Cultural role of sea turtles on Rapa Nui (Easter Island): spatial and temporal contrast in the Pacific island region

Álvarez-Varas, Rocío, Barrios-Garrido, Héctor, Skamiotis-Gómez, Iohandy, and Petitpas, Robert (2020) Cultural role of sea turtles on Rapa Nui (Easter Island): spatial and temporal contrast in the Pacific island region. Island Studies Journal, 15 (1). pp. 253-270.

PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives.

Download (1MB) | Preview
View at Publisher Website:


Sea turtles are deeply rooted in Pacific cultures. Rapa Nui (Easter Island, Chile) has a complex societal and ecological history and marine resources have always been exploited; nevertheless, little is known about relationships between these resources and Rapanui islanders. This study aims to explore the historical and contemporary role of sea turtles on Rapa Nui, contrasting it with information from other Pacific region societies. We triangulated information through a literature review, semi-structured interviews, and participant observations. Our results show a strong cultural connection between Rapa Nui and other Pacific islands, with turtles represented in their art, culture, mythology, symbolism, popular traditions, and ritual and spiritual life. Use of these animals on Rapa Nui has varied historically, and nowadays turtle consumption is widely rejected among Rapanui community members. Currently, sea turtles have a crucial role in tourism, constituting an opportunity for local development, further knowledge, and conservation of natural heritage.

Item ID: 64128
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1715-2593
Keywords: conservation, Easter Island, heritage, Pacific islands, Rapa Nui, sea turtles
Copyright Information: © 2020—Institute of Island Studies, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution: No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported Licence.
Funders: Comision Nacional de Investigacion Cientifica y Tecnologica (CONICYT), Natural Resources Program of the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile (CONICYT/FONDAP), James Cook University (JCU)
Projects and Grants: CONICYT 21160168, CONICYT/FONDAP 15110006, JCU IPR Scholarship
Research Data:
Date Deposited: 19 Aug 2020 07:35
FoR Codes: 45 INDIGENOUS STUDIES > 4515 Pacific Peoples environmental knowledges > 451504 Pacific Peoples environmental knowledges @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 25%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9503 Heritage > 950306 Conserving Pacific Peoples Heritage @ 25%
Downloads: Total: 1059
Last 12 Months: 60
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page