Green Sea Turtle

A Green Sea Turtle mosaic with a moon jelly.

“The Care Takers” is a natural stone mosaic installed at Ocean View Elementary School in Norfolk, Virginia. It is part of my public art commission to create mosaics for the elementary schools there. This mosaic features a strong message on environmental stewardship, inspired by the school’s strong hands-on science programs, including aquaculture and water quality issues.

While not common in the Chesapeake Bay, the Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) does visit those waters in the summer and fall. There a handful of nesting sites along the Virginia coast as well. Last summer, I got to watch a turtle nest being opened up, while we were vacationing on the South Carolina coast. Once a nest has hatched- on its own accord- it is then dug up by trained volunteers. This is done as a research project- to gather info on things like fertility rates, clutch sizes, and numbers of hatchlings- but it also uncovers baby sea turtles that have failed to launch for whatever reason. My family and I, with dozens of other onlookers, stood on the beach as those tiny turtles were released and made their dash into the waves. It was a remarkable sight, one that evokes memories of the many nature shows I loved as a kid.

My colleague Jonathan Frederick made this sea turtle. He used serpentine for the shell. It has a leathered finish, which gives it an added patina of age and rugged life. The turtle’s head and body is made of a ming green marble called Chartreuse. It featured heavily in the Camp Allen Dragon. I guess this is our reptile color palette.

Below the sea turtle is a Moon Jelly (Aurelia aurita). These are common along the east coast and as it turns out, really kind of weird. For example, the four rings in their body? Gonads. Some of them grow younger, rather than older. These factoids are making me wonder if wikipedia is the best source for biological information…