29 May 2009

Crazy Turtle Hero

CNN is currently featuring "Heroes" from around the world who are working to improve their communities. The featured hero this week is Suzan Lakhan, a co-founder of Nature Seekers in Trinidad.

Her story is truly inspirational, helping to transform a community from one that regularly ate leatherback turtles into one focused on protection. Nature Seekers now runs community development programs including ecotourism and reforestation, as well as protecting one of the world's most important leatherback nesting beaches. And somehow she manages to find the time to run a wonderful guesthouse in Matura! (see photo).

Nature Seekers is a SEE Turtles partner, check out our Trinidad trips if you want to go and meet her in person!

28 May 2009

What Gives You Hope?

Lots of things give me hope, the tastiest has to be chocolate! Especially ethically-traded organic chocolate from great companies like Endangered Species Chocolate. (Full disclosure, ESC was an early donor to SEE Turtles but is no longer currently funding the project).

ESC has launched a wonderful new website called "What Gives You Hope". Do yourself a favor, go this this site and let them know what makes you optimistic and you'll be entered into a monthly contest to have your entry featured and win free chocolate.

-Brad Nahill

25 May 2009



Funzi Turtle Club members receive ownership documents of a boat donated by IUCN Netherlands as part of a project ‘Integrating sea turtle conservation with ecotourism’. The boat will be used for sea patrols. The turtle conservation club also carries out other activities such as habitat rehabilitation, beach clean-ups, turtle tagging and release, hatchling release program, in-situ nest protection as well as production of handicrafts and souvenirs out of recycled material. This club is one of the 18 community Turtle Conservation Groups (TCGs) that the Kenya Sea Turtle Conservation Community (KESCOM) currently works with.

22 May 2009

World Turtle Day 2009

Tomorrow is World Turtle Day, so we encourage you to celebrate by going to SEE a turtle (the sea kind or otherwise), make plans to SEE turtles (find some ideas HERE)  or contribute your support to your local turtle group (they all need your help).

Tomorrow is also Carl Safina's birthday, so we encourage you to celebrate by going to SEE Carl.  Just kidding.  But you can drop him well wishes via his BLOG and thank him for his tremendous, longstanding writing, thinking and advocacy on behalf of sea turtles and their habitat.

In addition, Oceana has dedicated their BLOG to World Turtle Day!

World Turtle Day was created by American Tortoise Rescue as an annual observance to help people celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world.

One last thought to get you inspired for WTD09: "Am I not turtley enough for the turtle club?"

19 May 2009

PBS Nature: Voyage of the Lonely Turtle

A film based on the story of Adelita, a loggerhead turtle who swam home from Mexico to Japan, airs this week and last on PBS stations.  Check your local listing and read about the film HERE

Good news for leatherbacks!

All the recent news on leatherbacks seems to be good lately for a change.  A group of scientists has estimated the Gabon nesting population somewhere between 15, 000 to 41,000 females, a huge number considering the most recent estimate of worldwide females in 2004 was only roughly 35,000 total!  That makes this population larger than both the Suriname and Trinidad populations, long considered the world's largest.  

This news comes on the heels of a large new leatherback nesting beach in southern Panama, just north of the border with Costa Rica.  Ocean Revolution's Tim Dykman recently visited one of these beaches, located in the territory of the Kuna Indigenous community.  The Kuna have a long tradition of respect for the leatherback and do not eat their eggs or meat.  See photo below.

Add those new studies to evidence that leatherback numbers are increasing dramatically in places like Trinidad and that 2009 is looking like a great year along Costa Rica's Caribbean coast, things are looking bright for this species in the Atlantic.  Now we just need some good news for the Pacific leatherbacks...

12 May 2009

DIA Turtle Display

On a recent trip to Denver, I passed by this display case educating people about avoiding purchasing sea turtle products on vacation.  The display is pretty well done though not very noticeable to the thousands of people passing by.

08 May 2009

Michael J. Fox on turtles and optimism

Michael J. Fox is one of those people whose incredibly sunny attitude in the face of hardship can't help but inspire.  Instead of disappearing when he learned he had Parkinsons, he decided to use his celebrity and energy to bring attention to this debilitating disease.  His show last night "Always Looking Up" was a look at what makes people optimistic and visited sites around the world where people are working together to improve their conditions.  http://abc.go.com/specials/michaeljfox/index

What does this have to do with sea turtles?  Michael had one of those moments of clarity one day while snorkeling off the US Virgin Islands.  From his memoir Lucky Man:
"My family and I were snorkelling the pristine waters off St John's in the US Virgin Islands. We'd been visiting this beach for years, and had never seen a sea turtle. Having finally spotted one gliding through the sea grass just inside the coral reef, I swam slowly behind it, keeping a respectful distance. When I finally emerged from the water, I kicked off my flippers, walked over to where Tracy was towelling off the kids, grabbed a towel for myself, and informed her that I was leaving the show."

Michael's attitude is one that I see in many sea turtle conservationists working long hours to protect an animal that has seen a dramatic decline over the past few decades.  A well-known magazine not too long ago named "oceanographer" as the second worst job in the world because of the constant bad news.  But I see cause for optimism in sea turtle conservation, that where groups of dedicated people and organizations have been working for many years, numbers are going back up.  There is a long way to go till their numbers reach where they should be, but there's enough evidence in many populations that we have turned a corner.

And Michael, anytime you want to SEE Turtles again, just let us know!

-Brad Nahill

07 May 2009

El Salvador's sea turtle saviors

A meeting of the El Salvador's sea turtle conservation network (Red de Tortugueros Salvadorenos) was held in San Salvador today.  The philosophy behind the network echoes the work of Grupo Tortuguero, a ten year old grassroots turtle group in Mexico.  Members in attendance included community representatives from many of the country's important nesting beaches, government and NGO representatives, private sector/hotel representatives, scientists and a dozen police who shared their names and telephone numbers in a show of support for the recharged sea turtle protection efforts.

Read more HERE and HERE

National Geographic Leatherback article

A National Geographic article about sea turtles is always a cause for celebration. For those who haven't read it yet, go pick up a copy. Photographer Brian Skerry captures leatherbacks in a way that no other photographer has and writer Tim Appenzeller sheds light on the more mysterious aspects of these stunning turtles. The article details the route of the Atlantic/Caribbean population and how its numbers are increasing while the Pacific population collapses.  The National Geographic website has short videos of Brian talking about the difficulties of photographing leatherbacks in the water and on the beach, as well as photos not in the article.

Some of the best shots are from Matura Beach and Grande Riviere in Trinidad, two spots features in SEE Turtles trips!

Here is a photo of an olive ridley turtle from another well-known National Geographic photographer, Steve Winter.  

04 May 2009

Get Outside Yourself: New SEE Turtles Volunteer Match Program Connects Travelers with Sea Turtle Conservation

For your next volunteer vacation, how about a close-up and personal encounter with one of the world's most mystical and prehistoric creatures? That is what engagement with sea turtles is all about. There are many projects around the world that work in sea turtle conservation. In order to find the best one for you, check out the new volunteer placement service that SEE Turtles is offering at www.seeturtles.org. The free service matches interested travelers with sea turtle projects in Mexico, Costa Rica, Tobago, Guatemala, and Nicaragua.

Read more HERE