After 50 Years, CCC and Sea Turtles Still Attract Passionate Supporters

Issue 3, 2009 Articles:

* After 50 Years, CCC and Sea Turtles Still Attract Passionate Supporters
* Continuing the Fight against the Illegal Harvest of Sea Turtles in Tortuguero

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After 50 Years, CCC and Sea Turtles Still Attract Passionate Supporters

By David Godfrey

Fifty years ago this year, three men of vastly different backgrounds were brought together by a shared concern for sea turtles to form the first organization in the world dedicated to studying and protecting these remarkable marine species. Joshua B. Powers, a man of influence in the field of publishing, was the first to begin assembling members of what he called “The Brotherhood of the Green Turtle.” John H. Phipps, a philanthropist in Florida, lent his financial backing and business savvy to the new organization, which he suggested incorporating under the name Caribbean Conservation Corporation. The man guiding CCC’s scientific and conservation mission was Dr. Archie Carr, the world’s leading authority on sea turtles. Without the unique contributions of each of these individuals, the CCC never would have come into existence—and sea turtles would be in greater peril today.

The way these three men teamed up to form the CCC in 1959 is a story that corresponds to the rise of a conservation ethic in America. Together, they planted the seeds of a movement to protect sea turtles that now spans the globe. Theirs is the first in a seemingly endless chain of stories of people from all walks of life who have been moved by the mystery and charisma of sea turtles—and called to action on their behalf.

Everyone who endeavors to preserve a component of nature is at some point confronted with the question of why a certain thing is “worth saving.” In answering this ubiquitous question, Archie Carr wrote:

“You cannot argue the case for saving any wilderness on the grounds of practicality alone. If this difficult saving is to be done, it will be because man is the creature who preserves things that stir him…Bore through to the core of what is required and you see that it is an aggressive stewardship of relics, of samples of original order, of objects and organizations of cosmic craft. This work will take staunch people.”

Dr. Carr understood that the saving of sea turtles, or any other aspect of nature, can not be justified purely by economics or the measurable utility a particular creature provides for mankind. While sea turtles do play critical roles in sustaining marine ecosystems that produce vital benefits to humans, the most compelling case for saving them can not be constructed on these points alone. The real reasons for preserving sea turtles are impossible to quantify, which means large numbers of dedicated, articulate people must continually make their case for survival.

Fortunately, sea turtles have an uncanny ability to bring together people of diverse backgrounds with a shared passion to save these amazing animals. In the half century since CCC’s formation, a continuous stream of people has risen in defense of sea turtles. None of the great victories and encouraging progress on behalf of sea turtles and their habitats would have occurred without resolute people stirred to contribute their time, money, knowledge and passion toward the fulfillment of CCC’s mission.

As the Caribbean Conservation Corporation celebrates its 50th anniversary and reflects on a long record of success, we acknowledge and thank the countless individuals who have responded to the call to action to save sea turtles. It is impossible in this short space to list everyone who has made a lasting contribution to sea turtle conservation, but you know who you are. You are the reason CCC has survived for 50 years, and your staunch support is helping sea turtles survive and thrive around the world. Thank you.