Category Archives: Costa Rica


JOB ANNOUNCEMENT: Station Manager at STC’s Biological Field Station in Tortuguero, Costa Rica

**CLICK HERE FOR SPANISH VERSION**

POSITION TITLE:

Station Manager of the Tortuguero Biological Field Station (Costa Rica) for Sea Turtle Conservancy

POSITION SUMMARY:

Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) announces an opening for Station Manager of its Biological Field Station at Tortuguero, Costa Rica. STC’s Tortuguero Biological Field Station is home of the longest-continuous sea turtle research and protection program in the world. Spanning 55 years, the program at Tortuguero is monitoring and protecting one of the largest green turtle rookeries in the world; providing intense field research training to young biologists; and is a global model for volunteer eco-tourism. For information and images of the station and the work taking place there, see https://conserveturtles.org/////tortuguero-sea-turtle-experiences-slideshow/ or visit the Sea Turtle Conservancy Tortuguero Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/conserveturtlestortuguero/

The Station Manager will oversee the year-round operation and maintenance of this remote research station. The Station Manager will supervise a staff of 6-8 permanent employees who carry out activities ranging from physical maintenance, boat operations, cooking, security, grounds keeping and Visitor Center operations, and custodial services. It is the Station Manager’s responsibility to ensure that the Station, grounds and equipment are maintained in good working order and that all scheduled repairs, cleaning and upkeep are carried out. The Station Manager also will be one of STC’s chief liaisons with the community of Tortuguero, Tortuguero National Park staff, government officials, visiting scientists, volunteers and local businesses. This position will not specifically include scientific responsibilities, though the Station Manager is encouraged to assist with research, education and community outreach projects when feasible.

The Station Manager will be provided full room and board at the STC station, along with a modest salary enabling one to live comfortably in the unique and beautiful setting of Tortuguero, Costa Rica. This is a permanent, full-time position, and STC is looking for someone ready to make a long-term commitment to running its Biological Field Station.

  

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent professional experience in public relations, hospitality, eco-tourism, facilities management or similar field
  • Fluency in both English and Spanish is required
  • Excellent managerial and organizational skills
  • Good communications and public relations skills
  • Basic office and computer skills for record keeping and report writing
  • Willingness to work hands-on to get the job done

DESIRED TRAITS:

  • A dedication to the mission of STC
  • Ability to manage and motivate people in a challenging tropical environment set within a laid back Caribbean culture
  • Good interpersonal skills – ability to converse with and relate to a range of people from media to scientists to general sea turtle enthusiasts
  • Ability to work independently, with little direct supervision
  • Someone who leads by example
  • First aid/CPR training (can be provided by STC)
  • Experience in retail management and/or environmental education

PAY AND HIRING TIMELINE:

Applications are being accepted now, with the goal of filling the position by the end of February 2020 in order to overlap with the departing Station Manager. This full-time position to be based in Tortuguero includes a compensation package consisting of free lodging, full meals while at the station and a starting salary of $20,000 US.

HOW TO APPLY:

Submit cover letter, resume, and references via e-mail to: david@conserveturtles.org. Prefer to receive in English.

 

JOB ANNOUNCEMENT: Visitor Center Coordinator at STC’s Station in Tortuguero, Costa Rica

This job description is available in English and Spanish. Click here for Spanish version.

POSITION TITLE:

Visitor Center Coordinator at the Tortuguero Biological Field Station (Costa Rica) for Sea Turtle Conservancy

POSITION SUMMARY:

Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) announces an opening for Visitor Center Coordinator at its Biological Field Station at Tortuguero, Costa Rica. STC’s Tortuguero Biological Field Station is home of the longest-continuous sea turtle research and protection program in the world. Spanning 55 years, the program at Tortuguero is monitoring and protecting one of the largest green turtle rookeries in the world; providing intense field research training to young biologists; and is a global model for volunteer eco-tourism.

STC’s Visitor Center (VC) is open daily to provide interpretive exhibits, video presentations and one-on-one information sharing about STC’s work with visiting tourists and local residents. The VC also includes a small store that sells sea turtle and conservation-themed merchandise to support STC’s work.

The VC Coordinator will staff and oversee the daily operation of the VC and associated store. The Coordinator is an important public liaison for STC in Tortuguero – often hosting as many as several hundred visitors per day. The job requires an outgoing, bi-lingual individual who is both knowledgeable and passionate about STC’s work in Tortuguero. Through the operation of the store and management of entrance fees, the VC Coordinator will be required to manage and track money, complete retail sales, manage inventory, run video presentations, answer questions from the public and generally present a positive face for STC in Tortuguero. This position will not specifically include scientific responsibilities, though the VC Coordinator is encouraged to occasionally participate in nightly sea turtle research and community outreach projects when feasible.

The VC Coordinator will be provided full room and board at the STC station, along with a modest salary enabling one to live comfortably in the unique and beautiful setting of Tortuguero, Costa Rica. This is a permanent, full-time position.

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent professional experience in public relations, hospitality, eco-tourism, management or similar field
  • Fluency in both English and Spanish is required
  • Excellent managerial and organizational skills
  • Good communications and public relations skills
  • Basic office and computer skills for record keeping and tracking sales/income
  • Willingness to work hands-on to get the job done

DESIRED TRAITS:

  • A dedication to the mission of STC
  • Good interpersonal skills – ability to converse with and relate to a range of people from tourists to visiting scientists to local community members
  • Ability to work independently, with little direct supervision
  • Someone who leads by example
  • Experience in retail management and/or environmental education

PAY AND HIRING TIMELINE:

Applications are being accepted now, with the goal of filling the position by the end of January 2020 to overlap with the current Visitor Center Coordinator. This full-time position to be based in Tortuguero includes a compensation package consisting of free lodging, full meals while at the station and starting pay of $900 per month.

HOW TO APPLY:

Submit cover letter, resume, and references via e-mail to: david@conserveturtles.org. Prefer to receive in English.

 

STC Awarded Top Responsible Costa Rica Eco Tour 2019!

Sea Turtle Conservancy is excited to announce that we’ve made it onto the Top Responsible Costa Rica Eco Tours 2019 list!

Curated by Terra Incognita – a social enterprise seeking to promote the best examples of ethical ecotourism worldwide – we’re part of a group of nearly 40 incredible tours across Costa Rica working to conserve the environment, support the well-being of local people and educate visitors and hosts.

“Costa Rica is often the first place that comes to mind when we hear the word ‘ecotourism’, yet it can still be challenging for visitors to choose a responsible tour,” said Kristi Foster of Terra Incognita.

The list includes a transparent explanation of how all tours contribute to conservation, local communities and education, and is open to reviews from guests who’ve participated in the tours. Groups on the list are doing everything from cleaning up beaches and donating to community projects, to offsetting their carbon emissions and encouraging their guests to do the same. Some are actively contributing to conservation research, while others are empowering local conservation ambassadors through environmental education and capacity building.

STC offers several different eco-tour options. Click below to learn more about each trip:

You can view the Responsible Costa Rica Eco Tours 2019 list at www.terra-incognita.travel and join a movement to create positive change for people and planet through travel.

To learn more about sea turtle experiences offered by STC, visit https://conserveturtles.org/////get-involved-sea-turtle-experience/

STC Announces New Scientific Director

Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) announces a change in the scientific oversight of its international sea turtle research and monitoring programs. Effective in July, the position of Scientific Director will transition from Dr. Emma Harrison to Dr. Roldán Valverde. Anyone interested in collaborating with STC on research projects in Costa Rica, Panama and other international sites are encouraged to reach out directly to Dr. Valverde at roldan@conserveturtles.org. Likewise, anyone interested in exploring opportunities to serve as a Research Assistant with the Tortuguero program or at STC’s project sites in Panama can now direct those inquires to Roldán.

Dr. Harrison with nesting turtle

While STC is very excited about what Dr. Valverde will bring to this position, the organization is equally sad to announce the departure of Dr. Emma Harrison, who has resigned to explore new opportunities in the field of biological conservation. Dr. Harrison has worked with STC off and on since 1998 and has served as Scientific Director since 2006. Through her leadership and passion, Dr. Harrison continued a long tradition of outstanding scientific oversight of STC’s sea turtle monitoring programs; she trained and inspired countless research assistants and helped expand STC’s education and community outreach programs in both Costa Rica and Panama. Emma will be greatly missed by STC, though she will forever remain a part of the STC family and the history of the organization.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0094.

New STC scientific director Dr. Valverde with tagged leatherback

As STC’s incoming Scientific Director, Dr. Valverde will provide scientific oversight of STC’s various sea turtle research programs, particularly the long-term projects in Tortuguero, Costa Rica, and Bocas del Toro, Panama. Over two decades ago, as a young Costa Rican biologist, Roldán served as Research Coordinator of STC’s Tortuguero research program. Since that time, he has achieved international recognition in the field of sea turtle research and is a leading expert in the area of sea turtle physiology. Dr. Valverde served recently as President of the International Sea Turtle Society; he is well published; and he currently serves as a graduate biology professor at Southeast Louisiana University in New Orleans.  As a native Costa Rican and an accomplished scientist and educator, Roldán will be in an ideal position to continue elevating the science and the effectiveness of STC’s many research and conservation programs. He also will help STC expand its efforts to cultivate and train young biologists from throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Dr. Valverde’s position with STC is endowed by the Emily T. Clay Scientific Director’s Endowment.

Tour de Turtles Sponsor Spotlight – Pacsafe

Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) pacsafe logo2is excited to welcome new turtle sponsor Pacsafe to the Tour de Turtles (TdT) marathon this year! Pacsafe is sponsoring a green turtle who will be tagged and released from Tortuguero, Costa Rica in July. Along with their turtle competitor sponsorship, Pacsafe recently launched the Pacsafe Turtle Fund which will also provide support for the TdT educational program.

Outpac Designs Limited, the makers of Pacsafe, was established in 1998 by two Australian friends who traveled all over the world. Their own experiences and those of the travelers they met convinced them of the need for secure travel gear. From there, the eXomesh anti-theft technology was born, which formed the award-winning Pacsafe anti-theft backpack protector, complete with turtle logo.

Pacsafe’s creators were initially inspired by the sea turtle and its independent global wanderings. Today, Pacsafe’s Turtle Fund works with local communities at grass roots levels to preserve the sea turtle, protect its natural habitats, focus on breeding programs and increase awareness for these majestic creatures.

Pacsafe's official turtle mascot, Pawi.

Pacsafe’s official turtle mascot, Pawi.

“As a company, we believe in sustainability and doing everything we can to work with local communities to ensure the sea turtle doesn’t become extinct,” said Magnus McGlashan, Managing Director for Pacsafe.

After the fund was launched in May 2014, it worked to provide funds for sea turtle conservation projects around the world that support endangered turtle species. Pacsafe chose to support three sea turtle projects in 2015, including the Tour de Turtles, which were chosen for their innovative approaches to turtle conservation, research and education.

“We loved how Tour de Turtles makes sea turtle conservation educational and fun, while making it accessible to a greater audience and younger generation,” McGlashan said.

Pacsafe has chosen to name its turtle competitor “Pawikan.” McGlashan explained that Pawikan means ‘sea turtle,’ in Tagalog, the language spoken in much of the Philippines. Pawikan is also the official name of the turtle featured in the Pacsafe logo that was selected five years ago in a competition.

Photo by:  Lucas Meers

Photo by: Lucas Meers

Pacsafe hopes to engage its staff, distributors, retailers and customers all over the world with the excitement of the TdT race and its mission. McGlashan said that Pacsafe is very excited about being a part of the program and following its sponsored turtle throughout her adventures.

“We can’t wait to see where [she] wanders!” McGlashan said.

STC would like to thank Pacsafe for helping our cause! You will be able to track Pawikan and her turtle friends online at www.tourdeturtles.org starting August 2nd! Good luck, Pawikan!

Volunteers Spay Dogs Near Critical Nesting Beaches in Tortuguero

COSTARICASPAYPS_Page_1On World Spay Day 2015, medical volunteers from VIDA Volunteer Travel spayed and neutered over 20 dogs in the Tortuguero community for free, with support from STC. The overpopulation of stray dogs and pets in Tortuguero, Costa Rica can be dangerous for the local sea turtle population.

In Central America, it is common for many communities to permit their domesticated dogs and cats to run free in coastal villages. These dogs, left unattended, can dig up several sea turtle nests in one night. With as few as one in 10,000 eggs reaching adulthood, the destruction of only a few nests can have a devastating effect on any sea turtle population. Dogs eat the eggs and hatchlings and, in some cases, can even attack adult females while they nest.

Predation is not only a problem for sea turtles and their hatchlings in Central America, but also around the world. Crabs, raccoons, boars, birds, coyotes and sharks all play their role in the natural food chain as sea turtle predators. However, the threats of predation increase when human development reaches nesting beaches. People who leave trash near the shore, for example, unwittingly call raccoons and other non-native species to the beaches to look for food.

COSTARICASPAYPS_Page_2Nest predation can be a very serious threat. In certain “predation hot spots” on nesting beaches in the United States predation can exceed 50% of all nests laid. While sea turtles have developed special adaptations that allow them to be agile in water, they remain clumsy on land. They are not fast enough, or agile enough to escape these predators. Unable to retract their heads and flippers into their shell, like land tortoises, sea turtles are very vulnerable to these invasive predators.

Humans can play a vital role in decreasing the threat of invasive species predation. Here are a few ways you can help protect the sea turtles.

  • Don’t feed wildlife—animals will make a habit of returning to coastal areas in search for food, creating a threat to turtles;
  • Don’t leave your dogs and cats unattended;
  • Do not leave any trash, especially garbage containing food, outside of your home;
  • Support spay and neuter programs near coastal areas to decrease feral invasive species predation;
  • Contact your local law enforcement if you witness any predation on sea turtle nests or hatchlings.

 

Take a closer look at the hard work and dedication of the medical volunteers participating in World Spay Day 2015!

Support STC this #GivingTuesday on December 2nd!

GT big redKnocking out holiday shopping early is at the top of everyone’s wish lists, but what about giving back? First there was Black Friday, and then came Cyber Monday, but the growing trend this holiday season is #GivingTuesday.

#GivingTuesday is a campaign to create an international day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support non-profit organizations.

Taking place on December 2, 2014 (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the US), #GivingTuesday harnesses the power of social media to inspire holiday shoppers to give to organizations in need before giving to each other. Click here to find out more about #GivingTuesday.
gt-give-timegt-give-moneygivelovegivebc

The campaign has launched a movement that has engaged well over 10,000 individuals, cities, and organizations worldwide, and STC is proud to be included. Last year was the first year that STC participated in #GivingTuesday and we raised almost $5,000 for sea turtle conservation efforts!

tort

STC’s station in Tortuguero

This year, STC invites you to donate to help make improvements to our station in Tortuguero, Costa Rica, the most important nesting location for green turtles in the Western Hemisphere. Our team has been conducting research and conservation programs there for more than 55 years.

This building is the only original building remaining onsite and has been facing the humid, salty climate of Tortuguero for 20 years. Immediate repairs to the station are needed to keep our researchers and volunteers safe and dry while they monitor and protect this critical nesting beach.

Click here to watch a video about STC’s #GivingTuesday goal this year.

STC staff and Research Assistants celebrate a successful turtle release in Tortuguero

STC staff and Research Assistants celebrate a successful turtle release in Tortuguero

For every dollar raised on December 2nd, 2014, STC’s Board of Directors has generously offered to match up to $15,000. Help turn $15,000 into $30,000 for the research, education, advocacy and protection of sea turtles!

Donations can be made on STC’s website on December 2nd to count towards the goal and the matching gift. Click here to make a donation!

Want more ways to double or even triple your impact? See if your company will match your donation by using https://doublethedonation.com/giving-tuesday! Just click this link and search for your company. You’ll find information on whether a match is provided and what the next step is. Company matching gifts are an easy, free way to make your donation to Sea Turtle Conservancy go even further.

Along with STC’s #GivingTuesday goal, we’re encouraging our supporters to make their voices heard on social media.

Photo by Jewell DeMarco

Photo by Jewell DeMarco

Let STC know what you’re doing on #GivingTuesday by sharing your story on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Make sure to use the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #unselfie, and don’t forget to tag us. Click to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Giving back has the power to bring us all together regardless of locations, beliefs or cultures. Join forces with the rest of the world this holiday season and let’s make a difference!

Tour de Turtles 2014: And the Winner is….

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 2014 TOUR de TURTLES MARATHON WINNER, LEATHERBACK PANAMA JACK AND HER SPONSORS AT TURTLE & HUGHES, INC!

TdT Marathon Winner Panama Jack

TdT Marathon Winner Panama Jack

There was no shortage of excitement in this year’s Tour de Turtles (TdT) marathon! This was the seventh consecutive year that Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) followed the migration of 11 sea turtles as part of the TdT and we are continually amazed by the unending support and enthusiasm shown for our turtle “competitors!”

Melba2014-07-27 061-XLThe 2014 TdT included live turtle releases in Panama, Costa Rica, Nevis and Florida. This year was the first time that a rehabilitated loggerhead turtle competed in the TdT. ‘Pine Tyme‘, an 80 pound sub-adult loggerhead, was spotted struggling on the surface unable to dive and was brought to The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, FL for treatment. She was released from Sombrero Beach, The Florida Keys and marked STC’s first ever release in the Florida Keys.

Before releasing each turtle, STC scientists attached a satellite transmitter to their shell using turtle-safe epoxy or fiberglass resin. The transmitters allowed STC and the public to track the turtles as they migrated from their nesting beaches to their foraging grounds. After three months of friendly competition, we have our winners, along with “updates from the field” from the turtle competitors!

TDT Leaderboard FINAL

Distance Race:
WINNER – Panama Jack, 3936 km, Team Turtle & Hughes, Inc.
2nd – Calypso Blue III, 2685 km, Team Atlantis Resort
3rd – Esperanza, 1679 km, Team Treadright & Contiki Holidays
4th – Estrella, 1549 km, Team Sea Turtle Conservancy
5th – Elsa, 1445 km Team Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund
6th – Melba, 1226 km, Team Turtle Tag www.helpingseaturtles.org
7th – Shelley, 761 km Team Ripley’s Aquariums
8th – Pine Tyme, 684 km Team Turtle Hospital
9th – Anna, 672 km, Team Disney’s Vero Beach Resort & Disney’s Animal Programs
10th – Coco, 593 km & 
11th – Sugar, 517 km, both Team Four Seasons Resort Nevis

People's Choice WINNER

 

People’s Choice Award: 

WINNER – Calypso Blue III
2nd – Shelley
3rd – (TIE) Esperanza and Panama Jack
5th – Pine Tyme
6th – Elsa
7th – Coco
8th – Estrella
9th – Anna

 

Updates from our competitors:

1ST PLACE – PANAMA JACK
Species: Leatherback
Release site: Punta Rincon Beach, Panama
Sponsor: Turtle & Hughes, Inc.
Distance traveled: 3936 km.
Update from the Field: Hey everyone, Panama Jack here! Good golly, I just can’t believe I won the Tour de Turtles! I was just splishing and splashing all over the place trying to spread the word about the importance of sea turtle friendly lighting. After I left Punta Rincon Beach in Panama, I made my way over to Mexico, where I heard there were lots of yummy jellyfish for me to snack on! As you can see, I’m a pretty big girl so it’s important that I eat lots and lots of jellyfish to maintain all this energy! Now that the marathon is over, I think I’ll just hang out in the Gulf of Mexico enjoying a nice, belly-filling buffet! Thanks for cheering me on!

P1000449 - Copy2ND PLACE – CALYPSO BLUE III
Species: Leatherback
Release site: Soropta Beach, Panama
Sponsor: Atlantis
Distance traveled: 2685 km.
Update from the field: Calypso Blue III checking in! Phew, I’ve already swam over a thousand miles but I’m not stopping anytime soon! I spent most of the marathon cruising through the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana. I even managed to stop by Bourbon Street in New Orleans to have some fun! Throughout my travels, I’ve been telling all my marine friends about how excited I am to have my migration tracked and swim for the cause of commercial trawl fisheries. Louisiana is the largest producer of shrimp in the U.S. which means there are tons of shrimp nets in this very area. Unfortunately, Louisiana hasn’t fully enforced the use of Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) on their nets. I had to get stern with a couple of fishermen but quickly befriended some that agreed to compromise with me! I think I’m going to head out of the area now just to be safe… Thanks to my friends at Atlantis for always having my shell!

3RD PLACE – ESPERANZAEsperanza2
Species: Green
Release site: Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Sponsor: Contiki Holidays & TreadRight Foundation
Cause: Egg Harvest for Consumption
Distance Traveled: 1679 km.
Update from the Field: Hola, mis amigos! Esperanza’s back to check in with my loyal fans and give a shout out to my sponsors at Contiki and TreadRight Foundation. Without their help and the support of my fans, there’s no way I would’ve found the speed to swim all the way up the ranks from 7th place to 3rd place! Afterall, don’t forget that esperanza is Spanish for hope and – against all odds -I made it onto the winners’ podium! Even though I had quite the rough start to the race with a poacher digging up my nest and stealing my eggs, my friends at STC were able to save the day and rebury my precious eggs, which just hatched in September! Thanks to everyone who cheered me on and helped raise support for the many threats my species face, especially poaching. I couldn’t have done it without you! Adios!

4TH PLACE – ESTRELLA
Species: Hawksbill
Release site: Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Sponsor: Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC)
Distance Traveled: 1549 km.
Update from the Field: Greetings, humans. Estrella here. According to my calculations, I did not swim far enough to qualify for the Tour de Turtles winner podium. Nonetheless, it’s been quite the journey! Throughout my travels, I’ve been collecting research and data off the coast of Nicaragua and what I’ve found was quite peculiar… The number of turtles that I encountered in the area was very limited. These findings may be due to the fact that it is actually legal in parts of Nicaragua to capture and consume turtles as they’re apart of the natives’ diet. Raising awareness about such issues and enforcing policies will hopefully help get my fellow turtles (and me!) off the endangered species list. Well, I’m going to kick it into high gear now and try to swim past Nicaragua… I certainly wouldn’t want to end up as someone’s dinner!

5TH PLACE – ELSAElsa-Turtle2014(15)
Release site: Disney’s Vero Beach Resort
Sponsor: Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund
Distance Traveled: 1445 km.
Update from the Field: Hello there peasants! Yes, I am Elsa, named after the queen from Disney’s Frozen. I’m here to report back to my original kingdom at Disney’s Vero Beach to discuss some of the royal duties I’ve partaken in since I left my sand castle in July. My duties took me from Vero Beach to Key Largo to Cuba, and I recycled and picked up trash and other marine debris along the way. It’s only right that the Queen pays her respects to the ocean. Naturally, I ran into some issues when trying to eat dinner the other night and mistook a plastic grocery bag for a delicious jellyfish. This is a situation that could be avoided by recycling plastics and using reusable bags. Wish me luck, I’m off to conquer my next kingdom… The Bahamas!

6TH PLACE – MELBAMelba2014-07-27 064-XL
Species: Loggerhead
Release site: Melbourne Beach, FL
Sponsor: FL Sea Turtle License Plate
Distance Traveled: 1226 km.
Update from the Field: Aloha dudes and dudettes! Melba here. Because of the gnarly waves I tried to catch while swimming, I accidentally moved all the way down from 3rd place to 6th place… But the journey was absolutely tubular! I met some fellow surfer chicks along the way and took the opportunity to teach them about a totally important cause—water quality, dude! They promised me they would work together to try and prevent oil spills and urban run-off caused by fertilizers and other chemicals so that we can safely enjoy the stellar surf for years to come! But I’m off to celebrate my Tour de Turtles success with some chill loggerhead ladies… I might even buy myself one of those rad sea turtle license plates for my carapace! Catch ya on the flip side dudes!

7TH PLACE – SHELLEYShelley2014-07-27 043-XL
Species: Loggerhead
Release site: Archie Carr Wildlife Refuge
Sponsor: Ripley’s Aquariums
Distance Traveled: 761 km.
Update from the Field: Hello darlings! You all know me as Shelley, the turtle with levels of glamour that Vogue couldn’t even handle. I won’t lie, being without my glam squad and entourage these past few months was rough but I knew my migration was raising awareness about the issue of commercial longline fisheries, and that is important. I think of the ocean as my runway and plan to continue swimming through it with grace and poise. How can I do that if I have to worry about being caught up in longline fishing? Luckily, I didn’t come across any during my travels, probably because my fabulous sponsors at Ripley’s Aquariums have been cheering me on. Even though I didn’t win the race, I’m hoping there is still a chance at a tiara. Ciao, bellas!

8TH PLACE – PINE TYMEPine Tyme TdT page
Species: Loggerhead
Release site: Marathon, Florida Keys
Sponsor: The Turtle Hospital
Distance Traveled: 684 km.
Update from the Field: For a previously injured turtle, I’ve come a long way! Mostly thanks to my great friends at The Turtle Hospital. After gaining my strength back, I traveled over 400 miles from Marathon, Florida to my current location right outside the Dry Tortugas National Park. This national park is about 70 miles off the coast of Key West and was established to protect the island and marine ecosystems. I had to duck out of the way of several speeding boats along the way so now I’m just trying to steer clear of the ferries touring the place. As a rehabilitated turtle who was also the last to enter the race, I knew I couldn’t afford another setback like a boat strike so now I’m just trying to find a nice, calm place to feed. I honestly can’t even believe I made it this far when just several months ago I was gassy and floating bottom up at The Turtle Hospital! Thanks to everyone who helped cheer me on during the marathon!

9TH PLACE – ANNAAnna
Species: Loggerhead
Release site: Disney Vero Beach Resort (DVBR)
Sponsor: Disney Animal Programs & DVBR
Distance Traveled: 672 km.
Update from the Field: Hi friends, Anna here! I successfully made my way all the way down the Florida coastline and decided to spend some time in Florida Keys. Everything during the marathon went quite swimmingly, except for this one huge storm that got me a little off track last month. I ended up along the shores of Miami, which was a very interesting place indeed. One thing I noticed is that their beachfront hotels and clubs had so many bright lights on, you could probably see them from space! I knew better and wasn’t distracted by their glow but let’s just hope my friends don’t end up drawn towards the lights when they come up to nest! After my little visit to South Beach, I got worn out from signing autographs for all my Frozen fans and set off towards Key West to relax where I plan to stay. Check back with me soon!

10TH PLACE – COCOCoco TDT
Species: Hawksbill
Release Site: Pinney’s Beach, Nevis
Sponsor: Four Seasons – Nevis
Distance Traveled: 593 km.
Update from the Field: Oh, hello there. I didn’t realize this interview was going to be published. I don’t really do well with large groups. Sorry, erm… How about a little joke to break the ice? So, um, I’m on my way to St. Kitts from Nevis and I come across what I thought were some fellow hawksbills. I’m shy enough as it is so I really had to work up the nerve to approach these guys. I try to make conversation, which is rare for me, and I’m getting no reply. I start to get more nervous as their silence lengthens. Was it something I said? Do I have a piece of sponge in my teeth? Finally, I realize I’d been talking to floating coconuts the whole time… That embarrassing encounter certainly did nothing to help me get over my social anxieties. I was also hoping for a confidence boost by winning the Tour de Turtles race, but then I just got so nervous and I decided to stay close to home where I’m most comfortable. There’s nothing wrong with last place, especially since I know the great people at Four Seasons Nevis will always cheer for me, no matter what!

11TH PLACE – SUGARsugar
Species: Hawksbill
Release site: Pinney’s Beach, Nevis
Sponsor: Four Seasons – Nevis
Distance Traveled: 517 km.
Update from the Field: Hi friends! My name is Sugar and I’m the sweetest hawksbill you’ll ever meet! During the Tour de Turtles, I got some slack from a few mean turtles about my slow pace but I couldn’t help that I enjoyed the beautiful waters of the Caribbean so much! Who said there’s anything wrong about being on island time? The water near St. Kitts is especially warm, I just hope it’s not due to climate change! I promise to do some investigating while I’m here and raise awareness about this potential threat. Now excuse me while I go enjoy a deliciously sweet drink with my friends at the Four Seasons Resort Nevis to celebrate the end of Tour de Turtles!

****************************************************************************

Sea Turtle Conservancy would like to give a big THANK YOU to all of our great turtle sponsors for this year’s Tour de Turtles — Four Seasons Resort, NevisDisney’s Animal ProgramsDisney’s Worldwide Conservation FundDisney’s Vero Beach ResortTurtle & Hughes, Inc.Atlantis ResortRipley’s AquariumsContiki HolidaysThe TreadRight FoundationThe Turtle Hospital — and Florida’s Sea Turtle License Plate.

TdT BIC

Introducing the 2014 Tour de Turtles Competitors!

Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) began its 2014 Tour de Turtles (TdT) with a live sea turtle release on July 27th at the Barrier Island Center, located in the heart of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in Melbourne Beach, Florida. The marathon is a fun and educational journey through the science of sea turtle migration using satellite telemetry. This year 12 turtles, who are each swimming to raise awareness about a sea turtle cause, are competing to see who will travel the farthest in the next three months.

Meet the competitors below!

Panama Jack

Name: Panama Jack
Species: Leatherback
Release site: Punta Rincon Beach, Panama
Sponsor: Turtle & Hughes, Inc.
Cause: Light pollution
Stats: 145.0 cm in curved carapace (shell) length and 108.0 cm in curved carapace width
Fun Fact: Returned and nested again on July 15.
Read my full bioadopt me, or view my migration map!

Calypso Blue III

Name: Calypso Blue III
Species: Leatherback
Release site: Soropta Beach, Panama
Sponsor: Atlantis
Cause: Commercial Trawl Fisheries
Stats: 144.6 cm in curved carapace (shell) length and 108.0 cm curved carapace width
Fun Fact: Laid 53 fertile eggs and 36 yokeless eggs.
Read my full bioadopt me, or view my migration map!

Esperanza

Name: Esperanza
Species: Green
Release site: Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Sponsor: TreadRight Contiki
Cause: Egg Poaching
Stats: 104.9 cm in curved carapace
Fun Fact: The morning after she laid her eggs, her nest was poached and eggs stolen. Luckily, the police caught the poacher and returned the eggs to STC’s team, who quickly and carefully reburied them in a new location.
Read my full bioadopt me, or view my migration map!

Estrella

Name: Estrella
Species: Hawksbill
Release site: Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Sponsor: STC
Cause: Illegal Shell Trade
Stats: 80.9 cm in curved carapace length
Fun Fact: Estrella is the first hawksbill from Tortuguero to compete in the TdT!
Read my full bio, adopt me, or view my migration map!

Melba

Name: Melba
Species: Loggerhead
Release site: Melbourne Beach, FL
Sponsor: FL Sea Turtle License Plate
Cause: Water Quality
Stats: 101.8 cm in curved carapace length, 88.5 cm in curved carapace width
Fun Fact: Melba ranks in the Top 5 largest loggerheads STC has ever released and has one of the largest heads.
Read my full bioadopt me, or view my migration map!

Shelley

Name: Shelley
Species: Loggerhead
Release site: Melbourne Beach, FL
Sponsor: Ripley’s Aquariums
Cause: Commercial Longline Fisheries
Stats: 89.9 cm in curved carapace length and 85.3 cm in curved carapace width
Fun Fact: Shelley is the 22nd loggerhead STC has released from the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge!
Read my full bioadopt me, or view my migration map!

Anna

Name: Anna
Species: Loggerhead
Release site: Disney’s Vero Beach Resort (DVBR)
Sponsor: Disney’s Animal Programs & DVBR
Cause: Light Pollution
Stats: 84.7 cm in curved carapace length, 76.0 cm in curved carapace width
Fun Fact: Anna is named after the character from Disney’s “Frozen.”
Read my full bioadopt me, or view my migration map!

Elsa

Name: Elsa
Species: Loggerhead
Release site: Disney’s Vero Beach Resort
SponsorDisney Worldwide Conservation Fund
Cause: Marine Debris
Stats: 100.4 cm in curved carapace length, 90.7 cm in curved carapace width
Fun Fact: Elsa is named after the character from Disney’s “Frozen.”
Read my full bioadopt me, or view my migration map!

Coco

Name: Coco
Species: Hawksbill
Release site: Pinney’s Beach, Nevis
SponsorFour Seasons Resort Nevis
Cause: Illegal Shell Trade
Stats: 88.9 cm in curved carapace length
Fun Fact: Coco’s name was selected and voted on by Four Seasons’ Instagram and Facebook followers.
Read my full bioadopt me, or view my migration map!

Sugar

Name: Sugar
Species: Hawksbill
Release site: Pinney’s Beach, Nevis
SponsorFour Seasons Resort Nevis
Cause: Climate Change
Stats: 82.0 cm in curved carapace length, 76.5 cm curved carapace width
Fun Fact: Sugar already had flipper tags when STC found her nesting. It was determined that she was originally tagged by the Nevis Turtle Group in 2007!
Read my full bioadopt me, or view my migration map!

Pine Tyme

Name: Pine Tyme
Species: Loggerhead (sub-adult)
Release site: Sombrero Beach, FL
SponsorThe Turtle Hospital
Cause: Boat Strikes
Stats: 80 lbs.
Fun Fact: Pine Tyme is a rehabbed turtle who was rescued near Big Pine Key, FL. She is currently being treated for severe gas in her intestines, which prohibits her from diving for food.
Read my full bioadopt me, or view my migration map!

Contiki & TreadRight Sponsor Tour de Turtles

Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) is excited to introduce one of our newest Tour de Turtles competitors, Esperanza! Esperanza is an adult green sea turtle that will be outfitted with a satellite transmitter on July 4, 2014 in Tortuguero, Costa Rica, the most important nesting site of the endangered green sea turtle in the Western Hemisphere. She was named by her sponsors, Contiki Holidays and The TreadRight Foundation, via a Facebook contest. Esperanza is the Spanish word for “hope.”

IMG_8117

Green sea turtle participating in Tour de Turtles in Tortuguero, Costa Rica. Photo by Ralph Pace.

This is the first time Contiki and TreadRight have partnered with STC for the Tour de Turtles. This unique new partnership is multi-faceted and puts the spotlight on sea turtle conservation in popular tourism countries.

Contiki, a travel company that was started in 1962, offers travel tours in 46 countries to 18 – 35-year-olds. The TreadRight Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 2008 by Contiki and other travel brands to encourage sustainable tourism among their brands and the places they visit.

Lauren McPhillips, public relations and partnership manager for Contiki, said sponsoring a turtle in Tour de Turtles was a simple decision for them because the program increases a sea turtle’s chance of long term survival and, “aids in enabling a greater understanding of these majestic sea creatures and their migration patterns.”

BenBrown1

Sunset in Costa Rica by Ben Brown.

In 2011, Contiki began Contiki Cares, which focuses on becoming a more sustainable organization by encouraging their travelers to respect and care for the places they visit so those places can be discovered for generations to come. They also partnered with environmental activist and documentary filmmaker Celine Cousteau.

According to McPhillips, “Contiki is obsessed with all things sun, sand and surf, and have made ocean conservation the focus for partnerships.”

McPhillips said Tortuguero is a popular stop for travelers who go on Contiki’s Costa Rica trip, and that it’s evident sea turtles are essential to Tortuguero. Both Contiki and TreadRight had recognized STC’s work in preserving the places they travel to for quite some time.

They also admired that STC creates opportunities for young, aspiring researchers and conservationists, she said.

Shannon Guihan, program director for TreadRight Foundation, said it was a combination of those things that made a partnership with STC “a perfect fit.”

SeattlesTravels1

STC in Tortuguero. Photo by Seattle Dredge.

In honor of Earth Month this year, Contiki sent Cousteau along with 12 young storytellers to Tortuguero to explore the country’s beauty, learn about STC’s mission and tell the story of it all in their own ways. The group consisted of bloggers, writers, photographers and more who came from all over the world including countries like the Philippines, the United States and New Zealand.

During their trip, the group of storytellers regularly posted to various social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share their experience. They also put together an inspiring video documenting their weeklong visit to Costa Rica, highlighting STC’s work with sea turtles.

SeattlesTravels2

Sea turtle eggs. Photo by Seattle Dredge.

Contiki has pledged to sponsor an additional turtle in Tour de Turtles if the documentary video reaches 250,000 views. If you haven’t checked out the video yet, you can watch it online at http://www.contiki.com/storytellers.

Since the Storytellers trip, every Contiki Tour that goes through Tortuguero will have the opportunity to adopt a turtle through STC.

In addition to sponsoring a Tour de Turtles competitor, Contiki and TreadRight also sponsored the research of a member of STC’s Research Assistantship Program.

McPhillips and Guihan said they are looking forward to seeing how their efforts aid in the research and survival of turtles like Esperanza and can’t wait to share the results with their travelers.

STC would like to thank Contiki and TreadRight for helping our cause!

Eco-Volunteering: The Adventure of a Lifetime

Sea Turtle Conservancy’s Eco-Volunteer Adventure is a unique and educational way to take part in travel that helps conservation. With hands-on opportunities, Eco-Volunteer Adventures are designed to get you up close and personal with sea turtles! Click here for a sample turtle program itinerary or read on for a first-hand account of Sea Turtle Conservancy’s Eco-Volunteer Program, written by Eco-Volunteer Heather Suffron.

********************************************************************

So there I was, hiking along the beach in the middle of the night, large caliper in hand, as the hot tropical breeze rushed against my face while I searched with my patrol partners for mama sea turtle tracks in the sand and felt the need to pinch myself for the umpteenth time to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. But it wasn’t a dream, though it very much felt like one.  Nor was it an episode of Planet Earth or National Geographic or Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, though it felt like one.  I was actually walking the beach while the Caribbean surf splashed at my side, and the moon illuminated the night sky as we scanned the sand.  And I was actually working to help monitor, protect, and gather data on these magnificent creatures as an Eco-Volunteer with Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC)!

Gathering sea turtle data under a beautiful night sky. Photo by Ralph Pace

Gathering sea turtle data under a beautiful night sky. Photo by Ralph Pace

Having chosen to take some time off work to participate in various volunteer projects around the world, I was in the midst of my week with STC on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.  I researched and chose each of my projects based on location, type of volunteer work, cost, and integrity and effectiveness of the program, and I could not have been happier with my experience at STC.

I participated as an Eco-Volunteer at the field station in Tortuguero, an incredibly unique and sensitive location that serves as nesting habitat for green, leatherback, hawksbill and the occasional loggerhead sea turtle – all of which are either threatened or endangered species.

morning turtle - ralph pace

A late nesting green turtle returning to the sea in early morning

Participants in the Eco-Volunteer program can join for one to three weeks, and there is often a birding research option, as well. Each sea turtle nesting season, a group of Research Assistants (RAs) live and work at the field station for three months at a time. As an Eco-Volunteer, I, too, stayed at the field station in a very clean and well-appointed research residence and was welcomed into the fold.

STC Tortuguero Research Station Dorm

STC Tortuguero Research Station Dorm

While there, I participated in a number of nighttime beach patrols, as well as a few early morning track surveys.  This is truly on-the-ground, hands-on work with the RAs; we checked nesting turtles for tags and general health, measured their shells, and logged the data during beach patrols, and counted new tracks and monitored a number of nests during the track surveys.

Sea turtle tracks on the beach. Photo by Heather Suffron

Sea turtle tracks on the beach. Photo by Heather Suffron

Getting to know the coordinators and RAs was an additional joy.  They were full of life, energy and ideas, and are clearly interested in, and dedicated to, helping protect the planet and its wildlife.

Working with turtles is an experience I will simply never forget.  The females frequently return to the same beach they were born in order to lay their own eggs, nesting several times in the same season. They are amazing creatures, and I felt truly humbled and honored to be working with them and getting to do things that most travelers and tourists never have the opportunity to try.

Furthermore, I was incredibly fortunate to be there when a number of hatchlings emerged from their nests, and the experience of watching tiny baby sea turtles make their way across the beach to dip their flippers in the sea for the first time is pretty powerful and special!

tort hatchling surf -ralph pace

Green sea turtle hatchling

I was also able to learn more about STC’s efforts within the community.  In addition to research on the beach, the STC staff and RAs are involved in community outreach efforts, environmental education, and ongoing discussions with local groups and organizations. With time and continued advocacy, I think even more progress will be made towards further preservation efforts.

All in all, I had a thrilling experience while at STC – and one in which I felt very involved. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, and I’m so glad I took it!

********************************************************************

STC has available Eco-Volunteer opportunities for leatherback turtles, green turtles, and birding! Eco-Volunteers must be 18 years or older (16 years or older accompanied by an adult). This experience is ideal for educators, couples, spring breakers, groups, or anyone who is interested in helping sea turtles and making a difference. Eco-Volunteer Adventures run from March through October. Options include 1, 2 and 3 week sessions. For more info, visit STC’s Eco-Volunteer page online or click here to register for a program.

RAs at sunset - ralph pace

Several RAs and volunteers catch the last touch of evening light in Tortuguero.

Apply to be a Research Assistant with STC in Tortuguero

Sea Turtle Conservancy is currently accepting applications for sea turtle research assistants in Tortuguero, Costa Rica. Research and monitoring of sea turtles in Tortuguero was initiated in the 1950’s by legendary sea turtle researcher Dr. Archie Carr. Dr. Carr continued his work in Tortuguero until his passing in 1987 and STC continues to conduct annual programs at the site, making it the longest ongoing sea turtle conservation and monitoring program in the world.

STC RAs and Eco-Volunteers excavate a nest

STC RAs and Eco-Volunteers excavate a nest (Photo by Ralph Pace)

Between eight and sixteen Research Assistants (RAs) will be trained in sea turtle monitoring techniques by, and work under the supervision of, the STC Field Research Coordinator. The RAs main responsibilities include nightly tagging, track surveys, nest monitoring and excavation. RAs are responsible for tagging nesting turtles, collecting biometric data from females, recording nesting activity during track surveys, and other pertinent data collection. RA positions are voluntary and selected RAs will receive board and lodging at the STC Field Station for the duration of their time working for STC in Tortuguero.

STC Alumni RAs have gone on to work for respected conservation organizations, universities and government agencies worldwide. Or like previous RA Ralph Pace, they continue their work with STC. Ralph was an RA in 2010 and then took on the role of STC Field Research Coordinator in 2013. Ralph is also a talented photographer. Below are some exciting details and photos from his time spent in Tortuguero with STC:

“When I took the position here as the Field Research Coordinator in Tortuguero, Costa Rica I knew fully what I was getting into. Having spent three months here as a Research Assistant for half of the green turtle season in 2010, I was well aware of the wild adventure and surprise that Tortuguero would provide. When most people hear I am working on a Caribbean beach in Costa Rica they envision a white sand beach where luxurious tiki style huts hang over crystal clear water. But, here it is far more rustic and wild. Imagine Jungle Book meets Indiana Jones.  In reality, Tortuguero is a highly dynamic beach who’s landscape changes as fast as the tide.  The beach is backed by a lush, dense jungle that is supported by the migration of sea turtles.

tortuguero beach - ralph pace

Under the clearest of Milky Way skies, we set out to patrol the beach nightly in search of three to four hundred pound nesting female turtles. We do so to collect data and monitor their epic population rebound of 500% here in Tortuguero.  Then as quickly as the turtles appear they vanish on their return to far off feeding ground around the Caribbean.

An RA measures a nesting sea turtle at night

An RA measures a nesting sea turtle at night. (Photo by Ralph Pace)

The beach becomes an expressway for millions of babies who are only just beginning their majestic journey. Just this morning during a track survey, I stood in shock as six hundred hatchlings emerged under the hardest of rains. As the baby hatchlings entered the water I couldn’t help but wonder where the offshore currents will take them. Will they go to Bermuda, Brazil or Cuba as many of our turtles do? Or, will they settle closer to home in Nicaragua? (Click here to watch an amazing video Ralph shot of green sea turtles hatching!)

tort hatchlings - ralph pace

As with all the other mysteries, I wonder, where have six months gone? Then I remember the thousands of turtles I have seen, hundreds of hours on the beach, the dozen meteor showers, the manatee I took DNA samples of, the jaguar I stood face to face with, the daily howler monkey alarm clocks at 5 am, the hundreds of kids served in the local schools and the countless friends I’ve met from around the world that have made it all so epic. So what makes this place so special?  Of the five continents I have explored, the mystique and adventure of Tortuguero is like no other place I have ever seen or imagined.”

tort turtle beach close up - ralph pace

To view more spectacular sea turtle photos by Ralph, check out his Facebook page RALFotos.

**************************************************

For more information about STC’s Research Assistant positions including a project summary and work description, click here. The deadline to apply for the Leatherback Research Program is January 7, 2014 and the Green Turtle Program deadline is March 10, 2014. For questions pertaining to STC’s Research Assistant Program, please contact STC Scientific Director Emma Harrison at emma@conserveturtles.org.

Green turtles released in Costa Rica as part of Tour de Turtles

In mid-July in Tortuguero, locals, tourists and media joined STC to watch the release of two green turtles freshly outfitted with satellite transmitters.  Not even a tropical storm on the second day could stop over 200 well-wishers from excitedly cheering on the new contestants in this year’s Tour de Turtles on-line migration event (www.tourdeturtles.org).

1052750_653129404714421_412402106_o

There was a rare opportunity for people to see these beautiful creatures, aptly named Mora and Cruz, in the daylight and everyone here in Tortuguero has their fingers crossed that either one will be crowned the winner of this year’s Tour de Turtles ‘race!’

Go Wild with Sea Turtles!

Sea Turtle Conservancy’s Eco-Volunteer Adventure program is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hands-on with sea turtles in beautiful Tortuguero, Costa Rica. This year’s Leatherback Eco-Volunteer Adventures begin March 23rd.

STC Research Station in Tortuguero, Costa Rica

Since the 1950s, Sea Turtle Conservancy has conducted extensive nest monitoring research on Tortuguero’s beaches. Eco-Volunteers work with researchers to participate in sea turtle research and conservation activities, including nightly sea turtle walks on Tortuguero’s black sand beach. During the day, volunteers are encouraged to explore the village, bird-watch or relax riverside. Volunteers can also enjoy hiking through jungle trails, exploring volcanoes and boating through the area’s intricate canal systems.

Eco-Volunteer Adventures run from March through October and are all-inclusive (excludes international airfare). Lodging and in-country transportation are provided, along with authentic Costa Rican meals cooked three times daily. Eco-Volunteers can choose from one to three week programs and from one of the three housing options, all located only steps from Tortuguero National Park. All Eco-Volunteers must be in good physical health and be at least 18 years old (16 if accompanied by an adult) to participate

If you are interested in joining our team and giving back on your next vacation, visit /volunteer-research-programs.php for more information on STC’s Eco-Volunteer Adventure program.

GUEST POST: Reflections of a Sea Turtle Eco-Volunteer

Being an Eco-Volunteer for the Sea Turtle Conservancy is definitely an adventure! To get to Tortuguero, I first took a bus ride through the mountains and then to the coast. From there I boarded a small boat to take me through the canals. It was here that I first started to experience the wonderful wildlife that can be found in Costa Rica. From monkeys, to iguana’s, countless native birds, and butterflies there is always something to see.

Once I arrived at the station, I learned how to measure and record data for when a turtle is nesting. Right away I was included in the night patrols and various activities that take place during a usual week at the station. During the week I got to know the research assistants better and learned about the countries that they are from.

The night patrols are not always successful in terms of seeing turtles but there is always something interesting to see, from the brilliant night sky to small crabs that glow in the dark. Since nature, and turtles, are not always predictable, I recommend staying for two weeks. That way there are more opportunities to see a turtle.

Seeing a turtle was definitely the highlight of my trip! I was able to count the eggs and help check her flippers and shell for any damage. Being so close to these amazing animals is truly a life changing experience. Working with the turtle up close gave me a new appreciation for these creatures, while also motivating me even more to help conserve them.

Staying two weeks also gives you time to become a part of the weekly schedule and see even more wildlife. There is always something to do in or around the station: going in to Tortuguero for shopping or food, bird watching, relaxing on the beach, taking a canal tour or even just reading a book. Costa Rica is truly a beautiful country, from the plants, to the animals, and even the gorgeous sunsets.

Being an Eco-Volunteer in Tortuguero is definitely a once in a life time experience. If you have the chance, you should definitely go!

By Rachel Bladow

Sea Turtle Conservation

Today’s blog post about working with sea turtles in Costa Rica is by Brian Drozd, a program officer at the U.S. Department of State. He has over 6 years of experience working for the United States Environmental Protection Agency, where he worked on grants and communications in the Climate Change Division. His Master’s degree in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development enabled him to focus on sustainable tourism and conservation.

In the summer of 2009 I spent 10 weeks working with sea turtles on the rugged coast of Tortuguero, Costa Rica. Working as a research assistant for the Sea Turtle Conservancy, I spent my time walking up and down a 5 mile stretch of beach in the middle of the night looking for green sea turtles to measure, tag, and count the number of eggs they laid. I did this only for meals and a roof over my head. Why would someone do this? Sea turtles have swum in the world’s oceans for 100 million years, and they are in danger of extinction. Threats from poaching, commercial fishing, and climate change, among others, are threatening these animals all over the world. Many people say healthy sea turtles mean healthy oceans.

There are many different species of sea turtles, but I primarily worked with green sea turtles. Some facts about these amazing animals:

  • They only lay eggs every 3-4 years, and generally come back to nest on the same beach where they were born throughout their life. One turtle we found had nested on the same beach in 1982!
  • They only lay their eggs at night, after digging a hole that can be up to 5 feet deep.
  • They only come on land to lay their eggs.
  • There are only an estimated 88,000 nesting green turtle females in the world.

The goal of my time in Tortuguero was to help the Sea Turtle Conservancy collect data to monitor the health and numbers of the sea turtle population. We also worked closely with the local people to educate them about sea turtles and help them conduct their eco-tourism business with the turtles in a safe manner.

One of the most amazing experiences as a research assistant was when we put a satellite transmitter onto a green turtle. Using a transmitter to monitor turtles we are able to learn about their feeding patterns, how long they stay under water, and much more. It is just this kind of valuable information that is helping scientists learn how to better help protect these animals.

Sea Turtles nest all over the world. Large nesting populations are found in many countries in Latin America and Africa, as well as in India, Indonesia, and China. All sea turtles are in need of protection, monitoring, and research in order to make sure they survive for future generations. There are many actions you can take to help sea turtles near your home and around the world. Some of them are: reducing pollution, not eating sea turtle meat or eggs, and protecting coastlines by slowing development and reducing light on nesting beaches. View more tips here and research just a few of the many organizations working to save turtles around the world. I had an incredible time working with sea turtles, and I’m sure you would too!

This blog was originally posted on the Global Conversations: Climate Blog )