The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum is a 501 (c) (3) accredited, not-for-profit organization existing to research, interpret, and exhibit the maritime history of Florida and the Caribbean in ways that increase knowledge, enrich the spirit, and stimulate inquiry.
Archaeology & Research/ Key West Turtle Kraals
The Archaeology of the Key West Turtle Kraals
From before recorded history, until very recent times, the people of Key West utilized sea turtles for food and economic gain. These creatures were caught domestically and also imported; consumed locally and sent to other markets; and whole turtles, as well as processed turtle products, were sold in all places. Sea turtles were used for their meat, their eggs, and in some cases their shell, but it was the fat of the Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) in particular that was the most desired. This green, gelatinous substance served as the base for a soup that was renowned the world over. A business oriented around the capture and sale of these creatures became one of the uniquely defining characteristics of the Key West’s maritime culture. Though there were other turtle-centered industries in the US and the Caribbean, the Key West turtle market was one of the longest-running and most successful.
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