Guillermo “Billy” Cruz was presented with the Archie Carr Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his vital role in the formation of the Caribbean Conservation Corporation and the establishment of the long-term sea turtle monitoring program at Tortuguero. Billy Cruz was CCC’s first Vice President, and he tirelessly worked for 30 years to promote turtle conservation in his country.
“Don Billy was savvy enough to know that one of the key steps to saving sea turtles would be to get the decision-makers out on the beach to see the turtles up close…So, he brought the President of Costa Rica and his family to Tortuguero to see the turtles with Archie Carr. On one fateful night, they encountered poachers who ran off in the middle of butchering a large green turtle…That event put the power of the Presidency firmly behind the cause of sea turtle conservation in Costa Rica – a tradition that continues to this day,” said David Godfrey during the presentation. “And by applauding Billy Cruz, we acknowledge one of the pioneers in the now global effort to study and save sea turtles from extinction.”
During the course of the week-long symposium, CCC staff and associate researchers presented scores of papers and presentations about ongoing research and conservation projects. Sebastian Troëng, CCC’s Scientific Director, gave three presentations on topics ranging from the history of the Tortuguero monitoring program to the economic value of saving sea turtles versus consuming them. Reports were also given on the new hawksbill and leatherback protection program coordinated by CCC at Chiriquí Beach, Panama. And our partners at the Bermuda Aquarium gave a status report on the long-term, in-water study carried out by CCC and the Aquarium in the waters around Bermuda.
Following the Symposium, CCC hosted a field trip to Tortuguero for about 35 conference attendees. Field trip participants were excited to stay at the CCC field station and to walk the black sand beaches where sea turtle conservation first began. While it was too early in the year to spot nesting turtles, the group still managed to spot virtually all other manner of beast inhabiting Tortuguero National Park, including a two-toed sloth, toucans, an ant eater, iguanas, crocodiles, monkeys, bats and red-eyed tree frogs.