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The Man Who Saved Sea TurtlesArchie Carr and the Origins of Conservation Biology$

Frederick R. Davis

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195310771

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195310771.001.0001

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Study and Conservation of Sea Turtles

Study and Conservation of Sea Turtles

Chapter:
(p.87) CHAPTER 5 Study and Conservation of Sea Turtles
Source:
The Man Who Saved Sea Turtles
Author(s):

Frederick Rowe Davis

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195310771.003.0005

Abstract and Keywords

The seven years following the Carrs return from Honduras proved to be highly productive and successful. Carr published High Jungles and Low and the Handbook of Turtles. He also inaugurated his study of the ecology and migration of sea turtles with funding from the American Philosophical Society, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Naval Research. Carr's experiences during preliminary research trips provided fodder for another popular travel narrative, The Windward Road. Fortuitously, The Windward Road came to the attention of Joshua Powers, who rallied the support of his friends to form the Brotherhood of the Green Turtle and the Caribbean Conservation Corporation, an organization dedicated to the conservation of sea turtles. Thus, even as Carr's study of sea turtles was gaining momentum, he secured additional and unanticipated support for related conservation efforts.

Keywords:   sea turtle, ecology, migration, the Brotherhood of the Green Turtle, Caribbean Conservation Corporation

With few exceptions, successful individuals acknowledge the role of serendipity in their achievements, no matter how remarkable. Skill, intellect, and determination set the stage, but good fortune often plays a central role in success. The trajectory of the first twelve years of Archie Carr's career (1937–1949) resulted to a significant degree from his close friendship with Thomas Barbour. There is no question that Carr worked hard throughout this period, but fortune was critical too. Nearly five years had passed since Archie and Marjorie Carr had left Gainesville for Zamorano. Shortly after their return, Carr was promoted to full professor. Before he could devote himself wholly to the study of sea turtles, however, Carr was dedicated to the completion of his magnum opus, the Handbook of Turtles (1952). He also wrote his first popular travel narrative, High Jungles and Low (1953), about his time in Honduras. With these two works in print, Carr applied for several research grants to conduct pilot studies of sea turtle colonies throughout Florida and the Caribbean.

As in Honduras, Carr relished the cultures that he encountered in his study of nature in the Carribean, and for this reason Caribbean culture served as the central theme of Carr's second popular work, The Windward Road (1956). Yet it was the plight of sea turtles (and their role in culture) that captured the attention several philanthropists, including Joshua Powers and John H. “Ben” Phipps, who facilitated Carr's conservation efforts by starting the Caribbean Conservation Corporation (CCC). The development of the CCC was one of the most serendipitous events in Carr's life.

(p.88) Changes in the Biology Department at the University of Florida

While the Carrs were studying tropical ecology and raising their children in Honduras, the Department of Biology at the University of Florida (UF) was undergoing significant changes. In 1946, J. Speed Rogers returned to the Museum of Zoology at the University of Michigan, and with him went Theodore Hubbell. The department thus lost its chairman and another strong member of the department in the same year. Given the number of World War II vets using the G.I. bill for college tuition, the university had to provide courses for many more students. To cope with rising enrollment, the biology department granted faculty positions to several graduate students. During this time, the biology faculty included more and more UF graduates, which left the department open to charges of academic inbreeding. With the loss of two of its strongest senior faculty members, the department floundered without a leader. When Carr returned from Honduras, an earnest search for a department chair was underway. Given the department's emphasis on organismal (whole animal) biology, experimental orientation, and social concern, Warder Clyde Allee of the University of Chicago was an ideal candidate to chair the department.1

Warder Clyde Allee (1885–1955) led the ecology group at the University of Chicago during the early part of the twentieth century.2 In the zoology department at Chicago, Allee studied under Victor Shelford, a pioneer ecologist, and Charles Manning Child, an animal physiologist. Allee's upbringing as the son of a Methodist minister and his experiences in World War I contributed to his development as a socially aware scientist. In 1938, he wrote The Social Life of Animals, which he based on a series of lectures he presented at Northwestern University the previous year. The book explored cooperation among animals, with human implications.3 The ecology group (W. C. Allee, Alfred E. Emerson, Orlando Park, Thomas Park, and Karl P. Schmidt) produced Principles of Animal Ecology (1949), and it became a standard textbook at the University of Florida, where it became known as “AEPPS,” in reference to the initials of its contributors.4 In 1950, Allee retired from the University of Chicago. Most biologists know Allee for the concept of a positive relationship between population density and per capita growth rate. This idea has become important in conservation because certain species (e.g., passenger pigeons) seem to require a critical mass for long-term population growth, without which the population crashes.

Personal tragedy dogged Allee throughout his life. He witnessed the death of his son to a horse-drawn streetcar and endured the death of his wife. Worse, a mass of differentiated cells of an undeveloped twin grew near his spine and paralyzed him below the waist. He was also severely injured when backing his wheelchair into an open elevator shaft. Allee did not let his personal tragedies or his considerable weight limit his activities: he called on graduate students to transport him on fieldtrips, even if that meant carrying him in his wheelchair.

When Allee was entertaining the possibility of heading the UF Department of Biology, he wrote each member of the biology faculty and asked them to assess (p.89) the program's strengths and weaknesses. Before he made the decision to accept, he again wrote to the faculty soliciting their reactions. Carr responded enthusiastically: “In answer to your inquiry concerning my reaction to the possibility of your acceptance of the headship here, I believe I add my voice to many (probably to all) when I say that I can think of no more promising solution of our problems here…. I believe that your influence would integrate efforts and smooth out personal wrinkles which are at present serious obstacles to progress.”5

As head of the Department of Biology at UF, Warder Clyde Allee would continue the efforts of J. Speed Rogers and Theodore Hubbell to produce socially aware biologists. In addition, he demanded that graduates of the doctoral program seek experience elsewhere before joining the department as faculty members (in the hopes of limiting the effects of academic inbreeding in the department). As Allee's research emphasized social interactions among animals in nature, he called for cooperation among the faculty at UF. Allee's policies assured continuity with the past and awareness of other approaches in biology. To understand Carr as a naturalist and ecologist, it is necessary to look beyond the Department of Biology at the University of Florida.

Handbook of Turtles

During his years in Honduras, Carr's work on the Handbook of Turtles had progressed slowly in the face of numerous teaching commitments as well as other projects, but he was able to finish the project after he returned to UF. Gradually, descriptive natural history was being restricted to the introductory notes of experimental ecology studies and, of course, popular accounts, where natural history still commanded a large audience. Much of the Handbook of Turtles, however, suggested classically descriptive natural history, but Carr integrated much of the known and hypothetical or anecdotal biology (that is, life histories) for every North American turtle.

The Handbook of Turtles was published in 1952. Although the book is divided between two potentially dry subjects (taxonomy and life histories), Carr sustained a lively tone throughout. Like Carr's other books, the Handbook opens with a literary flourish:

Two hundred million years ago the reptiles, newly arisen from an uncommonly doughty set of amphibians, were on the verge of great adventures. They bore the mark of destiny in the shape of impervious scales and the new cunning to lay shelled eggs, and these devices insured them against the age-old disaster of drying out, both before birth and after, and let them gratify their own curiosity about the vast and almost empty land. Along with the new equipment they had imagination and no end of notions for novel body designs. Today we call these old beasts cotylosaurs, or stem reptiles, because all the lines of vertebrate life above the amphibian level lead back to them as branches converge in the trunk of a tree.6

(p.90)

 						            Study and Conservation of Sea Turtles

Figure 15. Archie Carr and a Florida soft-shelled turtle examining the Handbook of Turtles, 1952. Courtesy of the Department of Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida.

Rarely has evolutionary history and descent from a common ancestor received such elegant prose. Carr continued to relate that, eventually, a new animal emerged: “The new animal was a turtle. Having once performed the spectacular feat of getting its girdles inside its ribs, it lapsed into a state of complacent conservatism that has been the chief mark of the breed ever since.”7 By this Carr meant that turtles have retained their basic body plan since their emergence more than 200 hundred million years ago.

With characteristic panache (unexpected in a formal biological monograph), Carr explained the dramatic biological transformations that occurred in the millions of years since turtles appeared on earth, including the ascent of winged insects and archosaurs, the dawn of dinosaurs and birds, and finally the arrival of mammals (and a sense of irony):

Turtles went with them, as tortoises now, with high shells and columnar, elephantine feet, but always making as few compromises as possible with the new environment, for by now their architecture and their philosophy had been proved by the eons; and there is no wonder that they just kept on watching as Eohippus begat Man o' War and a mob of irresponsible (p.91) and shifty-eyed little shrews swarmed down out of the trees to chip at stones, and fidget around fires, and build atomic bombs.8

Here Carr's narrative skills are on full display. While the body plan of turtles remained essentially unchanged, life as we know it developed. Dinosaurs disappeared, while other groups came and went. Humans descended from the trees. Carr's reference to atomic bombs came at a time when many Americans and scientists in particular were reeling from the implications of the development and use of nuclear weapons and the commencement of the Cold War.

Having summarized the long paleontological history of turtles, Carr went on to review the basic biology of turtles. Turtle respiration was particularly interesting in that aquatic turtles had the ability to maintain respiration under water through various means:

To augment their oxygen supply, many aquatic turtles use the highly vascular pharyngeal cavity as a sort of gill, sucking in and expelling water and obtaining by this means sufficient oxygen to increase materially their capacity for remaining submerged. In a similar way, additional underwater respiration is effected by some species that augment the work of the pharynx by filling and emptying, through the anus, two thin-walled sacs that communicate with the cloaca. The currents set up by these pumping movements may be easily demonstrated if a small amount of dye or suspended silt is placed near the anal or nasal openings of a live turtle.9

Though circulation, excretion, and digestion were for the most part unremarkable, reproduction attracted the interest of both scientists and nonscientists. Carr noted that two genera of aquatic turtles (Chrysemys and Pseudemys) performed the most elaborate courtship rituals among North American turtles. In both groups, the male swims backward before the female as he strokes her face with his greatly elongated claws. As for duration of copulation, Carr acknowledged a general lack of data. But he could not resist the temptation to relay a popular legend regarding sea turtles that was transcribed in 1708:

Among the many bizarre amatory feats that popular legend ascribes to sea turtles, I find one that I believe will escape editorial censorship. While it is of course apocryphal, it is entertainingly so, and it also serves to emphasize the remark that we really know almost nothing about the subject: “All the turtles from the Charibbeas [Caribbean] to the Bay of Mexico, repair in Summer to the Cayman Islands…. They coot for 14 days together, then lay in one Night three Hundred Eggs, with White and Yolk but no shells. Then they coot again, and lay in the Sand; and so thrice; when the Male is reduced to a kind of Gelly within, and blind; and is so carry'd home by the Female.”10

Although Carr regularly incorporated local wisdom into his scientific research and particularly into his writing, occasionally he acknowledged cases in which scientific knowledge contradicted folk beliefs. He wrote, “Anyone who has (p.92) watched a dozen turtles slide off a log in concerted response to a slight noise a half mile down-river will be loath to accept the pronouncement that turtles do not hear well, but such appears to be the case.”11 Despite a complete auditory anatomy, turtles do not receive atmospheric vibrations but are instead highly attuned to vibrations in the water or the substratum. It surprised Carr to discover that numerous authors had ascribed to turtles a “voice.” Carr explained these sounds as the result of the exhalation of breath or frictional contact between parts of the body. Cases of barking or grunting during copulation did, however, seem to constitute a “voice” or at least a vocalization, despite turtles' lack of vocal cords. To convey the state of confusion regarding turtle vocalizations, Carr recounted popular myths regarding scorpions singing in northern Florida (Eumeces) and the fer-de-lance calling in Nicaragua. Popular myths and physical explanations notwithstanding, there was a need for more research: “When such intrenched misconceptions as these, and all instances of merely incidental mechanical noise, have been discounted in the case for the voice of the turtle, there still remain a few examples of genuine vocalization that would well repay further investigation.”12

It seemed to Carr that improved refrigeration techniques would exact heavy tolls on turtle populations, despite the shifts in turtle markets that resulted from World War I and II. International demand for both diamondback terrapins and green turtles was down as far as Carr could tell. Nevertheless, new markets were emerging, even in Gainesville, as Carr recounted:

I know a number of people who within the past few months have made their first enthusiastic acquaintance with green-turtle meat through a local establishment that features it on a popular carry-away lunch. The deep-fried steaks here are a far cry from Key West chicken turtle with chines and calipees, or from an authentic curry, or green-turtle soup in New Orleans; or for that matter from Carr's broiled ridley filets with lime butter; but people like them, and this bodes no good for the green turtle.13

“Carr's broiled ridley filets” undoubtedly refers to his own successful attempts to prepare turtles for consumption. Recall that Carr skeletonized a great many turtle specimens in a soup pot during World War II. Such experiences enabled him to appreciate the economic value of turtles on a deeper level. Another turtle that was becoming popular with diners was the snapping turtle (Chelydra), although Carr noted that Philadelphians had appreciated the gastronomic qualities of snappers for many decades. Soft-shell turtles also seemed to Carr to be candidates for an expanded market in turtles. Based on his extensive experience and catholic tastes, Carr noted the qualities of two lesser known species: “Better than either of them (in my private judgment) are the gopher and the ‘Suwannee chicken,’ but like most of their near relatives these are too locally distributed to support a commercial market.”14 “Gopher” referred to the gopher tortoise, which had not yet declined, and the “Suwannee chicken” was one of the Pseudemys species. Both were restricted to the Southeast.

(p.93) Of the sea turtles, Carr recognized in the green turtle the greatest potential for market development:

It seems to me that in any plan to extend human food resources by more intelligent exploitation of the sea, the green turtle should receive careful consideration. It not only furnished meat of unsurpassed quality but, being herbivorous, it is able to utilize huge volumes of forage provided by the submarine pastures of turtle grass and manatee grass that cover immense circumtropical areas. While at the present time the green turtle is not abundant, we have good evidence that it once grazed the pastures in numbers incomparably greater than now, and that the depletion was the result of short-sighted exploitation by man. To me the fact that green turtles have survived at all indicates that they are an uncommonly tough breed.15

Successful management of this extraordinary resource was limited by lack of information on the biology of green turtles, among other factors. Nevertheless, it seemed to Carr that the problems were surmountable: “When painstaking investigations have furnished a sound basis for practical schemes of protection and control, and international agreements have implemented these, it seems highly probable that the green turtle hordes could be restored to their three-fathom meadows to harvest for us the almost inexhaustible stores of energy held there.”16

Carr's interest in turtle stories extended to folklore, and he addressed this topic in the Handbook under a section titled “The Inscrutable Turtle.” Ancient Hindus believed that the earth rested on the backs of four elephants that in turn stood on the back of a gigantic tortoise, while American Indian myth held that there was a great turtle floating in the sea before there was anything else and all animals lived on its shell. Notwithstanding the exalted role of turtles within these two belief systems, Carr found that turtle stories paled in comparison with the snake tales he encountered all over rural areas in the United States. A notable exception to this rule was the richness of stories regarding sea turtles. The shear diversity of stories and languages in which they were told impressed Carr: “I have heard the same gripping yarns in Spanish and in English of every Caribbean shade, and they are told every day in Carib, Mosquito, French, and Danish, and who knows in what other recondite tongues elsewhere.”17 To Carr's considerable regret, convention dictated that he omit the most salacious tales regarding the sexual activities of the sea turtles.

Given the contested territory of turtle classification and taxonomy (recall Carr's extended debate with Leonhard Stejneger), Carr used the nomenclature from A Check List of North American Amphibians and Reptiles by Stejneger and Barbour (1943), with a number of changes that Carr deemed trivial. As Carr attempted to rationalize turtle names, he also endeavored to establish a consistent descriptive terminology of reptiles in general and turtles specifically. He criticized other scientists for their indiscriminate and confusing use of technical terms. (p.94) As an antidote to such a state of affairs, Carr drew upon Stejneger for a more logical system of descriptive terms, thus honoring his old rival:

This is a melancholy situation, and there is no real reason for its existence. The late Dr. Leonhard Stejneger was well aware of this awkward weakness in terminology and many years ago adopted in his own writings a more rational scheme, by which the horny and bony parts of the carapace are designated by two wholly distinct sets of names. His system was a consistent adherence to the policy of some early writers to use Greek names for the bony pieces and Latin names for the scales of the carapace. Unfortunately Dr. Stejneger published no full explanation of his revised nomenclature, and consequently it was not extensively adopted by other herpetologists.18

Carr proceeded to describe each of the 79 species and subspecies of turtles known to occur within the United States, Canada, and Baja California. Each entry in the Handbook of Turtles included range, distinguishing features, description, habitat, habits, breeding, feeding, and economic importance. Where there were few or no data, Carr stressed the need for more research. Beyond describing each turtle and its natural history, Carr identified the value of each species to humans in a section called “Economic Uses.” It was in this section that he addressed the need for conservation and further study of sea turtles. In the chapter on the Atlantic green turtle (Chelonia mydas), Carr noted the value of the turtle as a dietary staple in the Caribbean and as a delicacy in France and England. After locating the center of the turtle industry in Florida and the Caribbean, he cautioned against the overexploitation of the turtle:

Although the green turtle is in no immediate danger of extinction, it will support no resurgence of the industry. It seems almost certain that with modern methods of refrigeration and food preservation to enlighten the inland public concerning the gastronomic properties of this succulent reptile, the pathetic remnant of the once-teeming hordes will be pursued with harpoon and stop net.19

Carr believed that the only way to reverse the trend was through further study of the ecology of the sea turtles.

Carr called for investigations into the Atlantic green turtle's breeding sites and season, breeding biology, location and behavior of young, migrations, and volume of annual egg collections. Concluding that such studies could save the green turtle, he wrote: “If adequate solutions to these problems could be obtained—and they await only a proper investigation—it seems probable that the green turtle could not only be saved from virtual extermination but might even be encouraged to regain something approaching its primitive range and abundance.”20 Thus, Carr managed to suffuse a classically taxonomic and descriptive text with both biology and a call for conservation and ecological study—that is, natural history. Ironically, many of the original photographs for the book included a ruler (to indicate length), but the production director noticed that the ruler contained Louis Agassiz's (p.95) oft-quoted exhortation: “Study nature not books.” As such advice seemed inconsistent with the publisher's goals, each photo was cropped or airbrushed.21

The Handbook suggests several trends in natural history. First, Carr's individual life histories of turtles range beyond simple description to analysis of aspects of behavior and ecology. Second, in the Handbook, Carr expressed an explicit concern with conservation, which was becoming increasingly important to biologists, naturalists, and ecologists as the twentieth century progressed. The book won the Daniel Giraud Elliott Medal of the National Academy of Sciences for meritorious work in zoology. After the completion of the Handbook of Turtles, Carr's emphasis narrowed as he began to unravel the mysteries of the ecology and migrations of sea turtles. By studying the life histories of sea turtles, Carr hoped to establish the scientific basis and method for their conservation.

Preliminary Sea Turtle Research: The Windward Road

In his fateful letter to Barbour that led to five years in Honduras, Carr raised the question of funding for a project devoted to sea turtles. This problem continued to occupy Carr's mind while he was in Honduras. When he returned in 1949, Carr resumed his campaign for a grant supporting sea turtle research. In 1952 and 1953, he successfully petitioned the American Philosophical Society for two small grants that would provide the basis for further research. With a $500 grant for each year, Carr obtained data from Yucatán, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Tobago, Barbados, Antigua, and Puerto Rico.

Just as Carr had drawn on the stories of locals from his graduate student days on, he consulted fishermen, turtle hunters, and fisheries officers for information regarding sea turtle nesting and migration. In an article summarizing all this information, “The Zoogeography and Migrations of Sea Turtles,” Carr established several key facts that would form the basis of support for future grant proposals. First, he identified breeding areas for three species of sea turtles and isolated a 15–20 mile stretch of beach east of Tortuguero in Costa Rica as potentially the most important single breeding site in the Caribbean. The report also established that turtles could be counted from the air in small planes. With reasons for further study delineated, Carr concluded by emphasizing the project's motivations: “The data gathered during the reconnaissance supported by these grants show clearly the American sea turtles present problems of exceptional interest both from the standpoint of pure natural history and as potential subjects for the application of conservation practices.”22 This statement is one of the first indications that Carr hoped to apply his efforts to the continued survival of sea turtles. During the preliminary study, it appears that Carr had realized the urgency of the plight of sea turtles:

The green turtle seems to the grantee in a dangerous state of depletion in American waters; and yet it would seem to be at the same time most peculiarly amenable to conservation manipulations. It could almost (p.96) surely be restored as an abundant source of protein in tropical seaboards where protein is scarce. Under present conditions, however, it seems probable that the green turtle will be extirpated from the Caribbean in twenty years.23

Carr's projection was based on extensive surveys and interviews throughout the Caribbean. In many areas, sea turtles had already disappeared, and Carr was reasonably confident that he had found one of the largest remaining breeding grounds. Clearly, sea turtles were endangered. But the reasons to protect them extended beyond the mere scientific or aesthetic; sea turtles provided a significant source of protein for people in a protein-starved part of the world. Just as Carr found the jungles of Honduras teeming with people eking out a living, he found the Caribbean filled with fishermen and turtle egg collectors. It was through these people that Carr discovered the beaches where sea turtles came to nest. Just as the sea turtles were threatened with extinction, Carr found that the cultural resources of the people of the Caribbean was likewise vanishing. It was their story that Carr captured in his second book for a popular audience, The Windward Road.

The Windward Road developed out of the grants from the American Philosophical Society. Each chapter evokes a different part of the Caribbean and the people who Carr encountered in his travels. In the opening lines of the book, Carr addressed his compelling title:

Down in the Caribbean the trade wind blows so honestly that in some of the islands you rarely hear the cardinal directions used, but people speak instead of living to leeward or of going to windward to visit an aunt. On all but the smallest or most rugged or least populated islands there are roads that lead to or run along the upwind coasts, and these are known as windward roads. I got to thinking in these terms and liked it, and then it occurred to me that the book that I was writing grew mostly out of the hundreds of miles I had walked along the beaches of the Caribbean, where the good beaches are the windward ones built up high and clean by the driven surf. These beaches were the roads I walked, and it is a good road. If you are in the tropics and have trouble seeing the good in where you are, work your way to windward where the trade comes in to land.24

Though Carr reserved the first two and last two chapters for his thoughts on sea turtles, the rest of the book is about Caribbean places and peoples. The Windward Road captures the atmospheric essence of the Caribbean—the intense heat and the correspondingly measured pace of life.

Carr had arrived in Puerto Limón eager to charter a plane to fly him along the coast to Tortuguero. From a low-flying plane, it would be possible to count the number of turtle tracks as the females dragged themselves up the beach to dig their nests and lay their eggs. But the attendant at Aerovías Costaricienses (the only place to charter a plane in Puerto Limón) informed Carr that their plane was “discomposed.” There was a possibility that Carr could fly to Tortuguero on (p.97) the flight to deliver guaro (locally made sugarcane rum). Carr waited five days for the flight to disembark, and during that time he visited Parque Vargas each day at noon, where he seized the opportunity to study sloths. Nine Gray's three-toed sloths (Bradypus variegatus) resided in the twenty-eight laurel de India trees (genus: Ficus). What riveted Carr's attention and imagination was the sheer slowness of sloths: “For example, a sloth may initiate some simple, straightforward move—like reaching for another handhold, say—and you may find that you must wait many minutes before it is clear whether he is carrying out the act or has stopped to reconsider the whole plan.”25

As Carr sat, shaded from the midday sun, he contemplated the cultural and evolutionary implications of sloths and slowness. He recalled two other arboreal animals that moved with a ponderous deliberation: lorises (one of the lower primates) and chameleons. Given the taxonomic distance between these animals and the existence of quicker terrestrial relatives in each case, it seemed to Carr that the move to the trees had slowed down the muscles of the animals. The animal and the pace of its movements had become so conflated that in both Spanish and English the animal's name meant “slowness.” But Carr was quick to note that in Central American Spanish, the preferred term was “perico ligero” or “lively Pete,” a vernacular irony that Carr relished. Having watched the sloths for five days, Carr noticed one approaching another, and his mind wandered to the reproductive biology of the sloths: “It could be that I was at last to be allowed to witness what I had hoped for five days to see—the love-making of the lively Pete. Slow as the animal is, and upside down … I was intensely, perhaps even morbidly curious, and this approach was the first hint of sex that had crept into the activities of the sloths.”26 At the moment when contact might occur, Carr's reverie was interrupted by the arrival of a boy who carried the message that the guaro plane was ready to travel to Tortuguero at long last. The biologist was supremely frustrated: “I was not content. I was cheated. Five day's waiting and hardly a foot between two sloths and their sex rites; and suddenly the wretched plane was composed.”27 Having made the most of a typical delay in travel, so characteristic of the Caribbean, it was difficult for Carr to see the object of his rumination slip away.

The trip to Tortuguero was revelatory in several ways. First, Carr developed an abiding respect for his pilot, a feeling that was sharpened by Carr's own efforts to learn to pilot a small aircraft. After suggesting that they fly a quarter mile out from the shore, Carr asked how low they could fly, in case they saw a turtle. He liked the pilot's answer: “It's better not to splash salt water on the engine.”28

Carr also made several discoveries about sea turtles. He soon spotted sea turtles, including a pair in the process of mating. Carr noticed another male turtle, quietly floating 20 feet from the pair, and like so many of Carr's observations, this one transported him back to Florida and the turtles that mated in his pond: The pattern of two males competing over one female was common in aquatic turtles also. Carr's lascivious tone, so plain in his study of lively Petes, had disappeared, to be replaced with the authoritative voice of a biologist who had been studying turtles for most of his life. Of course, the subject was the same (i.e., breeding biology), but Carr was scratching for every available piece of information on the (p.98) turtles, while the sloths provided a diversion from a seemingly interminable delay. Carr concluded: “I was impressed when, on the occasion of my first good view of the Liebespiel of sea turtles, these huge greens, courting on the swells off a tropical shore, turned up in the same familiar triangle.”29

Carr noted that sea turtles mated at the same time that the females lay the eggs. While Carr's biological findings were interesting in their own right, perhaps his most significant discovery involved practical matters, specifically that it was in fact possible to conduct surveys from a light plane: “Besides this I had proved to myself that sea turtles floating in clear water could be easily identified from a light plane flying at safe altitudes, and that nesting trails on the beach could be readily seen. This meant that small planes could be used to make turtle censuses and surveys of breeding grounds as they are used in studying waterfowl migrations. This was a good thing to know.”30 Aerial surveys would become a critical part of assessing populations of sea turtles around the world. In the 1970s and 1980s, Carr directed a program to conduct extensive aerial surveys throughout Florida and the Caribbean see chapter 9.

After one harrowing attempt to land on the beach, in which Carr's pilot narrowly avoided a pack of feral dogs feeding on turtle eggs, and another equally harrowing landing, which involved following an unseen curve through the trees on the beach, Carr's plane arrived at Tortuguero. Without ceremony, his Costa Rican pilot turned him over to his Afro-Caribbean host, George. Ever the taxonomist, Carr was struck by the transition:

An immense black man of great age stood under the shelter. There seems to me to be a strain of West African Negro that produces a high proportion of almost perfectly preserved septuagenarians—dynamic, thigh-slapping women and vast, silver-bearded patriarchs to go with them and keep them content and do pretty much the same day's work they did at twenty-five. The man under the shelter was one of these. He was a Carib, but it takes more than the blood of salt-water Indians to dim the strong West African blood.31

George had met the plane to transport the guaro back to the village at Tortuguero. With a casual ease, he hoisted the 15-gallon container on to his shoulder and balanced the hundred pounds with one hand. With the other, he collected a few of Carr's belongings. Carr asked if George (a man in his seventies) was sure he could manage the load himself: “George thought this was funny. He rumbled with humor and then said with a nice touch of sarcasm; ‘I think so, sah.’ “32 From the moment that George launched his cayuca or canoe, Carr's mind filled with images of all the tropical rivers he had visited in his life. Interrupting Carr's meditation, George asked about a lizard standing on a nearby tree: “The Sponish people call this Jesucristo. Jesus Christ, they call it. You know why, sah?” Though Carr had seen the animal and the behavior from which it derived its name, he asked why and George responded: “Because this onny-mul walk on the wa-teah. Now you watch him closely.” George's efforts to dislodge the basilisk from its branch were stymied until Carr pulled out his slingshot (a decent substitute for a pistol (p.99) where permits could be difficult to obtain). The first shot (fashioned from wet sand) knocked the lizard into the river from which it escaped by running on its hind feet on the surface of the water! This demonstration satisfied George, who said: “You see, sah? You see why this onny-mul get the name of Jesus Christ?”33

Eventually, George left Carr at the dock of the Atlantic Trading Company, where he was greeted by the manager of the logging and banana depot, Don Yoyo Quiroz, who agreed to take him the rest of the way to the village, but not before a detour upriver to see banana plantations. Carr fumed over the noise produced by the large outboard motor that powered Quiroz's cayuca. Arriving at the loading area, Carr's introduction to the cultural diversity of Tortuguero continued when he noticed that the workers were Miskito Indians. Quiroz delivered him to Tortuguero, where he showed Carr where he could sleep. Having been in transit for much of the day, Carr encountered Creoles (as Jamaican immigrants called themselves), Miskito Indians, and Caribs as he sought something to eat. Unfortunately, no one knew where he might find someone to sell him a meal, so Carr continued to walk until a young woman (a “Nicaraguan mestiza”) led him to a house where he might purchase a meal. There he met Sibella (a “refined looking mulatto woman”), whose accent was not Jamaican, Miskito, or Creole. As she set to preparing a meal of dolphin and green turtle for Carr, he asked her about her origins. Sibella wanted to know why Carr's speech was so queer, and when he revealed that he was from the United States, she said that she had always wanted to visit.

With the meal underway, Sibella went in search of tortillas, leaving Carr to his notes, the aromas of the dolphin and turtle, and musings about a gigantic sow that lived beneath the house. It was the sow that eventually drew him to the porch, to ascertain its size (“the tallest pig I ever saw”). From the porch, Carr's attention turned to the amorous efforts of a young Miskito couple:

An adolescent Mosquito couple was courting in the lee of a log, and this reminded me how you almost never see Hondurans even holding hands in public—anyway, none but the very highest castes. Of course, calling Tortuguero beach public is stretching a point, but the difference in the people is there all the same. I went on to wonder if the reticence of the mountain Hondurans had anything to do with the alleged loss of interest of the Mayan in sex, which one anthropologist holds responsible for the race's dying out. From this standpoint the future of the Mosquito race is sound as a dollar.34

In general, Carr did not ask why one group of people was more likely to reproduce rapidly, but he was keenly aware that there were cultures in the tropics whose reproductive rate was rapidly outstripping its resource base. Given that natural areas accounted for a significant part of the available resources, overpopulation troubled Carr. By the time he contemplated overpopulation in Central America, Carr had five children of his own, but there is no indication that he was struck by the irony of his own contribution to overpopulation.

(p.100) Carr went back inside Sibella's house and devoured his supper with abandon. So delicious were the fish and the turtle that initially he could not decide between them, but the turtle eventually won out, and Carr finished all of it. By the time he had finished his meal, night had fallen. As Carr sat and considered the food left on his plate, he was shocked to hear a “hideous shriek” from beneath his feet. Something had upset the sow. Sibella rushed out to determine the cause of the pig's distress. Carr quickly joined her only to find it too dark to see. He asked Sibella what was the matter and was stunned to discover a turtle, trying to dig a nest, had disrupted the sow. Carr had gone to the Caribbean to study sea turtles or at least to conduct the preliminary research to begin studying sea turtles. But the search for turtles and their nests was never simply a “natural” experience completely divorced from its cultural context. For Carr, the natural and the cultural were linked. At Tortuguero, cultural diversity matched natural diversity, and Carr immersed himself in both.

While at Tortuguero, Carr spent the majority of his waking hours walking the beach in search of turtle nests. Like many beaches of volcanic origin in the Caribbean, the beach was black. Turtles nested on the beach at night, but Carr knew that he could follow their prominent tracks to the site of the nest. Unfortunately, the word around Tortuguero was that the van or fleet of sea turtles was late and turtle tracks were few and far between. The object of Carr's quest was the nest of a trunkback (leatherback) sea turtle. By the time he had walked five miles, the temperature was climbing, and it was getting hot on the beach. Driftwood and flotsam blocked Carr's path, and he found himself traveling down to the surf and returning to the area above the high tide line (where turtles nested). So taxing were these exertions that Carr considered abandoning the project for a nap in the shade.

Then he saw it: “a short, broad-limbed V, deeply engraved in the beach above the tide zone.” The trail was so wide and the nest so deep that it reminded Carr of the work of a tractor, but there was no question what had disturbed the beach:

It was the nest of a trunkback. It was the first I had ever seen but there was no mistaking it. It was the first ever recorded for Central America, but its significance to me far transcended that statistic. To me it was the long-sought land-sign of a sea creature I had looked for since childhood—a monster of the deep ocean guided ashore one time in each year by the primal reptile drive to dig a hole in earth and drop in it the seeds of trunkbacks of tomorrow, and cover the hole with toeless flat feet, and pound back down to the sea never looking behind. It was the work of a water reptile pelagic as a whale or a plesiosaur and at home in the oceans of the world—the last vestige of landcraft left to a bloodline seabound for a hundred million years, and left then but to one sex for one hour on one night in the year.35

Even standing at what was clearly the nest of a leatherback turtle, Carr was perplexed as to the actual location of the nest, a situation that he attributed to the deceptive efforts of the female leatherback. Carr determined that the turtle had (p.101) flung sand across an area 15 feet in diameter: “Since it offered no evidence, at least to my eye, by which the field for search might be narrowed down, I had to cover every square foot of it; and since the clutch of eggs might lie waist-deep beneath the sand, the job ahead was imposing.”36 Once again, culture intervened. First, a dog startled Carr and then Carr startled a woman on horseback. After regaining control of the horse, the woman endeavored to continue on her way, saluting Carr with a terse adios. Carr fully appreciated the meaning of this greeting: “Adios said that way means you are going on by. In a matrix of circumstance such as this it becomes a bivalent greeting, a salutation with connotation that a parting will follow immediately. It is hello-goodby, and a word that, as far as I know, has no counterpart in English or North American. Spanish can be shaded delicately. It is nowhere near so simple as my textbooks and teachers made out.”37 Having seen turtle eggs in her baskets, Carr stopped the woman with a hearty buenas tardes. Carr tried to derive the woman's origins from her appearance, but for once he was stymied, though it was clear that she was not native to Tortuguero. She reminded him of women he had encountered in the mountains of Honduras.

After brief introductions, Carr asked if she knew the type of turtle that had made the nest. Though the woman was in a hurry to collect debts from several Mosquito Indians, Carr convinced her to help him locate the eggs by offering a few colones more than the total of the debts. Mrs. Ybarra (as Carr referred to her) proceeded to tie her horse to a tree (Carr knew the tree to be mangineel, a highly poisonous species, and suggested that the horse might fare better if tied to a different tree, but Mrs. Ybarra was not concerned). After finding a more suitable stick to probe the nest, Mrs. Ybarra drove a dozen more holes into the area of the turtle nest. When this too failed to yield the site of the eggs, the unlikely couple joined forces in an attempt to drive the stick still further into the sand, but it broke, which was just as well since Carr had begun to suspect that the disturbance was a “false nest” dug by the turtle but empty. When he offered to pay Mrs. Ybarra for her trouble, she declined, noting that she had agreed to find the eggs. Carr insisted and walked up the beach to place the money in the horse's saddlebags. But the horse had broken the branch that had held its reins and was rolling on top of the two baskets of turtle eggs. The horse's contortions had destroyed both the turtle eggs and a chicken. To make matters worse, the horse was covered in eggs. Carr was overcome with guilt: “A feeling of despondency spread over me. This poor woman—what misery I had brought her! How utterly my stubbornness had wrecked her hopes and her day! I turned to her, in my shame ready to crawl, or to force on her every last colon I could claw out of my pockets.”38 Mrs. Ybarra was laughing uncontrollably at the sheer hilarity of the situation. When Carr looked again at the horse, this time through Mrs. Ybarra's eyes, he too saw the humor in the considerable mess it had created. He generously joined in as his new friend bathed the horse in an attempt to remove the layer of crushed eggs from its coat.

In Trinidad, Carr's search for turtle tracks and nests led him down a beach for more data, when he realized that he did not know the local name of the beach to include with his data. Music wafted across from the coconut grove, so he decided to find the source of the music and ask whomever was around the name of the (p.102)

 						            Study and Conservation of Sea Turtles

Figure 16. Archie Carr on the beach at Tortuguero (ca. 1954). The dogs to the left of Carr are the feral dogs he noted when his plane was landing at Tortuguero. Courtesy of Mimi Carr.

beach. As Carr drew closer, he saw no one, but he could make out the lyrics of the music, a familiar song about love and seduction called “Kitch.” The sound of the music enabled Carr to find its source: an old Victrola. Less clear, however, was who was playing the music, until Carr spotted two pairs of feet sticking out from behind a coco palm. Initially, Carr thought he would slip quietly back to the beach. On closer examination, the orientation of the pairs of feet suggested to Carr that the couple could be interrupted, so he stomped around on palm fronds to make his presence known. The couple now disturbed sat up, and Carr saw that they were an African-Caribbean boy and an East Indian girl. He asked them the name of the beach and apologized for the interruption. Nevertheless, the encounter made him uneasy:

I should have been sorry. It was not light matter, disturbing that pair—not like walking up on Swedes or Sioux or Georgia crackers. Their (p.103) preoccupation was no casual dalliance. It was the unwinding of the future. Those two were the stuff of the most fecund strain in all the exploding populations of the Caribbean, where people are spreading faster than anywhere else in the world. The Caribbean Afro-Asian is one to keep your eye on—your descendants may be a lot like him. They could be a lot worse, too; and if they get the African tolerance and humor out of the deal, the world may be saved after all. But meantime the thing that makes me nervous is, there are just getting to be too many people; and it is obviously going to get worse before anybody finds a solution. The minute you give that strong new hybrid stock medical care and a decent diet, you had better stand aside—or be ready with a brand-new and very handy contraceptive.39

There is a temptation when reading a statement like this one to label Carr as a racist. It would be simple to explain Carr's reference to “the most fecund strain in the Caribbean,” as a reflection of the attitudes and prejudices developed over a lifetime in the South, and we should not ignore the context in which Carr lived most of his life. Nevertheless, as a taxonomist it would be difficult for Carr not to view the races of man in the same light he viewed sea turtles. Taken in this light, a reference to a “new hybrid stock” is entirely consistent with Carr's philosophy of biology. Few things are more basic to an evolutionary biologist's outlook than the notion that species reproduce at different rates. Otherwise, there would be nothing for selection to work on. In the fifty-odd years since Carr wrote his thoughts regarding the “Caribbean Afro-Asian,” however, scientists have developed a more nuanced view of human races, most notably that the variations within races are generally greater than between races.

In Bocas del Toro, Panama, Carr once again came nearly face to face with Caribbean sexuality. His lodging for a few days was a jook. (Carr bemoaned the mispronunciation of the word “jook.” Having grown up hearing the term, Carr felt the authority to expound on the preferred pronunciation [rhymes with “took”], but he recognized that the original, pure pronunciation was being swamped by a new pronunciation [rhyming with fluke].) Just as Carr had been stuck observing sloths in Limón, Costa Rica, he was similarly constrained in his visit to the place he referred to as “Mouths of the Bull.” But rather than occupying his time in idle conjecture regarding the mating habits of sloths, Carr was kept awake nights by the mating habits of other humans. By day, he was trying to determine a mode of transportation that would deliver him to Chiriquí Beach, 40 miles along the coast towards Colón. He had just a week to reach his destination. Since only sailing cayucas made this trip, the midsummer doldrums and the nightly activities had laid Carr low. This was a case where Carr offered a disclaimer: “It may seem to you that I have gone to odd lengths to explain my position. The thing is, I want to get all the facts before you. I was traveling on a grant from the American Philosophical Society, and to a sponsor like that my sitting in a jook with a beer at midmorning would sound like pretty irresponsible behavior. I want to make it clear that I was at the mercy of elemental forces. I was a pawn in the hands of capricious air masses—weak perhaps, but not overtly dissolute.”40

(p.104) When the moment arrived to sail for Chiriquí, Carr noticed a cayuca arriving with a load of hawksbill turtles. As his primary interest in the trip was the search for green turtle nesting sites, he asked if they also nested at Chiriquí. Everyone laughed at the suggestion, but Carr hoped for a more sober response. A Mr. Peterson (the “most reliable man” Carr had seen in Bocas) assured Carr that only hawksbills nested at Chiriquí, but he knew of another authority on hawksbills. The captain and crew of the sail cayuca agreed to wait while Carr and Mr. Peterson went in search of an authoritative statement. As it turned out, the new authority was the contractor for the north beaches from Bocas to Sixaola, and when the market was good, he would keep up to fifteen men out fishing hawksbills. Carr asked where green turtles nested, and he commented that green turtles nested all along the Panamanian coast, but only hawksbills nested in the Chiriquí rookery. He also mentioned that the only green turtle nesting site of any significance was Turtle Bogue (Tortuguero). Having returned to the dock to pay the captain, Carr remained there to continue the conversation with Mr. Peterson. As he inspected the day's catch, Carr noticed that except for the one boat of hawksbills, all of the turtles were greens and they were all males. This observation reminded Carr of his observations on the flight to Tortuguero: “I recalled how the Liebesspiel of the greens I saw from Paco's plane usually involved extra males; and an old saying of the turtle men came back to me too—one that says that in cooting time you strike the female and you get two turtles, maybe three.”41 Carr noted that rutting male green turtles could be threatening, particularly if one was unlucky enough to capture the object of its affection (a female): “Foiled in such an attempt, the loving turtle, aslosh with hormones, crackling with short circuits in his vagus control, may thrash about your boat in a wild, trial-and-error quest for an embraceable substitute. He flaps, scrapes, and bites at the planking, he chews your paddle blade or hugs your oars till they snap off. Throw out a board or a buoy and he assaults in frantically. Fall over yourself and you're out of luck.”42 Carr had heard stories that the much larger leatherback sea turtles could be just as aggressive and far more imposing.

In keeping with his grant from the American Philosophical Society on the migrations of sea turtles, Carr “migrated” as well, and everywhere he went he encountered cultures of the Caribbean. What other scientists may have seen as a distraction, Carr embraced. He acknowledged the Caribbean people and their stories as an essential part of his study. At Tortuguero, Bocas del Toro, and Trinidad, Carr found compelling human stories that were closely linked to the stories of turtles. Often, he located the established authority on sea turtles by word of mouth. Carr sought out one group from which he knew he would obtain anecdotal evidence of the migration of sea turtles: the turtle captains of the Cayman Islands. It seemed to Carr that every story of homing ability in sea turtles traced back to the Cayman turtle captains:

Every time I dug into the homing rumors I found the Cayman turtle men back of them. All the people who told me the stories turned out to be quoting, or misquoting, the stanch professionals of the Cayman (p.105) Islands. The reason for this was that Caymanians not only catch more turtles than everybody else put together, but they haul them all over creation, all the way from Nicaragua to Florida, for instance; and besides this, they brand every particular ship or owner.43

In 1952, it was no simple matter to travel to the Cayman Islands; flights were intermittent and unreliable, and boats were small and time-consuming. Carr opted to fly from Jamaica. Carr trusted the views of the turtle captains because they came from generations of turtle fishermen, and their livelihood depended on knowing where to find sea turtles: “These men are specialists in an exacting fishery, and they learn things no zoologist knows because it is the only way they can succeed in their calling. To a man the Cayman captains believe that green turtles make long-distance migrations at breeding time.”44

Caribbean culture and the natural history of sea turtles intersected in the turtle captains. Carr learned that the Caymanian captains caught green turtles at Mosquito Cays, located off the Mosquito Coast in Nicaragua, roughly 350 miles from the Cayman Islands. The turtle captains informed Carr that by night sea turtles fed on turtle grass (Thalassia) and slept on or under submerged rocks. Turtles might travel four or five miles from feeding to resting areas, and it was these short-distance trips that convince the turtle captains that turtles could make longer ones: “This is not a thing you can read about in the zoology books. Seeing the turtles thus casually commuting predisposes the turtle captains to believe that they are capable of purposeful, controlled migration journeys.”45 Experience taught the captains that they could not fish for sea turtles year round. From late May to August, the sea turtles disappeared from the Mosquito Cays. The captains interpreted the absence of turtles as a sign that they were away on a migration to breed. Again, Carr noted that textbooks would not include this information: “Here again you cannot corroborate the assumption in the literature of science; but the operations of the ancient and successful Caymanian turtle fleet are geared to it, and the captains don't worry much over the lack of support their ideas get from professional naturalists.”46

The turtle captains claimed that the turtles migrated from the Mosquito Cays to Tortuguero, which they called Turtle Bogue, to nest. Corroboration for this view came from the Costa Ricans, who believed that a significant number of green turtles arrived at Tortuguero from the Mosquito Cays. Carr wrote: “The Caymanians see their turtles leave the banks and at the same time the Costa Ricans see hosts of greens gathering off their shore and coming up on the Black Beach to lay their eggs.”47 Together, the Caymanians and Costa Ricans realized that they saw turtles at different nodes in the same cycle: “The Cayman captains and the Costa Ricans have figured it out between them that the June exodus at Mosquito Cay and the massing at the Bogue are parts of the same phenomenon.”48 Such a conclusion was perfectly reasonable as far as Carr was concerned, but science required a higher standard of proof:

Their case seems so clear that mentioning the lack of experimental proof sounds like quibbling. Nevertheless, proof is lacking, and getting it is one (p.106) of the things I am determined to do. I want to go down to the Bogue again and meet the fleet and mark hundreds of nesting greens with monel metal tags, stamped, in Spanish and English, with my address and with the offer of a reward to whoever returns a tag to me with full details of its recovery. I am as sure as you can be in such cases that tags will be picked up at Mosquito Cay.49

Carr (and the turtle captains) suspected that tags would be recovered from places spanning the Caribbean.

Through aerial surveys of the beaches at and near Tortuguero, Carr determined the extent of nesting from Limón to Tortuguero. During a second trip to the Black Beach, nesting was sparse, so he chartered a plane back to Limón at an altitude of 100 feet. Over the span of the 24-mile section of the Bogue, only twenty-five turtles had come up during the three preceding nights. The next 8 miles to the south showed very few tracks at all. From that point on, however, there were numerous tracks. On one 6-mile stretch of beach, there were too many tracks to count, but Carr guessed that there were hundreds if not thousands of tracks layered upon one another. Most if not all of these showed no sign of actual nesting: the turtle had crawled up above the high tide line and then returned to the water without excavating a nest, let alone laying eggs (later Carr called such tracks “half moons”). Carr interpreted these findings as follows:

Because I had talked to turtle captains and walked the Bogue and waited with the people there for the flota del sur–the southern fleet—to arrive, I interpreted what I saw as sign of a vast shoal of greens just in from the south and on its way to Tortuguero. The trial strandings seemed to mean that the school was prospecting—was somehow aware that the voyage was near an end, but could be sure only by testing the sand for whatever mystic properties they are that call the fleets to Turtle Bogue.50

Again, a part of Carr wanted to accept as fact what so many Costa Ricans believed. But the scientist demanded proof:

So my own snatched observations fit in perfectly with the folk-beliefs, and I was tempted to call the matter established fact. But a little thought showed that even then nothing had been really proved. It was a good thing to have seen, what I saw from the airplane, and it certainly added weight to the deductions of the people on the Bogue. But attributing to a reptile an ability to carry out long-distance, open-water migrations is a serious thing. It is serious because you are attributing to him powers of orientation, which are not prevalent among his kind and about which we understand next to nothing where they do occur. It is true that a lot of different kinds of animals have such powers, but adding a turtle to that gifted list is not a thing to do lightly or without impeccable grounds.51

So Carr had a specific goal in mind when he went to the Cayman Islands to interview the turtle captains. He sought stories of long-distance migration in sea (p.107) turtles. Everywhere he had traveled in the Caribbean, he encountered stories about turtles, and most of these he was able to trace back to Caymanian turtle captains. If anyone could tell him stories about homing in sea turtles, the turtle captains could. In fact, each of the captains he interviewed offered stories of long-distance homing behavior. Carr saved the most compelling story of turtle homing for last. It was told by Captain Allie Ebanks, one of the youngest experienced captains. An expert at judging and grading green turtles, Allie was asked to select the five best turtles from a large group on a catboat. Once selected, a man carved his initials in their carapaces and loaded them on to a schooner, The Wilson, heading for Grand Cayman. Unbeknownst to Allie, The Wilson made good time and deposited the turtles in a small rock crawl. A major storm appeared, and the water rose high enough in the crawl for the turtles to escape. Twelve days later, a catboat captain caught one of the marked turtles near the Mosquito Cays. The turtle had traveled 350 miles in twelve days. Carr was amazed that the turtle must have averaged nearly 30 miles per day, even if it had taken the most direct course possible. If the turtle had wandered from its course slightly, its speed became even more incredible. For Carr, the conclusion was obvious: “So, in spite of the lack of final experimental proof, there can remain little serious doubt that the fleet that comes to Tortuguero in June is made up of migrants from Mosquito Bank, and perhaps from many other points in the Caribbean as well.”52

As Carr searched for turtle nests at Tortuguero, Bocas del Toro, Trinidad, the Cayman Islands, and elsewhere, he found people scratching out an existence. Carr developed a secondary passion for the stories of Caribbean peoples. After traveling throughout the Caribbean in search of sea turtles, Carr realized that the populations of most species were declining rapidly. To make this point, he surveyed the history of Caribbean exploration and revealed that sea turtles and particularly the green turtle had played a profoundly important role in the exploration and colonization of the region. In 1503, Columbus had witnessed vast numbers of sea turtles between three fairly small islands, so he christened them Las Tortugas, later renamed The Cayman Islands. By way of contrast, Carr and his friend Coleman Goin walked the beach at Grand Cayman at the height of the season until they were tired and found just one turtle track (and Carr doubted that it was a green). Carr contrasted the demise of the green turtle to that of the American bison:

Perhaps the story behind this change is not as dramatic as the story of the bison on our western plains. The bison was in the public eye from the start. It cluttered land now Illinois real estate. It gave comfort to difficult red Indians and blocked the scant traffic on proud new railroads. The bison passed in a blaze, watched by everybody—not without lamentation here and there, but with little interference. It had to go in the mind of the day, because it hindered progress. The green turtle on the other hand, hindered nothing. The turtle fleets passed secretly and without commotion. They were just too good to last.53

To the trade winds that aided the exploration of the Caribbean, Carr added the green turtle. No other animal provided such a rich and lasting source of (p.108) protein for the return trip to Europe. Carr wrote: “It was only the green turtle that could take the place of spoiled kegs of beef and send a ship on for a second year of wandering or marauding. All early activity in the New World tropics—exploration, colonization, buccaneering, and even the maneuverings of naval squadrons—was in some way or degree dependent on turtle.”54 And throughout the Caribbean, the turtle colonies had disappeared, save for a few that clung to existence in the remotest areas. Carr traced the decline of green turtles in the Caribbean across time and space:

One by one the famous rookeries were destroyed. The first to go was Bermuda and next the shores of the Greater Antilles. The Bahamas were blanked out not long after, and boats from there began to cross the Gulf Stream to abet the decimation in Florida, where the crawl was once more common than the hen coop—where Charles Peake caught 2,500 greens about Sebastian in 1886 and in 1895 could take only 60; where vast herds foraged in the east-coast estuaries and on the Gulf flats of the upper peninsula and a great breeding school came each year to Dry Tortugas.55

As the Florida colonies waned, turtlers sailed to the Cayman Islands and then on to Cuba. As these colonies succumbed to the slaughter, the Cayman turtle captains set their sights on more distant colonies, and the Mosquito Cays became the preferred hunting grounds.

The prospects for long-term survival of the green turtle worried Carr. The ongoing slaughter of adults and collection of eggs was but one among several concerns. Loss of habitat suitable for nesting and the rapid proliferation of the human population seemed to present long-term problems as well:

The Caribbean people are among the most prolific strains on earth, and they are breeding fast. There are outboard motors on the dugouts, and little airplanes will set you down nearly anywhere. Where twenty years ago most Caribbean shore was wilderness or lonesome cocal, aluminum roofing now shines in new clearings in the seaside scrub. The people are breeding too fast for the turtles. The drain on nesting grounds is increasing by jumps. It is this drain that is hard to control, and it is this that will finish Chelonia.56

Thinking about the impact of humans on turtles, Carr focused on Tortuguero. He listed the remarkable diversity of predators on the beach: dogs, buzzards, and fish. Nevertheless, Tortuguero was the best nesting beach in the western Caribbean: “But the fact remains that, in spite of the dogs and the natural predators, the Bogue is the best nesting beach in its half of the Caribbean, and this suggests its potential role in a plan to save the green turtle. The Cayman captains believe their industry is wholly dependent on this breeding ground. They are certainly at least partly right; and … the importance of the rookery may be far greater than that.”57 If Tortuguero was the best beach for the nesting of sea turtles, and Carr's extensive research throughout the Caribbean certainly substantiated (p.109) that claim, then it played a vital role in the continued survival of green turtles. Carr asked, “How then, it is natural to ask, is Chelonia faring there; and if the Bogue is in the future, what does that faring hold?” The answer was bleak: “As near as I can make out, it holds extinction.”58 This impending extinction was due to a significant degree to a remarkably efficient commercial system with the capacity to capture and remove virtually every female turtle from the beach before she had the chance to lay her eggs.

Nevertheless, Carr concluded on an optimistic note:

Viewed from the standpoint of the opportunities for intervention, the situation looks different. The very migratory habit that makes that green turtle vulnerable could be the basis for its rescue, and even conceivable for bringing it back to the abundance of former times. We are not at deadlock with the green turtle as we were with the buffalo. We are killing it out idly, aimlessly, with no conviction of any sort, with most of us not even aware that it is going. We have no need for its habitat for any of our own schemes. Territorially, its interests and ours overlap only on the sea beach, and even there Chelonia comes when we are asleep. And because the creature congregates each year to mate and lay its eggs, real protection for a few beaches not only would help save for the future a species now threatened with extinction, but might even bring back the fleets Columbus found.59

There is no indication that Carr suspected that this call for the conservation of sea turtles would start a movement with exactly that aim.

Grants: National Science Foundation and Office of Naval Research

After completing his initial surveys with the American Philosophical Society grants, Carr applied to the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Office of Naval Research (ONR) for more significant funds to further examine the natural history and ecology of sea turtles. He wisely sent a preliminary proposal to George Sprugel, Jr., who was the acting program director of environmental biology at NSF. Sprugel responded as to the likelihood of the proposal receiving support from NSF: “You know, of course, that the Foundation supports only basic research. The preliminary proposal, as it now stands, would face two probable hurdles while being evaluated by our advisory committee. First, the panel would likely say that much of the research outlined is of an applied nature and, second, it would be almost sure to rule that the proposed research is the type which might be more suitable for support by the Fish and Wildlife Service.”60 What Carr had identified as a significant motivation behind his study (the nutritional value of sea turtles to the people of the Caribbean) shifted the emphasis of the study from basic to applied research and thus out of the realm of NSF funding.61 It is clear from the final proposal that Carr heeded Sprugel's advice; there was no mention of the nutritional value or the need for conservation.

(p.110) Late in 1954, Carr submitted his NSF and ONR proposals under the title, “A study of the ecology, migrations, and population levels of sea turtles in the Atlantic and Caribbean with special reference to the Atlantic green turtle, Chelonia mydas mydas [Linné].” The first sentence of the proposal revealed Carr's intent to focus on basic research: “Within recent years it has become evident that sea turtles, and especially the Atlantic green turtle, present some fundamental and arresting biological problems.”62 After describing the dependence of the green turtle on marine seed plants, Carr posed a lengthy series of unsolved problems, most of which focused on the little-known natural history and biology of sea turtles. The description of the research concluded with an explanation of the choice of the Atlantic green turtle as subject: “The green turtle will be used as the experimental and observational subject because its herd grazing and mass nesting make it more easily available for tagging and other manipulation and study.”63

What was the nature of Carr's experiment? There were three parts to the procedure of the NSF grant: a netting and tagging program along the Gulf Coast in Florida, a tagging program at Tortuguero in Costa Rica, and trips to suspected nesting areas. In Florida and Costa Rica, Carr's assistants would place metal tags offering a reward for the return of any tag to the University of Florida. Each returned tag would support the anecdotal evidence of Caribbean fisherman regarding the extensive postbreeding migrations of sea turtles. Carr's proposal was elegant in its simplicity. Moreover, Carr proposed a low budget.

In the initial proposal, Carr suggested a budget of just under $24,000 for three years of research. More than $13,000 would go to the first year and set-up. Remarkably, that total included all travel, summer salaries for Carr and several assistants, and expenses. Nonetheless, after several months of consideration, NSF indicated that it would fund the project on a reduced budget of $18,000. Carr revised his budget estimates mainly by eliminating much of the most expensive travel. Official approval came through on June 14, 1955. In the meantime, Carr withdrew his proposal to the ONR from consideration, but he would later reapply to the ONR for additional support (specifically for the extensive travel dropped from the NSF grant). With NSF approval, Carr could continue the research he began in Honduras and had continued with American Philosophical Society grants. That research had formed the basis of the NSF proposal. In addition, Carr wrote The Windward Road, his second popular book, based on his initial study. This book quickly attracted popular support for sea turtle conservation.

The public was a crucial component of the conservation movement in America. The various state-level Audubon societies founded during the 1880s were among the first organizations to promote popular environmental activism. The first Audubon Society was founded to stop the slaughter of herons and egrets for their plumes. Bird feathers (and sometimes the birds themselves) were popular with high-society ladies for use on the most stylish hats of the day.64 While members of Audubon societies recognized the need for federal, state, and local legislation, they initially focused efforts on informing the public with pamphlets. Through their efforts, the fashionable ladies' hat became the symbol of the destruction of wild birds. Besides the pamphlets, Audubon societies petitioned (p.111) millineries where the hats were made and lobbied for legislation protecting birds. In addition, they hired wardens to enforce existing legislation and identified and bought areas that were in the greatest need of protection. The success of the Audubon societies in the protection of birds indicated a well of popular support that scientists and conservationists could access on the behalf of ecological causes.65 Such popular support coalesced around sea turtles in the development of the Caribbean Conservation Corporation.

The Caribbean Conservation Corporation

On March 11, 1958, Carr received what he might have dismissed as yet another letter from a well-meaning fan of his books. The letter was from S. G. Fletcher, who happened to be the managing director of The Gleaner Co., Ltd. (publisher of The Daily Gleaner, a Jamaican newspaper). Fletcher wrote:

I have read your delightful book THE WINDWARD ROAD with a great deal of interest. A copy was sent to me by Mr. Joshua B. Powers of New York who seems to be equally interested in turtles.

If I understand you correctly, it would appear to a layman's mind less tuned to the mysteries of turtles that the practical thing to do is to protect the beach of Turtle Bogue and that of Chiriqui and for this purpose someone should enlist a corporation of the governments of Costa Rica and Panama. If the turtles from all over the Caribbean go there to breed it seems obvious that many of your points are met if these two beaches can be protected. If not all of them can be protected then maybe it would help if a good slice were. To protect from the dogs would be merely a matter of a good fence. To protect from man is another matter but it is obvious that the two governments could do it if they were really interested.

How does one go about starting a movement?66

Carr did not dismiss Fletcher's letter. In fact, he sent a reply March 18 thanking Fletcher for the comments, and he agreed that protecting Turtle Bogue would be the most important step short of protecting all nesting beaches. Carr also mentioned that his NSF-sponsored tagging program had recovered a tag from Morant Cay, not far from Jamaica. In closing, Carr welcomed Fletcher's support: “The support of people in your position will be indispensable when the time comes for the conservation program to be developed, because it will not be easy to put over.”67 Unbeknownst to Carr, the conservation program was already underway.

Joshua B. Powers (1892–1989) was a successful publishers representative.68 Although Powers represented newspapers throughout the world, the Caribbean and Latin America had been long-term interests for him. He had been considering how he could help the people of those regions since World War II. On reading The Windward Road, Powers found his cause, and he decided to alert his friends to the book and the plight of the sea turtles.69 On January 31, 1958, Powers sent the (p.112) following letter and Carr's book to a list of nearly two dozen friends, most of whom worked in the publishing industry:

Dear ____:

This is to advise you that you have been elected to membership in the Brotherhood of the Turtle.

As a token of membership, you are endowed with one copy of “The Windward Road” by Archie Carr, who is Grand Admiral of the Fleet.

The purpose of the Brotherhood is to make sure that Winston Churchill continues to have his cup of Green Turtle soup every night before retiring.

Members of the Brotherhood pledge themselves to save the Green Turtle from passing the way of the wood pigeon, and to cooperate with the friendly people of the Caribbean lands in keeping the good things they already have and helping them to find more.

Sincerely Yours,

J.B. Powers

Chief Patrolman of the Beaches70

Like early Audubon Society members, Powers believed that he and his colleagues and friends could organize an effective conservation movement. Though humorous, Powers's letter (and the inclusion of Carr's book) suggests a sincerity of purpose. Moreover, Powers shared Carr's sympathy with the people of the Caribbean. On March 21, 1958, he wrote to Carr.

Dear Grand Admiral of the Fleet:

You may be surprised to know that you are the spiritual head for the Brotherhood of the Turtle.

This, of course, all came about through your two books, but especially through your “Windward Road”. Last December I visited the University of Florida and discovered your earlier book, upon which Bill Pepper told me about “The Windward Road” and insisted that I should get a copy before I left town.

The book is a delight, and you deserve, shall I say, “adhesions”.

In any event, I sent out letters accompanied by copies of the book to the following …71

Powers then listed the names and addresses of recipients of the letter.72 The list indicated that Powers had contacts at many of the major Central American publishing organizations and newspapers, as well as at major newspapers and magazines in the United States. Powers provided the full text of the original letter for Carr's benefit. This brought him to the reason for writing to Carr:

It seems to me that the time has now come to draw the Grand Admiral into this picture for the purpose of saving the Green Turtle. I have had answers more or less enthusiastic from most of these brothers, including (p.113) the following letter from the Military Aide to the Governor of Puerto Rico:

Before leaving on his trip to Washington, the Governor asked me to tell you how very much he appreciates your cordial letter of January 31st, and your courtesy in sending him the book entitled “The Windward Road”. The Governor has placed this book on his priority reading list and he sent you his very best regards.

I suggested to the newspaper supplement HABLEMOS, which circulates as a supplement with one newspaper in each of the countries of the Caribbean area, that an article be written about you and your book.

The next step ought logically to be for us to get the Chief of State of each one of these countries behind us and get some legal action initiated for the purpose of patrolling the beaches. Or do you have a better idea? In any event, we haven't got long, or else Winston Churchill won't any longer be with us to have his cup of soup and to know that other men and true can have a cup also when they retire, a bit overladen with brandy.73

As in his other letters, Powers struck the delicate balance between light-hearted fun and ponderous sincerity. Listing the editors of major North and Central American newspapers and magazines and quoting from the military aide to the Puerto Rican governor served to legitimize Powers, who needed to assure Carr that despite the levity of the letter, he was not a crank. While the references to Churchill's turtle soup seem eccentric, they suggest that Powers appreciated one of the values of turtles. By casually suggesting that they contact “chiefs of states” (and making pointed reference to one), Powers indicated that he could gain access to government officials in Latin America.

In his response, Carr first joined in the fun and then laid out his plans:

Dear Chief Patrolman of the Beaches:

It would be hard to tell you how pleased I was to learn that the green turtle had suddenly acquired such unthought-of sympathy and support. In one flutter of letters you have done more to bring the case to the attention of people who could help insure turtle soup for the future than I could have done in years.

I have held up any concrete proposals for protection of sea turtles in the Caribbean, partly for lack of knowledge as to how the negotiations should best be started, and partly for lack of the airtight scientific proof that the green turtle makes mass journeys to distant nesting grounds and thus lends itself to effective protection in preserves of limited extent. What I'd really like to see is pan-Caribbean protection for the nesting turtles, wherever they lay; but the complexity of the international maneuvering necessary to bring this about makes it a plan not to be tackled without heavy reserves of influence.

If I can prove that making a few places like Tortuguero preserves will materially improve chances for the creatures' survival, this would be a (p.114) more practicable move—possible to sell to the governments affected, and not likely to abort once it got under way.

Shortly after The Windward Road was published I started a program of research on the problem of sea turtle migrations, under sponsorship of the National Science Foundation. We tagged around a thousand green turtles down at Tortuguero and have had international returns from both northward and southward of Costa Rica, and one from clear across the western Caribbean at Morant Cay near Jamaica. While I can't say we have final, positive proof that the fishermen's stories about the movements of turtles are right, everything seems to point that way and I think our work this summer is just about going to tie it up.

That is one reason why I haven't stirred up an uproar over the need for an international conservation program. We need at least this one more summer's data to build up the case. The other reason is that I haven't had the vaguest notion how to swing the scheme politically. It is wonderful to know that your help can be counted on in getting a decent hearing.

I had a letter three days ago from a representative of ICA in San Jose, wanting to know what I thought about the possibility of promoting the exploitation of green turtles as a way of aiding Costa Rica economically. If this man, or anybody else, succeeds in developing even a fraction of the potential market for green turtles (that is, gets them out of the luxury vittles class) before a management program has been worked out Chelonia surely will last only a short while in American waters.

So I am very grateful indeed for your willingness to accept the post of Chief Patrolman of the Beaches, for the interest you have shown in the poor old green turtles, and for the very generous things you have said about The Windward Road.74

With the introductions made, Powers set to work by arranging with Latin American newspapers like Hablemos (a newspaper supplement that circulated along with 17 newspapers to 360,000 readers) and a wide-reaching radio station in Latin America to carry reports about Carr's research and cause. On January 7, 1959, Powers met with Carr in Gainesville, and the two men discussed the new organization and the possibility of financial support for a sea turtle restoration project. Carr followed up the meeting with a letter in which he wrote: “I was very glad to hear that you believe it may be possible to find financial support for a restoration project. I enclose a tentative project plan and budget for the first two years of such a program. Naturally nobody can guarantee results in any conservation project, but I see no reason why five years of the kind of manipulations proposed in this plan shouldn't bring worthwhile advance in the nutrition level of the Caribbean seaboard.”75 Carr went on to discuss the budget and how they could use graduate students in biology as a source of inexpensive yet proficient labor. Carr next directed Powers's attention to a section of the proposal that he had deliberately left vague: “You will notice that in the project plan I go into no detail as to how the protection of nesting beaches in various areas named can be (p.115) achieved. This is where the membership of the Brotherhood will come in, and I suppose they'll have to play it by ear, since their problem will range all the way from asking that active commercial turtle turning be prohibited to simply asking that existing protective laws be enforced.”76 After years of watching the plans of U.S. coordinators fail in Honduras, Carr was convinced that conservation programs required local participation and support. Members of the Brotherhood could best determine the most appropriate course of action in their home countries, thereby maintaining their sovereignty.

In the hopes of avoiding any suggestion of foreign imperialist aims (even of the most benevolent kind), Carr suggested a separate name for the restoration plan:

What do you think of the possibility of our giving the actual management project some label other than “Brotherhood of the Green Turtle,” which may have an up-beat ring pleasing to the influential people necessary to get anywhere with the plan, but which may fall oddly on the ear of others whose blessings we will need. We'll have to identify ourselves in dickering with boards of conservation and ministers of agriculture, and maybe in putting up a sign here and there. Mightn't it be good to keep “Brotherhood” for the organization itself and think up another name for the organization's program? Something dull and reassuring like, “Florida-Caribbean Restocking Project,” or just “Caribbean Restocking Project,” or maybe “Green Turtle Restoration Plan.” What do you think?77

It seems that Powers accepted Carr's suggestion as he distinguished between the Brotherhood and the restoration program in a letter inviting John H. “Ben” Phipps of WCTV Television Station in Tallahassee, Florida, to join the Brotherhood on April 14. Powers wrote:

Plans are well advanced for the incorporation of what may be called: “CARIBBEAN GREEN TURTLE REPRODUCTION PROJECT INC.” Archie Carr will be the unpaid technical director and the officers and members of the board will include those who now form the Brotherhood of the Green Turtle. We have members in the United States, Bermuda, Cuba, Jamaica, Trinidad, Costa Rica and Mexico, and we expect to add others, paying particular attention to those areas where there are beaches that formerly were frequented by green turtles.78

In one brief paragraph, Powers conveyed that the Brotherhood had a concrete plan, expert guidance, and broad representation in the countries of the Caribbean. Powers elaborated on the details:

We have a concession of four miles at Tortuguero in the Caribbean, where we expect this summer to establish a turtle hatchery. We estimate that we may be able to give 10,000 baby turtles a chance to get into the sea this season. Some of these will be shipped like day-old chicks to different places in the Caribbean, some will be shipped to the University of Florida where they will be raised until they are a year old in the Marine Laboratory, and (p.116) some will be released directly into the waters off the beach where they are born. In other words, they will be saved from destruction by the various predators that hold the turtle population down.79

No doubt moved by Powers's invitation, Phipps joined the Brotherhood, became its president, and was one of the strongest supporters of the as-yet unnamed restoration project. Phipps would soon emerge as the organization's most significant benefactor. For years, his contributions accounted for the lion's share of the operating budget. Later on, Phipps's family assumed his role. Clay Frick also provided key support.

On May 4, Powers sent a brief memorandum under the title “What happened so far” to all the members of the Brotherhood (on Brotherhood stationery). In addition to the concession of a 4-mile stretch of beach for the turtle hatchery at Tortuguero, Powers noted that the Costa Rican Minister of Agriculture had prohibited taking turtle eggs for sale and limited the catch of adult turtles for export, and the equivalent official in Nicaragua had prohibited turtle fishing along parts of the coast. Incorporation of a nonprofit organization, the Caribbean Conservation Association, under the leadership of Carr, would be in Florida, and Powers solicited donations towards the $5,000 budget that would cover the construction of a permanent camp at Tortuguero, expenses of two graduate students and a helper at Tortuguero, and contingencies.

The Brotherhood of the Green Turtle had its first official meeting at the Metropolitan Club in New York City on May 19. Though he was not able to attend, it became clear to Powers that Phipps was the best choice for president. By June 23, Powers could report to the Brotherhood that Larry Ogren and Harry Hirth had arrived at Tortuguero to tag adult turtles and rear hatchlings for distribution around the Caribbean. Moreover, a turtle tagged at Tortuguero was captured between Isle of Pines and Cuba, which meant that the turtle had traveled roughly a thousand miles. Since the Brotherhood had officially decided to create the Caribbean Conservation Association, they had raised $5,150 in tax-deductible contributions to cover the expenses of the first season.

By the time of the first official meeting, the Brotherhood had agreed to call the public side of the group the “Caribbean Conservation Association” and to organize it as a nonprofit, tax-exempt Florida corporation. Ultimately, the name “Caribbean Conservation Corporation” became the official title of the organization. No doubt the initials CCC, reminiscent of the Civilian Conservation Corps of Roosevelt's New Deal, suggested goodwill and constructive efforts to Americans. Phipps formally accepted the presidency.

The CCC provided Carr with three things that were vital to his conservation efforts. First, it established a small fund that supported expenses that official granting agencies such as the National Science Foundation could not cover. Second, it validated the efforts of Carr's long-time friend Guillermo “Billy” Cruz, who became the organization's Costa Rican representative. One of the first people to describe Tortuguero to Carr, Cruz was particularly active in its protection. Third, it brought publicity to the conservation of sea turtles in the United States and (p.117) throughout Central America, which would attract sympathy and support. Literally dozens of articles and news briefs about Carr's efforts with turtles began to appear in newspapers throughout the Americas. The CCC and Powers raised popular concern for the sea turtles across a broad spectrum. All of these efforts enabled Carr to focus on developing life histories from scientific studies while guiding conservation efforts in his capacity as technical advisor to the CCC.

Conclusion

The seven years since the Carrs returned from Honduras had proved to be highly productive and successful. Carr published High Jungles and Low and the Handbook of Turtles. He also inaugurated his study of the ecology and migration of sea turtles with funding from the American Philosophical Society, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Naval Research. Carr's experiences during preliminary research trips provided fodder for another popular travel narrative, The Windward Road. Fortuitously, The Windward Road came to the attention of Joshua Powers, who rallied the support of his friends to form the Brotherhood of the Green Turtle and the Caribbean Conservation Corporation, an organization dedicated to the conservation of sea turtles. Thus, even as Carr's study of sea turtles was gaining momentum, he secured additional and unanticipated support for related conservation efforts.

In 1959, as the CCC relieved Carr from the politics of organizing a conservation movement, the University of Florida reduced his teaching obligations by promoting him to graduate research professor (by choice, Carr continued to teach his favorite courses such as community ecology). He was the first professor at UF to achieve this rank. His activity in other areas continued or accelerated. In scientific journals, he analyzed various aspects of the ecology and migrations of all sea turtle species. Later, he wrote another book, So Excellent a Fishe (1967), in which he interpreted findings and reported the story of the science behind the migrations of sea turtles for the public. Most important, Carr noted the implications of his findings for continued efforts in sea turtle conservation.

Notes:

(1.) Joshua C. Dickinson, interview with author (April 19, 1996), Gainesville, Florida.

(2.) For biographical material on Warder Clyde Allee as well as a study of the ecology group at Chicago, see Gregg Mitman, The State of Nature: Ecology, Community, and American Social Thought, 1900–1950, Science and Its Conceptual Foundations (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992) and William C. Kimler, “Allee, Warder Clyde,” in Dictionary of Scientific Biology, ed. Charles C. Gillispie (New York: Scribner, 1986), 16–18.

(3.) Warder Clyde Allee, The Social Life of Animals (New York: W.W. Norton, 1938).

(4.) Warder Clyde Allee, Alfred E. Emerson, Orlando Park, Thomas Park, and Karl P. Schmidt, Principles of Animal Ecology (Philadelphia: Saunders, 1949).

(5.) A.F. Carr, Jr. to to W.C. Allee (May 12, 1950), in Carr Papers.

(6.) Archie Fairly Carr, Handbook of Turtles: The Turtles of the United States, Canada, and Baja California in Handbooks of American Natural History (Ithaca, N.Y.: Comstock, 1952), 1.

(7.) Ibid.

(8.) Ibid., 3–4.

(9.) Ibid., 5.

(10.) Ibid., 8.

(11.) Ibid., 16.

(12.) Ibid., 17.

(13.) Ibid., 27.

(14.) Ibid.

(15.) Ibid., 28.

(16.) Ibid.

(17.) Ibid., 33.

(18.) Ibid., 35.

(19.) Ibid., 353.

(20.) Ibid., 356–57.

(21.) John Werner to Archie Carr (N.D.), in Carr Papers.

(22.) Archie Fairly Carr, “The Zoogeography and Migrations of Sea Turtles,” Yearbook of the American Philosophical Society (1954): 138–40, p. 140.

(23.) Ibid.

(24.) Archie Fairly Carr, The Windward Road: Adventures of a Naturalist on Remote Caribbean Shores (reissued ed.; Tallahassee: University Presses of Florida, 1979), xxxv.

(25.) Ibid., 43.

(26.) Ibid., 47.

(27.) Ibid., 48.

(28.) Ibid., 51.

(29.) Ibid.

(30.) Ibid.

(31.) Ibid., 57.

(32.) Ibid., 58.

(33.) Ibid., 61.

(34.) Ibid., 68.

(35.) Ibid., 76.

(36.) Ibid., 77.

(37.) Ibid., 79.

(38.) Ibid., 86.

(39.) Ibid., 119.

(40.) Ibid., 132–33.

(41.) Ibid., 154.

(42.) Ibid.

(43.) Ibid., 215.

(44.) Ibid., 217.

(45.) Ibid., 219.

(46.) Ibid.

(47.) Ibid.

(48.) Ibid., 219–20.

(49.) Ibid., 220.

(50.) Ibid., 221–22.

(51.) Ibid.

(52.) Ibid.

(53.) Ibid., 238.

(54.) Ibid., 239.

(55.) Ibid., 242.

(56.) Ibid., 244.

(57.) Ibid., 248.

(58.) Ibid.

(59.) Ibid., 252.

(60.) George Sprugel, Jr. to Archie Carr (October 26, 1954), in Carr Papers.

(61.) The National Science Foundation was founded on May 10, 1950. From the outset, the support of basic (as opposed to applied) research in the biological sciences was one of NSF's aims. Moreover, Carr's emphasis on conservation suggested the concerns of the Fish and Wildlife Service. For additional details on biological research support at NSF, see Alan T. Waterman, “Federal Support of Fundamental Research in the Biological Sciences,” AIBS Bulletin October 1951 (1951): 11–17 and Louis Levin, “The Role of the National Science Foundation in Biological Science,” AIBS Bulletin October 1954 (1954): 19–21. See also Toby A. Appel, Shaping Biology: The National Science Foundation and American Biological Research, 1945–1975 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000).

(62.) Archie Fairly Carr, “A Study of the Ecology, Migrations, and Population Levels of Sea Turtles in the Atlantic and Caribbean with Special Reference to the Atlantic Green Turtle, Chelonia mydas mydas [Linné].” Research proposal for submission to National Science Foundation, unpublished, in Carr Papers.

(63.) Ibid., 2.

(64.) For histories of Audubon societies, see Frank Graham, The Audubon Ark: A History of the National Audubon Society (New York: Knopf: Distributed by Random House, 1990). See also Mark V. Barrow, A Passion for Birds: American Ornithology after Audubon (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1998).

(65.) For more on science and sentiment with regard to international conservation of fish, marine mammals, and birds, see Kurkpatrick Dorsey, The Dawn of Conservation Diplomacy: U.S.-Canadian Wildlife Protection Treaties in the Progressive Era (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1998).

(66.) S.G. Fletcher to Archie Carr (March 11, 1958), in Carr Papers.

(67.) Archie F. Carr, Jr. to S.G. Fletcher (March 18, 1958), in Carr Papers.

(68.) For limited biographical material on Joshua B. Powers, see Anon., “J.B. Powers, 96, Publishers' Representative,” The New York Times, February 23, 1989, and Anon., “Powers, Joshua Bryant,” in Who's Who in America (Chicago: Marquis, 1977), 2528.

(69.) Carr's account of Joshua Powers and the founding of the Caribbean Conservation Corporation appeared in Archie Fairly Carr, The Sea Turtle: So Excellent a Fishe (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1984).

(70.) Joshua B. Powers to Archie Carr (January 31, 1958), in Carr Papers.

(71.) Joshua B. Powers to Archie Carr (March 14, 1958), in Carr Papers.

(72.) Angel Ramos (El Mundo, Puerto Rico), Luis Muñoz Marin (governor of Puerto Rico), John O'Rourke (The Washington Daily News), Alfred Stanford, John A. Brogan (Hearst Corporation), James H. Drumm (The Henry Clay Foundation), Cecil Brooks (Incorporated Press Ltd.), Ed Mazzucchi (Publicidad ARS, Venezuela), Gale Wallace (United Fruit Company), Franck Magloire (Le Matin, Haiti), Ford Baxter (The Royal Gazette, Bermuda), G. Martinez Marquez (El Pais, Cuba), John R. Herbert (Quincy Patriot Ledger), Andrew Heiskell (Life), Daniel Morales (Mañana, Mexico), James B. Canel (Inter American Press Association), John Klem (Editors Press Service), Richard Dyer (United Fruit Company), John C. McClintock (United Fruit Company), S. G. Fletcher (The Daily Gleaner, Jamaica), Herbert L. Matthews (The New York Times), and H. Earle Braisted (Joshua B. Powers, Inc.).

(73.) Joshua B. Powers to Archie Carr (March 14, 1958), 2–3.

(74.) Archie F. Carr, Jr. to Joshua B. Powers (March 21, 1958), in Carr Papers. Used with permission.

(75.) Archie F. Carr, Jr. to Joshua B. Powers (January 29, 1959), in Carr Papers, 1.

(76.) Ibid., 2.

(77.) Ibid.

(78.) Joshua B. Powers to John H. Phipps (April 14, 1959), in Carr Papers.

(79.) Ibid.