The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985 Page: 44
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
the native turtle populations.2 Sea turtles are exceptionally vulnerable
to predators. Their habit of congregating around the beaches where
they nest makes them easy targets not only for other animals, but also
for humans who slaughter them for meat, oil, skins, and shells.
Five genera of sea turtles, consisting of seven living species, inhabit
the world's warm-water seas and oceans, including the Gulf of Mexico.
Five species are found along the Texas Gulf Coast. Beginning in the
188os turtles, of primarily one species, the green turtle, supplied meat
and soup canneries for processing or were shipped live to wholesale
dealers especially in Galveston and Corpus Christi (see figure).3
Today, one of the most common marine turtles in Texas and the
United States is the Atlantic loggerhead (Caretta caretta), which in
1915 was "said to be abundant from Galveston southward." Thirty-
five years later it was "often taken in the bays and seen in the Gulf."
Immigrant Edward N. Clopper, who settled near Harrisburg in 1828,
mentioned this carnivorous reptile. On January 5, 1828, he captured
an eighty-five pound "turtle (loggerhead)," probably in Galveston
Bay; its severed head tipped the scales at more than ten pounds.4 One
of the rarest marine turtles is the huge leatherback (Dermochelys
coriacea), another largely carnivorous animal that grows a shell six
2J. W. Collins and Hugh M. Smith, "A Statistical Report on the Fisheries of the Gulf
States," Bulletin of the United States Fish Commission ... for 1891, XI (Washington, D.C.,
1893), lo3, 105-107; J. W. Collins, "Statistical Review of the Coast Fisheries of the United
States," United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries, Report of the Commissioner for
i888. [July I, 1888, to June 3o, 1889.] (Washington, D C., 1892), 371; C. H. Townsend,
"Statistics of the Fisheries of the Gulf States, 1902," United States Commission of Fish
and Fisheries, Report of the Commissioner for the Year Ending June 3o, I903 (Washing-
ton, D.C., 1905), 127-128.
3Turtles have roamed the seas for close to loo million years. The family Cheloniidae
has four genera and six species; namely, genus Caretta and genus Eretmochelys with a
single species each (the loggerhead and hawksbill); genus Chelonta and genus Lepido-
chelys, which have two species each (the green turtle and the flatback; and the olive or
Pacific ridley, and Kemp's ridley). The family Dermochelyidae contains the remaining
genus and species (the leathery or leatherback turtle). See Archie Carr, Handbook of
Turtles (New York, 1952); Carl H. Ernst and Roger W. Barbour, Turtles of the United
States (Lexington, 1972), 207; H. Robert Bustard, Sea Turtles: Natural History and Con-
servation (New York, 1973), 11-16, 23; International Union for Conservation of Nature
and Natural Resources, Red Data Book: Vol. 3, RenC E. Honegger (comp.), Amphibia
and Reptilia (5 vols.; Morges, Switzerland, 1975), by species name; David Mack, Nicole
Duplaix, and Sue Wells, "The Sea Turtle, An Animal of Divisible Parts: International
Trade in Sea Turtle Products," Trafic (U S.A.), Special Report 1 of the World Wildlife
Fund-U.S. (Washington, D.C., 1979).
4John K. Strecker, Reptiles and Amphibians of Texas, Baylor Bulletin 18 (Aug., 1915),
14 (1st quotation); Bryce C. Brown, An Annotated Check List of the Reptiles and Am-
phibians of Texas (Waco, Tex., 1950), 246 (2nd quotation); Edward Nicholas Clopper,
An American Family . .. (Huntington, West Va., 195o), 167 (3rd quotation).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985, periodical, 1984/1985; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101210/m1/66/: accessed August 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.