Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) kicked off its seventh annual Tour de Turtles (TdT) with a live sea turtle release on July 27 at the Barrier Island Center, located in the heart of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in Melbourne Beach, Florida.Loggerhead Melba was released in Florida on July 27, 2014
A crowd of more than 1,000 people gathered to watch as STC researchers released two adult female loggerhead sea turtles, named ‘Shelley’ and ‘Melba,’ into the ocean to begin their migrations. ‘Shelley’ was named by her sponsors at Ripley’s Aquariums while ‘Melba‘ was named via STC’s Facebook contest. Shelley and Melba are just two of 11 sea turtles representing four different species swimming in the TdT migration marathon, an annual program that conducts valuable research and raises public awareness about sea turtles.
The 2014 TdT included live turtle releases in Panama, Costa Rica, Nevis and Florida. The final release is on August 15 at Sombrero Beach, Fla. This year is the first time that a rehabilitated loggerhead turtle is competing in the TdT. ‘Pine Tyme‘, an 80 pound sub-adult loggerhead, was spotted struggling on the surface unable to dive and is now being treated at The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida. Upon recovery, Pine Tyme will be equipped with a satellite transmitter and released from Sombrero Beach, Fla. on August 15 at 1:00 p.m. This is also is STC’s first ever release in the Keys.
“This is the seventh year of the Tour de Turtles and we are thrilled with how the program has grown and gained popularity over the years,” said David Godfrey, executive director of STC. “More people are turning out for the live release events and logging onto the website to learn about these turtles than ever before. Not only do we have a diverse group of turtles this year, but also a very diverse group of sponsors supporting this educational program. It’s amazing to see the variety of businesses, from resorts, to lighting companies and aquariums, that come together to raise awareness for sea turtles.”
Before releasing each turtle, STC scientists attach a satellite transmitter to its shell using turtle-safe epoxy or fiberglass resin. The transmitters allow STC and the public to track the turtles as they migrate from their nesting beaches to their foraging grounds. Turtle fans can follow the turtles’ migrations online at www.tourdeturtles.org, and cheer on on their favorite competitor while learning about some of the threats sea turtles face. Fans can support their favorite turtle through a virtual adoption or by making a pledge for each mile the turtle swims. The turtle who swims the farthest by October 31 will be crowned the winner of the ‘race’ while the turtle who raises the most money will be crowned the ‘People’s Choice Winner.’
Some interesting facts about the 2014 Tour de Turtles:
‘Esperanza’, a green sea turtle sponsored by Contiki and the TreadRight Foundation, is swimming to raise awareness about the threat of egg harvesting for consumption. After she laid her eggs on July 3, 2014, it was discovered that her nest had been poached and her eggs stolen! Luckily, the local police were able to catch the poacher and return the eggs to STC’s team, who quickly and carefully reburied them in a new location. Hopefully we’ll see some green hatchlings erupting from Esperanza’s nest in September!
‘Sugar’, a hawksbill sponsored by Four Seasons Resort Nevis, already had flipper tags when STC found her nesting on Lovers Beach, Nevis. After looking up her tag number, STC was able to determine that she was first tagged by the Nevis Turtle Group in 2007. This was great news because it provided further evidence that sea turtles return to the same beach to nest.
‘Melba’, a loggerhead sponsored by the Sea Turtle Grants Program, ranks in the top five largest loggerheads STC has ever released! She also has one of the biggest heads, which is fitting as loggerheads get their name from their exceptionally large heads.
A state-of-the-art clean solar energy system is helping Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) protect endangered sea turtles at its new research station on Soropta Beach, Panama. Designed and installed by FTL Global Solutions (FTL), an innovator of lightweight, rugged energy systems for use in remote areas, this reliable green energy system now supplies power for lighting, security, water and cooking needs as STC biologists work throughout the night protecting endangered leatherback turtles and their hatchlings at one of the most important nesting beaches for this species in the Atlantic.
Soropta Beach, a remote black-sand beach on Panama’s Caribbean coast, is home to a large nesting colony of leatherback sea turtles. Unfortunately, for years Soropta’s leatherbacks and their nests have been illegally harvested by poachers who kill the turtles for their meat and raid nests to steal the eggs. STC‘s conservation program is helping prevent poaching by protecting nests, monitoring nesting activity, and building support for turtle conservation with the local community. The work takes place out of a rustic station, where the lack of electricity made the work extremely challenging – until now.
“The new solar energy system installed by FTL Global Solutions is making our conservation efforts more effective and safe,” said STC executive director David Godfrey.
STC‘s conservation efforts at Soropta began in 2013, when it acquired an old farm house and began upgrading it to accommodate a year-round turtle protection program. STC then hired and trained local community members to assist with the research and conservation work. Without a year-round conservation presence at Soropta, poachers would move back in and threaten the survival of this important nesting colony.
“Acquiring solar energy at a remote place like Soropta Beach could not have been done without the expert advice and assistance of FTL,” said Godfrey. “Their team guided us through the process; helped deliver the system to our remote station and even sent an expert to install the system and train our staff in its use and maintenance.”
“What makes the lighting so powerful is what it brings to Soropta,” said FTL spokesperson Paul Murphy. “The lighting extends the useful working day allowing the teams to achieve much more during each day, plus the social cohesion it brings to Soropta is incredible.”
The FTL solar energy system now provides critical power needs to the station’s various buildings where staff members live, work and eat. Running water is now supplied to a restroom and shower facility, and the station compound and dock now have security lighting in place.
“The first evening the lights were in and turned on was the first evening that the teams actually sat around the table after dinner and just talked,” said Murphy. “The camaraderie was a delight to watch, the joy on faces when the lights were turned on for dinner was moving. What FTL brings is more than just a lighting solution– it’s a life changing solution.”
Although improperly managed artificial lights can disorient nesting turtles and their hatchlings, STC has used the latest turtle-friendly lighting technology throughout the Soropta station. All lights use red LED technology and are completely shielded from view on the beach. Using such technology, it is possible to provide light for human needs and safety on the beach without disturbing nesting sea turtles and other coastal wildlife.
In addition to FTL contributing their expertise and reducing the cost of the system installation, STC would also like to thank our Board of Directors as well as the IC Corporation and their foundation, IC Cares, for financial assistance with this project. IC Corporation has offices in Panama and provides support for STC’s sea turtle work at Soropta Beach.
About Sea Turtle Conservancy: Sea Turtle Conservancy is an international nonprofit and the world’s oldest marine turtle research and conservation organization. Founded in 1959, Sea Turtle Conservancy is dedicated to ensuring the survival of sea turtles through research, education, advocacy and the protection of natural habitats upon which they depend. Learn more at www.conserveturtles.org.
About FTL Global Solutions: FTL Global Solutions provides lightweight, mobile and highly ruggedized lighting systems for commercial, defense and humanitarian requirement located in remote areas. They founded the FTL Global Outreach Initiative to provide off grid power solutions to schools, orphanages, medical clinics and conservation programs around the world. Learn more at www.ftlglobal.net.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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!
World Sea Turtle Day, June 16, is a day used to honor and highlight the importance of sea turtles. These creatures, like any other creature, are magnificent in their own way. Not only are sea turtles beautiful animals, but they also show incredible perseverance and resiliency– after all, they have been nesting on beaches for millions of years. So of course they deserve their own day dedicated to their awesomeness!
World Sea Turtle Day would not be rightfully celebrated without mentioning, Dr. Archie Carr, STC’s founder and “father of sea turtle biology.” World Sea Turtle Day is celebrated the same day as Dr. Carr’s birthday, June 16. Dr. Carr will forever be remembered for the enhancement of the sea turtle conservation movement and the legacy he has left behind. His research and advocacy brought the attention to the threatening conditions that continue to impact sea turtles. His work highlighted the issue and helped create the community that continues to strive for a better life and future for sea turtles.
Dr. Carr realized early on what many know today about the importance of sea turtles. Sea turtles perform many important tasks that contribute to the well-being of sea life and the environment. For example, leatherbacks and hawksbills sea turtles help keep the populations of jellyfish and sponges in check. Green sea turtles on the other hand eat sea grass. Like regular grass, sea grass needs to be kept short to ensure it’s healthy and that it continues to grow along the ocean. Without sea turtles, grass beds will grow into grass blades and become detrimental to marine life. Grass beds provide a place for breeding and development for many species of fish. Assuring the upkeep of these grass beds is crucial to keeping marine animals healthy.
Sea turtles are ancient animals that have been around since the time of dinosaurs. Although they have been around for millions of years, they’ve remained mostly unchanged. It is important that we continue to do what is necessary to preserve these magnificent animals that have been around for 110 million years to guarantee that they stick around for another 110 million years.
It is important that we all do what we can to help celebrate World Sea Turtle Day. The Sea Turtle Conservancy will be spending June 14, from 12-4 p.m., at the Florida Museum of Natural History for The World Sea Turtle Day Celebration. Children and families are welcomed to come tour the museum’s sea turtle exhibits with STC. There, STC staff will give “Turtle Tours,” to help educate people about sea turtles and their habitats. Kids will have a chance to create fun turtle crafts, play turtle trivia, meet sea turtle scientists and researchers from the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research at UF. The event will have sea turtle specimens, free stickers and bookmarks for all the kids that join STC. The event is free and open to the public.
If you can’t join STC on June 14, here is a list of things you can do to celebrate sea turtles any day of the year:
Turn off your lights. If you live in a beach-front residence, turn your lights off. Lights cause nesting and hatchling turtles to wander. Simple thing like closing your blinds, turning off your lights or using sea turtle friendly lighting encourages nesting and helps hatchlings go in the right direction.
Clean up the beach. Remove any waste from beaches that might hinder a turtle’s nesting. A clean beach will ensure that turtles have a clean nesting ground. Also, knock down sand castles and fill in holes so that the ground is flat and there is nothing in the way of hatchlings when they’re making their way to the ocean.
Recycle. Plastic that ends up in the ocean gets eaten up by turtles because they believe the plastic is jellyfish. Over 100 million marine animals are killed each year due to plastic debris. So buying and using products that decrease the use of plastic helps tremendously.
Spread the word. Not everybody knows that June 16 is World Sea Turtle Day. So tell your friends and family, post it on Facebook and Twitter and invite everyone to spread the word about sea turtles and the ways they can celebrate this awesome day with you and STC! What will you do to celebrate?
It’s that time of the year again; nesting season is officially in full swing throughout the state of Florida! About 90% of all sea turtle nesting in the United States takes place on Florida’s beaches, which means it is critical that residents and visitors alike do their part to ensure that sea turtles have a safe and successful nesting season. By reading the tips below, you can do your part to make sure they’re made part of your beach routine from the months of May through October. Don’t forget to share these tips with friends and family so everyone can work towards creating a safer environment for all sea turtles.
Watch those lights. In order to prevent nesting and hatchling turtles from wandering off track, your beachfront property should use sea turtle friendly lighting, help by closing drapes and blinds, and shield or turn off outdoor lights that are visible on the beach. By following these steps, you can encourage females to nest and lead hatchlings in the right direction, the ocean! Click here to learn more about artificial lighting.
Knock down that sandcastle. Although this is every kid’s nightmare, it’s important to knock your sandcastle over and flatten out the sand at the end of the day. Additionally, filling in all holes made in the sand can avoid the entrapment of hatchlings while on their way to the water. Furthermore, remove all toys like buckets, shovels, or other beach tools. Additional information on threats from beach activity.
Avoid the attraction of unwanted pests. Raccoon, foxes, coyotes and other types of animals all have one thing in common: they love our leftovers. Raccoons destroy thousands of sea turtle eggs each year and are one of the greatest causes of sea turtle mortality on Florida’s beaches. You can help deter these animals from destroying sea turtle eggs by cleaning up food and additional trash after a day at the beach. Recycling is another way to reduce the plastic debris that kills over 100 million marine animals are killed each year. For more information on how you eliminate waste, visit TerraCycle.com or purchase one of our STC reusable bags. Additionally, our website has more information on the threats from invasive species, click here if interested.
Put FWC on speed dial. Program the phone number for your area’s wildlife stranding hotline into your phone so you’ll be prepared if you happen to encounter a dead, sick, stranded or injured sea turtle. It is also important to report any harassment of sea turtles or disturbance of nests. In Florida, you can call FWC Wildlife Alert Number at 1-888-404-3922 or visit their website. For other states, you can find a list of contact info here.
Don’t interfere with the hatching process. It’s important to allow hatchlings to crawl to the water on their own. Many scientists believe the journey from nest to water allows them to imprint on their own beach. Picking up hatchlings may interfere with this process and is also illegal.
Don’t place your beach furniture too close to a marked nest. If possible, place furniture at least 5 feet away. Furniture can mislead turtles during the hatching process and also entrap them. Also make sure to put away your beach furniture at the end of the day.
Don’t use fireworks on the beach. Although this can be tempting with 4th of July right around the corner, think about how the loud noises and bright lights can disturb nesting females. Instead, many local organizations hold inland fireworks displays for your enjoyment.
If you would like to watch a nesting turtle, join an organized sea turtle walk. In Florida and other states where sea turtles nest, turtle watches are conducted by trained and permitted individuals. The goal is to educate people about sea turtles through direct contact, without disturbing the turtles. Register to join an STC Turtle Walk and learn more information about nesting season by visiting our website at /.
This year, thanks to Florida’s Helping Sea Turtles Survive specialty license plate sales, Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) awarded $305,219.27 in grants to 17 organizations, educational institutes and local governments for programs benefiting Florida sea turtles.
The Sea Turtle Specialty License Plate is the primary source of funding for Florida’s Marine Turtle Protection Program. It also supports the Sea Turtle Grants Program, which has awarded more than $4 million in grants to 76 different groups for research, education and rehabilitation projects in Florida since 2001.
The Florida’s Helping Sea Turtles Survive specialty license plate was approved by Florida legislature in 1997 after STC initiated a statewide effort in 1995 to create a permanent source of funding for Florida’s Marine Turtle Protection Program. The plate was offered for sale for the first time in February 1998.
The sea turtle plate is currently Florida’s second most popular specialty plate and the most popular environmental specialty plate. It costs $23 more than Florida’s normal license plate fee.
70 percent of the funds raised by the plate’s sales go to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission‘s (FWCC) Marine Turtle Protection Program. Approximately 30 percent is distributed to the Sea Turtle Grants Program. This means that every time a sea turtle specialty plate is purchased or renewed, more funds are raised for sea turtles!
The Sea Turtle Grants Program is administered by STC, who works with a committee to determine which projects receive funding. The program supports projects involving sea turtle research, conservation and education.
The following organizations received grants for the 2014-2015 cycle: Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch, Brevard County Environmentally Endangered Lands Program, City of Fernandina Beach, City of Marathon, Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, Coastal Cleanup Corporation, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, East Coast Zoological Society of Florida (Brevard Zoo), Florida Coastal Conservancy, Friends of the Archie Carr Refuge, Gulf World Marine Institute, Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, Inwater Research Group, Mote Marine Laboratory, Sea Turtle Conservancy, University of Central Florida and Zoological Society of the Palm Beaches.
For more information on the grants breakdown, visit http://www.helpingseaturtles.org/funded2014.php.
The Sea Turtle Grants Program provides much-needed funding for several of STC’s initiatives.
This year, STC received funding for the Tour de Turtles 2014 satellite tracking and education program and to re-print and redistribute Florida’s Sea Turtles Life History Posters in both English and Spanish.
In the 2012-2013 cycle, STC received funding for a project to provide easy-to-use materials about sea turtle-friendly lighting to coastal property owners. And in the 2013-2014 cycle, STC received funding to implement InterACT with Sea Turtles: Distance Learning for K-12.
InterACT is scheduled to begin at the start of the next school year. It will use a virtual classroom collaboration system to allow students and instructors to communicate with STC staff to create opportunities for interactive lessons on sea turtles and marine conservation.
The purchase of Florida’s Helping Sea Turtles Survive specialty license plate is a way to directly help save Florida sea turtles and their habitats.
To learn more about Florida’s sea turtle license plate, visit http://www.helpingseaturtles.org/.
May 16, 2014 marks the ninth annual national Endangered Species Day. Started by Congress in 2006, Endangered Species Day is a day of awareness of the importance of endangered, threatened and at-risk species.
Endangered Species Day 2014 will continue to educate people about the importance of the species that are endangered and the things that can be done to help protect them.
Zoos, parks, gardens, wildlife refuges, museums, schools and community centers, amongst other participants in the U.S., will hold events to further promote, educate and celebrate Endangered Species Day and the reason for its creation. Those who are interested in participating in the celebration should visit endangeredspeciesday.org to find an event close to them.
The day is a great platform to highlight the success some species have achieved while recovering from being an endangered species. The green sea turtle is one of many species that are considered success stories because of its great recovery after actions were implemented to help enhance and protect the species.
All sea turtles in U.S. waters are listed under the Endangered Species Act and the green sea turtle is one of the many species that benefited from the act. Enacted in 1978, the act granted green sea turtles protection by NOAA Fisheries in the ocean and by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) in their beach nesting habitats along U.S. coasts.
The species was documented to have fewer than 50 turtles nesting at the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge on Florida’s east coast in 1990. In 2013 there were 13,000 nests. This incredible comeback is known as one of the greatest conservation success stories of our time.
Its success can be attributed to the Endangered Species Act, STC and all other supporters who worked tirelessly to ensure that the green sea turtles made its memorable comeback.
Although a lot of species have been delisted due to their recovery, there is still a lot of work to be done to help other species eliminate the risk of endangerment.
There are many things one can do to ensure that they contribute to helping species fight endangerment and extinction. Here are ten tips from the Endangered Species Coalition to help you participate and celebrate Endangered Species Day.
1. Learn about endangered species in your area.
The best way to protect endangered species is learning about them and how they’re important. So teach yourself and educate those around you on the benefits of endangered species. STC’s educational program empowers sea turtle groups throughout Florida, provides educational materials and uses the concept of sea turtle migration tracking as an online educational tool.
2. Visit a national wildlife refuge, park or other open space.
These places are home to a lot of different species, and preserving an endangered species’ habitat is essential to protecting the species. You can help by visiting a refuge close to where you live and become a volunteer. The Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in Florida is a major safe haven for sea turtles. The refuge is where about 25% of all the sea turtle nesting in Florida occurs.
3. Make your home wildlife friendly.
Secure garbage in shelters or cans with locking lids and feed pets indoors to avoid attracting wild animals to your home. Taking these actions can keep animals like raccoons, which are sea turtle predators, away. Reduce your use of water in your home and garden so animals that live in or near water can have a better chance of survival. If you live on the beach you can make your home sea turtle friendly by implementing sea turtle lighting.
4. Plant native plants.
Native plants provide food and shelter for native animals. You can plant sea oats on the beach to help prevent dune erosion and provide habitat for sea turtle nesting. STC conducts native dune vegetation planting to provide an additional buffer to reduce or eliminate unwanted light on the beach and to enhance nesting habitat at various project sites in the Florida panhandle.
5. Stay away from herbicides and pesticides.
Herbicides and pesticides may keep yards looking nice, but they are in fact hazardous pollutants that affect wildlife at many levels. Many herbicides and pesticides take a long time to degrade and build up in soil and throughout the food chain. For alternatives to pesticides, visit http://www.beyondpesticides.org.
6. Slow down when driving.
One of the main obstacles for wildlife in developed areas is roads. Animals that live in developed areas navigate in areas full of human hazards and roads present wildlife with a dangerous threat. So when you’re driving, slow down and be on the lookout for wildlife. You should also apply these practices while boating to avoid harming sea turtles and other endangered species in the water.
7. Recycle and buy sustainable products
Recycle anything that can be recycled and buy sustainable products as a simple gift to nature and its species. Simple things like these make a difference for endangered species.
8. Never purchase products made from threatened or endangered species.
Overseas trips can be exciting and fun, and everyone wants a souvenir. But sometimes the souvenirs are made from species nearing extinction. Avoid supporting the market for illegal wildlife products such as tortoise-shell, ivory and coral. Hawksbill sea turtle shells are often used to be made into sunglasses, jewelry and other trinkets because of their beautiful shell pattern.
9. Stand up for wildlife.
Harassing wildlife is cruel and illegal. Harmful behavior such as disturbing and distracting sea turtles is illegal and can be reported by calling any of the numbers listed on our website.
10. Protect wildlife habitat
Perhaps the greatest threat that faces many species is the widespread destruction of habitat. Environmental issues such as oil and gas drilling and development result in habitat destruction. Habitats belonging to endangered species should be protected so the impact on endangered species is minimized.
Any effort to help an endangered species is appreciated, so participate and celebrate national Endangered Species Day on May 16, 2014!
Happy Earth Month! In honor of Earth Day, we’ve been sharing some awesome tips on our social media pages all month long to help sea turtles and the environment. Listed below are 30 great ways you can help the environment every day! What is your favorite way to celebrate and care for our planet?
Tip #1: Use Goodsearch as your go-to search engine! A charitable cousin of Yahoo, Goodsearch allows you to the internet while giving back to a charity of your choice! It’s the same search engine as Yahoo and contains the same information, but while you’re searching, you’re donating. Register and type in Sea Turtle Conservancy into your cause search bar and it should pop up as STC- Sea Turtle Conservancy. You raise 1 cent per search, which can really add up! Learn more at http://www.goodsearch.com/
Tip #2: Reduce the amount of garbage you produce by using reusable bags, water bottles, cups, coffee mugs, plates, bowls, silverware, etc. An easy way to help protect sea turtles and our environment is to get into the habit of recycling and buying products that allow you to avoid trashing plastic all together. We love the great eco-friendly products by Wild Mint! Shop for eco-friendly essentials at www.WildMintShop.com and get 10% off all orders through 4/30 with code PLANET at check out!
Tip #3: Share and talk with others about the dangers of helium balloon releases. Helium-filled balloons are frequently released into the sky to celebrate events. Like plastic trash, helium balloons end up in the ocean, especially when released near the coast. Sea turtles mistakenly eat the balloons and die. If you know of a group planning a balloon release, politely ask them to consider another attention-getter. Learn more at http://balloonsblow.org/
If you have a couple minutes, check out this moving short animation that addresses the problem of marine litter and how it can be harmful to a variety of species.When that little girl released her balloon, she probably did not mean for a sea turtle to mistake it for a jelly fish and eat it, but far too often that is exactly what happens.
Tip #4: Adopt-A-Sea Turtle: Take a personal interest in one of our satellite-tracked turtles or a turtle tagged in Costa Rica. The donation directly supports sea turtle conservation. See the Adopt-A-Turtle page for details.
Tip #5: Start collecting items for one of STC’s TerraCycle programs! Unlike local recycling programs, TerraCycle accepts waste that is harder to categorize and items you probably didn’t realize you could recycle, such as old make-up containers, energy bar wrappers, cheese packaging, shampoo bottles, etc. The lists of things you can recycle is quite extensive and really makes a difference in the amount of “trash” you throw away each month! Even better, you can earn a donation for STC by sending in recyclables! Visit www.terracycle.com to learn more.
Tip #6: Become an Eco-volunteer! STC’s Eco-Volunteer program is a unique and educational way to take part in travel that helps conservation. With hands-on opportunities, our Eco-Volunteer programs are designed to get you up close and personal with sea turtles in Costa Rica. Read a first-hand account of the Eco-Volunteer experience on our blog and sign up today! http://stcturtle.org/volunteer-research-programs.php
Tip #7: Sign up to become a Turtle Guardian! Turtle Guardians are a special group of STC Members that help protect sea turtles by giving sustainable monthly donations. And since it’s Earth Month, Turtle Guardians who sign up during April at the $10/month level or higher will receive a limited edition reusable STC logo bag! Take this handy bag with you anywhere and ditch the plastic. To learn more and sign-up, visit https://adoptaseaturtle.org/Secure/donate.php
Tip #8: Instead of driving yourself, pick several days to walk, bike, skip or carpool this month (and every month!) By using less oil and gas, we can help lower the need for drilling. Oil spills from exploration for and transportation of oil and gas, as well as from urban and agricultural run-off, poses substantial risks to marine turtles and to the habitats they rely upon.
Tip #9: Donate your old phones to SecondWave Recycling: SecondWave focuses solely on recycling cell phones. The materials that go into a cell phone have more than just one life and can be used for new technology. This program also keeps phones out of landfills which prevent harmful toxins from potentially seeping into waterways. Simply visit Secondwave’s Website to fill out a request for an envelope and enter ‘Sea Turtle Conservancy’ into the ‘CAUSE’ section of either form you choose. Visit http://secondwaverecycling.com for more information! SecondWave donates 100% of the wholesale value of the phone to STC, and the value depends on the quality of the phone. The better the phone, the more we receive. (US only)
Tip #10: Participate in a beach clean up: Work with local groups or your school to organize a beach clean up to clear the beach of trash that could harm wildlife. Check out Mission: Clean Beaches.
Tip #11: STC recently participated in Tortuga Music Festival. The Tortuga Music Festival partnered with the Rock The Ocean Foundation and gathered many different conservation groups to inform residents of the current efforts to protect our oceans, wildlife and environment. The Rock The Ocean Foundation is dedicated to supporting scientific research and education while increasing public awareness about the issues impacting the world’s oceans. Find out more about Rock The Ocean by visiting http://rocktheocean.com/ & keep up with them on Facebook to learn about future music events and ways you can get involved!
Tip #12: A great way to show your support for sea turtles, in or outside of Florida, would be to buy a Blue marlin license plate frame. A donation of 10%, or TWO DOLLARS from each frame, are directly donated to help sea turtles. You can also buy a Replica Sea Turtle License plate from the STC Online Gift Shop if you are unable to purchase an official Florida specialty plate!
Tip #13: Avoid attracting unwanted animals (raccoon, foxes, coyotes) to the beach by cleaning up trash and food that you and others have brought to the beach. Some predation is naturally occurring, but because people feed wild animals or leave behind garbage, it encourages the presence of animals like raccoons. Raccoons destroy thousands of sea turtle eggs each year and are one of the greatest causes of sea turtle mortality on Florida’s beaches. Learn more
Tip #14: at http://search.earth911.com/?where
Tip #15: Make sure your beachfront property is equipped with sea turtle-friendly lighting or turn off your lights at night. Nesting turtles once had no trouble finding a quiet, dark beach on which to nest, but now they must compete with tourists, businesses and coastal residents for use of sandy beaches. U.S. beaches, popular with humans and turtles alike, are now lined with seaside condominiums, houses and hotels. Lights from these developments discourage females from nesting or can disorient hatchlings trying to make it to the ocean. Read more about sea turtle friendly lighting on our website.
Tip #16: Help sea turtles every time you drive… If you live in Florida you can purchase a “Helping Sea Turtles Survive” specialty license plate for your vehicle! Proceeds from the sale of the sea turtle plate go to support Florida’s Marine Turtle Protection Program and help fund the Sea Turtle Grants Program. The grants program awards around $300,000 each year to support research, education, and rehabilitation projects the benefit Florida’s sea turtles. To learn more about purchasing a plate, visit http://www.helpingseaturtles.org/index.php
Tip #17: Use water efficiently by taking shorter showers, fixing leaking plumbing, turning the sink off while you’re brushing your teeth, etc. Every two minutes you save on your shower can conserve more than ten gallons of water! Another great way to conserve water is by using rain barrels.
Tip #18: Become an STC member today!Your donation supports Sea Turtle Research and Conservation in the United States, Costa Rica, Panama, Bermuda, and the Wider Caribbean; Cutting-edge Education Programs reaching millions of people around the world; Protection of Critical Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches, such as Tortuguero, Costa Rica, and the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in Florida; And many other programs… With your donation, you become a member of the Sea Turtle Conservancy and receive a one-year subscription to our newsletter, the Velador. Learn more at https://adoptaseaturtle.org/Secure/joinSTC.php
Tip #19: Use reusable bags when shopping: You can even purchase a great STC reusable bag here. An added perk to using these tote bags is that they won’t rip on you and can carry up to 25 pounds! Plastic bags often end up in our waterways as litter and when that happens, a sea turtle could confuse the bag for a jellyfish and try to eat it. Over 100 million marine animals are killed each year due to plastic debris in the ocean and it is expected that another 60 billion pounds will be produced this year alone.
Tip #20: Sign up with Amazon Smile and donate to sea turtles while you shop! It’s the same Amazon you already know but instead of just receiving the products you buy, your money is also going towards your favorite cause, protecting sea turtles! AmazonSmile donates 0.5% of your purchase price to STC, once you register under our organization. Sign up here and visit https://smile.amazon.com/ch/59-6151069
Tip #21: Take a cue from green sea turtles and consider going vegetarian once a week with Meatless Monday, for your health and the health of the planet! Going meatless once a week can help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel! The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide. And annual worldwide demand for meat continues to grow. Reining in meat consumption once a week can help slow this trend. The water needs of livestock are also tremendous, far above those of vegetables or grains. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef, as opposed to only 220 gallons for soy tofu. Learn more and join the #MeatlessMonday Movement at http://www.meatlessmonday.com/
Tip #22: Throw a Sea Turtle-Themed party! Click here to download your FREE House Party Toolkit with everything you need to throw a sea turtle-themed party and raise awareness about these endangered species.
Tip #23: The City of St. Augustine, FL is celebrating Earth Day this year by hosting an environmental education festival on Saturday April 26, 2014, from 11 am to 3 pm at R.B. Hunt Elementary School, open to the public. Exhibits and demonstration topics will be related to environmental education, including waste prevention, local wildlife and marine life, gardening and water/resource conservation. Electronics recycling and document shredding will also be available at the event. Stop by and visit STC’s table at the event!
Tip #24: Try to keep lights off and let natural light in to preserve energy. Always turn off incandescent bulbs when you leave a room. Fluorescent bulbs are more affected by the number of times it is switched on and off, so turn them off when you leave a room for 15 minutes or more. You’ll save energy on the bulb itself, but also on cooling costs, as lights contribute heat to a room. Also make sure to unplug all appliances when you’re not actually using them to save energy.
Tip #25: If you see turtle nests, do not disturb the nest and report others who are. If you find a dead, injured or stranded sea turtle in Florida, you can call FWC’s 24-hour Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922. For more info about what to do if you encounter a sea turtle, click here.
Tip #26: Be a responsible boater by disposing of trash and fishing line properly, cleaning your boat with biodegradable products and going slow when in wildlife zones. Boat strikes are a serious threat to sea turtles.
Tip #27: Avoid walking the beach at night, especially with a flashlight or flash photography. The lights and people can scare off nesting turtles. Human use of nesting beaches can result in negative impacts to nesting turtles, incubating egg clutches and hatchlings. The most serious threat caused by increased human presence on the beach is the disturbance to nesting females. Night-time human activity can prevent sea turtles from emerging on the beach or even cause females to stop nesting and return to the ocean.
Tip #28: Start Composting: Compost is organic material that can be used as a soil amendment or as a medium to grow plants. Mature compost is a stable material with content called humus that is dark brown or black and has a soil-like, earthy smell. It is created by: combining organic wastes (e.g., yard trimmings, food wastes, manures) in proper ratios into piles, rows, or vessels; adding bulking agents (e.g., wood chips) as necessary to accelerate the breakdown of organic materials; and allowing the finished material to fully stabilize and mature through a curing process. Learn More @ http://www.epa.gov/compost/basic.htm
Tip #29: Help replant gardens and beach vegetation with native species.
Tip #30: Keep loving and sharing your passion for sea turtles and make every day earth day: One of the best things you can do for sea turtles is to spread the word. There are so many easy, daily ways everyone can help sea turtles and the environment that might have been a surprise to you and will probably be a surprise to others. Make sure to share this information with your friends!
Marine debris is a problem that mostly goes unseen due to ocean currents, but it’s a crisis that continues to grow globally, greatly jeopardizing the marine life ecosystem.
The issue was recently brought into the global spotlight during the search for Malaysian Airline Flight 370. As the search for the missing flight continues, scientists are realizing just how harmful marine debris is globally. What rescue teams thought was debris from the missing plane ended up being a patch of marine litter that had collected in the ocean from currents. The debris poses a major threat to marine life and the ecosystem. To learn more about the situation click here.
It is estimated that over 100 million marine animals are killed each year due to plastic debris. Scientists believe the largest debris collection is the North Atlantic garbage patch located in the North Atlantic Ocean, which consists of trash from Europe, Mexico, the United States and Canada.
The marine debris includes drift wood, bottles, fishing nets, plastic bags, balloons and many other types of inorganic materials. More than 80 percent of all marine debris comes from land, which causes marine life to mistake the debris for potential food.
In a study conducted in Brevard and Volusia Counties in Florida, scientists who examined the gut contents from both living and nonliving stranded loggerhead turtles in those counties found that 100 percent of the 94 turtles examined had plastics in their gut contents. Another study conducted in the Gulf Stream Sargassum examined dead post-hatchlings which were left stranded following storms in the same area, and found that almost 100 percent of all the turtles examined had suffered from plastic ingestion.
State legislatures are currently taking steps to protect the ecosystem and marine life from potential marine debris. Hawaii recently passed a law banning plastic bags at checkout counters, and is the only state that has done so. Unlike Hawaii, Florida law currently prohibits its state and local governments from enacting similar plastic bag bans, and a bill seeking to overturn this ban was introduced in the legislature this year. Although SB 830 “Carryout Bags” did not get very far in the Florida legislature this year, the voices of those who supported it were heard in Tallahassee and had an impact, as many legislators said their offices were “inundated” with calls, Tweets, and emails from supporters. Thank you to all the sea turtle lovers that reached out to Florida legislators for support of SB830, and please be sure to thank Sen. Dwight Bullard for sponsoring this bill! For more on this recent effort to change Florida’s law to allow local bans of plastic bags, check out this blog post from Surfrider Foundation Florida Chapter Network.
Another source of marine debris is helium balloons. Although mostly practiced with good intentions, balloon releases create potential harm for marine life. For some species of sea turtles, which feed on jellyfish, turtles eat the balloons mistaking the plastic for jellyfish. The Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota planned to release 60,000 balloons across Minnesota and North Dakota to commemorate its 60thanniversary. However, thanks to the vocalization of many supporters, the foundation is modifying its original plans regarding the balloon release. STC would like to thank all of those who politely shared their opinions with the foundation.
Helium balloons aren’t only dangerous to wildlife, they can be hazardous to humans, too. In 1986, organizers from the United Way of Cleveland attempted to break a world record by releasing 1.5 million balloons outside simultaneously. Unfortunately, when a big storm from the Great Lakes arrived, the balloons were pushed back toward the city. This resulted in the death of two boaters who were unable to be rescued because the Coast Guard could not fly its helicopter through the mass of balloons. Many of the balloons also ended up in the water, and rescuers could not properly search for their victims as the floating balloons looked similar to heads. The event ended up costing the city millions of dollars in law suits.
Fortunately, many states have banned large balloon releases. In Florida, the law states that individuals are allowed to release a maximum of 10 balloons into the air in a 24-hour period. Those who violate the balloon ordinance could be fined a maximum of $250.
There are many other ways to commemorate a special event other than releasing balloons. This article offers friendly alternatives highlighting other options to celebrate events without the use of balloons.
So, what can YOU do to help reduce marine debris? One of the easiest ways is to make the switch from plastic bags to reusable cloth bags. STC is offering a free limited edition reusable STC logo bag for Turtle Guardians who sign up during the month of April at the $10/month.
For other ideas, check out STC’s Actions You Can Take Page:
UPDATE 4/10/14 – Thank you to all the sea turtle lovers who reached out to Florida legislators for support of SB830, “Carryout Bags,” which proposed a potential ban on many plastic bags. Many legislators said their offices were “inundated” with calls, Tweets, and emails from supporters! Unfortunately, after much debate, the bill has been temporarily postponed.
URGENT CALL TO ACTION! WE NEED YOU TO HELP FLORIDA BAN PLASTIC BAGS! Tomorrow morning, Thursday April 10, the FL Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee will consider a bill that could help ban the use of many plastic bags in Florida. The bill, SB 0830 “Carryout Bags” by Sen. Dwight Bullard from South Florida will allow local governments to adopt ordinances that prohibit stores from handing out free plastic carryout bags and that require a 10 cent charge for each recyclable paper bag. Customers are free to supply their own bags.
Currently Florida law prohibits local governments from enacting bans on plastic bags. This bill would overturn the existing law and establish uniform statewide standards for cities and counties that want to implement plastic bag rules. It simply allows citizens and their local governments the authority to ban plastic bags if they so choose.
The bill provides that the bag ordinance can only apply to large stores meeting at least $2 million in gross annual sales, or that have at least 10,000 square feet of floor space. (Mom and pop stores are exempt.)
This bill will reduce litter, encourage recycling, and potentially save thousands of animals from accidentally ingesting plastic. It is estimated that more than 100 million marine animals are killed each year due to plastic debris in the ocean. More than 80% of this plastic comes from land. It washes out from our beaches and streets. It travels through storm drains into streams and rivers. It flies away from landfills into our seas. As a result, thousands of sea turtles accidentally swallow these plastics, mistaking them for food. Most of the debris is recognizable: plastic bags, balloons, bottles, degraded buoys, plastic packaging, and food wrappers. Some plastics aren’t so easy to see, so small, in fact, that it is invisible to the naked eye. If sea turtles ingest these particles, they can become sick or even starve.
We are asking you to please politely urge Committee members to vote ‘YES’ on the Carryout Bags bill! See below for a list of who to contact:
YES ON 830 – CARRYOUT BAGS!
Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation 2014
|Local Delegations||Capitol Phone||Email Address|
|Sen. Charles S. Dean, Chair||Baker,Citrus,Columbia,Dixie,Gilchrist,Lafayette,Levy,Marion,Suwannee,Union||(850) email@example.com|
|Sen. Joseph Abruzzo, Vice Chair||Palm Beach||(850) firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Sen. Thad Altman||Brevard,Orange,Seminole||(850) email@example.com|
|Sen. Dwight Bullard||Collier,Hendry,Miami-Dade,Monroe||(850) firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Sen. Jeff Clemens||Palm Beach||(850) email@example.com|
|Sen. Andy Gardiner||Brevard,Orange||(850) firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Sen. Denise Grimsley||Highlands,Martin,Okeechobee,Osceola,Polk,St. Lucie||(850) email@example.com|
|Sen. Jack Latvala||Pinellas||(850) firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Sen. Wilton Simpson||Hernando,Pasco,Sumter||(850) email@example.com|
|Sen. Darren Soto||Orange,Osceola,Polk||(850) firstname.lastname@example.org|
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Thad Altman – @SenatorAltman
Sen. Charles S. Dean – @CharlieDeanSD5
Sen. Jeff Clemens – @ClemensFL
Sen. Denise Grimsley – @DeniseGrimsley
Sen. Jack Latvala – @JackLatvala
Sen. Wilton Simpson – @WiltonSimpson
Sen. Darren Soto – @SenDarrenSoto
Please also join us in thanking Senator Bullard for sponsoring this important bill once again. He can be reached at email@example.com, on his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/bullard4florida/ or on Twitter @DwightBullard
Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) is proud to announce its 9th consecutive top rating from Charity Navigator, the leading evaluator of non-profit groups in the United States. STC once again received 4 out of 4 stars, 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, only 1% of the charities they rate have received 9 consecutive 4-star evaluations, and this indicates “that Sea Turtle Conservancy outperforms most other charities in America. This ‘exceptional’ designation from Charity Navigator differentiates Sea Turtle Conservancy from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust.”
STC spends 85 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.
“STC’s coveted 4-star rating puts it in a very select group of high-performing charities,” said Ken Berger, President and CEO of Charity Navigator. “Out of the thousands of nonprofits Charity Navigator evaluates, only one out of four receives 4 stars – a rating that, now, with our new Accountability and Transparency metrics, demands even greater rigor, responsibility and commitment to openness. STC’s supporters should feel more confident that their hard-earned dollars are being used efficiently and responsibly when it acquires such a high rating.”
STC’s rating and other information about charitable giving are available free of charge on Charity Navigator.
The last large populations of the leatherback turtle are at risk because their migratory routes in the Atlantic Ocean converge with the locations of industrial fisheries, a new study shows.
Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) is one of ten organizations that worked together to publish the study which provides insight into the complex patterns of movement by leatherback turtles in the Atlantic and their overlap and accidental capture by industrial longline fisheries for pelagic (open ocean) species such as tuna and swordfish.
Between 1995 and 2010, a total of 106 leatherback females from populations throughout the Atlantic were equipped with satellite tags and tracked over extended periods of time. Satellite tracking data revealed that leatherbacks display complex patterns of movement in national coastal and international waters and use the waters of 46 of the 97 countries bordering the Atlantic. By overlaying the turtles’ tracks with information on fishing effort, researchers were able to identify nine areas where high risk of capture by fisheries exists, four in the North Atlantic and five in the South Atlantic. Sea Turtle Conservancy’s Technology and Research Specialist Dan Evans is a co-author on the report.
Maps of the daily locations of the turtles revealed that Atlantic leatherbacks use both deep sea international waters (more than 200 nautical miles from land) and coastal national waters, either seasonally or year-round, in a complex pattern of habitat use.
About 16,600 female leatherbacks breed in the Atlantic each year, and while some populations are doing well, accidental capture in longline and other fisheries remains an important conservation threat because fishing effort is intense. More than 4 billion hooks – equivalent to 730,000 hooks per day – were set throughout the entire Atlantic Ocean by industrial fisheries between 1995 and 2010, the study shows.
“Fewer than 1,000 females nest in Florida each year, but the coastal waters of the eastern United States represent one of the nine high risk areas for leatherbacks in the Atlantic during April – June and October – December,” said Marydele Donnelly, Director of International Policy for STC. “The findings of this study have significant policy implications. Multinational collaboration will be needed to reduce leatherback capture through changes in fishing equipment, fishing methodology, and seasonal closures of some areas to fishing.”
The study results from the collaborative efforts of 10 data providers that have tracked leatherback turtles in the Atlantic Ocean since 1995 through the Trans-Atlantic Leatherback Conservation Initiative (TALCIN).
The article, ‘Pan-Atlantic analysis of the overlap of a highly migratory species, the leatherback turtle, with pelagic longline fisheries,’ is published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Other contributing authors on this report include: S. Fossette, Department of Biosciences at Swansea University; M.J. Witt, Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter; A.C. Broderick, Center for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter; P. Miller, Center for Investigation and Marine Conservation, Uruguay; M.A. Nalovic, Virginia Institute of Marine Science; D. Albareda, Aquamarina, Del Besugo 1525, Pinamar, Buenos Aires 7167, Argentina, Jardín Zoológico de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Republica de la India 3000,Buenos Aires 1425, Argentina, and Regional Program for Sea Turtles Research and Conservation of Argentina; A.P. Almeida, ICMBio–Reserva Biológica de Comboios, Linhares, Brazil; D. Chacon-Chaverri, Asociación LAST, Apdo 496-1100, Tibás, Costa Rica; M. S. Coyne, SEATURTLE.org, Durham, NC; A. Domingo, Dirección Nacional de Recursos Acuáticos, Constituyente 1497, Uruguay; S. Eckert, WIDECAST and Biology and Natural Resources Department, Principia College; A. Fallabrino, Karumbé – Av. Rivera 3245 (Zoo Villa Dolores), Uruguay; S. Ferraroli, Rue Victor Hugo, France; A. Formia, Wildlife Conservation Society; B. Giffoni, Fundação Pró-TAMAR, Rio Vermelho, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil; G. C. Hays, Department of Biosciences at Swansea University, Center for Integrative Ecology, Deakin University; G. Hughes, 183 Amber Valley, P/Bag X30, Howick 3290, South Africa; L. Kelle, WWF, French Guiana; A. Leslie, WWF International, Switzerland; M. Lopez-Mendilaharsu, Karumbé – Av. Rivera 3245 (Zoo Villa Dolores), Uruguay and Fundação Pró-TAMAR, Rio Vermelho, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil; P. Luschi, Department of Biology, University of Pisa in Italy; L. Prosdocimi, Regional Program for Sea Turtles Research and Conservation of Argentina and Laboratorio Genética de la Estructura Poblacional, Departamento de Ecología, Genética y Evolución, FCEN, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina; S. Rodriguez-Heredia, Regional Program for Sea Turtles Research and Conservation in Argentina and Fundación Mundo Marino, Buenos Aires, Argentina; A. Turny, WWF French Guina; S. Verhage, WWF Gabon; B.J. Godley, Center for Ecology and Conservation University of Exeter.
One of the most commonly asked questions Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) hears is, “How can I help sea turtles?” We know our supporters come from all over the world and not everyone lives near the beach, so we’ve compiled a list of easy ways you can help sea turtles every day. The best part about this list? You can do these activities no matter where you live!
1. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle: An easy way to help protect sea turtles and our environment is to get into the habit of recycling and buying products that allow you to avoid trashing plastic all together. Try reusable water bottles and reusable grocery bags. You can even purchase a great STC reusable bag here. An added perk to using these tote bags is that they won’t rip on you and can carry up to 25 pounds! Plastic bags often end up in our waterways as litter and when that happens, a sea turtle could confuse the bag for a jellyfish and try to eat it. Over 100 million marine animals are killed each year due to plastic debris in the ocean and it is expected that another 60 billion pounds will be produced this year alone. In some areas, the buildup of plastics is estimated to span 5 million square miles, which is equivalent to the area of the United States and India combined.
2. TerraCycle: Unlike local recycling programs, TerraCycle accepts waste that is harder to categorize and items you probably didn’t realize you could recycle, such as old make-up containers, cheese packaging, shampoo bottles, etc. The lists of things you can recycle is quite extensive and really makes a difference in the amount of “trash” you throw away each month. All you have to do is choose a collection “brigade”, and when you’re ready to send in your items, contact STC so we can send you our official TerraCycle shipping label. This label is specific to STC and allows us to receive the donated funds. Shipping is free but limited to the United States only.
TerraCycle either recycles or upcycles the trash into new products such as bicycle chain picture frames, circuit board coasters, Biodegradable Fiber Pots, Capri Sun backpacks, bathroom cleaners and newspaper pencils. Check out the full list! Popular brigades that STC participates in include: Tom’s of Maine products, Hummus containers, Cheese packaging, and Dairy tubs.
Contact Becca at STC to get more information or to receive a shipping label: Becca@conserveturtles.org
3. SecondWave Recycling: SecondWave focuses solely on recycling cell phones. The materials that go into a cell phone have more than just one life and can be used for new technology. This program also keeps phones out of landfills which prevents harmful toxins from potentially seeping into waterways. Simply visit http://secondwaverecycling.com to fill out a request for an envelope and enter ‘Sea Turtle Conservancy’ into the ‘CAUSE’ section of either form you choose. It’s free and easy for you to do and benefits STC & sea turtles by directing donations to STC and keeping the environment clean! SecondWave donates 100% of the wholesale value of the phone to STC, and the value depends on the quality of the phone. The better the phone, the more we receive. (US only)
4. Amazon Smile: Another outlet for donation is through Amazon Smile. It’s the same Amazon you already know but instead of just receiving the products you buy, your money is also going towards your favorite cause, protecting sea turtles! Amazon Smile donates 0.5% of your purchase price to STC, once you register under our organization. Just visit smile.amazon.com, sign in if you’re already an Amazon member or create an account, then type in Sea Turtle Conservancy in the causes/donation search bar. It’s super easy and you might feel better about spoiling yourself with a little online shopping if it sends some of the money back towards sweet sea turtles!
5. Goodsearch: A charitable cousin of Yahoo, Goodsearch allows you to search for information on the internet while giving back to a charity of your choice! Its the same search engine as Yahoo and contains the same information, but while you’re searching, you’re donating. Register and type in Sea Turtle Conservancy into your cause search bar and it should pop up as STC- Sea Turtle Conservancy. You raise 1 cent per search, which can really add up!
And there are even more ways to raise donations through Goodsearch! These partner sites can be found on their search engine website underneath “more ways to raise.”
The great thing is, you can explore all the different Goodsearch sites and you won’t have to re-enter any information on your donations because they transfer over to each site– less hassle and more donations!
Lastly, one of the best things you can do for sea turtles is to spread the word. There are so many easy, daily ways everyone can help sea turtles and the environment that might have been a surprise to you and will probably be a surprise to others. Make sure to share this information with your friends!
ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA— Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC), Center for Biological Diversity and other conservation groups notified the National Marine Fisheries Service in February of their intent to sue over the agency’s failure to complete a long-overdue analysis of the impacts of shrimp trawling on threatened and endangered sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico and U.S. Southeast Atlantic Ocean. Shrimp trawlers operating in the southeast United States capture and kill over 53,000 threatened and endangered sea turtles each year.
This new legal action comes just two years after the conservation groups settled another lawsuit, one that sought to address more than 3,500 sea turtles that stranded dead or injured on beaches in the same areas in 2011. The Fisheries Service linked many of those sea turtle deaths and injuries to capture in shrimp fishing nets. Conservation groups settled the litigation with the Fisheries Service, which promised to propose a new rule to help protect sea turtles. Instead of implementing the rule, the Fisheries Service withdrew it.
Since then, the agency has failed to complete a revised analysis of the impacts of shrimp trawling on sea turtles, even after acknowledging previous analyses were inadequate and did not account for poor compliance with existing regulations.
“We had high hopes that we were moving toward a solution for sea turtles, but once again the Fisheries Service has failed to actually implement the protective measures,” said Jaclyn Lopez, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The agency has gotten into a disturbing habit of initiating protections and then stalling them. Every day protections are delayed is another day that these sea turtles face the very real risk of drowning in shrimp nets.”
“Turtle excluder devices,” known as TEDs, prevent turtles from drowning in nets, but limited use and lax enforcement have led to thousands of sea turtle deaths. Making matters worse, shallow-water shrimp vessels using skimmer trawls are permitted to simply self-enforce time limits on their tows in water instead of using TEDs. Enforcement records have shown that only 35 percent actually comply with these regulations. There is also mounting evidence from federal fishery observers suggesting that even when these restrictions are followed, skimmers drown turtles. Shrimp trawling is one of the most significant threats facing sea turtles in U.S. coastal waters.
“Shrimp trawls kill more sea turtles than all other sources of mortality in U.S. waters combined,” said Marydele Donnelly, Sea Turtle Conservancy’s director of international policy. “Nations that export shrimp to the United States are required to protect sea turtles from drowning in their nets, but the U.S. fleet cannot meet these standards right now.”
The Endangered Species Act requires the Fisheries Service to ensure that its actions do not jeopardize the continued existence of endangered species. This notice aims to ensure the agency’s compliance with this law in carrying out its mandate to protect sea turtles and seeks to establish protective measures for them.
“These fisheries should not be permitted to operate without any protective measures in place,” said Amanda Keledjian, marine scientist at Oceana.
For More Information, contact:
Marydele Donnelly, Sea Turtle Conservancy, (410) 750-1561, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jaclyn Lopez, Center for Biological Diversity, (727) 490-9190, email@example.com
Teri Shore, Turtle Island Restoration Network, (415) 663-8590, firstname.lastname@example.org
Amanda Keledjian, Oceana, (202) 467-1918, email@example.com
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)!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
The construction of sea walls (also referred to as coastal armoring or shoreline hardening) in or immediately adjacent to sea turtle nesting habitat can degrade nesting habitat, deter sea turtles from nesting, and increase beach erosion. As erosion from storms, sea level rise and poorly located development continues to threaten beaches and upland structures, landowners often resort to sea walls to protect their property. Coastal Tech, under a pro bono contract with Sea Turtle Conservancy, produced a report to inform the public and provide guidance on how to best construct and locate seawalls as far landward as practicable and in accordance with state laws. The report, titled, “Guide to Siting of Seawalls” can be read on STC’s website here. Coastal Tech is a consulting firm specializing in coastal engineering and coastal zone management and can be found on the web at http://www.coastaltechcorp.com
Sea walls literally draw a line in the sand and prevent beaches from migrating or from recovering naturally after storm events. They lock up sand on the landward side that would normally be deposited onto an eroded beach. When they interact with waves, they deflect the wave energy back onto the beach in front of or to the sides of the wall, resulting in increased erosion and a lowering of the beach, especially immediately in front of the wall.
Because sea walls can have such significant harmful impacts to the beach and dune system and to sea turtle nesting habitat, they are generally discouraged and alternatives such as dune restoration and beach renourishment are preferred to provide protection for upland structures. Of course, not building too close to the beach is the best way to avoid needing a sea wall. Too often however, we allow people to build far too seaward and on top of the most seaward dunes.
By blocking access to the upper portion of the beach, sea walls cause sea turtles that are trying to nest to turn around and head back to the surf, abandoning their nesting attempt (referred to as a false crawl). They also cause turtles to nest in less than optimum or suitable habitat. They can nest right in front of the wall where the nest and hatchings are susceptible to waves and repeat inundation from the surf. In this photo sea turtles trying to access the safe upper portion of the beach were forced to nest at the base of the sea wall. The stakes mark the turtle nests.