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How is it possible to legally harvest thousands of sea turtle eggs every month, and still help save the species? Ostional is a small coastal community at the heart of this very question. Each month, thousands of Olive Ridley sea turtles come ashore to lay eggs, and each month, residents harvest many of those eggs. They rely on the money made from the harvests, but is it really sustainable for the turtles? The documentary Between the Harvest explores this controversial issue. The film's website writes, "Told through the eyes of both people and turtles, this short documentary delves into one of the biggest controversies in the marine world: is this harvest an exemplary conservation project? While the community continues to fight for control of its only crop-a seemingly endless supply-the real issue complicating their lives boils down to the simple question: what will they do if the turtles are gone tomorrow?"
Filmmaker Scott Drucker lays out the situation in the film. He states, "Fishermen are still using nets in protected waters, communities are still slaughtering turtles for their meat and leather, and people are still illegally harvesting eggs at alarming rates. With all of this documented, I cannot help but see the co-existence of all species, from the things we eat to the communities we support."
Between the Harvest website notes that olive ridley sea turtles come assure en masse to nest, and it only occurs at a few beaches worldwide. The turtle eggs come in such huge numbers perhaps because of the density of predators, or perhaps because many are washed away by the water because of lack of space on the beach. Could it be that harvesting a certain number of the eggs while protecting the rest can create a sustainable industry?
The scientific community is calling for more research to find out if it is truly possible, but until then, this beach community has no intention of ending their harvests.
"While Ostional remains a contentious issue amongst marine biologists, it is important to remember the many sea turtle beaches throughout the world that are entirely exploited for profit at the turtles expense. Hopefully, this documentary will bring light to the sea turtle experience world-wide and the issues that occur at beaches left completely unguarded or ignored by authority groups."
The documentary is making its rounds at film festivals, and will appear next at the 2011 International Sea Turtle Symposium in San Diego, CA on April 13th.
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More from Ocean Film Fest 2011:
Ocean Film Fest 2011: Great White Sharks Disappearing Into Soup Bowls? (Video)
Ocean Film Fest 2011: Can Networking California's Coastline Save Fishing Industries? (Video)
Ocean Film Fest 2011: Landscapes At The World's Ends Is a Stunning Visual Journey (Video)
Ocean Film Fest 2011: Plight of Cod In The Baltic Proves The Complicated Politics of Sustainable Fishing