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Turtle riding into a blue lagoon - Sport on the Great Barrier Reef of North-Eastern Australia

Date: 1930s
Dimensions:
Overall: 213 x 387 mm, 0.25 kg
Medium: Wood, paint
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Jigsaw
Object No: 00015492
Place Manufactured:England

User Terms

    Description
    Jigsaw puzzle depicting a woman in a swimming costume riding a turtle along the shore of a beach, followed by other bathers on foot and other turtles moving across the sand. The artwork on this jigsaw is a reproduction of an original painting by C.E. Turner.
    SignificanceThis jigsaw puzzle reflects the brief period of time during the early 20th century when turtle riding was a popular sport for tourists visiting the Great Barrier Reef.
    HistoryThe unique sport of turtle riding was popular in Australia primarily throughout the 1920s and 30s where, during turtle nesting season, visitors to the Great Barrier Reef could observe the docile animals laying their eggs. Once on land and having laid their eggs, the turtles would be overturned, rendering them immobile for later sport. When the rider was ready a turtle could be turned upright, mounted and ridden into the sea with the most skilled riders being those who could control their steeds once in the water. A key aspect of this was the ability to keep the turtle's head up so that the creature could not make the deep dive that would allow it to swim away and unseat the rider.

    Because of a lack of tourism infrastructure, turtle soup canneries such as those on Nor’West and Heron Islands served as a base for these activities. Visitors could also join scientific expeditions in order to access the more remote areas.

    Turtle riding remained popular in Australia in the early 20th century where it was one of the few ways in which people observed and actively engaged with marine life. The odd pastime disappeared by the 1950s with changing attitudes in conservation and declining turtle numbers. Additionally, developments in scuba diving, snorkelling, glass-bottom boats and waterproof cameras all opened up other ways by which visitors could interact with and observe marine life.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Turtle riding into a blue lagoon - Sport on the Great Barrier Reef of North-Eastern Australia

    Web title: Turtle riding into a blue lagoon - sport on the Great Barrier Reef of north-eastern Australia

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