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Sea Turtle Day

"We pulled up and looked at the hills, the mountains and the blue-green sea. There was a soft warm wind blowing but I understood why the porter had called it a wild place. Not only wild but menacing."

~ The Wide Sargasso Sea, Jane Rhys, 1966

Named for the only sea without shores, the Sargasso Sea has been fabled as a place of mystery and danger by ancient sailors not only for its eerie calmness, but for the vast expanse of tangled sargassum seaweed, trapped in circular gyres by rotating currents. Legends were told of ships becoming entangled in the "graveyard of the ocean", with the crews dying of thirst and starvation in their trapped, drifting vessels. This tartan uses the colours of both the sargassum seaweed, distinguished by its berry-like bladders, and the exceptionally blue waters of this area, created by high evaporation rates, warmer waters, and higher salt content, all of which prevents the rising of minerals from the sea bottom and creating a shortage of plankton and minute marine life in the lower depths. This large mass of swirling brown seaweed has recently been proposed by marine life researchers to be an important habitat for young sea turtles, illuminating a period of their young lives formerly known as the "lost years." After hatching on land, infant turtles head out to the deep sea to avoid fish, sharks, and other predators. Once off the continental shelf, they end up in the North Atlantic subtropical gyre, and spend many years frolicking with the sea-horses, shrimps, jelly-fish, and other abundant sea life who make their home in the tangled sargassum of the Sargasso Sea. 🐢🐢🐢

World Sea Turtle Day is celebrated the same day as the birthday of Dr. Archie Carr, "the father of sea turtle biology." His research and advocacy brought the attention to the conditions that continue to impact sea turtles.

The early life of loggerheads and other sea turtles used to be called “the lost years,” because no one knew exactly where they went.  But over decades, researchers pieced together the animals’ natural history from ship observations, the pattern of ocean currents, and other data.  Hatchlings head out to sea to avoid fish, sharks, and other predators. Once off the continental shelf, they eventually end up in a current, called the North Atlantic subtropical gyre, and spend many years in the wide Sargasso sea, later returning to their  place of origin.

The Sargasso Sea is named for the Sargassum seaweed which floats there, trapped by currents that rotate clockwise around this large area of the North Atlantic. All currents deposit the marine plants and refuse they carry into this sea, yet the ocean water in the Sargasso Sea is distinctive for its deep blue color and exceptional clarity. The Sargasso Sea is often portrayed in literature and the media as an area of mystery.

This tartan, designed by Carol A.L. Martin, is named for the only sea in the world without shores.

For an article from the Smithsonian describing new information about "the lost years" of juvenile sea turtles, click the turtle!