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Meeting The Most Endangered Turtles

Meeting The Most Endangered Turtles

Summer in Portland, Oregon is wonderful. Warm sunny days blend gradually into crisp nights even at the height of summer, a perfect climate to explore the Columbia Gorge, Mt. Hood, and the Oregon Coast. So why did I give up two weeks of my hometown’s best weather to visit the hot, rainy, and buggy coastal areas of El Salvador and Nicaragua?

When you get the opportunity to tag along with some of the world’s leading turtle conservationists to put satellite tags on possibly the planet’s most endangered sea turtles, you say yes and start looking at airfares. My non-profit wildlife conservation travel, SEEtheWILD, supports this work with donations and helping to promote these sites to volunteers and ecotourists, and I’ve been wanting to visit these sites for years.

Over ten days, I traveled with a small, diverse group of people to visit four key sea turtle habitats in two countries. We put transmitters on six turtles at two sites, attended a turtle festival, and met local residents working to support conservation programs. I will be sharing these experiences with blog posts, images, and more in the hopes of educating people about the threats that sea turtles face in this region and how people can participate in their conservation.

A few of the inspiring people I traveled with included Alex & Ingrid Gaos, the driving force behind the Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative, one of the most hopeful turtle conservation stories out there; Jose Urteaga of Flora and Fauna International, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and one of Nicaragua’s leaders in turtle conservation; and Dr. Jeff Seminoff, director of Marine Turtle Research at the National Marine Fisheries Service of NOAA. Others include Randall Arauz, recent winner of the prestigious Goldman Prize and founder of Pretoma, a leading wildlife organization in Costa Rica; Enriqueta Ramirez, founder of ViVAZUL and one of El Salvador’s leading young turtle conservationists; and Liza Gonzalez, current Nicaragua Director for Paso Pacifico and former director of the Nicaragua protected area system.

Some researchers believe the hawksbill turtles of this region are the most endangered population in the world; fewer than 500 nesting turtles remain at two sites. A network of people are working to bring these turtles back from the brink while at the same time providing opportunities for improving the lives of coastal residents near turtle hotspots. I’ll be posting about how these hawksbills have chosen mangroves over coral reefs (unlike the rest of their species around the world) and about innovative programs that are providing optimism for the future of turtles in the region. I hope you will join me on this exploration to learn about one of the world’s most charismatic and endangered animals.

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11:06PM PST on Dec 13, 2012

Poor turtles.

7:37PM PDT on Sep 16, 2012

Noted- thank you

9:20AM PDT on Sep 13, 2012

To give of yourself, is the most valuable gift you can give.

5:24AM PDT on Sep 13, 2012

Turtles are slow but, they are so cool :-) Thnx Brad Nahill for he Article...

5:11AM PDT on Sep 12, 2012

Nice to know they're being looked after!

6:46AM PDT on Sep 11, 2012

For anyone who has given up their precious time to volunteer for a worthy cause already knows the sheer joy of giving of one's self. For those who do not volunteer, you should really consider it....it will give you a sense of happiness and joy that you cannot experience otherwise. Try it, you'll love it!

Thank you Brad. It sounds like it was an incredible experience...one that you will remember for the rest of your life. I hope you will continue your volunteer efforts. Volunteers rock!

When I finally retire I'm going to be spending the good part of my week volunteering doing environmental workdays and at local animal rescues.

4:49AM PDT on Sep 11, 2012

Thanks for the info!

4:49AM PDT on Sep 11, 2012

Sad story.i hope that we can save the turtles

9:29PM PDT on Sep 10, 2012

thanks

8:27PM PDT on Sep 10, 2012

Awesome story...Thanks!!!

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