean.

  8. I love turtles! They're one of my two primary spirit animals, along with the spider. I identity very strongly with the turtle's symbolism and characteristics, and they often show up in my life. One day I'd love to have an outdoor turtle pond.

  9. I love the second tale. And I'd love to see a vonu tree and those turtle nuts. At a time when the turtles weren't needing their privacy of course!

  10. Great story! I love sea turtles :-)

    An A-Z of Faerie: Galno

  11. I would hope they are resting up and having a nice time since they have worked so hard getting up onto the beach in the first place.
    Tasha 💖
    Virginia's Parlour - The Manor (Adult concepts - nothing explicit in posts)
    Tasha's Thinkings - Vampire Drabbles

  12. I looked up the vonu tree and they have spectacular fluffy red flowers. I've seen sea turtles in the wild on a few occasions and they have absolutely been highlights of my life!
    Black and White (Words and Pictures)

  13. Hi
    Wonderful narration...well Turtles can go into self isolation naturally!
    Stay Safe regards Ravi Sivaram http://slogansmith.blogspot.com