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|Volume 11 |Issue 47| November 30, 2012 ||
Cosmic Turtle visiting Green Earth
Zaireen Sultana Lupa
Each year around the world, thousands of turtles are being killed. Sea turtles have been swimming in the ocean for at least 110 million years but in recent years, all species of sea turtles are facing extinction. The waters around Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka are home to the world's most endangered sea turtles.
In early 2007, almost a thousand sea turtles were found dead on the beaches of Bay of Bengal inadvertently due to long-line netting. Similarly, an international team for coastal cleaning effort found 60 dead turtles within an only 40 kilometre stretch of beach in Teknaf, Cox's Bazar in February 2010.
Over the years, hundreds of thousands of turtles have gotten caught up in the long lines of the fishing industry and perished. On the shores, turtles are killed because of their meat and their eggs destroyed. They are also killed by fishermen because turtles damage their equipment. Though sea turtles live deep in the sea, they come to the shores to lay their eggs, from September to March and it is during this time that they are at risk of being killed.
Such a scenario has prompted Mermaid Eco Concern to build the world's biggest turtle sculpture to educate the local population on the importance of saving these ancient creatures. Standing 18 feet high, 35 feet wide and 57 feet long against the serene landscape, no passerby will miss the 'Cosmic Turtle Visiting Green Earth' at Mermaid Beach, Cox's Bazar. The enormous size of the world's largest turtle sculpture truly fulfills its purpose – alerting the locals to sea turtles. The sculpture has been built by Ronni Ahmed.
The body of the sculpture is a dome with six round windows with two doors for human access. The inner surface of the dome is painted as a huge mural, with hundreds of motifs of turtle myths and stories from around the world. Material concrete structure and turtle skin are decorated with looking glass, glass, stainless steel, and discarded objects found on the sea beach, such as old slippers, fish bones, shells and so on.
Ronni Ahmed explores the importance of myth that lies at the heart of human sensibility, and it is the kernel around which human society is based. Ronni has made myth the focus of the truth of his creation.
Maybe it is because they have been swimming in the oceans for more than a hundred million years, myths about turtles are abundant all over the world. Many of these myths are carved inside the world's biggest turtle sculpture. For example, there is the myth that North America was built on a turtle's back, hence the name Turtle Island.
Then there is the Indian myth that says the world is carried by four elephants and the elephant is carried by a giant turtle, and another Indian myth of Shomudra Mounthon where angels and giants are churning the ocean to collect amrita, the celestial juice for immorality. There is also the aboriginal myth that hundreds of turtles carrying the earth on their back while there was a great flood. The turtle is also one of the four holy symbols in Chinese myth. All these myths and many more are encrypted inside the sculpture.
Along with myths, there are popular turtle cartoons and fables. The most popular turtles of contemporary times, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, also find their place inside the world's biggest turtle sculpture, along with the legendary Turtle who put the Hare to shame in what has probably been the world's most famous race ever!
It has been 110 million years since turtles have been swimming in the world's oceans. But the destructive behaviour of human beings might result in the extinction of these amazing creatures, which are crucial to the marine eco–system. The coasts of Bangladesh are one of the frontlines for the fight against turtle extinction. If sea turtles are to be preserved, it is vital that the coastal communities of Bangladesh are made aware of the importance of preserving sea turtles. Hopefully, this initiative by Mermaid Eco Concern, in constructing the world's biggest turtle sculpture, will serve to alert the local population.
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