Author Archives: Lexie Beach


An Update from the Lisa Jo Randgaard Fund

The Lisa Jo Randgaard Fund

Unrestricted endowment funding to meet the complex challenges of a changing world

Written by Linda Randgaard Antonioli (Lisa’s sister)

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This year marks a decade since we lost Lisa, and she remains at the heart of all we do for the Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC).

Lisa came into the world in Naperville, IL, on August 17, 1968. A serious heart condition, later diagnosed as severe tetralogy of fallot, necessitated her immediate transfer to Children’s Memorial Hospital (now Lurie Children’s) in downtown Chicago. The Democratic Convention began there nine days later, and chaotic demonstrations erupted on the streets. Mom recalled vividly the smell of tear gas and protestors pounding on the car as she drove to get to Lisa’s bedside. It was a most colorful start for our brave sister, our family’s youngest.

The challenges of living with a chronic pediatric disease so rare that adult medicine was ill-equipped to treat it required Lisa to receive care and surgical support from pediatric physicians throughout her lifetime. Florida’s climate was far gentler on Lisa’s health than Minnesota, where we grew up; she moved to Ft. Lauderdale in the 1990s and ultimately relocated to Ft. Myers, where she put down roots. There, Lisa became acquainted with STC, and a passion for sea turtles began. It brought her great joy to support STC, and to track sea turtles online through Tour de Turtles events. Even as her health started to decline, Lisa’s beautiful soul, sharp wit, humble nature, adventurous spirit, great love for animals, and generous heart never dimmed. 

With the support of Executive Director David Godfrey, the Lisa Jo Randgaard Fund was established by her family after Lisa’s sudden passing from complications of her disease at the age of 43 on May 2, 2012. This is the first endowment fund created by donors, which, we know, would make Lisa very proud. There are many kind and generous people in the STC Community that support our fundraising and each of them has our enduring gratitude. 

Linda, Tom, Jenny, Diane, Jerry, & Kenny

As we mentioned, this year marks a decade since we lost Lisa, and she remains at the heart of all we do for STC. Some of our achievements over the last decade include:

  • The Lisa Jo Randgaard Fund was established by our family in 2013 to honor Lisa and her love of sea turtles. Annual family gifts and fundraising are our focus. 
  • In January 2013, Mom, Diane, and I began hand-sewing Lisa’s Fundanas, sea turtle-themed bandanas, to raise money for the Lisa Jo Randgaard Fund. In total, 334 Fundanas were shipped to 28 states and a number of countries abroad.
  • In 2015, the Randgaard family gave personal funds to help renovate the staff office building at STC’s research outpost in Tortuguero, Costa Rica, now named the Lisa Jo Randgaard Building.  
  • Since 2015, fundraising centers on Flippery When Wet artisan soaps, Diane’s handmade sea-turtle stamped bars. To date, 2,411 soaps have shipped to 31 states and two Canadian provinces. To learn more and to order, please visit LoveIntoSustainedAction.com
  • We committed at the start to donate to Lisa’s Fund 100% of ALL money raised from our fundraising, and we have kept that promise. Mom left us in 2016, but she remains an angel on our shoulder as we move forward.
  • Currently, the Lisa Jo Randgaard Fund totals $110,473. Our goal is to reach a minimum of $1 million in principal gifts. 
  • I have committed a gift of $50,000 to Lisa’s Fund in honor of my late husband, Kenny, who passed away in 2020. Kenny led our family’s vision by making the first donation in 2013.

Sea Turtle Grants Program Awards $445,000 to Conservation Projects in Florida

The Sea Turtle Grants Program (STGP), funded by the sale of Florida’s “Helping Sea Turtles Survive” specialty license plate, recently awarded $445,550.59 to 26 different projects benefiting Florida sea turtles as part of the 2022-2023 grant funding cycle. Since it’s inception, the Sea Turtle License Plate Grants Program has awarded more than $7 million to conservation projects.

Each year, the Sea Turtle Grants Program distributes money to coastal county governments, educational and research institutions and nonprofit groups through a competitive application process. The sea turtle specialty license plate is also the primary source of funding for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Marine Turtle Protection Program.

The following organizations received grants for their approved projects for the 2021-2022 cycle:

Join STC on a Sea Turtle Expedition to Costa Rica this August!

Join STC on an exclusive, guided journey to experience the warmth of tropical beaches and rainforests in Costa Rica while we explore the wonders of sea turtles. During this short and immersive trip we will spend a few nights working hands-on with green turtles in Tortuguero – nesting site of the largest green turtle colony in the Atlantic and the literal birthplace of sea turtle conservation. You will be guided by world-renowned sea turtle biologist and STC Scientific Director, Dr. Roldán Valverde, a Costa Rican native, who will give presentations on sea turtle research and conservation, as well as rainforest ecology, biodiversity and local “Tico” culture.

This trip will include a visit to the Arenal volcano, where you will enjoy natural hot springs and other natural attractions around this active volcano region. Through an optional trip add-on (space is limited), you have a unique opportunity to visit the site where a magnificent wonder of nature occurs – Ostional on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. Ostional is home to the second largest mass arrival (arribada) of olive ridley sea turtles in the world. While we can’t guarantee the ability to actually witness an arribada, we are hoping the stars will align during this trip. Click here to see more details and register for the trip through our travel partner, Holbrook Travel.

Highlights

  • Assist STC researchers with turtle nest monitoring, tagging, and tracking during evening turtle patrols on the beaches of Tortuguero.
  • Explore Tortuguero National Park by boat and on foot to seek out wildlife like monkeys, sloths, caimans, and more than 350 bird species.
  • Hike in Arenal Volcano National Park to learn about the geology of the area, and then visit Arenal Hanging Bridges for a treetop view of the rainforest canopy and its flora and fauna.
  • Enjoy a relaxing soak in the geothermal hot springs near Arenal Volcano.

Click here for the FULL ITINERARY!

Cost: $3,125 (not including airfare)

A Turtle Walk to Remember

Written by Janet Nupp Hochella, long-time STC member and BIC volunteer. The 30 plus years of efforts on behalf of turtles earned Janet the prestigious Ed Drane Award for Volunteerism at the 2017 International Sea Turtle Society Symposium. Janet now resides in Melbourne, Florida where she can continue to pursue her passion – sea turtles!

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From the first year that Guided Sea Turtle Walks were conducted at the Barrier Island Center, I have navigated the dark sandy beach at Bonsteel Park in hopes of finding a nesting loggerhead sea turtle for the guests, young and old, who have assembled from all parts of the state or the country. As a sea turtle walk scout, I never tire from the excitement of meeting new people. But more gratifying is finding a nesting loggerhead sea turtle to show the guests, most who have never seen a sea turtle in the wild, and to share in the guests’ enthusiasm and appreciation of this special reptile.

Guided Sea Turtle Walks offer a unique educational and outreach opportunity for participants. But sometimes, there is an added bonus. The loggerhead sea turtle that the Friday night scouting crew found on their first walk night of the 2021 season on June 4th was a very special sea turtle!

Turtle Scouts Adam Steinfeld, Jenna Coven, Janet Hochella, Scott Beazley, and Branden Garrett

Early into the scouting, while the guests were listening to the educational slide presentation, Turtle South came upon a nesting loggerhead. Scott Beazley and Brandon Garrett radioed to Turtle North, Jenna Coven and me, that they had a small loggerhead digging her egg chamber which would be a good candidate to show the guests. The turtle was not far south of the Bonsteel ramp where the guests access the beach. The Lead, Cindy Pless, was notified and the guests were gathered to get to the beach and to the turtle in time to see the turtle dropping eggs into her egg chamber. This was a small turtle and she was moving right along, but the guests got there in time to see the egg laying process.  Always interested in determining whether an observed turtle might have been encountered by the UCF Marine Turtle Research Group and under the FWC permit guidelines, I requested that we check, after the turtle finished camouflaging her nest, for tags – metal tags on one of the scutes of the inner edge of both the left and the right flippers, and most importantly, for a PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) tag which could be located in any one of the four flippers. Most importantly because the sea turtle can “lose” the metal tags, but the internal tag is usually permanent and can be read with a PIT tag scanner.

Without the use of any light, Scott and I checked for the metal tags. There was none on the left front flipper…but, bingo, there was a flipper tag on the right front flipper! Because I also volunteer with the UCF MTRG and am permitted to check for tags, I grabbed my PIT tag scanner and immediately got a reading from the right front flipper. Finding a PIT tag is always exciting as it reveals there is a history with the turtle. This PIT tag was not in a series that I recognized so finding out the source of the PIT tag would be very intriguing and important. With only the use of the red headlamp to read the flipper tag and the PIT tag, I asked one of the scouts to copy the number to a clipboard that the Lead carries so that I could investigate the source of the tag numbers.

Upon checking with the University of Central Florida Marine Turtle Research Group who monitor and conduct sea turtle research on the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, I was informed that this turtle most definitely had a history. Not only was the turtle seen on the Archie Carr National Refuge by the UCF researchers almost 18 years prior, she was originally encountered by a NOAA group in Florida Bay 21 years ago. I would need to contact Barbara Schroeder, National Sea Turtle Coordinator of NOAA-NMFS, for the particulars.

After several attempts through various channels, I was able to connect with Barbara Schroeder. I was thrilled to learn that the turtle we encountered was one that Barbara Schroeder herself has researched and documented over many years as part of the FFWCC/NOAA Florida Bay Sea Turtle Project.

(Photos courtesy of Barbara Schroeder, FWC/NOAA Sea Turtle Bay Project)

This small loggerhead has quite a backstory! Barbara Schroeder writes in an email “this turtle was first captured by us in Florida Bay in 2000, she was an adult then (you can see her length has not changed). In March 2013 we satellite tagged this turtle after ultrasound revealed she was preparing to breed that summer and she was seen nesting at ACNWR in June 2013 and of course her satellite tag data showed us the same. We named her “Shiver” as it was very cold in March 2013 when we captured her.”  Summary records that Barbara Schroeder sent along in the email show that the turtle has been recorded as seen nesting on the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in 2016, 2018, and now in 2021.

Shiver is a special turtle study with her history of being recaptured multiple times in Florida Bay and on the Archie Carr Refuge in multiple years. Shiver gained celebrity status with her own write up in Blair E. Witherington’s book Our Sea Turtles published by Pineapple Press in 2015.  Dr. Witherington used Shiver’s data, provided by the FFWCC/NOAA Florida Bay Sea Turtle Project, to exemplify the reproductive migrations of sea turtles.  In his book on page 123, Witherington writes “To track her movements over her upcoming nesting season, the researchers attached a satellite transmitter to Shiver’s carapace. Her broadcasts indicated that she left Florida Bay to enter the Atlantic in mid-April and moved along the Florida coast to the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, covering the roughly 250 miles (400 km) trip in about two weeks. Shiver lingered off the refuge and deposited several clutches over an 11-week period. Not long after her last nest, Shiver set off for home, nearly reaching her home waters of Florida Bay after a three-week swim.”  The photo to to the right, taken from the book, shows a photo of Shiver and her migratory path in 2013.

As sea turtles generally nest every two years, Shiver probably won’t be encountered on her nesting beach this year. Finding her again in the 2023 Sea Turtle Nesting Season would truly be a stroke of luck with the hundreds of loggerheads that nest multiple times every season on the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge. But the Sea Turtle Conservancy Barrier Island Center Sea Turtle Scouts will be out there again this 2022 season. Who knows what sea turtle we will encounter on our guided sea turtle walk night. All of the sea turtles are special! Like Shiver!

 

Further information on Referenced Organizations:

Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge – https://conserveturtles.org/archie-carr-national-wildlife-refuge-refuge-sea-turtles/

FWC – https://myfwc.com/research/wildlife/sea-turtles/research/fl-bay-population-study/

NOAA –  https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/sea-turtles

Sea Turtle Conservancy Barrier Island Sanctuary – https://conserveturtles.org/barrier-island-education-center/

University of Central Florida Marine Turtle Research Group –                                    https://sciences.ucf.edu/biology/marineturtleresearchgroup/?fbclid=IwAR32HUqbqY0RdEe2pcZeTN3Zk3meCYavHVvAvxq7v5mLmQmaKEl_1JU_Qow

Help STC Raise $70,000 for our work in Bermuda this Giving Tuesday!

Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) is hoping all of its supporters will participate in this year’s Giving Tuesday Campaign, which seeks to raise funds to support a health assessment of Bermuda’s sea turtles. Though not as well-known as Black Friday or Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, which occurs the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (November 30 this year), is one day when everyone can join together to make a huge difference.

For Giving Tuesday last year, STC supporters raised more than $50,000 for STC’s In-water Research Project in the Gulf of Mexico. STC has set its sights even higher this year, and we are confident we can reach our goal of $70,000 for Bermuda’s sea turtles thanks to generous pledges from STC’s Board of Directors to match every dollar donated up to $35,000!

Through the Bermuda Turtle Project (BTP), for over 50 years Sea Turtle Conservancy and its partners in Bermuda have been monitoring juvenile sea turtles in their marine environment to track how these animals are doing at a critical life stage. The BTP is unique because it allows for the study of sea turtles in their developmental habitat – a place where young sea turtles from around the Atlantic and Caribbean congregate to grow up.

Over the last several years, the BTP has observed an ecological calamity unfolding in Bermuda that has resulted in a massive die-off of seagrasses—the main food source for juvenile green turtles. As a result, sea turtles are disappearing from Bermuda at an alarming pace, and many of those remaining appear to be in very poor health. Expanded research and conservation efforts are needed urgently to fully understand and respond to the complicated factors at work. The ecological changes in Bermuda almost certainly can be traced to water quality degradation associated with nutrient runoff from the island, combined with rising ocean temperatures and disturbance by human activities.

Through this year’s Giving Tuesday campaign, STC is raising funding to support a health assessment of Bermuda’s sea turtles, which will include a comparison with healthy turtle populations in Florida. This baseline information will allow us to better understand how the seagrass die-off is impacting Bermuda’s turtles so we can best address this problem in Bermuda. STC also needs funding to conduct vessel-based surveys around Bermuda to identify new areas where the turtles may be congregating in search of suitable food sources.

Finally, STC will use funding from Giving Tuesday to expand public awareness about the ways human activities—even in a place as remote and seemingly pristine as Bermuda—can threaten sea turtles and the entire marine ecosystem. The calamity unfolding in Bermuda has STC’s full attention, and we need our supporters to contribute this Giving Tuesday.

Help support STC’s Bermuda Turtle Project by donating to the cause in one of three ways:
1. Online at conserveturtles.org/GivingTuesday or facebook.com/conserveturtles
2. Call 352-373-6441 with your credit card info
3. Mail a check with “Giving Tuesday” in the subject line. All checks received with “Giving Tuesday” in the subject line will count towards the campaign, even if received after November 30.
Can we count you in for Giving Tuesday?

Congratulations 2022 Sea Turtle Calendar Contest Winners!

Introducing the winning photos from our 2022 Sea Turtle Calendar Contest! Thank you so much to everyone who entered this year’s contest. It gets harder every year to narrow down hundreds of beautiful images to only 13 photos! Calendars will be for sale in our online gift shop in later November or early December. We will post the link once they’re live!

COVER PHOTO – STEFANIE PLEIN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JANUARY – DIRK PETERSON

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FEBRUARY – DANNY BAKER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MARCH – KARLA MORALES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APRIL – HECTOR CHENGE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAY – KARLA G. BARRIENTOS-MUNOS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JUNE – CLAY COLEMAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JULY – SHELLEY MICHEL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AUGUST – CHANTAL KOHL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER – SIMON WAITLAND

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OCTOBER – BARBARA SELLES RIOS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOVEMBER – EVAN COOPER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DECEMBER – JAYMIE RENEKER

STC Earns 4-Star Charity Navigator Rating for 14th Year

Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) is proud to announce another top rating from Charity Navigator, the leading evaluator of non-profit groups in the United States. STC received 4 out of 4 stars for the 14th year, indicating that our organization adheres to good governance and other practices that minimize the chance of unethical activities and consistently executes our mission in a fiscally responsible way.

“The Board and staff of Sea Turtle Conservancy take great pride in our consistent high ratings from Charity Navigator,” said David Godfrey, STC Executive Director, “and it gives our donors confidence that their contributions are being managed wisely to the maximum benefit of sea turtles.”

According to Charity Navigator, a 4 star rating is an ‘exceptional’ designation, and differentiates Sea Turtle Conservancy from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust. STC spends almost 90 cents of every dollar donated directly on research, conservation and education programs. STC’s commitment to transparency, good governance and fiscal responsibility ensures that donations are used in an efficient manner to support conservation programs.

“We are proud to announce Sea Turtle Conservancy has earned our fifth consecutive 4-star rating,” says Michael Thatcher, Charity Navigator CEO. “This is our highest possible rating and indicates that your organization adheres to sector best practices and executes its mission in a financially efficient way. Attaining a 4-star rating verifies that Sea Turtle Conservancy exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in your area of work. Only 18% of the charities we evaluate have received at least 5 consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that Sea Turtle Conservancy outperforms most other charities in America. This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator sets Sea Turtle Conservancy apart from its peers and demonstrates to the public its trustworthiness.”

STC’s rating and other information about charitable giving are available free of charge on Charity Navigator’s website here.

Partner Spotlight – Fahlo, previously known as Wildlife Collections

Fahlo, previously branded as Wildlife Collections, is the exclusive turtle tracking jewelry partner of the Sea Turtle Conservancy and donates 10% of net profits from every turtle bracelet sold to STC. Thanks to our partnership, Wildlife Collections has donated almost $300,000 towards our sea turtle conservation programs!

 

Wildlife Collections was created in 2018 by two childhood best friends, Daniel Gunter and Carter Forbes. They wanted a way to get more people involved in saving wildlife, so they came up with the idea of their popular animal tracking bracelets. Each bracelet comes with a card that gives customers the name, picture, and backstory on their animal, along with a QR code that allows them pull up a tracking map on their phone or computer, showing where their animal is in the world! 10% of net profits of each bracelet are donated to the organization associated with the animal on the bracelet. “By combining a tangible bracelet and interactive tracking experience, our goal is to educate customers about wildlife and excite them about conservation,” said Forbes.

Helping raise money and awareness for all endangered wildlife species is the overall mission at Wildlife Collections. Along with sea turtles, Wildlife Collections also supports elephants and polar bears through the sale of their tracking jewelry. “Since plastic pollution in the ocean is at an ever-increasing rate, we felt that raising awareness for the rapid decreasing population of sea turtles was a great place to start,” said Gunter. “With some in-depth research of trying to figure out what organization would have the biggest impact on saving sea turtles, we set our sights on the Sea Turtle Conservancy as the clear choice to partner with!” 

The partnership between STC and Wildlife Collections continues to grow each year! In 2020, Wildlife Collections adopted and named two satellite-tracked turtles as part of STC’s Tour de Turtles program. Robin, an endangered green turtle, and Leia, a loggerhead turtle, were both equipped with satellite transmitters after nesting in the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in July 2020. This year, Wildlife Collections is once again adopting and naming two more turtles! Their first turtle is named Vesper, an endangered leatherback turtle who nested on Jupiter Island, FL in May 2021. Their second turtle is a loggerhead that will be tagged and released from the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in July 2021.

“The STC has been an amazing organization to work with. We love getting updates from their team about new turtles that have been rescued or new conservation efforts that are going on,” says Gunter. Our mission is to continue to spread the word about endangered species and encourage people to lean towards wildlife conservation. Our goals are to expand that mission to more people every year and continuously make a larger impact in saving wildlife!”

To purchase your own turtle tracking bracelet and support STC, visit www.wildlifecollections.com/collections/save-the-turtles/products/the-journey-bracelet

Satellite-Tagged Leatherback Turtle “Hope” Returns to Nest in Florida for Second Consecutive Year—a First!

**UPDATE 4/30/21 – Hope was encountered nesting again but unfortunately her new transmitter was no longer attached. It seems the attachment method failed or the transmitter came off while Hope was mating. However, we remain HOPEFUL that we will encounter Hope yet again and get one last try at satellite tracking her long-term. The scientific data she could provide would truly be invaluable!**


After a 17,000 km round trip migration up to the coast of New Jersey and down towards the Caribbean, leatherback turtle “Hope” returned to Jupiter Island, FL to nest just 1.5 km from her previous nest, which she laid in May 2020. Leatherback turtles typically nest every 2-3 years, and it’s very rare for one to nest in consecutive years. This is the first time researchers have had the chance to track a leatherback turtle that’s nested consecutive years!

Hope was equipped with a satellite transmitter last May by researchers from the Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) and Florida Leatherbacks, Inc. as part of STC’s annual Tour de Turtles “migration marathon” education program. The satellite transmitter allows the researchers and the public to track Hope’s location online and follow her migration. Hope was sponsored and named by Turtle & Hughes, Inc., a fourth generation family-owned business and one of the nation’s largest electrical and industrial distributors.

Hope’s original migration map which shows the location she stopped transmitting.

“Hope provides an incredible opportunity to track the same leatherback a second time from a nesting beach,” said Dr. Daniel Evans, STC Research Biologist. “She was an interesting turtle to follow in 2020, so we are excited and curious to see whether or not she follows her previous path.”

Hope developed a legion of dedicated fans who enjoyed checking her location online every day and following her incredibly unique track.

After transmitting for nearly nine months, Hope’s location stopped updating while she was located about 250 miles north of Puerto Rico. This can happen for a number of reasons—the tracking device may be damaged, have fallen off completely, or could be covered in biofouling which prevents it from sending a signal. Hope’s fans stood by hoping to see her signal come back online one day. Researchers were also hopeful she would start transmitting again, as her track indicated she may be returning to Florida, which would be an extremely unique event.

With no signal from Hope for almost two months, researchers from Florida Leatherbacks, Inc. were surprised when they came across a familiar turtle during their nightly track survey on March 29. It was Hope! It turns out, her satellite transmitter had fallen off, but they were able to identify her by her metal flipper tags and a PIT tag, or microchip. They were able to re-apply a satellite transmitter to continue tracking her, a very rare opportunity.

Hope the leatherback returns to the ocean after nesting. Photo credit Chris Johnson, Florida Leatherbacks

“We were incredibly excited and honestly quite shocked when the team found her again this year,” said Kelly Martin of Florida Leatherbacks Inc.” “We were even more thrilled that we had another satellite transmitter ready to go. This is the first time we have been able to track an endangered leatherback that has nested two years in a row and provides a very unique opportunity to look at behaviors that aren’t usually easy to track.”

As of Monday April 5, Hope is located about 30km east of the Ft. Pierce inlet in 128ft deep water. Since tagging last May, she has traveled more than 18,000 kilometers. The public can track Hope online at www.trackturtles.com/hope

**UPDATE 4/30/21 – Hope was encountered nesting again but unfortunately her new transmitter was no longer attached. It seems the attachment method failed or the transmitter came off while Hope was mating. However, we remain HOPEFUL that we will encounter Hope yet again and get one last try at satellite tracking her long-term. The scientific data she could provide would truly be invaluable!**

Sea Turtle Grants Program Awards $415,000 to Conservation Projects in Florida

The Sea Turtle Grants Program (STGP), funded by the sale of Florida’s “Helping Sea Turtles Survive” specialty license plate, recently awarded $415,463.82 to 26 different projects benefiting Florida sea turtles as part of the 2021-2022 grant funding cycle. Since it’s inception, the Sea Turtle License Plate Grants Program has awarded more than $6.5 million to conservation projects.

Each year, the Sea Turtle Grants Program distributes money to coastal county governments, educational and research institutions and nonprofit groups through a competitive application process. The sea turtle specialty license plate is also the primary source of funding for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Marine Turtle Protection Program.

The following organizations received grants for their approved projects for the 2021-2022 cycle:

The sea turtle plate is the number three overall selling specialty tag in Florida, and the number one environmental specialty plate. By purchasing the sea turtle specialty license plate, Floridians are voluntarily funding important programs to save endangered sea turtles and their habitats.

To learn more about the Sea Turtle Grants Program and the “Helping Sea Turtles Survive” specialty license plate, please visit www.helpingseaturtles.org.

STC Accepting Applications for Research Assistants in Bastimentos Island National Marine Park, Tortuguero, and Bocas del Toro

2021 Sea Turtle Monitoring – Panama Bastimentos Island National Marine Park

Project description: Conservation and monitoring of nesting hawksbills and their nests.

Location: Bocas del Toro Province, Panama, Bastimentos Island National Marine Park (BINMP): Zapatilla Cays and Playa Larga

Project Dates: 27 April – 2 November 2021.

Due to training requirements and logistical challenges, all RA’s must commit to a minimum two-month stay. Special consideration for RA’s who can start as early as 27 April or who are able to stay until 2 November.

Applications will be accepted until all positions are filled.

Project summary:
Since 2003, Anne and Peter Meylan have worked in partnership with the Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) to monitor important Panamanian sea turtle nesting beaches in Bocas del Toro Province and the Comarca Ngäbe Buglé, from the Changuinola River (border with Costa Rica) to the Chiriquí River.  Four sea turtle species are found in the waters of Bocas del Toro and the Comarca; Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), Green (Chelonia mydas) and Loggerhead (Caretta caretta). Within this region, we have standardized monitoring, research and protection efforts in collaboration with STC and members of local communities close to the nesting beaches. This program has had very positive results.  More than 1000 hawksbill nests were recorded in the BINMP in each of the last two nesting seasons.  In the last 15 years, there has been a reduction in the illegal killing of turtles on the majority of nesting beaches in the area, and an increasing nesting trend for Hawksbill turtles. Despite these advances, numerous threats remain for the sea turtles within and adjacent to BINMP, including increasing pressure on coastal and marine habitats through unregulated tourism development and the continued hunting of turtles for personal consumption and commercial purposes both on the beach and within park waters.

Additional information and about how to apply can be found on the STC website.

2021 Green Turtle Program Research Assistant Position Information:

Click here for Spanish version

Project description: Conservation and monitoring of critically endangered green turtles
Location: STC Field Station, Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Dates:
Group 1: June 7 – August 24, 2021
Group 2: August 12 – November 1, 2021
Application Deadline: March 12, 2021

Project summary:
Research and monitoring of sea turtles in Tortuguero, Costa Rica was initiated in the 1950´s by legendary sea turtle researcher Dr Archie Carr. Dr Carr continued his work in Tortuguero until his passing away in 1987 and each year from June – November Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) conducts the Green Turtle Program, continuing the work started by Dr Carr. STC works closely with Costa Rican authorities, the Tortuguero community and other sea turtle conservation organizations in the country. Information collected during the annual Green Turtle Program plays a key role in developing effective management strategies for sea turtles in the area.

Green Turtle RA Application 
Green Turtle RA Application (Word doc)

2021 Leatherback Program Research Assistant Position Information:

Click here for Spanish version

Location: Bocas del Toro Province and Comarca Näbe Buglé, Panama
Dates:  June 29– September 17, 2021
Application Deadline:  March 5, 2021

Project summary:
Since 2003, STC (Sea Turtle Conservancy) has worked at important Panamanian sea turtle nesting beaches in the Bocas del Toro Province and the Comarca Ngäbe Buglé, from the Changuinola river to the Chiriquí river. Four sea turtle species are found in the waters of Bocas del Toro and the Comarca; Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), Green (Chelonia mydas) and Loggerhead (Caretta caretta). Within this region STC has standardized monitoring, research and protection efforts in collaboration with members of communities close to the nesting beaches. In addition, education and awareness programs have been developed to highlight the importance of protecting and conserving sea turtles and other natural resources. This program has had very positive results. In the last 12 years there has been a reduction in the illegal killing of turtles on the majority of nesting beaches in the area, and an increasing nesting trend for both Leatherback and Hawksbill turtles. Despite these advances, numerous threats remain for the region’s sea turtles, including predation of nests by domestic dogs, increasing pressure on coastal and marine habitats through unregulated tourism development, and the continued hunting of turtles for personal consumption and commercial purposes.

Panama RA Application 

Panama RA Application (Word)

 

SCAM ALERT – DO NOT PURCHASE PRODUCTS FROM TURTLE’S JOURNEY, OCEAN PROJECT.CO, OCEAN BETTER, WILDLIFE MISSION OR WILDLIFE TEAM

**NOTE: To purchase tracking bracelets from our official charity partners, please click this link or check out the companies listed on our Partners page here: http://stcturtle.org/partners/ **

SCAM ALERT! Companies operating under a variety of names are advertising on Facebook, selling products online, and illegally using STC’s turtle tracking maps as a perk to buyers. If you have been offered an STC tracked turtle by purchasing something from Ocean Project.co (not to be confused with ‘The Ocean Project‘), Turtle’s Journey, Wildlife Team, Wildlife Mission, or Ocean Better, they have used Sea Turtle Conservancy’s turtle tracking information without our permission. Don’t be duped or support the scammers!

If you have been scammed, please do NOT email or call STC if you haven’t received your order or if you have questions about your turtle. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do. The greatest inconvenience to STC (aside from having our copyrighted information stolen) is the valuable staff time that is being wasted responding to people’s complaints rather than actually working to protect sea turtles. Instead, we encourage you to report the activity of these companies to the Better Business Bureau, Shopify, and Facebook (contact information below).

How to report scam companies:

File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau: https://www.bbb.org/consumer-complaints/file-a-complaint/get-started

Report online shops to Shopify: https://help.shopify.com/en/questions#/contact/email

Report pages to Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/help/355811251195044

If you ever question the legitimacy of a company who claims to partner with STC, we encourage you to reference the PARTNERS page on our website, which we update regularly.

 

 

Congratulations 2021 Sea Turtle Calendar Contest Photo Winners!

Introducing the winning photos from our 2021 Sea Turtle Calendar Contest! Thank you so much to everyone who entered this year’s contest. It gets harder every year to narrow down hundreds of beautiful images to only 13 photos! Calendars will be for sale in our online gift shop in November. We will post the link once they’re live.

 

COVER PHOTO – BEN HICKS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JANUARY – MARIO CISNEROS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FEBRUARY – ADHITH SWAMINATHAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MARCH – HECTOR CHENGE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APRIL – KATHY WIANKE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAY – BARBARA SELLES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JUNE – KARLA G. BARRIENTOS MUNOZ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JULY – CHRISTIAN MARTINEZ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AUGUST- MARIO CISNEROS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER – ADHITH SWAMINATHAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OCTOBER – RALPH PACE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOVEMBER – ARGHYA ADHIKARY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DECEMBER – STEFANIE PLEIN

Ready, Set, Swim! The 13th Annual Tour de Turtles has Begun!

Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) recently kicked off its 13th annual Tour de Turtles migration marathon! The Tour de Turtles is a fun, educational journey that follows the migration of sea turtles from their nesting beaches to their foraging grounds. Through the use of satellite telemetry, STC will track 15 sea turtles, including leatherbacks, loggerheads, greens and one hybrid green/hawksbill, to determine how far they swim. The one to swim the furthest distance by October 31 “wins.”

Each turtle is also swimming to raise awareness about the threats sea turtles face. These threats include light pollution, beach erosion, marine debris, oil spills, commercial fisheries, illegal hunting, invasive species predation, climate change and more. The data collected during the Tour de Turtles helps researchers, conservationists and governing agencies make more informed decisions about sea turtle conservation methods and policies. Since the launch of the Tour de Turtles in 2008, STC has tracked more than 200 turtles.

This year’s Tour de Turtles is special for several reasons… For the first time ever, it is comprised entirely of turtles from Florida. This is also the first time STC has tracked leatherbacks from Florida, thanks to a partnership with Florida Leatherbacks, Inc. Typically the organization travels to Panama, Costa Rica, Cuba, Nevis and other international sites to satellite tag turtles but was limited to Florida due to COVID-19.

You can support the turtles by “adopting” them or sharing on social media to help raise awareness! Learn more about the turtles and follow their migrations at www.tourdeturtles.org. You can also purchase a Tour de Turtles 2020 t-shirt by clicking here or below!

Sea Turtle Conservation Work in Tortuguero Threatened due to COVID-19

Sea Turtle Conservancy’s research and conservation program at Tortuguero, Costa Rica, is a conservation success story. When STC’s founder Dr. Archie Carr first arrived at the site in the 1950s, the green turtle population was in drastic decline—slipping toward extinction—due to the unsustainable harvesting of nesting turtles. Over the next six decades, a sustained research, education and conservation program has been carried out by STC, in close partnership with the community of Tortuguero and the Government of Costa Rica. Through the combined efforts of everyone involved, the unsustainable harvesting of sea turtles was eliminated and replaced with a local economy built on ecotourism. Once protected, the turtles responded by recovering to the point of being the largest remaining colony of green turtles (Chelonia mydas) in the Western Hemisphere (and probably the world), and STC’s program at Tortuguero has become a global model for how sea turtles can be saved. Unfortunately, a situation is unfolding in Tortuguero due to COVID-19 that jeopardizes much of the success that has been achieved to recover this globally-important sea turtle population.

Because Costa Rica’s borders are closed to foreign visitors for the foreseeable future, nearly all of STC’s international Research Assistants, who assist with carrying out our research and protection program, are unable to get to Tortuguero. Even if the borders open later this summer, most of our previously-committed volunteers have had to make other plans. As a result, STC’s small crew of staff members in Tortuguero have been thrust onto the front lines of wildlife protection, performing tasks that once were carried out by a team of 25 people. STC also has seen the complete loss of revenue we count on from our Visitors’ Center gift shop and an eco-volunteer program we normally conduct at our research station. Meanwhile, the presence of Costa Rican law enforcement on the beach at Tortuguero has dwindled significantly, at the same time the threat of illegal hunting is skyrocketing due to the collapse of ecotourism in the country. Without the typical presence of park guards, tour groups and tourists on the beach in Tortuguero, STC is documenting significant increases in illegal poaching of adult turtles and nests. This alarming trend, combined with the complete lack of revenue being generated in Tortuguero, is STC’s biggest programmatic challenge resulting from the pandemic.

Our staff members are working overtime day and night to deter turtle hunters from killing turtles as they crawl ashore to nest, and we are doing our best to hide nests in order to protect the eggs from being taken. While the calamity unfolding in Tortuguero is not on the same level as what has been confronting healthcare and other front-line workers serving people in the US and abroad, STC’s dedicated staff Tortuguero is manning the front line of defense on behalf of imperiled sea turtles that are under greater threat because of the impacts of the pandemic.

In honor of World Sea Turtle Day (June 16), a date selected because it is Archie Carr’s birthday, STC asks for your support. Please help us sustain the critical work taking place in Tortuguero to ensure that the incredible progress made on behalf of sea turtles over the last six decades is not jeopardized as a result of this pandemic. Your donation will directly support STC’s ability to hire additional Costa Ricans to fill the void created by our lack of international volunteer Research Assistants. Donations will also be matched up to $5,000 through June 16.

This need is urgent and timely, as green turtle nesting is now underway. A single season of rampant illegal harvesting of adult turtles can severely jeopardize the recovery of green turtles at Tortuguero—one of the world’s great conservation success stories.  With your help, we will have the ability to ensure that this does not happen. Click here to donate now.

For more information about STC’s work in Tortuguero, click here: http://stcturtle.org/stc-programs-research-tortuguero-costa-rica/.

STC Earns 4-Star Charity Navigator Rating for 13th Year

Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) is proud to announce another top rating from Charity Navigator, the leading evaluator of non-profit groups in the United States. STC received 4 out of 4 stars for the 13th year, indicating that our organization adheres to good governance and other practices that minimize the chance of unethical activities and consistently executes our mission in a fiscally responsible way.

“The Board and staff of Sea Turtle Conservancy take great pride in our consistent high ratings from Charity Navigator,” said David Godfrey, STC Executive Director, “and it gives our donors confidence that their contributions are being managed wisely to the maximum benefit of sea turtles.”

According to Charity Navigator, a 4 star rating is an ‘exceptional’ designation, and differentiates Sea Turtle Conservancy from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust. STC spends almost 90 cents of every dollar donated directly on research, conservation and education programs. STC’s commitment to transparency, good governance and fiscal responsibility ensures that donations are used in an efficient manner to support conservation programs.

“We are proud to announce Sea Turtle Conservancy has earned our fourth consecutive 4-star rating,” says Michael Thatcher, President and CEO of Charity Navigator. “This is our highest possible rating and indicates that your organization adheres to sector best practices and executes its mission in a financially efficient way. Attaining a 4-star rating verifies that Sea Turtle Conservancy exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in your area of work. Only 20% of the charities we evaluate have received at least 4 consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that Sea Turtle Conservancy outperforms most other charities in America. This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator sets Sea Turtle Conservancy apart from its peers and demonstrates to the public its trustworthiness.”

STC’s rating and other information about charitable giving are available free of charge on Charity Navigator’s website here.