Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) at Maho Bay, St. John

St. John Sea Creatures: Green Sea TurtleUnlike other members of its family, such as the hawksbill sea turtle, C. mydas is mostly herbivorous. The adults usually inhabit shallow lagoons, feeding mostly on various species of seagrasses.

Like other sea turtles, green sea turtles migrate long distances between feeding grounds and hatching beaches. Many islands worldwide are known as Turtle Island due to green sea turtles nesting on their beaches. Females crawl out on beaches, dig nests and lay eggs during the night. Later, hatchlings emerge and scramble into the water. Those that reach maturity may live to eighty years in the wild.

C. mydas is listed as endangered by the IUCN and CITES and is protected from exploitation in most countries.[7] It is illegal to collect, harm or kill them. In addition, many countries have laws and ordinances to protect nesting areas. However, turtles are still in danger because of several human practices. In some countries, turtles and their eggs are hunted for food. Pollution indirectly harms turtles at both population and individual scales. Many turtles die caught in fishing nets. Also, real estate development often causes habitat loss by eliminating nesting beaches…. read entire Wikipedia Article

St. John News

Stay in a Virgin Island castle to benefit Haiti
By Susan S. Lang

There is a castle in the Virgin Island sky that “Jack” built. Over the years, Jonathan Back has donated more than a dozen free weeks at Castle St. John (www.castlestjohn.com/) to benefit local nonprofits, including the Cayuga Waterfront Trail, Learning Web, Love Knows No Bounds, Light on the Hill, E.A.C. Montessori School of Ithaca, Tikkun V’Or, WSKG radio and more.

But last year, Back discovered a nonprofit on the impoverished island of Haiti that made him “believe in angels on earth.” Sonje Ayiti (“remember Haiti’ in Creole) was doing such fine community work in health care, education, and economic development that Back wanted to help (www.sonjeayiti.com).

“I know it’s different from helping our local community,” said Back, “but I think of Haiti as our neighbor, too.” Haiti is the poorest of neighbors, and a far cry from the affluence in the island of St John, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands, east of St. Thomas. A large portion of St. John is a national park.

So Back created a contest in which the grand prizewinner will win a free week at Castle St. John, including airfare. The project is his way of turning a personal and valuable asset into a way to benefit Haiti. Back is part of a growing group of “boomers” who want to use their assets for social justice. He not only hopes to use the raffle to inspire donations to a terrific nonprofit, but also as a model for others to turn their personal assets (wealth, skills, property, influence) into mini-social entrepreneurships.

“There are 600 vacation rentals on St. John alone that have vacancies all the time. If their affluent owners would donate a week or two a year to a nonprofit, think of all the money that could be raised,” said Back. “And that’s just one tiny island, and one useful idea out of thousands.”

Make a donation, get a raffle ticket at Guitar Works, Karma Salon, Toko Imports, Hairy Canary, Sundries (in Trumansburg), and The Vintage Industry (next to State Theatre).

You can also make a donation online at raffle4castle.com, or directly to Sonje Ayiti Organization, www.sonjeayiti.com/donate. If you let Jonathan know how much you donated at jhb27@cornell.edu , he will give you your raffle ticket numbers.

Prizes: The first prize is a week at the Castle (could be for two couples) airfare with two round-trips from a USAir hub. You can also add a wedding or vow renewal ceremony at the Castle or on the beach with Rev Ann Marie Porter (“the Barefoot Reverend”) officiating. There are over a dozen other prizes.

Back founded the local store 3-D Light and the café in the New Alexandrian Bookstore. He is a director of gratefulness.org, a board member of CRESP (now Cornell’s Center for Transformative Action), and a builder in New Orleans and Owego for Love Knows No Bounds.

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