April 22, 2009 (BEAVERTON, OR) –Imagine 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. Communities around the world will celebrate World Ocean Day on June 8, and the occasion presents many opportunities to see these endangered gentle giants in person and participate in conservation efforts that are underway to protect them. SEE Turtles is offering a free volunteer placement service at www.seeturtles.org that matches interested volunteers with sea turtle conservation projects in Mexico, Costa Rica, Tobago, Guatemala, and Nicaragua.
Watching a green sea turtle gracefully meander through the water or witnessing a horde of leatherback sea turtle hatchlings scramble to the ocean may be one of the most joyful experiences in life. Sea turtles are among the earth’s most ancient and fascinating animals: they have been a mainstay in six of the world’s seven oceans for millions of years, can travel thousands of miles, and can live to be 80 years old. While they live most of their lives at sea, they come to shore for nesting rituals that date back to prehistoric times, creating unforgettable and intimate opportunities to interact with them.
All seven species of sea turtles are threatened or endangered, and three, the Leatherback, Kemp’s Ridley, and Hawksbill are listed as critically endangered. The Leatherback population in the Pacific Ocean was once the world’s largest, but has declined dramatically primarily due to human exploitation, commercial fisheries, and loss of nesting habitat.
The SEE Turtles volunteer program creates opportunities for interested parties to engage with sea turtles, and participate in turtle conservation efforts right alongside expert biologists and sea turtle researchers. Volunteering on a sea turtle conservation project generally involves tracking and tagging turtles, night patrols of the nesting beaches, and helping researchers collect data. Many projects also include shifts in the egg hatcheries where the eggs are protected from poachers and animals. In addition to meaningful project work, volunteers will have time to explore the rainforest, visit local towns, or simply enjoy a refreshing ocean swim and relaxation on the beach.
For more information and to apply, visit www.seeturtles.org and click on the link to the volunteer matching form. Applicants will be asked to submit their preferred destinations, dates of travel, budget requirements, desired accommodations, and other criteria. SEE Turtles will then match volunteers to partner organizations and projects that best fit their preferences. No prior experience working with sea turtles is necessary and volunteers do not need to be able to speak Spanish. Volunteers should be in reasonable physical condition and are asked to contribute at least a week of their time.
About SEE Turtles
Going beyond the ecotourism mantra of “leave only footprints”, SEE Turtles suggests that tourists should make a positive impact through conservation tourism. Conservation tourism supports communities protecting sea turtles by increasing the income needed for local conservation efforts, providing economic alternatives to end threats to sea turtles and inspiring travelers to take a more active role in protecting sea turtles. SEE Turtles is an Ocean Revolution conservation tourism project that links people with sea turtle sites in ways that directly support efforts to protect sea turtles, while increasing resources in communities to help residents thrive and value sea turtles in their environment. Ocean Revolution is a project of The Ocean Foundation.