I remember thinking, “this pork has a lot of funny little bones.” When I asked which part it came from, the cook said, “flipper.”
And that was my first experience eating sea turtle.
I have only eaten it a handful of times and only in the communities where it is customary to eat what is served. It has been the traditional food for indigenous people since before time. The government regulates turtle catching in the communities (as best it can), mandating a certain size, number and sex are pulled from the sea.
|hauling in the catch in Tasba|
To keep turtle fresh, they are stored alive on their backs under the house. This gives them a shelf-life of about 6 days before they die and need to be eaten.
I spoke with an old turtle fisherman in Sandy Bay. He told me that his father and grandfather were turtle fisherman. Now he is too old to work the nets and bring in the catch. And it isn’t much of a catch nowadays. “It’s fah deh yong men,” he said. “Maybeh dem spen tree days in deh panga settin an haulin in deh nets. But now I see deh cach what dem bringin in an dem no hardly have nutin compair to what we was cachin.”
With their numbers are declining and the demand increasing, the toll is severely taxing on the population. See the Wildlife Conservation Society’s work in the Pearl Keys for more info.