The Weekend Swim: Kasoi's Sustainability Letter
Welcome to the Weekend Swim!
Every alternate Sunday, we release a letter of stories, tips and those of failure too in finding our individual and collective ways toward ocean and earth friendly living.
A fortnight ago, we spoke about mangoes and sea turtles and the climate action from deadly heatwaves we need to address.
In ode to 'World Turtle Day', we tell you a story (okay multiple stories) of Kasoi's inspiration from sea-turtles and the Goa Sea Turtle Trust.
WORLD TURTLE DAY SPECIAL: LEARNING AND ABSORBING KINDNESS AND RESILIENCE OF SEA-TURTLES IN GOA
Happy World Turtle Day 2022! Oh wait, there is another. Turtle Day is celebrated on 23rd May each year and Sea Turtle day is celebrated on 16th June. There are glaring differences between the two types of reptiles, the ocean dwelling one with flippers, a flattened shell and no room to retract inside one like it's freshwater and terrestrial cousins. I wonder constantly, about the moment, and who did it first. After the comet , did the testudines from the dinosaur era go back to the sea or did it come on land and decide to find the forest and fresh water as home. Nevertheless, the resilience sea-turtles, turtles and tortoises display in their sheer existence is something art, science and even literature takes inspiration from.
For sake of you, the reader, we will talk about the story of KASOI and our love for sea turtles. If you've ever watched a sea-turtle, of any species, you would understand what the title means in terms of kindness and (heavy-metal grade) resilience in these creatures.
Why are we named Kasoi? Kasoi is a konkani word that translates to 'sea turtle'. There are several ways of pronouncing the word - Kasav, Kasavali, Kasoli etc. In our tiny village, we pronounce it as Kasoi and the name sounded apt for the values we wished to showcase. How did it start? (also the fun parts of the story begin here)
It was a fine, windy evening when I was greeted by a senior and very concerned gentleman. We were almost in the last leg of our beach clean up under a sea-turtle conservation program when he arrived and as we were packing, he exchanged some pleasantries, asked us about our interests in the work and asked a rather interesting question which stayed with me for the longest time. "Did you kids get an education to clean the beach?". I was stunned. I remember being at a loss of words and as my mind, which mostly in these cases configures towards gently rebelling (like a Taylor Swift single), layered with sarcasm, in my defence I muttered without thinking, "Yes sir". He smirked, gave us his visiting card and told us to reach out if we needed support or would like to have a word on wiser choices in life.
After a week, when we came back for the next clean-up, I seen more plastic and waste than the week before. To be honest, he did have a valuable point, I thought. What was the point of my education, if the only methods of addressing pollution was post-facto, ineffective and did very little for them sea-turtles. The beach clean-ups continued and as we progressed, we began keeping a note on the list of items we found on the turtle beach in Goa.
The most amount of items were slippers. Followed by toothbrushes, plastic straws, diapers, wafer packets, polythene bags, sanitary pads, bottle caps, glass and plastic bottles, discarded fishing gear and varied combinations of all of them. The tiny microplastic fragments were even tougher to collect. As a millennial, I grew up with plastic, A LOT of plastic, as part of my daily lifestyle. I for one, had no idea how to swap out of this plastic-economy, in which I was born into, and where do I find solutions. How much of this plastic affects the sea-turtles? The mommas, eggs and babies on the shore and in the sea? Academic data and Instagram videos of pulling straws out of a sea turtle provided answers in the format of tragedy. After several brief episodes of anxiety, I did what I knew best- ask Mum.
Mum (and most of her circle) was quite concerned about all the 14 billion tonnes of plastic in the ocean by then too. Her concern was rather towards the cultural affinity for the sea and seafood and how we may all be consuming more plastic than fish. As I narrated the incidents, she sighed and quoted some famous human by saying, "Necessity is the mother of all inventions for the human race". Mum's calm confidence in the complex, difficulty of tragedy is intimidating when you're dealing with plastic-waste anxiety. But she elaborated more. She spoke about her younger days and traditional tools folks in Goa used when there was just a house, some land to grow and zero access to anything useful. As we searched online we found someone making toothbrushes of bamboo, upcycled cardboard and even of metal?? We found period cups and bamboo earbuds. Someone was marketing something quite unheard of- shampoo in bars.
I once read that the existence of civilization (that gives us freedom, dignity, safety, technology and food security) comes from the story of the femur. A 15000 year old human femur was found in an archeological site which was once broken and had been healed. It takes about 6 weeks for the human femur to heal and in the wild, breaking a femur means death as you cannot run, hunt or find shelter and are meat for other predators. It took someone to take the human with the broken femur inside, carry them to safety and nurse them back to health.
The pandemic was when Morjim (now Goa) Sea Turtle Trust was founded. About 15 female olive ridleys lost their flippers that monsoon and it took extra-ordinary humans of kindness (like Mrs. Sonia Bhavsar and her team at Dropledge, the Forest Department, the local village priest and his wife, the team from the Marine Science department of the Goa University and our donors) to help continue and support the sea turtle conservation programs. The lockdown was scary and isolating with more plastic into the sea than out, but the resilience of the species (like the 15 female sea turtles) to survive, get better and go back to the sea and of humans who would go alone and clean these beaches, the locals who would drive miles to get the rescued turtles to the forest department, was what sustained many of us (humans and sea-turtles alike). In 2022, North Goa witnessed 50 nestings, the highest recorded number ever for the state with only a 105kms coast with sporadic turtle nestings. Many stakeholders, and groups were crucial to these successes, but in the heart of it was the values of kindness and resilience to ensure we all survive and thrive.
As is the case of our plastic-polluted ocean and dwindling sea-turtles in 2022, it takes the kindness and resilience of humans to help others in these anxieties, to carry them through education and awareness and collectively work on innovation and solutions.
An what better way to learn of resilience and kindness, than the sea turtles of Goa, who do not give up and swim with four or less flippers on plastic beaches and unwelcomed voices, for the sake of their species, and for the sake of the ocean, the planet and indirectlt (or directly) humanity. Happy World Turtle Day once again :)
See you next week!
Note: We would like to thank Tenaz Shanice Cardoz and the Kind Hearts Brigade for supporting this story. To know more about the Kind Hearts Brigade, please connect with them on Instagram @kindheartsbrigade