On March 1st 2006, SPREP launched their Year of the Sea Turtle Campaign (YOST), and this post is me paying homeage to YOST. Now I’m not a devout environmentalist or anything of the sort, but as an islander, you are raised in such beautiful natural surroundings that we all have an affinity with nature and it’s offerings. No, I was not Ocean girl who was best friends with the mermaids and got dolphin rides to school. But growing up on an island, swimming daily in clear blue green lagoons was a part of my normal day. I don’t ever recall not knowing how to swim; and I remember as a four year old, getting the biggest hidings for sneaking off to swim when I should have been sleeping on a Sunday afternoon. I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that the sea and it’s creatures paint the settings and the cast the feature many of my early childhood memories. Of course I no longer swim daily but the ocean will forever hold a place of importance and comfort in my heart.

In addition to this, the turtle is an important part of Samoan culture. It is known as the “I’a sa” which translates as “sacred creature.” The turtle features prominently not only in my childhood but in the childhood of Samoan history through legends and customs. Which makes the slogan of the campaign all the more appropriate. “Protect them. Protect our heritage”

Some Turtle facts.
- Six of the seven species of sea turtle in the world are found in the Pacific.
- It is estimated that only one out of a 1000 turtle eggs actually produces a turtle that lives long enough to breed.
- Turtles have been around for millions of years; their ancestors share the world with dinosaurs.
- Turtles are slow growing and take up to 20 and 30 years before they can breed.
- Turtles are threatened. If we don’t look after them, they will become extinct.

Some flicks I took at Auala Turtle Reserve last year.

Here's an excerpt from this article about the intention of SPREP and their March 1 launch of the YOST:

The SPREP effort, coordinated from Apia, Samoa, will encourage ongoing turtle conservation efforts in the wider Pacific region. With a theme of Turtles - Protect Them, Protect our Heritage, it aims to strengthen national legislation and promote community involvement and cross-sectoral partnerships for long-term turtle conservation

Educational this blog, ain’t it?

I was given a poignant reminder of YOST earlier this week. I went to visit my Uncle who got shot, and was relieved to find that he’ll make a full recovery and is in good spirits. The thing that struck me though when I went to visit was that there were about ten “tausima'i” there looking after the patient and they were all looking far more worn and tired then my Uncle. One of my cousins explained that they had not rested since my Uncle had been admitted because of all the “asiga” or hospital visits paid by family and friends far and wide. Now a hospital visit in Samoan culture is not just a matter of strolling in with a get well card or some flowers. In Samoa we express our love with food so everyone coming to the hospital brings food. The more important the person is in the village hierarachy, the greater the 'asiga' When a high chief is involved, it is not out of the norm for families to bring entire roast pigs or cows along with baked umu of taro, fish, bananas. It is considered disrespectful not to accept such offerings so my cousin said they’d had to accept about six pigs and countless umus that day alone. Needless to say, no patient or nurse in the entire and surrounding wards had gone hungry that week.

It is customthat when High Chief is injured or hurt, the appropriate asiga is the "ia sa". So it shouldn't have been surprising when earlier that day, a contingent from Falealulpo Savaii had brought with them a massive asiga which included another pig a large umu of sorts and two live turtles! "So what did you do with them?" I asked. My cousin then described in elaborate detail how amidst all the visitors coming and going to tend their loved ones, not to mention all the patients and doctors busily about their business in the understaffed hospital, he and some of the other cousins and workers were in a mad rush down to the nearest beach to set these turtles free! Picturing it, I had to laugh, but reflecting on it now in light of YOST, I can't help but attach a sense of pride to the incident. There you have it folks, that's my family! Recognizing the Year of the Sea Turtle. Don't Hate! Appreciate!


Shark Girl said…
I haven't seen a turtle in about 10 years. I need to be visiting Auala again some time soon.

Lol @ dolphin rides. Yeah yeah, I'm sure you fantasized about it tho. I know I wanted to be Ocean Girl for the longest time. And my swimming sucks too. What a wannabe.

Yerrrr! Hands up to the YOST!

I can see myself now...toasting to YOST all day tomorrow at the bbq...lol.
fotu of samoa said…
You know, I threw that Ocean girl line in there totally denying it but really...never missed an Episode! LOL

lol @ toasting to YOST... Well you know that's how those of us that don't hug trees or organise clean-a-thons make our contribution!

Cheers to YOST!
Shark Girl said…

they dead her...and they pery her...and OUT CAME THE KAVA TREE.

I can still see you enacting the "out came the gava dree" part.

fotu of samoa said…

Yes Nyds, I DID dammit! I'm glad you found it amusing! lol.

BTW, Thanks for STOPPING DRINKING at 9.30pm and leaving me to imitate fob Tongan all by myself... hand motions and all! Doin' it for the divas! lol.

Dana Deree said…
Talofa Lava,

I would like to invite you and those who follow your blog to participate in something special that Pacific Partnership 2009 - Samoa is doing tomorrow (July 4). We are having an on-line press conference via Facebook and Twitter between 1pm and 2pm Samoa-time.

Please encourage your readers to send in their questions and comments. We on on Facebook at "Pacific Partnership" and on Twitter as "Pacificpartner." We will answer questions in real time and post some other items as well. Hopefully, it will be fun.

You can also get Pacific Partnership pictures and stories by going to www.navy.mil and searching terms like "Pacific Partnership", "Samoa", and "USNS Richard E. Byrd".

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Faafetai Tele Lava,

LT Dana Deree