Loggerhead turtle at Mauritius
Laerle, Joris Joostensz.
By August 1601 a large portion of the crew of the Moluccan fleet of the Fifth Expedition under the command of Wolfert Harmensz. suffered from scurvy. This dangerous and debilitating illness was caused by lack of vitamin C and was a common occurrence on ships making the long trip to the East Indies as they often sailed for long period without being able to acquire fresh fruits and vegetables. The expedition’s leaders decided to visit the island Mauritius as soon as possible. The Second Expedition had first visited this island and discovered that it is rich in fresh foods and drinking water. It was also rich in a wide variety of indigenous animals, including many kinds of birds, fish and other aquatic animals. The Moluccan fleet remained at the island from 27 September until 20 October.
Joris Joostensz. Laerle, artist on board of the Gelderland, drew a total of three loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta Caretta) in the journal of Wolfert Harmensz, of which this is the third. The quality of the drawing is so extraordinary that Laerle produced a very life-like depiction of the turtle. The loggerhead is one of the most widespread species of sea turtle and is a common occurrence in the Indian Ocean. Mauritius is one of the species’ breeding grounds.Please contact Nationaal Archief for reuse and copyrights.