22 January 2008

SEE Turtles Conservation Tourism Program Launches

Ocean Conservancy Launches Conservation Tourism Program to Protect Endangered
Sea Turtles

Sea Turtle Ecological Expeditions supports community-based conservation and
alternative sources of income for residents that protect rather than harm sea

WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Ocean Conservancy
announces its new conservation tourism program, Sea Turtle Ecological
Expeditions (SEE Turtles). The program informs travelers about sea turtle
locations where local conservation efforts are underway, resulting in support
for sea turtle protection while increasing community resources that help
residents thrive and value sea turtles in the wild. SEE Turtles also provides
turtle watching guidelines to travelers taking conservation tours to reduce
negative impacts on turtles and the host community. Going beyond the
ecotourism mantra of tourists not impacting the environment they visit, Ocean
Conservancy suggests that travelers should make an impact - a positive one -
through conservation tourism. With six out of seven sea turtle species
endangered, SEE Turtles is founded on the premise that the growing business of
sea turtle viewing and tourism must be developed with the goal of protecting
sea turtles as well as generating revenue.

"Sea turtle populations face serious threats from getting caught in fishing
gear and from market demand for turtle meat, eggs and shells. People who are
on the ground protecting sea turtles where turtles feed or nest can make the
biggest positive impact for the animals through community ties, cultural
sensitivity, and simply because of their proximity to turtles," said Dr.
Wallace J. Nichols, a senior scientist with Ocean Conservancy and a leading
international sea turtle expert. "Our program aims to empower and support
communities by encouraging tourists to take sea turtle tours run by former
fishermen. This will bring tourism money into communities where sea turtle
conservation tours are offered so that former fishermen and poachers can make
a living offering tours that protect sea turtles rather than harming them."

"I grew up in Lopez Mateos where many loggerhead sea turtles feed and grow to
maturity. The people in my town used to take sea turtles for granted. My
town was once known for consuming turtles. I knew I had to help sea turtle
populations survive by convincing fishermen and visitors that we need to
protect turtles," said Cesareo "Charo" Castro, sea turtle tour operator and
sea turtle conservationist in Lopez Mateos, Baja California Sur, Mexico.
"Ocean Conservancy's program holds much promise by sending people to our
community to support my business and my home town, where we now work hard to
protect turtles."

Ocean Conservancy's SEE Turtles program currently focuses efforts on essential
sea turtle habitat in Baja California Sur, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Trinidad.
The SEE Turtles program is guided by nine advisory board members with
expertise in policy, sea turtle science, tourism, and marine wildlife
conservation. SEE Turtles advisory board members helped to develop sea turtle
watching guidelines that are being provided to travelers and tour operators,
as well as criteria for selecting sites for SEE Turtles.

"Ocean Conservancy's Sea Turtle Ecological Expeditions program is poised to
successfully contribute to local sea turtle conservation efforts at a time
when travelers are more interested than ever to support the communities they
visit," said Chris Seek, President and Co-founder of Solimar Travel. "Last
year we witnessed a tremendous growth of travelers in search of a vacation
experience that provided an opportunity to support sea turtle conservation.
The travel experience that conservationists like Cesareo are providing is in
great demand and we are thrilled to connect our travelers with these efforts."

Plans to expand SEE Turtles to additional locations will begin in 2009. To
learn more about Ocean Conservancy's SEE Turtles program and to find out where
you can visit to contribute to sea turtle conservation, visit
www.seeturtles.org or www.oceanconservancy.org.

About Ocean Conservancy

Ocean Conservancy is the world's foremost advocate for the ocean. Through
science-based advocacy, research, and public education, we inform, inspire and
empower people to speak and act for the oceans. Ocean Conservancy is
headquartered in Washington, DC, and has offices in New England, Florida, the
Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, and California with support from more than half
a million members and volunteers. For more information, visit

About Solimar Travel

Solimar Travel is a travel planning agency for independent travelers focused
on high-quality travel experiences to undiscovered destinations around the
world. Working with in-country partners that share the company's commitment
to sustainable tourism, Solimar Travel aims to build customized itineraries
that fit within your budget and match your interests. Solimar Travel holds
the belief that travel is a personal experience and that each traveler should
be an integral part of the travel planning process. Their aim is to provide
you with the experience of a lifetime, while supporting sustainable tourism in
the destinations that you visit. Solimar Travel is on the web at

SOURCE Ocean Conservancy