Marine Turtle (Design by Ancella Simoes)

Marine Turtles (Design by Ancella Simoes)
Marine Turtles (Design by Ancella Simoes)

This is a design I’ve come up with in response to ACT 13: BIOSPHERE – which is an online origami challenge on Facebook as part of Earth Day (April 22).

This is the first time I am participating in any Origami challenge and I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to get any design ideas for this event. I was invited to this challenge by David Martínez, who is known for his intricate tessellations and who also plans events for various causes he holds dear.

As you may already know, I have just started dabbling in designing my own origami designs and so far I have only attempted modular / geometric designs – requiring 18 sheets of paper or less. This is the first time I have designed a model from only one sheet of paper and that too, an animal / sea creature.

The Marine Turtles as they are commonly known are facing a dire threat of extinction with six out of the seven species listed as Endangered or Critically Endangered. The seven species being – Flatback Turtle, Green Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle, Kemp’s Ridley Turtle, Leatherback Turtle, Loggerhead Turtle, Olive Ridley Turtle. As per World Wild Life:

Six of the seven species of marine turtles are listed as Endangered or Critically Endangered, and the outlook is increasingly grim. In the Pacific, leatherbacks are heading for extinction, fast, and in the Mediterranean, green turtle numbers have plummeted.

All seven species of marine turtles are listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), thus international trade is prohibited amongst the 166 CITES member nations. Three of them are classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN RedList.

Many offspring, few survivors
Marine turtles appear to have the potential to reproduce abundantly: females can lay hundreds of eggs in one nesting season. But even under “natural” conditions, relatively few young turtles survive their first year of life.

Predators such as crabs, foxes, and birds often kill the hatchlings as they make their way from the nest to the sea, and when they reach the shallows, many more small turtles are taken by fish. When humans harvest turtle eggs, disturb or degrade nesting beaches, the scales become tipped even more heavily against young turtles.

Decades to reach maturity
It takes decades for surviving juveniles to reach maturity and start to breed, and adult turtles must live to reproduce over many years if the population is to thrive. But escalating mortality on the high seas, in the nets and long-lines of fishing fleets, and from pollution and disease, means fewer and fewer turtles are living long enough to reproduce.

Protection vital at all stages of the life cycle
Effective conservation means protecting turtles at all stages of their life cycle. Protecting nesting beaches calls for action at the local level, and protecting juvenile and adult turtles in oceanic waters calls for enforceable international agreements. It can work: in the Gulf of Mexico thirty years of conservation is helping Kemp’s ridley turtle to make a slow comeback. For other species, however, time is running out.

Folding this model:
I used the traditional waterbomb base to fold this model and then, most of the folds incorporated thereafter are spread folds, valley folds and then shaping for the shell. I wouldn’t call this design complicated by any stretch and I’m sure anyone who knows the basic folds can get by.

I experimented with a piece of paper measuring 3 inches in size and this is just because I wanted to see if my idea for the approach would work. my next try was with a sheet of paper measuring 5 7/8 inches which is more reasonable.

This design has no complicated steps such as sinks, or tricky rabbit ears, either. The end result depends a lot on the shaping you are able to give the model at the end of it. I have wet folded it (slightly towards the end, that is – I moistened the paper for the final touch up work) to give it it’s shape.