- Posted by MEDASSET
- captivity, educators, Egypt, Environmental Education, public awareness, sea turtle trade, students, teachers
Whether your taste in fairy tales is with Hans Christian Andersen or “Scheherazade,” it seems that sea turtles can have their own fairy tale stories with happy endings. All it takes is a good fairy and a valiant prince.
In February 2002, Yasmine Mahmoud, an Egyptian young lady, saw a sea turtle struggling to move in a small bowl with dirty water while being poked and annoyed by customers at a restaurant in Port Said, where she had been on display for three years.
She tried to contact many people and organisations, but the poor creature stayed imprisoned in her bowl, unable to move. She even sent someone to buy the turtle, but to no avail.
Enter MEDASSET’s representative in Egypt, Mohamed Nada, whom we asked to help. He called the restaurant and was told that the turtle had been released, but Yasmine alerted him that she was still there. When we next heard from Mohamed, he wrote, “It is 4:20 in the morning now, I just drove back from Port Said with the turtle!”
The owner of the popular, expensive restaurant was courteous and respectful. Mohamed told him that complaints had been received about the turtle, and this was not good for him or for the image of Egypt abroad. He said that he liked the turtle because she brought good luck, and he only kept her for show.
But at last, the brave prince won, and he was handed his treasure. He named her “Yasmine” to honour the good fairy that saved her. When Yasmine heard the story, she cried, then laughed, and then cried again.
Mohamed kept the 62-centimeter female loggerhead in his bathtub for a week because she was weak and needed to exercise her flippers. She thrived on a diet of squid and shrimps.
When he came ashore the 150 children were waiting for him, asking, “Is she back home now?” Yes, Yasmine was back home at last, swimming in the beautiful blue waters of the Mediterranean.
How’s that for a happy ending of a real-life fairy tale?Mohamed, Yasmine and “Yasmine” the turtle went out to sea in a boat, with the children excitedly shouting and waving goodbye. Mohamed jumped into the sea and gently lowered Yasmine the turtle into the Mediterranean Sea.The big day came on June 7, 2002. Good fairy Yasmine, 150 children from four schools, several parents, 20 teachers, and representatives from the Egyptian government and media were all there to listen to the sea turtle’s story. Valiant prince Mohamed talked to them about sea turtles as if Yasmine the sea turtle was recounting how Yasmine had saved her. A drawing competition was held, and the children showed amazing imagination and creativity. A 12-year-old boy wrote, “I wish I could have flippers so that I could swim with you forever, ‘Yasmine.’”
Best wishes to all, from MEDASSET, Mohamed, Yasmine and of course from Yasmine the sea turtle, wherever she is!