GUEST POST: Reflections of a Sea Turtle Eco-Volunteer

by Mr.Turtle
May 25th 2012 - 0 comments

Being an Eco-Volunteer for the Sea Turtle Conservancy is definitely an adventure! To get to Tortuguero, I first took a bus ride through the mountains and then to the coast. From there I boarded a small boat to take me through the canals. It was here that I first started to experience the wonderful wildlife that can be found in Costa Rica. From monkeys, to iguana's, countless native birds, and butterflies there is always something to see.
Once I arrived at the station, I learned how to measure and record data for when a turtle is nesting. Right away I was included in the night patrols and various activities that take place during a usual week at the station. During the week I got to know the research assistants better and learned about the countries that they are from.
The night patrols are not always successful in terms of seeing turtles but there is always something interesting to see, from the brilliant night sky to small crabs that glow in the dark. Since nature, and turtles, are not always predictable, I recommend staying for two weeks. That way there are more opportunities to see a turtle.
Seeing a turtle was definitely the highlight of my trip! I was able to count the eggs and help check her flippers and shell for any damage. Being so close to these amazing animals is truly a life changing experience. Working with the turtle up close gave me a new appreciation for these creatures, while also motivating me even more to help conserve them.
Staying two weeks also gives you time to become a part of the weekly schedule and see even more wildlife. There is always something to do in or around the station: going in to Tortuguero for shopping or food, bird watching, relaxing on the beach, taking a canal tour or even just reading a book. Costa Rica is truly a beautiful country, from the plants, to the animals, and even the gorgeous sunsets.
Being an Eco-Volunteer in Tortuguero is definitely a once in a life time experience. If you have the chance, you should definitely go!

By Rachel Bladow

Sea Turtle Conservation

by Mr.Turtle
May 1st 2012 - 0 comments

TodayÂ’s blog post about working with sea turtles in Costa Rica is by Brian Drozd, a program officer at the U.S. Department of State. He has over 6 years of experience working for the United States Environmental Protection Agency, where he worked on grants and communications in the Climate Change Division. His MasterÂ’s degree in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development enabled him to focus on sustainable tourism and conservation.
In the summer of 2009 I spent 10 weeks working with sea turtles on the rugged coast of Tortuguero, Costa Rica. Working as a research assistant for the Sea Turtle Conservancy, I spent my time walking up and down a 5 mile stretch of beach in the middle of the night looking for green sea turtles to measure, tag, and count the number of eggs they laid. I did this only for meals and a roof over my head. Why would someone do this? Sea turtles have swum in the worldÂ’s oceans for 100 million years, and they are in danger of extinction. Threats from poaching, commercial fishing, and climate change, among others, are threatening these animals all over the world. Many people say healthy sea turtles mean healthy oceans.
There are many different species of sea turtles, but I primarily worked with green sea turtles. Some facts about these amazing animals:
They only lay eggs every 3-4 years, and generally come back to nest on the same beach where they were born throughout their life. One turtle we found had nested on the same beach in 1982!
They only lay their eggs at night, after digging a hole that can be up to 5 feet deep.
They only come on land to lay their eggs.
There are only an estimated 88,000 nesting green turtle females in the world.
The goal of my time in Tortuguero was to help the Sea Turtle Conservancy collect data to monitor the health and numbers of the sea turtle population. We also worked closely with the local people to educate them about sea turtles and help them conduct their eco-tourism business with the turtles in a safe manner.
One of the most amazing experiences as a research assistant was when we put a satellite transmitter onto a green turtle. Using a transmitter to monitor turtles we are able to learn about their feeding patterns, how long they stay under water, and much more. It is just this kind of valuable information that is helping scientists learn how to better help protect these animals.
Sea Turtles nest all over the world. Large nesting populations are found in many countries in Latin America and Africa, as well as in India, Indonesia, and China. All sea turtles are in need of protection, monitoring, and research in order to make sure they survive for future generations. There are many actions you can take to help sea turtles near your home and around the world. Some of them are: reducing pollution, not eating sea turtle meat or eggs, and protecting coastlines by slowing development and reducing light on nesting beaches. View more tips here and research just a few of the many organizations working to save turtles around the world. I had an incredible time working with sea turtles, and IÂ’m sure you would too!

Young STC fan shares love of sea turtles

by Mr.Turtle
Mar 19th 2012 - 0 comments

To: Sea Turtle Conservancy
From: Ashley
I am so proud of you guys, and I have always loved the sea. And when I grow up, I want to be a Marine Biologist with dolphins and turtles. Here is a little reminder of how proud I am of your guys.

From the staff at STC, thank you for sharing your nice comments and sending us your beautiful drawing!

STC Research Coordinator Writes about Her Experience Working in Tortuguero

by Mr.Turtle
Mar 13th 2012 - 0 comments

Each nesting season, STC invites students and recent college graduates to assist with research at Tortuguero in Costa Rica. During this yearÂ’s leatherback nesting season, research coordinator Maddie will be sharing her experience with STCÂ’s members and supporters.

Meet Maddie
“¡Hola! Mi nombre es Madeleine Beange. I grew up in beautiful Vancouver, Canada. In 2009, I completed a B.S in neurobiology at McGill University. After a year of neuroscience research I got sick of killing mice.
I left my lab job to backpack Southeast Asia for a couple months. After a taste of wandering the world, I realized I needed more. Pursuing my dreams of working with sea turtles, I worked for 9 months and saved up enough money to fly to Costa Rica.
My fist experience with sea turtle conservation research was with PRETOMA, a Costa Rican NGO. From October to December 2011, I worked as a coordinator/research assistant for 3 months.

Next up is a 3 month research assistant position with Sea Turtle Conservancy. I will still be working in Costa Rica, but this time on the Caribbean side in Tortuguero.”
To read about MaddieÂ’s adventures as a Sea Turtle Conservancy research assistant, click here for her blog, Mad About Sea Turtles.

Guest Post:: Sea Turtles of Costa Rica: Identifying Problems & What You Can Do To Help

by Mr.Turtle
Feb 12th 2012 - 0 comments

More so than many other tropical locations throughout the world, Costa Rica is an important location for sea turtle nesting. But the five species that call the countryÂ’s two coasts home are being severely threatened by a number of dangers, pushing these creatures towards the point of extinction. We should all be aware of these threats and what we can do to help out so that we may preserve these species for centuries to come.
Introducing Costa RicaÂ’s Sea Turtles
Costa Rica is amongst the worldÂ’s premier destinations to view nesting sea turtles. The species that are found in Costa Rica include the Hawksbill, Green, Black (a Pacific subpecies of green turtles), Olive Ridley, Loggerhead and the massive Leatherback sea turtle. Sea turtles are important to the health of the worldÂ’s oceans, and unfortunately six of the seven turtle species in the world are on the threatened or endangered list. National parks have been put in place to help protect the most important nesting areas. Tortuguero National Park for instance is a breeding ground of four species of sea turtle. Two other turtle-inspired spots are located in the Guanacaste province. Ostional National Wildlife Refuge is located near the town of Nosara and is one of the worldÂ’s key breeding grounds of the olive ridley sea turtle. Las Baulas (Leatherback) National Park is near the picturesque beach of Playa Grande, which is a large Leatherback beach.
All of these species found in Costa Rica are either on the endangered or threatened list and all a number of dangers, including commercial fishing, egg poaching and both light and garbage pollution.
-Commercial fishing: Turtles are threatened by both long line and commercial fishing nets. Sea turtles like all reptiles breathe air. It is very common for a turtles to become entangled in nets or hooked in lines leading them to drown.
- Poaching: The fact is the local population enjoys the taste of sea turtle meat and uses turtle eggs as a supposed aphrodisiac. This leads to the hunting and harvesting of sea turtles and their eggs throughout. Restrictions have been put in place by the government and have helped reduced poaching, but these regulations are difficult to enforce.
-Light Pollution: Development of communities and commercial properties along nesting beaches has created light pollution that confuses and disorients the turtles and their hatchlings. Uneducated visitors are also a problem, as many go to the beaches looking for nesting turtles but are unaware that normal flashlights cause the same light problems as the developments. Red LED lights are the most eco-friendly way to view turtle nesting at night. The red lightÂ’s wavelength does not affect the turtles as much, allowing for successful nesting. It is always good policy to view nesting turtles with certified guides to ensure their safety.
-Garbage: There are many problems that result from humans polluting, but one of the direct threats to the leatherback species and other species is the presence of plastic bags. Plastic bags are easily mistaken for jelly fish, a staple in the leatherback diet. Plastic bag consumption leads to blockages the throat and digestive systems causing starvation and even death. Cigarette butts and oil droplets are also among the many hazardous items that do not belong in EarthÂ’s oceans.
What you can do to help
Learning about sea turtles and not littering are some of the easiest thing you can do to help save not just Costa RicaÂ’s sea turtles but the worldÂ’s oceans. If you have some free time and a big heart, you can also volunteer at one of many non-profits programs set in place to help sea turtle conservation. If we all help a little it will make a great difference.
Guest blog post written by Matt Ymbras for TV Pura Vida
To volunteer working with sea turtles in Costa Rica, visit to learn about our Eco-Volunteer Adventures.
If you would like to submit a guest blog post for consideration, please email your story to

URGENT! Your Calls are Needed to Stop a Monster Environmental Bill!

by Mr.Turtle
Feb 12th 2012 - 0 comments

Florida sea turtle supporters:
We are passing this alert from 1000 Friends of Florida on to our friends and supporters and recommend you take action as soon as possible. As many of you know, the Florida legislature is focused on cutting the budgets of state regulatory agencies and their environmental programs, streamlining or eliminating environmental regulations, and essentially gutting the growth management laws that have been in existence for decades.
As the legislative session winds down there are many bills that will reduce or eliminate environmental protections for surface and marine waters, wetlands, coastal habitats, sea grass beds, and wildlife. The alert below addresses two of the worst bills working their way through the legislature and what you can do to reduce the potential harm to FloridaÂ’s rich environment.
Sea Turtle Conservancy has been actively involved in this legislation and working with its partners in the environmental community to make this legislation better. We have offered amendments to improve these bills in ways that would ensure protection for sea turtle nesting beaches. Unfortunately it has been a difficult uphill battle. We are now asking for your help. The issues and the bills are complicated. Please read the alert below and take action:

While the schedule has not yet been released, the Senate Budget Committee is expected to pass the growth management bill, SB 1122, on Thursday, April 28. SB 1122 will then be ready for a floor vote by the full Senate sometime next week.
Representatives of FloridaÂ’s leading planning and conservation organizations, including 1000 Friends of Florida, Audubon of Florida, the Everglades Foundation, Florida Wildlife Federation, National Parks Conservation Association, Sierra Club, and The Nature Conservancy, have been consulting with key Senate leadership on growth management and have come to the conclusion that sweeping growth management legislation will pass this session despite strenuous objections. While it has many flaws, SB 1122 is clearly preferable to the House companion bill, HB 1729.
We are asking you to call your Senator as soon as possible to prevent damaging changes to SB 1122 when it comes up for a vote by the full Senate next week. Click here to find your Senator. Please ask your Senator to:
(1) Keep intact the existing SB 1122 language on the expedited review/alternative review process. The Senate version provides for fairer citizen challenge standards on plan amendments, and gives smaller local governments the option of keeping the current and more comprehensive plan amendment process; and
(2) Not allow “developer giveaways” on large scale projects (known as DRIs) to be amended on to SB 1122. These damaging amendments would allow a 150 percent increase in the size of projects that would be exempted from the state DRI review process, a 100 percent increase in the allowance for large scale changes to DRIs that do not require additional DRI review, and outright exemptions from the DRI process for MINING, INDUSTRIAL, and HOTEL/MOTEL projects.
Stop a Monster Environmental Bill:
HB 991 by Rep. Jimmy Patronis includes a series of special interest changes to 34 different environmental laws undermining citizen protection rights from polluters. It would limit local regulation of mining operations, allow groundwater contamination from landfills, and increase development provisions in wetlands. More information will be released at a 10:30 a.m. press conference called by The Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, Audubon of Florida and 1000 Friends of Florida. Conservation groups are calling on Senators to resist efforts to amend this billÂ’s bad provisions on to other proposed legislation.
While you are calling your Senator about halting the damaging growth management provisions outlined above, please also ask your Senator to not amend the harmful provisions from HB 991 onto other bills. Please also contact your Representative to oppose HB 991. To find your Representative, please click here and then click on the “Find Your Representative” icon.

Loggerhead Belle Returns to Nest

by Mr.Turtle
Feb 12th 2012 - 0 comments

Satellite-tracked turtle returns to nest again
by Ludi Lellis, Orlando Sentinel on May, 23 2011
About three years ago, she crawled off a Brevard County beach, a satellite tag glued to her back so that turtle fans could track her.
Now, the loggerhead sea turtle has returned to Central Florida, back again at our beaches to nest again.
The return of the Belle OÂ’Brevard, as she was named, has thrilled turtle researchers, who have learned much through satellite tagging of the sea-faring reptiles.
“Usually the transmitters don’t last long enough but on this turtle, we’ve been able to track her for three years,” said Rocio Johnson, with the Sea Turtle Conservancy in Gainesville.
The Belle OÂ’Brevard was so named as part of a contest during the 2008 Tour de Turtles, an annual event hosted by the Sea Turtle Conservancy in which several turtles are fitted with satellite tags and then tracked for a marathon distance of 2,620 kilometers.
In 2008, this particular turtle, then weighing 350 pounds, had come ashore at the Archie Carr Refuge near Melbourne Beach to dig a nest but before she could return to sea, a fist-sized satellite transmitter was glued to her shell.
The transmitter has stuck, sending a satellite signal every three days. Her favorite migration path is between the Carolinas and Maryland, where she is apparently following the horseshoe migration season. You can see her migration map at this website.
She headed south to Florida a few weeks back and has been staying close to the Brevard coast. Turtles normally return to the beach where they first hatched to lay their own eggs and loggerheads are known to lay eggs about every two to three years. So it would seem that her biological clock is due for another round of nests.
Johnson noted, though, that no one has confirmed a nest, because no one has yet caught up with her at a beach during the nocturnal egg-laying.
On behalf of STC, thanks for continuing to cover sea turtles, Ludi!

The Sea TurtleÂ’s Plea

by Mr.Turtle
Feb 12th 2012 - 1 comments

The Sea TurtleÂ’s Plea

I am a giant turtle
And with my shell I hurtle
Over rocks and sticks
To the blue, blue sea.

Though I may be slow on land--
My flippers struggle on sand--
My speed canÂ’t be matched
In the deep, blue sea.

However . . .

I now swim zigs and zags
‘round plastic bottles and bags.
WhatÂ’s all this doing
In the once blue sea?

Please promise to stop this mess--
Just recycle and use less--
So I can swim fast
In a clear, blue sea.
By Carole Mackey,
Educator and Sea Turtle Fan

STC Blog chosen as one of the Top 100 Animal Preservation Blogs

by Mr.Turtle
Feb 12th 2012 - 0 comments

In an effort to get the word out about endangered species and help make a difference through education, College Degree Net published a list with their choices for the Top 100 Animal Preservation Blogs.
Here is what they had to say about Sea Turtle ConservancyÂ’s blog:
“Fortunately, visibility for the need to protect sea turtles has boomed recently. This blog helps you direct your concern to practical and effective modes of support.”
Thanks for the kudos College Degree Net!