***UPDATE as of 8/7/2019: Great news out of the Brevard County Commission meeting last night! The commissioners rejected the citizen initiative to allow dogs on 11 miles of the Refuge. Most of the commissioners were vocally opposed. In the Carr Refuge District, 92% of those contacting their commissioner via email and phone did not want dogs on their beaches. Commissioners cited both human health and safety and the sensitive habitat as reasons for not supporting the initiative. THANK YOU to all who signed our petition, called and emailed commissioners and spread the word about this harmful proposed initiative! You truly made a difference. If any news breaks about this issue in the future, we will be sure to keep you informed.***
Brevard County’s Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge hosts the single most important sea turtle nesting beach in the United States. The Refuge is a nesting ground for more threatened loggerhead turtles than virtually anyplace else on Earth, as well as for green and leatherback sea turtles. Decades of tireless work and millions of dollars spent by governmental agencies, non-profit organizations such as the Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC), and foundations successfully created and protected the Refuge as a safe haven for sea turtles. A recent movement to open up the Refuge to domestic dogs threatens this progress.
A group of local Brevard residents is pushing forward a proposal to allow dogs on 11.5 miles of the Refuge between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. daily. STC has extensive experience in monitoring and protecting sea turtle nesting beaches in Florida and the Caribbean. On some of the beaches we monitor, dogs have been documented as a major threat to sea turtles; dogs are excellent at sniffing out turtle nests and digging them up. Dogs are also known to predate live hatchlings ready to emerge and scare off adult nesting sea turtles. Sea turtles, especially hatchlings, have plenty of wild predators without humans introducing large numbers of domestic predators.
This stretch of beach, owned by county, state and federal governments, falls under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service management plan that does not allow dogs and cats on federally-owned property. Brevard County would be highly vulnerable to a federal Endangered Species Act lawsuit if this plan moves forward and any impacts to sea turtle nests are documented. The Refuge is one of the most heavily studied nesting beaches in Florida, so any predation incidents by dogs would be swiftly recorded.
This year has been a record-breaking year for sea turtle nesting in the Refuge and across the Southeastern U.S. All three species of sea turtles that nest in the Carr Refuge are just starting to show signs of recovery. The Carr Refuge in Brevard County is the worst possible place to allow dogs on the beach.
Although many staff members at STC are dog lovers, we oppose directing dogs to defecate in the very area where people and children take their shoes off and play in the sand. It is highly unsanitary for people and very dangerous for federally-protected sea turtles.
The Brevard County Commission is meeting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, August 6 to discuss this proposed plan. Please contact the Brevard County Commissioners listed below and let them know that you oppose opening up the Archie Carr Refuge to dogs.
District 1 Commissioner Rita Pritchett
District 2 Commissioner Bryan Lober (Vice Chair)
District 3 Commissioner John Tobia
District 4 Commissioner Curt Smith
District 5 Commissioner Kristine Isnardi (Chair)
Exciting news! Sea Turtle Conservancy’s main office located in Gainesville, FL is moving to a new building! What does this mean for you? Due to the move, STC will have limited or no access to phones from April 17-22 and limited email access April 19-22.
Any gift Shop or Adopt-A-Turtle orders placed after 5 pm (EST) on Wednesday, April 17 will not be processed until Wednesday, April 24.
We appreciate your patience at this busy time!
Our new address is:
Sea Turtle Conservancy
4581 NW 6th Street
Gainesville, FL 32609
All email addresses and phone numbers will remain the same.
Guest blog post by Diane & Linda Randgaard
Our younger sister, Lisa, loved to travel and did so with great joy and wonder. The decline of her physical health from the congenital heart condition she lived with so bravely was a limit she recognized, once noting that her body “wouldn’t be able to keep up with her desire to see the world.”
Lisa found other ways to indulge her wanderlust, and sea turtles helped fill a need in her soul. STC’s annual Tour de Turtles was of particular interest, tracking strong, yet vulnerable, animals that traverse wide swaths of the world’s vast, dangerous oceans. She shared her passion for sea turtles with others and donated to this cause that grew near and dear to her. When Lisa died suddenly at age 43 in May 2012, she left a grieving family that got busy and began fundraising for STC in her honor.
This Holiday Season, we are offering our handmade soaps and other special items to raise $3,000 by January 2019, building on the $100,500 generated since the start of this amazing journey. In 2016, Lisa’s Building, which houses staff and welcomes visitors, was dedicated at the STC outpost in Tortuguero, Costa Rica, a crucial nesting beach for greens and leatherbacks, and 100% of ALL holiday donations goes to the Lisa Jo Randgaard Fund, an unrestricted endowment fund focused on the future of sea turtle conservation.
Lisa’s heart goes on, thanks to the kindness of many wonderful people that share her great love of sea turtles.
THANK YOU and Happy Holidays! Please visit us at LoveIntoSustainedAction.com.
Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) would like to give a special congratulations to the winners of our 2019 Sea Turtle Scenes Calendar Contest! All of the photos were truly fantastic. Thank you to everyone who took the time to enter!
The winning photographs will be featured in STC’s 2019 Sea Turtle Scenes Calendar, which will be available online in our gift shop sometime in November. Thank you to all of our participants who made this year’s selection exciting and especially difficult. We received HUNDREDS of submissions! If you missed out on this one, look out for the 2020 photography contest next year!
Here are this year’s winners:
**Cover Image!** Photographer: Ben Hicks
January: Photographer David Randazzo
February: Photographer Karla Morales
March: Photographer Ben Hicks
April: Photographer Guillermo Plaza
May: Photographer Dirk Peterson
June Photographer: Karla G Barrientos Munoz
July: Photographer Hannah Bacalla
August: Photographer Jim Angy
September: Photographer David Randazzo
October: Photographer Mario Cisneros
November: Photographer Jim Angy
December: Photographer Saira Ortega
Over the last five years, the Randgaard family has raised $100,000 for Sea Turtle Conservancy to honor the memory of their beloved youngest daughter and sister, Lisa, who passed away at the age of 43 on May 2, 2012, from complications of her congenital heart condition.
The family helped fund the renovation of The Lisa Randgaard Building in Tortuguero, Costa Rica, to provide safe, eco-friendly housing and office space at this STC research outpost for staff, scientists, volunteers and other visitors.
Fundraising by Lisa’s mom, Jenny, and two sisters, Diane and Linda, centered on building The Lisa Jo Randgaard Fund, includes “Lisa’s Fundanas,” custom sea turtle-themed bandanas, and “Flippery When Wet” homemade soap bars.
When Jenny passed away in October 2016, her daughters knew they gained another angel on their shoulder to guide them in their work. “In addition to our soap bars, we are going to reissue, after heartwarming demand, a limited run of our ‘Lisa’s Fundanas.’ Helping sea turtles is a great way to honor Lisa and Mom.”
To purchase one of “Lisa’s Fundanas” or “Flippery When Wet” soaps, visit www.LoveIntoSustainedAction.com
STC Programs: Research: Assistantships for Sea Turtle Monitoring in Bocas del Toro Region, Panama
Bastimentos Island National Marine Park
Since 2003, Drs. Anne and Peter Meylan have worked in partnership with the Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) to monitor important Panamanian sea turtle nesting beaches in the Bocas del Toro Province and the Comarca Ngäbe Buglé, from the Changuinola River to the Chiriquí River. Key among these beaches are three in the Bastimentos Island National Marine Park, Small Zapatilla Cay, Big Zapatilla Cay and Playa Larga. For the 2018 nesting season, they anticipate having up to 6 openings for research assistants to help with this work.
Application Information for Research Assistant Positions
Research Assistantship (RA) positions are voluntary (unpaid) and selected RAs are expected to plan and finance their own travel to and from Bocas del Toro, Panama. Selected RAs will receive board and lodging in small field camps and will be expected to help with cooking and clean-up.
Good knowledge of Spanish and English is required. Applicants with: 1) education in biology or related fields, 2) previous fieldwork with sea turtles, and 3) experience working/living in multicultural environments in isolated locations for extended periods will be most competitive for these positions. Availability for the entirety of one specified time interval for the BINMP program (27 April through 31 July or 25 July through 2 November) is preferred.
STC Alumni RAs have gone on to work for conservation organizations, universities and government agencies worldwide.
Applications for RA positions must include the following materials:
All application materials must be received at our office before or on the deadline listed for each program. Short-listed candidates will be contacted within four weeks of the application deadline. Please do not phone or e-mail to inquire about the status of your application.
Applicants that do not supply all requested materials will not be considered.
2018 BINMP Program Research Assistant Position Information:
Project description: Conservation and monitoring of hawksbill and leatherback sea turtles
Location: Bocas del Toro Province, Bastimentos Island National Marine Park (BINMP)
Dates: Group 1: 27 April – 31 July 2018
Group 2: 25 July – 2 November 2018
Applications will be accepted until all positions are filled.
Since 2003, Anne and Peter Meylan have worked in a partnership with the Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) to monitor important Panamanian sea turtle nesting beaches in the Bocas del Toro Province and the Comarca Ngäbe Buglé, from the Changuinola River to the Chiriquí River. Four sea turtle species are found in the waters of Bocas del Toro and the Comarca; Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), Green (Chelonia mydas) and Loggerhead (Caretta caretta). Within this region, we have standardized monitoring, research and protection efforts in collaboration with STC and members of local communities close to the nesting beaches. This program has had very positive results. Nearly 1,000 hawksbill nests were recorded in the park in 2017. In the last 14 years, there has been a reduction in the illegal killing of turtles on the majority of nesting beaches in the area, and an increasing nesting trend for both Leatherback and Hawksbill turtles. Despite these advances, numerous threats remain for the sea turtles within and adjacent to BINMP, including increasing pressure on coastal and marine habitats through unregulated tourism development and the continued hunting of turtles for personal consumption and commercial purposes both on the beach and within park waters.
Up to 6 research assistants (RAs) will be trained in sea turtle monitoring techniques by, and work under the supervision of, the Meylans (Eckerd College and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission) and Cristina Ordoñez, STC’s Panama Coordinator. The season is divided into two time periods that together span the majority of the hawksbill nesting season in BINMP: May through July and August through October. The beach monitoring team will be made up of local Panamanians with moderate to extensive experience with the project and RA’s from multiple countries around the world. The primary responsibilities of the RAs will include day time census patrols, night time tagging patrols, and logistic support of all camp activities. Day time patrols include identifying and accurately recording all emergence and nesting activity, marking of nests for future hatching success evaluation, and performing excavations of hatched nests. Night time patrols include tagging and measuring nesting females. All RA’s are expected to contribute to recording data, maintaining the camp, cooking and cleaning, making food trips to town, and other activities in support of the project.
RAs can expect to work very long hours, throughout the day and night, often with little sleep. Beach patrols require walking between 6 to 12 kilometers in soft sand and in extreme weather conditions. Night time patrols are 5 hours long (8 pm – 1 am or 1 am to 6 am). Therefore excellent physical condition is a requirement for the RA positions.
The work will be developed in three different beaches in Bastimentos Island National Marine Park (BINMP): “Small” Zapatilla Cay (Zapatilla Uno), “Big” Zapatilla Cay (Zapatilla Dos), and Long Beach (Playa Larga). RAs will rotate among the three beaches while participating in the sea turtle program and may have an opportunity to work for short periods at other sites in the region.
For additional information about the project and to download an application, visit https://conserveturtles.org/stc-programs-research-assistantships-sea-turtle-monitoring-bastimentos-island-national-marine-park/
Read STC’s Comments on the Leatherback Status Change Petition (pdf file).
Leatherback sea turtles are ancient, giant reptiles. Named for their unique shells composed of thin rubbery skin, they can dive the deepest and travel the furthest among all seven sea turtle species on earth. Leatherbacks have traveled the globe for millions of years, but they face a number of mostly human-caused threats to their survival and recovery.
One of the greatest threats they face is being accidentally caught by commercial fishing operations. When they are caught underwater in nets or on baited lines, they drown if they can’t reach the surface for air. They can also sustain internal injuries from hooks or external injuries from entanglement, including strangulation or amputation. In October of last year, a New Jersey-based organization representing commercial fishing interests quietly introduced a federal petition to classify the Northwestern Atlantic leatherback population as a distinct population and to change the status of this population under the Endangered Species Act from “endangered” to “threatened.”
In the petition, the group states that the Northwestern Atlantic leatherback population (including leatherbacks that nest in Florida, Costa Rica, and Panama) should be listed as “threatened” because it is “not currently at risk of extinction (i.e., endangered) due to its overall population size.” But the scientific evidence submitted with the petition did not take into account data from 2014 and forward that disputes this claim.
In Florida, leatherback nesting has decreased from 650 to just 200 nests since 2014, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. In addition, over the last two decades, STC has documented a severe decline in leatherback nesting at Tortuguero, Costa Rica (see Figure 1). Furthermore, the nesting trend for this species at Chiriqui Beach, Panama, which had shown positive growth over a decade ago, actually shows a slight decline since 2005.
The future of leatherback sea turtles is also at risk due to climate change and global warming. Following a global trend, south Florida sea turtle hatchlings are becoming increasingly female due to warmer-than-average sand temperatures. Hot sand is also causing turtle embryos to overheat in their nests at STC’s research sites in Panama, reducing the hatching success rate to less than 20 percent in many areas monitored by STC.
If this population of leatherback sea turtles is downgraded to “threatened,” STC worries that commercial fisheries and other industries will take less care in reducing incidental “take,” or the accidental killing of leatherback sea turtles, and federal authorities will be less focused on the urgency with which this species needs protection.
NOAA is accepting public comment on this petition. STC will be making formal comments based on our own scientific data; however, anyone interested in sharing their opinion on the topic may do so online by visiting this site: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0147-0001. We hope STC members will ask the federal government to reject this petition and keep leatherback sea turtles listed as “endangered” so they benefit from full protection under the Endangered Species Act.
On November 28th, Sea Turtle Conservancy is participating in our 5th annual Giving Tuesday! Giving Tuesday, the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, is a day of charitable giving around the world. This special holiday was created as a day where everyone is encouraged to contribute to non-profit organizations in their communities and around the world. #GivingTuesday provides one day to make a HUGE difference. For the past four years, STC has been very fortunate to receive incredible support from our friends and donors. Last #GivingTuesday, STC supporters raised over $40,000 in one day to support STC’s Florida InWater Project! In 2015, you helped raise nearly $30,000 for the Barrier Island Center’s education and community outreach programs.
STC asks for your help this year to support something close to our hearts, the Tour de Turtles. Started in 2008 by STC, the Tour de Turtles is a fun, educational journey through the science, research and geography of sea turtle migration using satellite telemetry. With help from sponsors and partners, this event follows the marathon migration of sea turtles, representing different species, from their nesting beaches to their foraging grounds. Each year, sea turtles are tracked for approximately three months as they leave their respective nesting beaches and race to complete a turtle marathon. The Tour de Turtles competitors will swim with the goal of being the turtle to swim the furthest distance during the migration marathon. This fun, family-friendly event kicks off every July at the Barrier Island Center in Melbourne Beach, FL, with the live release of two satellite tagged sea turtles!
Help STC reach its goal of $40,000 to support Tour de Turtles educational events and sea turtle outreach by donating to the cause in one of four ways: online at www.conserveturtles.org/ GivingTuesday, by calling 352-373-6441 mailing a check with “Giving Tuesday” in the subject line, or through our Facebook campaign. Facebook is matching all Giving Tuesday gifts up to $50,000 per nonprofit! All checks received with Giving Tuesday in the subject line, will count towards the campaign, even after November 28th, 2017. Funds raised will be matched one to one up to $20,000 by STC’s Board of Directors. Can we count you in for #GivingTuesday?
The Sea Turtle Grants Program (STGP), funded by the sale of Florida’s Helping Sea Turtles Survive specialty license plate, recently awarded $362,564.95 to 29 different projects benefiting Florida sea turtles as part of the 2017-2018 grant funding cycle.
Each year, the Sea Turtle Grants Program distributes money to coastal county governments, educational and research institutions and nonprofit groups through a competitive application process. The sea turtle specialty license plate is also the primary source of funding for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Marine Turtle Protection Program.
The following organizations received grants for their approved projects for the 2017-2018 cycle:
The sea turtle plate is the number two overall selling specialty tag in Florida, and the number one environmental specialty plate. By purchasing the sea turtle specialty license plate, Floridians are voluntarily funding important programs to save endangered sea turtles and their habitats.
To learn more about the Sea Turtle Grants Program and the “Helping Sea Turtles Survive” specialty license plate, please visit www.helpingseaturtles.org.
The race has officially ended with high spirits and exhausted flippers! We want to extend a huge congratulations to our winner Lady Aurelia, who swam further than any other competitor in Tour de Turtles history! While she powered herself the 3,465 miles to victory, she was never alone as she had her amazing sponsors at the New England Cord Blood Bank (NECBB) by her side. Interestingly, NECBB chose the “outside the box” name, Lady Aurelia, to reflect their sponsorship, which does not quite “fit the norm” as they put it themselves. Indeed, without any direct ties to marine/tourism industry, NECBB was a unique sponsorship! CEO Joe Rizza said he hopes that their involvement in the Tour de Turtles will “encourage other companies and individuals to consider being a sponsor.” Sea Turtle Conservancy is extremely grateful for NECBB’s involvement and could not have agreed with them more when they said, “It was a great way to raise much needed funds and awareness for the excellent work the Conservancy does every day, for sea turtle conservation.”
Tour de Turtles 2016 Race Results
1. Lady Aurelia = 3465 miles
2. Leonara = 2080 miles
3. Turpac = 1531 miles
4. Tortuga turista = miles
5. Pebbles = 1089 miles
6. Calypso Blue V = 1017 miles
7. Destiny = 1020 miles
8. Esperanza = 918 miles
9. Julia = 807 miles
10. Bailey = 716 miles
11. Kreacher = 557 miles
12. Sylvia = 303 miles
13. Sundrop = 163 miles
14. Fleming = 124 miles
Although Lady Aurelia won in miles, we have another TDT competitor who won our hearts. And so, we are happy to announce Calypso Blue V as our 2016 People’s Choice Winner! Without the countless fans who donated and voiced their support, his victory and the tremendous progress of the other competing turtles, would not be possible. Sea Turtle Conservancy is so thankful for your support! Of course, behind every competitor is an organization that made their participation possible. Thank you to those at Atlantis for your involvement in Tour de Turtles! “Atlantis, Paradise Island is very proud to have worked with the Sea Turtle Conservancy over the last five years on Tour de Turtles” said Debra Erickson, Executive Director of the Atlantis Blue Project Foundation. “With all of the challenges that sea turtles face, Tour de Turtles provides a much-needed opportunity for school children and the public to learn more about sea turtles and how they can help save them.We are thrilled that we were able to share the adventures of Calypso Blue V with all of our supporters and that she won the People’s Choice Award.”
So, with an end to Tour de Turtles 2016, we want to express our gratitude once again for all the sponsors and individuals who supported the race and further, those who continually support our efforts! Sea turtle conservation is such an important cause for our world and your support does not go unnoticed.
Tour de Turtles 2016 Sponsors
|Atlantis, Paradise Island||Cuba Marine Research and Conservation Program||pacsafe|
Clearwater Marine Aquarium
Disney’s Animal Programs
Four Seasons Resort Nevis
Sea Life Trust
Disney’s Vero Beach Resort
New England Cord Blood Bank
Shark Reef Aquarium
Disney’s Conservation Fund
Patel College of Global Sustainability
The Turtle Hospital
See you next year for Tour de Turtles 2017!
Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) would like to give a special congratulations to the winners of our 2017 Sea Turtle Scenes Calendar Contest! All of the photos were truly fantastic. Thank you to everyone who took the time to enter!
The winning photographs will be featured in STC’s 2017 Sea Turtle Scenes Calendar, which will be available online in our gift shop sometime in November. Thank you to all of our participants who made this year’s selection exciting and especially difficult. We received HUNDREDS of submissions! If you missed out on this one, look out for the 2018 photography contest next year!
Here are this year’s winners:
By: Colin Davis **Cover Image!**
By: Joanie Tomlin
By: Karla Morales
By: Ralph Pace
By: Spencer Sarson
By: Staci-Lee Sherwood
By: Mario Cisneros
By: Colin Davis
By: Ursula Dubrick
By: Ben Hicks
By: Celeste McWilliams
By: Karla G. Barrientos-Munoz
By: Mario Cisneros
By: Staci-Lee Sherwood
Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) is excited to officially welcome our partners at DivinityLA to the Tour de Turtles marathon! For this year’s Tour de Turtles, DivinityLA sponsored a green turtle, who they named “Pebbles.” When deciding on a name for their turtle, DivinityLA was inspired by the importance of pebbles and sand in the turtles’ nesting and hatching process.
To begin her migration marathon, Pebbles, a green turtle from Tortuguero, Costa Rica, was released on July 9, 2016 from STC’s John H. Phipps Biological Field Station in Tortuguero.
Since the launch of their company in 2015, DivinityLA has donated over $17,000 to Sea Turtle Conservancy- a tremendous effort that should not go unrecognized! One dollar from every sea turtle bracelet purchased is donated to STC. Click here to purchase and support sea turtles!
In addition to the incredible partnership they have with STC, DivinityLA has developed partnerships with a number of other hand-selected non-profits whose purpose supports their own mission and values. With each bracelet purchased, a portion of the proceeds is donated to one of the organizations. As DivinityLA representative Kailey Ruiz said, “In our world, we need more companies who are willing to look out for the greater good, as well as their own, and by contributing to wildlife conservation and human improvement we are playing our part as best we can.”
While they have greatly involved themselves in making a global impact through donations to international DivinityLA turtle bracelet NEWorganizations like STC, DivinityLA also focuses on making improvements closer to home. Through meal preparation and distribution for the homeless, DivinityLA gives back to their local Los Angeles community. “We believe that any and all efforts, big or small, can have a lasting impact on all living things that surround us.”
For DivinityLA, Tour de Turtles is the next step in expressing their loyalty to and support of sea turtle conservation. “We are very excited about the opportunity to follow these turtles on such an intimate and remarkable journey. We can’t wait to see their movement throughout the migration and anticipate the nesting of their future hatchlings!”
$1 from every sea turtle bracelet purchased is donated to STC. Click here to purchase and support sea turtles! And don’t forget to follow Pebbles on her marathon migration! You can view her satellite map online here.