Save the whales. Save the tigers. Save the seals. Save the turtles. Save the silverbacks. One wonders if there’s an end to the list of species that require saving. Sadly, when there’s no more list, there will be no more wondering — if we refuse to help our fellow earth inhabitants, we add ourselves to the endangered list.
Not everyone can lend physical aid to struggling animals or contribute to causes, but there are other ways — such as educating others or volunteering to help clean up (or publicizing those efforts) — in which most people can make a difference. As my bug friend Jiminy Cricket says, “Let your conscience be your guide.”
The Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach Florida is dedicated to saving loggerhead sea turtles. In April 2008, marine biologists encountered a sea turtle in trouble so they contacted the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. The turtle was named Eartha, in honor of Earth Day, and it was discovered she had an infection. She was given antibiotics and nursed back to health, then released into the sea.
Nature photographer Dan Bodenstein was invited to meet Eartha; her story inspired his book for children, The Tale of Eartha the Sea Turtle. Those interested in seeing the real Eartha can visit Bodenstein’s website for a photo essay documenting her stay on land and return to the sea.
Bodenstein has taken the story of Eartha and made it into a charming tale with colorful illustrations by Brian C. Krümm that brings the loggerhead and her undersea friends to life. Bodenstein does not preach; he tells us about a happy young turtle who gets entangled in a length of string and is helped by humans. We know that the string is monofilament fishing line without being told; one illustration includes a few pieces of litter on the ocean floor that we know are harmful to sea life (e.g., plastic six-pack “collars” and other trash). That’s enough to remind us of the hazards humans pose to wild animals.
When Eartha becomes ensnared, she is unable to free herself from the “string.” Her friends — the squid, crab, eel, lobster, and clam — all try to help her, but they cannot. Sadly, she swims to the surface and asks the moon to help. She sees a boat, and because she cannot swim, she tries to scare it away.
Nets are lowered and Eartha is brought aboard. Lucky for her, it was a marine rescue ship. Thereon, Eartha meets an old turtle that explains, “This is a hospital for sea turtles…Once you are better, they will send you back to the sea.” The rest of the story details Eartha’s return.
Gently, Bodenstein reinforces a lesson we learn over and over: in every area of life, there are good guys and bad guys, and we get to choose which we want to be. Instead of delivering this message in a heavy-handed sermon, he presents it in a cheerfully sweet story that adults will enjoy sharing with children. Will they also share its ecology lesson? No, not all, but reading with children is another way to help save our environment — building bridges between people.
Even without adult elaboration on the story, kids will get the point, and that much more awareness of environmental issues. One of the nice things about The Tale of Eartha the Sea Turtle, though, is that it’s a story that children will enjoy whether they get the “Save” message or not. Children will also enjoy Eartha’s very own website and blog, offering her continuing adventures, free coloring pages, a newsletter, and Eartha merchandise (t-shirts, sweatshirts, mouse pads, aprons, tote bags, coffee mugs), as well as an introduction to the real Eartha and information about sea turtles.
Bottom Line: Would I buy The Tale of Eartha the Sea Turtle? Yes.