Saving Green Sea Turtles In 'My Haggan Dream'

By Kelsey Wallace (OPB)
Aug. 21, 2017 8 p.m.
Kaya, a young girl from the island of Saipan, learns about green sea turtles in "My Haggan Dream."

Kaya, a young girl from the island of Saipan, learns about green sea turtles in "My Haggan Dream."

Open Boat Films

When a green sea turtle, known on the island of Saipan as a haggan, talks to you in a dream, you listen. At least that's what Kaya, a young girl in Saipan, does when she dreams of a haggan.


Kaya lives just 326 steps from the ocean, yet she's never seen a turtle lay eggs. When the haggan in Kaya's dream asks her, "Where will my children be born?" Kaya sets out to find the answer.

"My Haggan Dream" follows Kaya as she learns about the green sea turtles that call her island home. For brother and sister filmmakers Laura and Robert Sams, making a film about endangered sea turtles in the Mariana Islands was no easy task.

"We traveled to the island of Saipan for the principal cinematography," Robert says. "Scientists said there were only seven nesting female sea turtles returning to Saipan the summer we were there. While they were on the island, one of those females was poached, leaving only six nesting turtles. That reality made the film feel even more important."


The poaching of endangered species is a serious topic, but at Sisbro Studios, Laura and Robert create a lot of content for kids; they wanted a film that would resonate with the next generation, not scare them off.

"We worked really hard to create a story that was truly fun to watch, even though the message about endangered sea turtles was heavy," Laura says. "We tried to create a story of hope, that gave the kids on the island a sense they could make a difference."

After hitting the books, talking to relatives, working with scientists and dreaming of even more sea creatures, Kaya learns that the haggan in her dream was asking for help. Kaya, and other kids like her, can pitch in to help save the green sea turtle population of Saipan before it's too late.

"My Haggan Dream" was funded by NOAA and co-produced by Stephani Gordon of Open Boat Films.

My Haggan Dream from Stephani Gordon on Vimeo.

OPB is pleased to present "My Haggan Dream" as part of the 2017 Oregon Lens Film Festival, which showcases some of the best independent films in the Pacific Northwest.