Time to hand in those Tortoiseshell Trinkets
By Dallas Sherringham, the Mature Traveller
We all remember the good old days when a trip or cruise to the islands meant a suitcase full of tortoiseshell and other trinkets on the journey home.
It's hard to believe in these enlightened days, but tortoiseshell has been a popular fashion accessory through the ages - from the early 1900s to the 1980s - which means a large number of the 60+ age group has many of these retro trinkets, made from the shells of the precious hawksbill turtle, hiding in their cupboards and drawers.
We’re hoping Mature Traveller readers can dig these items our and submit them to the “Surrender Your Shell” campaign, put together by WWF-Australian, Australia Museum and Royal Caribbean.
So far more than 100 tortoiseshell items have been surrendered, but we need more. Until 1 June 2021, the Australian Government has adopted a policy that will allow Australians to send historically purchased tortoiseshell products to WWF-Australia, without the risk of facing prosecution.
And your contribution can amazingly play a role in the future survival of the hawksbill.
The shell’s data will then be extracted to track vulnerable populations and help ensure their survival.
The age of the product doesn’t matter – older items still contain vital DNA. Look for items which are brown, orange, amber and yellow in colour and feature irregular patterns. And if you suspect a product is real, take the following action:
1. Visit www.wwf.org.au/surrenderyourshell to enter your details, including when and where the item was purchased, to retrieve a unique identification number.
2. Attach the unique identification number to your tortoiseshell product, package appropriately and either post through the Australia Post eParcel Returns portal or visit a Post Office with your surrendered tortoiseshell and post to WWF-Australia.
3. Ensure you post your item before1 June 2021.
Today's Mature Travellers enjoy turtles as they are meant to be (above) free to roam the South Pacific rather than being purchased as tortoiseshell products as we once did at dodgy souvenir stalls (below)