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.
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STC Programs: Research: Assistantships for Sea Turtle Monitoring in Bocas del Toro Region, Panama
Bastimentos Island National Marine Park
Since 2003, we (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 2017 nesting season, we 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 (May through July or August through October) is required.
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:
Application Form (download below);
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);
A CV or resume with pertinent information; and
Name and email contact of three professional references.
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.
2017 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: 28 April – 31 July 2017
Group 2: 25 July – 31 October 2017 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. Approximately 750 hawksbill nests and 75 leatherback nests were recorded in the park. 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 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.
STC and Holbrook Travel are working together again to bring you another incredible Sea Turtle Expedition to Cuba! From July 1st – July 8th, 2017 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.
Last year, STC equipped two green turtles with satellite transmitters.
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 leaisure time and a variety of delicious cuisine. CLICK HERE FOR FULL ITINERARY
Are you planning to upgrade your phone and don’t know what to do with your old one? Or maybe you have a drawer full of old cell phones and electronics collecting dust? Great news… You can recycle your old devices and raise money for sea turtles at the same time with SecondWave Recycling!
SecondWave Recycling partners with non-profits to fundraise by recycling cell phones, tablets and iPods! SecondWave will donate 100% of the wholesale value of the device to STC. This program also keeps phones out of landfills, which prevents harmful toxins from potentially seeping into waterways. The materials that go into these devices also have more than just one life and can be used for new technology!
Since partnering with SecondWave in 2014, STC supporters have helped recycle over 800 phones and earned $1,035 in donations for sea turtles!
Our new goal is to collect 500 more cell phones by March 31st. Help us reach our goal and save sea turtles!
Sending in your phone is quick, easy, and FREE if you send in 4 or more phones at once! To donate your cell phone, all you have to do is visit www.secondwaverecycling.com/, click Donate Your Phone, choose Sea Turtle Conservancy as your Charity and print out your mailing label. Or if you are planning to send in multiple devices, you can click here to get a FREE FedEx shipping label!
**NOTE – Free shipping labels can only be provided for US-based shipments. For international shipments, please use your local postal carrier and ship to the SecondWave Recycling Office.**
Besides helping sea turtles, here are a few other reasons why you should donate your old phone:
The mining of metals for cell phones and other electronics is the #1 cause of toxic pollution in the United States.
One million cell phones contain 33 pounds of palladium, 75 pounds of gold, 772 pounds of silver and 35,274 pounds of copper. These resources can be recovered and used to make new cell phones.
Cell phones contain toxic materials such as Arsenic, Antimony, Beryllium, Cadmium, Copper, Lead, Nickel and Zinc. If these materials are not properly disposed of they can contaminate air, soil and groundwater. The Cadmium from a single cell phone is capable of polluting 158,200 gallons of water.
If we recycled every cell phone discarded in the United States annually we would save enough energy to power more than 24,000 homes for a year. Recycling just one cell phone saves enough energy to power a laptop for 44 hours!
Questions about our SecondWave Recycling campaign? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
On November 29, Sea Turtle Conservancy is participating in our 4th annual Giving Tuesday! #GivingTuesday, the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, is an international day of charitable giving. 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 three years STC has been very fortunate to feel the incredible support from our friends and donors. Last #GivingTuesday, STC supporters raised over $30,000 in one day to support the Barrier Island Center’s education and community outreach programs! In 2014, you helped us raise nearly $15,000 for repairs to our researchers’ living quarters in Tortuguero, Costa Rica!
STC is asking for your help once again this year to support our new Florida In-Water Project!
The state of Florida and its waters are among the most important in the US for sea turtle survival. The near shore waters are especially vital to young sea turtles and their healthy growth. Juvenile turtles come from nesting beaches around the Caribbean and Atlantic to grow up in Florida’s warm waters. The majority of sea turtle research is conducted when turtles come to the beach to nest, however they spend almost 99% of their time in the ocean!
The In-Water Project, based out of Cedar Key, Florida, seeks to study sea turtles in their natural habitat, the ocean. STC needs help raising the funds to purchase a research vessel, equipment and much more to begin this project. Check out the video below to learn more or click here to donate now!
We need your help! Help STC reach our goal of $20,000 by donating to the cause in one of three ways: online at https://conserveturtles.org/support-stc-giving-tuesday/, by calling 352-373-6441 or mailing a check with “Giving Tuesday” in the subject line. All checks received with Giving Tuesday in the subject line, will count towards the campaign, even after November 29th, 2016.
Funds raised during this campaign will be matched by STC’s Board of Directors, up to a maximum of $20,000! Help turn $20,000 into $40,000 for sea turtle research!
Can we count you in for #GivingTuesday? Be sure to follow our Facebook and Twitter for LIVE fundraising updates on Giving Tuesday!
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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
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!
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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
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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.
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!
Pebbles is released with a satellite transmitter in Tortuguero
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.
This year in our race to spread awareness, Tour De Turtles has 3 BIG competitors joining us all the way from Panama. Adult leatherbacks Calypso Blue V, Lady Aurelia, and Tortuga Turista join the race to shed some light on various issues affecting the sea turtle population.
TED in a trawl net
First we have Calypso Blue V who is swimming to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of commercial trawl fishing on sea turtles. More than 250,000 sea turtles are accidentally captured, harmed, or killed by fishermen in the U.S. alone each year. Trawling, which involves large nets being dragged behind one or more boats, poses such a serious threat due to its capacity to blindly catch all marine life in its path. While migrating through fishing areas, or feeding within those areas, sea turtles run the tremendous risk of being tangled within trawl nets, leading to possible injury or death. The implementation of Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) can reduce turtle captures by 90%, but are not currently required in non-shrimp trawl fisheries. With the incredible help from Atlantis, Paradise Island, we hope to expand the use of TEDs in all trawl fisheries and further regulate the industry.
Our next turtle, Lady Aurelia, is sponsored by the New England Cord Blood Bank to bring attention to the issues caused by invasive species. While sea turtles have many natural predators that help regulate the natural balance of the food chain, human development has brought rise to several unnatural predators that further endanger sea turtle populations. Trash left on the beach by humans attracts raccoons, stray dogs, or other non-native species in search for food; in turn, these animals may encounter a sea turtle nest or hatchlings and decide it a sufficient food source. Raccoons destroy tens of thousands of sea turtle eggs and hatchlings a year, making it one of the greatest causes of sea turtle mortality on Florida beaches. In Central America, dogs pose the greatest threat as many coastal villages allow them to run free where they can dig up several nests in one night, or even attack a nesting turtle. This problem can be solved with just some small steps us humans!
Tortuga Turista is our last leatherback sea turtle from Panama. She, along with the tremendous support from her sponsors at the USF Patel College of Global Sustainability, is joining the race to speak up about sustainable tourism. Tourism is an ever-growing industry in our increasingly globalized world. While it brings forth countless economic and social benefits, it does not come without its many environmental concerns. Of greatest concern to us, is the impact of coastal tourism on this fragile ecosystem and its multitude of wildlife, like sea turtles. Nesting habitat degradation, an increase in waste, rise in boat strikes, and an increase in illumination on beaches—which discourage possible nesting turtles— are only some of the negative impacts seen with a rise in tourism. Through education and proper planning and management, the impact can be greatly reduced.
Join us in supporting one of these amazing turtles and their important cause! Visit www.tourdeturtles.org today to cheer for your favorite turtle!
Sea Turtle Conservancy is proud to announce the release of a new documentary about sea level rise and its implications for sea turtles and their nesting beaches in Florida. “Ahead of the Tide” (AOTT) was co-produced by STC and CAVU, a non-profit that uses flight and film to educate people about critical conservation issues. AOTT highlights the effects of sea level rise and climate change on Florida’s beaches through the stories and voices of local Floridians. The video includes interviews with scientists, coastal engineers, elected officials, coastal planners, conservation leaders, authors and activists. As part of this project STC, CAVU, and a host of conservation partners will be sponsoring a series of webinars on climate change and sea level rise in the coming months. You can learn about and sign up for these webinars at Aheadofthetide.org.
Sea level rise will have serious and long term impacts to the state’s sea turtle nesting beaches. Our hope is that this powerful film will help to serve as a Call to Action for all Floridians to demand that our elected leaders, government agencies and coastal communities begin planning for sea level rise in order to protect Florida’s most valuable asset — its natural sandy beaches — both for sea turtles and for people. The state’s beaches belong to all Floridians; they define our state.
Sea Turtle Conservancy believes many specific actions can be taken and policies implemented to reduce the impacts of sea level rise and climate change on sea turtle nesting beaches while also helping to protect our beaches and to ensure coastal resiliency. Most importantly, we have to start making smarter decisions about how we manage our beaches and where we build along the coast – and where we rebuild as the seas continue to rise. Of the hundreds of pages that make up Florida’s coastal development and beach management laws there is virtually no mention of sea level rise, despite the fact that Florida’s beaches are among the most vulnerable in the nation to changes in sea level. Many of Florida’s elected leaders still deny the realities of climate change and resist any effort to plan for its impacts. We hope this video will help raise awareness and empower citizens to demand that our elected officials take action.
Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) is looking for talented photographers for our ninth 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!
2015 Cover Photo by Courtney Huisman
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 2017 calendar, NO artwork. Photo submissions along with the Photography Permission Form should be sent to email@example.com no later than September 19, 2016 and must follow the criteria below:
• Include a brief description of the image as well as the location and date it was taken and the photographer’s name
• 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.)
• A high resolution version of the image must be available
• 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 firstname.lastname@example.org before September 19, 2016, 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.
Earlier this month, Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) was contacted by turtle colleagues in Mexico who had spotted a green turtle with a satellite transmitter on her back nesting in Quintana Roo, Mexico. It was our Esperanza from Cuba! After receiving photos from Mexico, STC was able to identify Esperanza by her flipper tag number (which is unique to only her) and her satellite transmitter.
Esperanza nesting in Mexico
This discovery is very important because it helps confirm a pattern our partners with the Cuban Marine Turtle Conservation Program have been observing recently based on flipper tags and genetics. It was the same area where they had seen several previous nesters from Cuba go.
What are sea turtles that nested in CUBA doing nesting in MEXICO?? This is very unusual, and it suggests that sea turtles may not be as loyal to one beach as we thought! Most females return faithfully to the same beach each time they are ready to nest. Not only do they appear on the same beach, they often emerge within a few hundred yards of where they last nested!
One of the benefits of using satellite transmitters to track sea turtles is that it helps us determine turtles’ nesting site fidelity. Or in this case, lack of fidelity.
Esperanza is a beautiful adult green sea turtle who was released with a satellite transmitter after nesting in Guanahacabibes Natural Park, Cuba on June 29, 2016. This turtle mama laid 152 eggs! She measured 107 cm in curved carapace (shell) length and 93 cm in curved carapace width. Esperanza, which means “hope in Spanish,” was named by her sponsors at SEA LIFE Trust and is participating in the 2016 Tour de Turtles migration marathon.
Screenshot of Esperanza’s tracking map.
To learn more about Esperanza and the rest of our Tour de Turtles competitors, visit www.TourdeTurtles.org
Kashmir World Foundation (KwF), in collaboration with Sea Turtle Conservancy and Brevard County, Florida, will be conducting a 3-day hands-on workshop on the design, fabrication and operation of programmable multi-copters for use in environmental monitoring. The workshop will assist you in creating a basic platform to evaluate a variety of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) for diverse habitats and environments while providing the expertise you need to build, maintain, and fly your drone.
Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) announces a change in the scientific oversight of its international sea turtle research and monitoring programs. Effective in July, the position of Scientific Director will transition from Dr. Emma Harrison to Dr. Roldán Valverde. Anyone interested in collaborating with STC on research projects in Costa Rica, Panama and other international sites are encouraged to reach out directly to Dr. Valverde at email@example.com. Likewise, anyone interested in exploring opportunities to serve as a Research Assistant with the Tortuguero program or at STC’s project sites in Panama can now direct those inquires to Roldán.
Dr. Harrison with nesting turtle
While STC is very excited about what Dr. Valverde will bring to this position, the organization is equally sad to announce the departure of Dr. Emma Harrison, who has resigned to explore new opportunities in the field of biological conservation. Dr. Harrison has worked with STC off and on since 1998 and has served as Scientific Director since 2006. Through her leadership and passion, Dr. Harrison continued a long tradition of outstanding scientific oversight of STC’s sea turtle monitoring programs; she trained and inspired countless research assistants and helped expand STC’s education and community outreach programs in both Costa Rica and Panama. Emma will be greatly missed by STC, though she will forever remain a part of the STC family and the history of the organization.
New STC scientific director Dr. Valverde with tagged leatherback
As STC’s incoming Scientific Director, Dr. Valverde will provide scientific oversight of STC’s various sea turtle research programs, particularly the long-term projects in Tortuguero, Costa Rica, and Bocas del Toro, Panama. Over two decades ago, as a young Costa Rican biologist, Roldán served as Research Coordinator of STC’s Tortuguero research program. Since that time, he has achieved international recognition in the field of sea turtle research and is a leading expert in the area of sea turtle physiology. Dr. Valverde served recently as President of the International Sea Turtle Society; he is well published; and he currently serves as a graduate biology professor at Southeast Louisiana University in New Orleans. As a native Costa Rican and an accomplished scientist and educator, Roldán will be in an ideal position to continue elevating the science and the effectiveness of STC’s many research and conservation programs. He also will help STC expand its efforts to cultivate and train young biologists from throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Dr. Valverde’s position with STC is endowed by the Emily T. Clay Scientific Director’s Endowment.
The 11th annual Endangered Species Day is May 20th, 2016! Endangered Species Day was created by Congress in an effort to raise awareness of the many endangered, threatened, and at risk species and the critical role they play in their environments.
Many zoos, parks, wildlife refuges, museums, schools and community centers, among other participants, will host educational events to promote and celebrate Endangered Species Day and the reasons behind its creation. To find an event near you, visit http://www.endangered.org/campaigns/endangered-species-day/
Endangered Species Day raises awareness about the many endangered species we have in our own communities. For example, did you know Florida has more endangered species than any other Atlantic state? Population growth coupled with habitat loss, tourism, and pollution are just a few factors that have imperiled many species in our state. In addition, Endangered Species Day is also a great time to celebrate success stories, like the recovery of the green turtle, the alligator, and the bald eagle.Thanks to the significant strides we have made under the Endangered Species Act, we are celebrating more and more success stories with each passing year.
Photo retrieved from Endangered Species Coalition
For decades all sea turtles in U.S. waters have been listed under the Endangered Species Act, which was created in 1973.They are protected by the NOAA Fisheries in the ocean and by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in their beach nesting habitats along U.S. coasts. In the United States threats to sea turtles include habitat loss, pollution and disease, boat strikes, entanglement in marine debris and accidental capture in fisheries. However, unlike other species of sea turtles, green turtles interact less with fisheries, which has contributed significantly to their recovery and made them an Endangered Species Act success story. During the nesting season of 1990, fewer than 50 green sea turtles were documented at the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge on Florida’s east coast. By 2005, there were just over 3,000 nests. In the most recent nesting season of 2015, green sea turtles set a new record with 14,152 nests! This comeback makes green turtles one of the greatest conservation success stories of our time. The species’ success can be attributed to the Endangered Species Act, STC and all other supporters who worked tirelessly to give green turtles a fighting chance.
Green Sea Turtle by Julie Suess
Sea turtles are not the only species that have had huge success stories thanks to the Endangered Species Act. Many species you may encounter on a regular basis in Florida were once on the brink of extinction. In the 1950s, the American alligator had nearly been hunted to extinction, but thanks to habitat protections and strong hunting regulations, their population from North Carolina to Texas has increased to about 5 million. The brown pelican was dramatically impacted by loss of habitat, but under the Endangered Species Act, they have made a strong comeback, and were officially removed from the endangered species list in 2009. Our national bird, the bald eagle, numbered in the hundreds in the 1960s, but with protection and the elimination of the pesticide DDT, which made eggs to fragile to hatch, its numbers have soared to over 14,000 breeding pairs today. The Endangered Species Act protects 1,357 species of animals (694 U.S. species) and 901 species of plants (898 U.S. species), and has prevented their extinction, which in turn helps to maintain healthy and sustainable ecosystems and a healthy planet.
On Endangered Species Day celebrate the Act’s successes and keep the momentum going!
1. Learn about endangered species
The best way to protect endangered species is learning about them and why they’re important. So teach yourself and educate those around you about the value of endangered species and why they are worth saving in their own right. 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. Learn more about endangered species by visiting the official site of the US Fish and Wildlife Service at www.fws.gov/endangered
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. About 25 % of Florida’s sea turtle nesting occurs in the Refuge.
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.
Photo by Robin Loznak
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. We love reusable glass straws from Strawesome and snack bags from LunchSkins!
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 20th, 2016!
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)
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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 /.
Photo courtesy Greg Lovett, Palm Beach Post (taken using long-exposure, no flash)