STC Sea Turtle Blog

Lisa Jo Randgaard’s Legacy Grows at STC

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

 

Tips for Sea Turtle Nesting Season May – October

It’s that time of the year again; nesting season is here in the state of Florida! The majority of nesting in Florida occurs between May 1st and October 31st.  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!

Loggerhead returns to sea after nesting (Photo Credit: Blair Witherington)

Loggerhead returns to sea after nesting (Photo Credit: Blair Witherington)

Use sea turtle-friendly lights or no lights at all! In order to prevent nesting and hatchling turtles from wandering off track, your beachfront property should use sea turtle friendly lighting. You can also help by closing drapes and blinds, and shield or turn off outdoor lights that are visible on the beach. Sea turtle hatchlings can become easily disoriented by bright lights on the coast from hotels and beachfront properties. By following these steps, you can encourage females to nest and lead hatchlings in the right direction, the ocean!

Tracks from disoriented hatchlings. Their tracks should lead straight to the sea.

Tracks from disoriented hatchlings. Their tracks should lead straight to the sea.

Knock down sandcastles and fill in holes! 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. Even the nesting mothers can become stuck in these holes when crawling up the beach to nest. Furthermore, remove all beach accessories, such as tents, umbrellas, toys, and chairs. These can prevent obstacles for both the mother and the hatchlings.

An adult loggerhead fell into a large hole on the beach and had to be rescued by Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol

An adult loggerhead fell into a large hole on the beach and had to be rescued by Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol

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. Leaving food outside for neighborhood dogs and cats also attracts raccoons. You can help deter these animals from destroying sea turtle eggs by cleaning up food and additional trash after a day at the beach.

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.

nesting tape FWC

Don’t interfere with the nesting or 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. It is also illegal to touch sea turtles under both federal and state laws.

Don’t place 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 as they become a dangerous obstacle for a nesting turtles.

Loggerhead turtle stuck under a chair that was left on the beach. Photo via Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch

Loggerhead turtle stuck under a chair that was left on the beach. Photo via Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch

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. Bonfires on the beach also pose a danger to sea turtles.no fireworks

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. Click here for more information about registering to join an STC Turtle Walk. 

Photo courtesy Greg Lovett, Palm Beach Post

Photo courtesy Greg Lovett, Palm Beach Post (taken using long-exposure, no flash)

Sea Turtle Grants Program Awards Nearly $350,000 to Research, Conservation, and Education Projects in Florida

The Sea Turtle Grants Program (STGP), funded by the sale of Florida’s Helping Sea Turtles Survive specialty license plate, recently awarded $349,943.06 to 24 different projects benefiting Florida sea turtles as part of the 2018-2019 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 2018-2019 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 Bermuda Turtle Project – 50th Anniversary Video & Stamp Release

The Bermuda Turtle Project, a joint research and protection program of the Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) and the Bermuda Zoological Society (BZS), is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year – making it by far the longest-continuous sea turtle conservation program that focuses on the animal in its marine environment. To celebrate the milestone, STC and BZS have produced a beautiful documentary about the program, and we are planning a series of events that will unfold over the course of 2018. Among these events will be the release of a special commemorative stamps series in Bermuda that celebrates the Bermuda Turtle Project (see below).

Currently overseas stamp purchases can be made by email to philatelic@gov.bm or to staylor@gov.bm

  • Mint set of four stamps………………………………$4.55 (.50c, $1.15, $1.35 and $1.55)
  • First Day Cover……………………………………………$6.50 (Envelope with issue date cancel on four stamps and Bermuda Turtle Project Liner Notes about stamp issue)
  • Souvenir sheet……………………………………………$1.45 (.10c and $1.35 stamp)
  • First Day Cover with Souvenir sheet……..…..$4.50 (Envelope with issue date cancel on souvenir sheet and Bermuda Turtle Project Liner Notes about stamp issue)

As we reflect on the Bermuda Turtle Project’s half century of work, it is appropriate to recall the roots of the program and draw attention to some of its many accomplishments so far. In the mid-1960s, Sea Turtle Conservancy (known then as the Caribbean Conservation Corporation) was carrying out its groundbreaking conservation program – Operation Green Turtle. The project was a unique conservation experiment set up by STC scientific founder Dr. Archie Carr and supported by the US Navy. The goal was to reestablish green turtle nesting colonies at beaches around the Caribbean where they had been wiped out to feed human demand for turtle meat. It was a bold and unprecedented conservation strategy, and it laid the groundwork for what would grow in to a global movement to protect sea turtles.

One of the places where little turtles were taken by the thousands for release was the tiny island nation of Bermuda. Caribbean in climate and appearance, Bermuda is actually almost due east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Old sailors’ logs tell of great fleets of turtles in the waters around Bermuda as well as healthy nesting populations around the island. By 1620, the government was sufficiently concerned about the wanton exploitation of the turtle resource to pass “An Act Agaynst the Killing of Ouer Young Tortoyses,” which is the earliest known legislation regarding sea turtles anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, the law failed to halt the extirpation of the breeding colony, and by the 1920s nesting by green turtles had ceased on the island. Thus, by the time Dr. Carr and the STC had been formed in 1959, the nesting population had been entirely wiped out in Bermuda and only immature green turtles were found to inhabit the island’s extensive shallow-water habitats.

STC Board member and philanthropist Dr. Clay Frick, who owned a home in Bermuda (on what is now known as Frick Island) took a keen interest in the hatchling release program and in the little turtles found around the island. Dr. Frick and his family took up the cause to help recover Bermuda’s turtles, assisting STC with the hatchling shipments from Costa Rica and launching what is now known as the Bermuda Turtle Project (BTP). The BTP was formally initiated in 1968 by Dr. Frick, in cooperation with the Bermuda Government. Since 1991, the project has been a collaborative effort of STC, BZS and Drs. Anne and Peter Meylan. Throughout its history, the program has received financial support from the Frick family. Work carried out under the Bermuda Turtle Project falls into three main project activities: 1) Gathering data about Bermuda’s Sea Turtles; 2) Training Scientists; and 3) Public Education.

The research efforts of the BTP Project are focused on filling in the information gaps on green turtle biology so that successful protection may be given to these vanishing animals. Bermuda is one of a few locations worldwide where post-pelagic, immature green turtles occur in the complete absence of adults. It may be the best site in the world where green turtles of this age can be studied in their natural habitat. Whereas most studies of sea turtles take place on nesting beaches, Bermuda provides scientists and resource managers with a unique opportunity to study the little understood juvenile stage of the green turtle.

In addition to annual research, every year since 1996 the BTP has offered an in-water course on sea turtle biology and conservation. It brings students and scientists from around the world to Bermuda to study the pelagic and juvenile phases of the marine turtle life cycle, turtle biology and conservation through observation of the animals in their marine habitat, necropsies, and a capture-tag-release study. Click here to apply for this year’s course!

As of 2018, about 4,000 individual green turtles and 140 hawksbills have been captured by the project, tagged and released so that information can be obtained on size structure of the population, genetic identity, sex ratios, growth rates, site fidelity, and migratory patterns. More than 1,000 recaptures have been made of tagged green turtles by the project in Bermudian waters, providing one of the best data sets in the world on growth rates and movements of free-ranging, immature green turtles. Green turtles tagged in Bermuda have been captured as far away as Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela; the long-distance tag returns are particularly important because they shed light on the migrations of the green turtles that grow up in Bermuda waters.

A recently-completed genetic survey carried out as part of the Bermuda Turtle Project found that green turtles that grow up in Bermuda come from several nesting beaches, including Florida, Costa Rica and northern South America – many of the places where STC carries out systematic nesting beach monitoring and conservation projects for green turtles.

Satellite tracking has revealed important information about the use of home ranges by green turtles in Bermuda. They appear to utilize a particular spot near coral reef or rocks to sleep at night and then return to a main foraging ground during the day to graze on sea grasses. At a certain point in their maturity, they depart Bermuda waters, often following a bee-line route, to join an adult turtle colony, where they likely remain for the duration of their lives, aside from bi-annual migrations to their natal beaches (where they were born) to mate and nest.

Over the last half century, the Bermuda Turtle Project has discovered nearly everything that is known about the biology and life history of Bermuda’s sea turtles. In the process, the project has provided training for generations of sea turtle biologists and helped contribute to global sea turtle conservation efforts. The ongoing work to protect green turtles that reside in Bermuda during an important phase of their lives is helping recover this species in the Western Hemisphere. And STC’s sustained research and conservation programs in the US, Caribbean and Latin America have been credited with saving the Atlantic green turtle from near extinction and improving the survival outlook for many other turtle populations. We hope STC members and supporters will join us in celebrating the Bermuda Turtle Project’s 50th anniversary, and we invite you to watch our new documentary about the project, which is available above and online here: https://youtu.be/rbFLJ4z1tIk 

Join STC for our 4th Annual Sea Turtle Expedition to Cuba!

STC and Holbrook Travel are working together again to bring you another incredible Sea Turtle Expedition to Cuba! From July 1st – July 8th, 2018 you can join some of STC’s sea turtle experts and take part in green sea turtle conservation efforts, all while experiencing the beautiful culture and landscape of Cuba.

Led by STC’s David Godfrey and Dan Evans, the expedition will take participants throughout the western coast of Cuba, stopping in Havana, the Guanahacabibes Peninsula and Viñales.  Participants will have the opportunity to witness the amazing nesting process of green sea turtles and work alongside biologists collecting data. Deadline to sign up has been extended to April 22, 2018!

 Program Highlights

  • Travel with experts from the Sea Turtle Conservancy to observe the nesting process of green sea turtles and collect data with biologists.
  • Snorkel the clear waters of the coral reef at María la Gorda (optional scuba diving may also be available at an additional charge).
  • Meet with local conservationists and marine researchers.
  • Visit the picturesque Viñales Valley, known for its unusual limestone formations.
  • Stop at Ernest Hemingway’s home, Finca La Vigía.

In addition, participants will enjoy activities such as a walking tour of the historical city of Havana, birding in the ecologically-rich Guanahacabibes Natural Park, and a visit to a local cigar and guarabita rum factory in the picturesque town of Viñales. In between activities, participants will be able to enjoy leisure time and a variety of delicious cuisine.  CLICK HERE FOR FULL ITINERARY

Pricing – $4,375

What’s included:

All activities and meals mentioned in itinerary
Donation to sea turtle conservation programs
Carbon Offset
Cuban Visa and health insurance
Full time guide for the duration of your program
Non alcoholic beverage with meals
Snorkeling equipment

*Does not include international airfare*

CLICK HERE FOR FURTHER DETAILS ON PRICING

Information and Registration

To read more details of the expedition and to secure your spot, visit Holbrook Travel’s website here

For questions or any further information, contact Lisa Palmese-Graubard at 800-451-7111 x339 or lisa@holbrooktravel.com

Check out the video below to see some cool footage from STC’s previous Cuba Expeditions!

 

 

 

 

Assistantships for Sea Turtle Monitoring in Panama’s Bastimentos Island National Marine Park

STC Programs: Research: Assistantships for Sea Turtle Monitoring in Bocas del Toro Region, Panama

Bastimentos Island National Marine Park

Click here to Download Flyer

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:

  1. Application Form (download below);
  2. A cover letter explaining why you are interested in the Research Assistant position, details of any relevant experiences and a statement of your level of proficiency in English and Spanish (either a formal qualification or an indication of your written/oral comprehension);
  3. A CV or resume with pertinent information; and
  4. Name and email contact of three professional references.

Completed materials should be emailed to Peter Meylan (meylanpa@eckerd.edu), Anne Meylan (anne.meylan@myFWC.com), and Cristina Ordoñez at cristinao@conserveturtles.org.

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.

Project summary:
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.

Work description:
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/

 

STC Opposes Effort to Loosen Protections for Leatherback Turtles

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.

A leatherback sea turtle returns to the sea after nesting. Photo credit: Karla Morales

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.

Figure 1: STC has documented a severe decline in leatherback nesting at Tortuguero, Costa Rica. 

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.

 

Attend the Public Turtle Workshop at the Southeast Regional Sea Turtle Meeting in Myrtle Beach!

Turtle Ambassadors: How Citizens Can Aid in Sea Turtle Conservation

February 13, 2018 from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort & Spa at Grande Dunes 

 

**This workshop is not open to SERSTM registrants, only members of the general public.**

Join us for a special free workshop that’s open solely to the general public! It will engage citizens and share with them ideas on how they can become active participants in sea turtle conservation. They will listen to speakers from several organizations and learn ways to lend a hand and have a voice. Participants will be provided educational materials and swag bags. This workshop will be run from 9 am – 12 noon on Tuesday, February 13, 2018.  For more information or to RSVP for this free workshop, please contact Rebecca Mott at rmott@inwater.org and check out the official SERSTM WORKSHOP FLYER.

We want to be able to give people the tools to participate in conservation in their daily lives.  The topics we will be tackling are:

Marine Debris (Ocean Conservancy)- how to track trash on the mobile app

Turtle-friendly Lighting (Sea Turtle Conservancy)- how to create turtle-friendly lighting for your home

Local Nesting Work (Myrtle Beach State Park)- what nesting looks like on your local beach and how you can help

Sustainable Seafood (SC Aquarium)- how to choose wisely what goes on your plate

You can also get more information on the official Southeast Regional Sea Turtle Meeting (SERSTM) website www.serstm.org. Don’t forget to contact Rebecca Mott at rmott@inwater.org to RSVP!

 

 

Apply to be a Research Assistant with STC in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Since 2003, Sea Turtle Conservancy has worked at important Panamanian sea turtle nesting beaches in the Bocas del Toro Province and the Comarca Ngäbe Buglé, from the Changuinola river to the Chiriquí river. Four sea turtle species are found in the waters of Bocas del Toro and the Comarca; Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), Green (Chelonia mydas) and Loggerhead (Caretta caretta).

Application Information for Research Assistant Positions

Research Assistantship (RA) positions are voluntary and selected RAs are expected to plan and finance their own travel to and from Bocas del Toro. Selected RAs will receive board and lodging at the STC Field Station for the duration of their time working for STC in Bocas del Toro and the Comarca.

Good knowledge of Spanish and English, education in biology or related fields, previous fieldwork experience in the tropics, experience working/living in multicultural environments, experience working/living in isolated locations for extended periods, previous experience in environmental education and availability for the entire period of the program greatly improve the chance of being selected for a position.

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:

1. Application Form (download below);

2. A cover letter explaining why you are interested in the Research Assistant position, details of any relevant experiences and a statement of your level of proficiency in English and Spanish (either a formal qualification or an indication of your written/oral comprehension);

3. A CV or resume with pertinent information; and

4. Name and email contact of three professional references.

Completed materials should be emailed to Cristina Ordoñez at cristinao@conserveturtles.org

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 Program Research Assistant Position Information:

Project description: Conservation and monitoring of sea turtles
Location: Bocas del Toro Province and Comarca Näbe Buglé, Panama
Dates: Group 1: March 20 – June 20, 2018
Group 2: June 20 – September 20, 2018
Application Deadline:  Group 1: January 20, 2018
Group 2: April 20, 2018

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

Work description:
A maximum of 12 research assistants (RAs) will be trained in sea turtle monitoring techniques by, and work under the supervision of, the STC’s coordinators. The season is divided into two time periods, March – June and June – September, with six RAs in each time period. The Leatherback season goes from March – August, and the hawksbill season May – October. The RA team will be made up of individuals from several countries from around the world, with an emphasis on Latin America and the Caribbean. The primary responsibilities of the RAs will include tagging nesting turtles, collecting biometric data from females during nightly patrols, recording nesting activity during morning track surveys, nest monitoring and excavation, and other pertinent data collection.

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. The patrols take from 4 to 6 hours; therefore an excellent physical condition is a requirement for the RA positions.

The work will be developed in three different beaches in Bocas del Toro Province: Soropta, Long Beach and Chiriquí Beach. RAs will rotate among the three beaches while participating in the sea turtle program.

The RAs will work with the STC Education and Outreach Coordinator to develop and participate in various environmental awareness and educational activities with members of the Bocas del Toro community.

2018 Panama RA Application 

2018 Panama RA Application (Word)

Help STC Raise $40,000 on Giving Tuesday, November 28th!

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?

2018 Sea Turtle Calendar Contest Winners!

Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) would like to give a special congratulations to the winners of our 2018 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 2018 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 2019 photography contest next year!

Here are this year’s winners:

**Cover Image!** By: Ralph Pace

January By: Ben Hicks

February By: Ralph Pace

March By: Karla Morales

 

April By: Kevin Pursley

May By: Dania Isabel Echevarria De Jesus

 

June By: Guillermo J. Plaza Rodriguez

 

July By: Rachel Smith

 

August By: Kate Levasseur

September By: Erie Pentland

October By: Guillermo J. Plaza Rodriguez

November By: Ben Hicks

December By: Karla Morales

 

 

Attend the 2018 Southeast Regional Sea Turtle Meeting in Myrtle Beach Feb. 12-16, 2018

2018 Southeast Regional Sea Turtle Meeting

February 12-16, 2018 – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Swimming on a Changing Tide

Make plans to join sea turtle researchers, academics, volunteers, and conservationists traveling from Virginia to Texas to attend the 4th Southeast Regional Sea Turtle Meeting!

Meeting in a snapshot . . .

Two Keynote Speakers kick off two full session days featuring special sessions on Changing Climate, Sustainable Beaches, and Science that Supports Conservation and Recovery.

 David Helvarg, Executive Director of Blue Frontier, is an award-winning journalist and passionate advocate for ocean conservation as well as the author of six books.  David has worked as a war correspondent in Northern Ireland and Central America, covered a range of issues from military science to the AIDS epidemic and reported from every continent including Antarctica.

Nicole Hernandez Hammer, climate science and community advocate at the Union of Concerned Scientists, previously served UCS as a climate outreach consultant and was invited by Michelle Obama to the 2015 State of the Union address.  Nicole has given numerous interviews for local and national media, and made an appearance in National Geographic’s television series on climate change: Years of Living Dangerously.

Workshops

Fancy building, programming and flying an unmanned aerial drone for wildlife conservation research?

How about a closer look at the causes of sea turtle strandings and the latest developments in sea turtle rehabilitation?

Ready to explore a career in the world of sea turtle conservation or learn about political advocacy in advancing sea turtle conservation?

What about addressing the common themes and issues of volunteer groups and the vital role they play in conservation?

SERSTM Exhibitors/Vendors will be set up and ready to sell, share, and educate. The Silent Auction will be in full swing with unique items waiting for your bids.  Feel free to donate, bid, and peruse to your hearts content.

The Southeast Regional Sea Turtle Meeting is offering a very special workshop for the first time ever available to the public only.  Turtle Ambassadors: How Citizens Can Aid in Sea Turtle Conservation promises to be enlightening and connect the local community with representatives from several organizations skilled in teaching how to be an active participant in sea turtle conservation. Click here to download the flyer! Click here to download the flyer!

You can do all this, and more, at the 2018 Southeast Regional Sea Turtle Meeting.  Check out the links below and we’ll see you in Myrtle Beach!

www.serstm.org                 https://www.facebook.com/SoutheastRegionalSeaTurtleMeeting

Abstract Submission:           http://www.serstm.org/abstracts-posters/

Accommodation:                http://www.serstm.org/home/accommodations/

Exhibitors/Vendors:            http://www.serstm.org/home/vendor/

Registration:                      http://www.serstm.org/home/registration-2/

Workshops:                        http://www.serstm.org/home/workshops/

Mission Statement:  In order to advance marine turtle knowledge and conservation efforts from Virginia to Texas, the Southeast Regional Sea Turtle Meeting facilitates the presentation and exchange of scientific research from diverse disciplines conducted on the beaches and waters of the southeastern United States.

STC Earns 4-Star Charity Navigator Rating for 10th Year

Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) is proud to announce another top rating from Charity Navigator, the leading evaluator of non-profit groups in the United States. STC received 4 out of 4 stars for the 10th year, indicating that our organization adheres to good governance and other practices that minimize the chance of unethical activities and consistently executes our mission in a fiscally responsible way.

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

According to Charity Navigator, a 4 star rating is an ‘exceptional’ designation, and differentiates Sea Turtle Conservancy from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust.

STC spends more than 89 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 Michael Thatcher, 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’s website here.

Wanted: Sea Turtle Photos for STC’s 2018 Calendar!

Calling all photographers! Sea Turtle Conservancy is looking for talented photographers (amateur or professional) for our 10th annual Sea Turtle Calendar Contest! The sea turtle calendar reminds people throughout the year that sea turtles need our help to survive, and it includes important sea turtle dates like World Sea Turtle Day, Earth Day and World Oceans Day. Contributing to the calendar is a great way to help spread the word about sea turtle conservation!

We had an amazing calendar filled with beautiful images last year, and we are looking forward to the great submissions for next year’s calendar! We are only accepting photograph submissions for the 2018 calendar, NO artwork.

Photo submissions along with the Photography Permission Form should be sent to lexie@conserveturtles.org no later than October 1, 2017 and must follow the criteria below:

  • Include photographer’s name, brief description of the image, location and date it was taken.
  • Image must be submitted by the actual photographer or include written permission for submission from the photographer.
  • Image must show turtles in a natural setting and follow turtle-friendly guidelines (i.e. no flash images of nesting sea turtles, no images of people handling sea turtles, etc.)
  • Initial email submissions should be a small file (no larger than 10 MB) but a high resolution version of the image must be available for final printing if selected.
  • Photographers may only enter a maximum of three photographs.

The winners will be announced in STC’s monthly e-newsletter (Sea Turtle Talk), website and Facebook. Each winner will receive two free calendars and an STC logo t-shirt!

By submitting your image to lexie@conserveturtles.org before September 29, 2017, you are granting STC rights to use your photography for the 2017 Sea Turtle Scenes Calendar and other STC education initiatives. STC will not distribute your image without your written permission.

If you’re interested in submitting a photo, you must include the Photography Permission Form in your submission. Good luck!

Vintage Jewelry Fundraiser to Benefit STC’s Lisa Jo Randgaard Fund

View Vintage Jewelry at LoveIntoSustainedAction.com, now through Sept. 4. All donations benefit The Lisa Jo Randgaard Fund, an unrestricted endowment fund at STC.

On May 2, 2012, Lisa Jo Randgaard passed away suddenly from a rare and chronic congenital heart condition. She was 43 years old. Heartbroken when their youngest child died, the family turned to fundraising for endangered sea turtles to channel grief into positive action. Lisa was dedicated to the cause, in part through the education she received from Sea Turtle Conservancy; she admired the animals’ great strength, yet related personally to their vulnerability. The family honored her passion and established The Lisa Jo Randgaard Fund, STC’s first member-initiated endowment fund. They were committed to make donations of their own and to cover all costs of their fundraising projects to ensure that 100% of ALL MONEY RAISED goes to Lisa’s Fund.

Jenny, Diane, and Linda – Lisa’s Mom and two older sisters – began by hand sewing “Lisa’s Fundanas,” raising over $10,000, shipping 334 of these sea turtle bandanas across the country, and to Puerto Rico, Canada and Europe! The overwhelming support led Diane to learn cold-process soapmaking, and the family launched “Flippery When Wet” natural soap bars, with pure essential oils. Available only on their website, LoveIntoSustainedAction.com, over 1,000 bars have shipped, to date. In addition to Lisa’s unrestricted endowment fund, the family directed personal funds to dedicate in July 2016 the eco-friendly Lisa Jo Randgaard Building for staff housing and offices at STC’s research site in Tortuguero, Costa Rica. In four years, the Randgaards have raised $90,000, with a renewed commitment moving forward.

In October 2016, Jenny passed away, and the torch is now in the hands of Linda and Diane. They have created an online Pop-Up Vintage Jewelry Fundraiser that runs until Sept. 4. As Linda explains, “These special pieces belong to our family and this is another way to ensure that Lisa’s legacy shines bright. We know Mom approves, and we remain forever ‘Three Sisters United’ in our quest to protect endangered sea turtles.”

Visit LoveIntoSustainedAction.com to view jewelry.

Sea Turtle Grants Program Awards More Than $300,000 to Research, Conservation, and Education Projects in Florida

The Sea Turtle Grants Program (STGP), funded by the sale of Florida’s Helping Sea Turtles Survive specialty license plate, recently awarded $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.