TURTLE: a marine reptile much esteemed for its meat, which is used in the form of steaks, stews, soups, etc. The Green Turtle leads all other rieties in the market, and is sold alive, dried and canned. Only the "cow" is generally sought, the flesh of the bull turtle being too coarse to be especially sirable. The majority of those brought alive to the Eastern markets come from Florida, Cuba and the British West dies, the large South American supply going chiefly to Europe. The Green Turtle has been known to grow to a weight of 700 pounds or larger, but these very big specimens are seldom handled commercially. T h e average market weight ranges from 50 to 300 pounds, those between the two extremes being generally preferred, being con sidered choicer in flesh as well as much easier to handle. Only about one-quarter of this weight is, however, generally serviceable—the intestines, blood, shell, etc., accounting for the greater part of the bulk.
For shipment, the turtle's flippers are tied together and it is placed on its back. This position is essential to keep it in good condition—if it were not tied, it would speedily exhaust itself by continually thrashing about, and if it were laid on stomach on a hard surface, it would suffer from the weight on, and friction of, the under shield, which consists only of a thick skin. No attempt is made to feed it en route, as under ordinary conditions of transportation it will not eat ; but this is no hardship, as Green Turtles can easily go for six weeks without food, and for three weeks or more without suffering any diminution of weight.
For land transportation in cold weather, the turtle is usually sewed into burlap bags lined with excelsior or dried seaweed, only the head being left out. It is also in some, cases crated for further protection.
If to be held for any length of time after receipt, turtles are loosed and kept in a dark, warm place—preferably, if the weather is warm, where it is possible to cover part of the floor with a few inches of salt water. In some localities they are kept in "coops" built under docks, etc.
Calipash is the flesh which belongs to the upper shield—it is fatty and gelatinous in composition and of a dull green tint. Calipee is the lighter yellowish meat of the lower shield.
For fine soup, only the Calipash and Calipee are used—this, when properly pre pared, being mixed with ordinary soup stock to make the "Turtle Soup" of the restau rant and club. "Turtle Steaks" are cut from the shoulders and flippers.
Canned Green Turtle, put up in cans and jars, may be either "mixed meat"—pieces of Calipash, Calipee and steak—or "clear green" (Calipash only), etc.
Green Turtle Oil is frequently employed as a liniment.
The full-grown turtle may be classed with animals such as the elephant and the higher carnivora, in that it need fear no enemy but man. When once its upper shell has attained its armor-like strength, it is, under ordinary circumstances, safe from the attack of any other living creature. It is furthermore so gifted by nature as to be almost independent of external conditions—it can apparently live with equal ease under water and on land, with light or without it, and, as already noted, for weeks at a time without food.
Logger Heads and Snappers are cheaper varieties of turtle much used in soups. The Logger Head grows to a large size. The Snapper generally weighs from 10 to 15 pounds, though sometimes reaching 50 pounds or more.