Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) is hoping all of its supporters will participate in this year’s Giving Tuesday Campaign, which seeks to raise funds for the critical in-water work we are doing to study and conserve sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico. Though not as well-known as Black Friday or Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, which occurs the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (November 28 this year), is one day when everyone can join together to make a huge difference.
For Giving Tuesday last year, STC supporters raised $60,000 for STC’s research and conservation programs in Tortuguero, Costa Rica. STC has set its sights even higher this year, with a goal of raising $65,000, which we are confident we can reach thanks to generous pledges from STC’s Board of Directors to match up to $33,000 for every dollar donated.
STC’s In-Water Research Project in Florida has been in high gear over the last several years. The project, led by STC Biologist Rick Herren in collaboration with Dr. Ray Carthy at University of Florida’s (UF) USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, recently surpassed 300 sea turtle captures in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. The overall goals are to study sea turtle distribution, demographics, health, movements, and threats in this important foraging habitat and to promote their conservation in the region.
Our research team is working on a variety of studies in collaboration with UF graduate students. We are finishing up three projects we began in 2019. These include an estimate of species abundance and distribution throughout Florida’s Big Bend, a comparison of juvenile green turtle demographics between three widely separated foraging grounds, and a study of green turtle movement and behavior during the winter. Last year, we began working with a UF graduate student studying green turtle fibropapillomatosis or FP, which is a debilitating tumor-bearing disease linked to poor water quality. We also began studying green turtle health and diet using point-of-care devices to analyze blood gases and blood chemistry values in the field. These measurements can be used as reference values for the medical management of sea turtles under veterinary care and as a comparison with sea turtles at other developmental foraging grounds. Lastly, we are studying the movements and behavior of Kemp’s ridley sea turtles in a warming Gulf of Mexico.
In addition to our research we are engaging more with the wonderful people who live in Florida’s Big Bend and Panhandle. The Big Bend or Nature Coast is one of the least developed coastlines in Florida. We are working on a new education campaign to connect with residents and visitors alike on the importance of this coast for sea turtles and what they can do to help them survive in the future. As part of this work, STC is set to release a handy new smart phone app that will allow people to report turtle sightings on the water and provide STC with useful information for locating new sea turtle foraging hot spots.
STC is deeply appreciative of all the support received from various corporate and private donors for the project. Our current project needs include a dedicated truck for towing our boat to and from various research sites, which will have the added benefit of allowing STC to respond quickly to turtle stranding events, such as cold stuns. We raised money in the past for this purpose, but during the pandemic truck prices shot up so high we are still short of our need.
We are hopeful that STC’s members will support the program this Giving Tuesday, when all donations will be matched 1:1 by the STC Board of Directors. With your support, STC will continue filling gaps in our knowledge about the sea turtle populations found in this important region, and we will apply that knowledge to effective conservation action.
Help support STC’s Giving Tuesday Fundraiser by donating in one of three ways:
1. Online at conserveturtles.org/GivingTuesday or facebook.com/conserveturtles
2. Call 352-373-6441 with your credit card info
3. Mail a check with “Giving Tuesday” in the subject line. All checks received with “Giving Tuesday” in the subject line will count towards the campaign if received by December 31.