How You Can Help

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Use Email

As the world becomes more and more connected, email grows in power as a tool for concerned individuals. As you explore the links provided in The Library and follow them to other places on the Web, you will encounter email addresses that allow you to send comments or pleas to various governments and agencies.

Please take a moment to use these addresses. It costs little or nothing, but can have a powerful effect. Governments do react when enough citizens express concern. It can't hurt to try.

1996 was a year of crisis in the United States. Some politicans seized the opportunity to try to dismantle protections such as those offered in the Endangered Species Act. In particular, Senator Slade Gorton (R-WA) introduced Senate bill S-768, which would have allowed commercial activities in the ocean to destroy habitat or kill endangered species without penalty. Fortunately, the 104th Congress ended before this and similar bills could pass. Most of the supporters of these bills were re-elected, however, so it is probable that the attacks will be renewed shortly.

Because the United States leads the world in the protection of endangered species, it is critical that the Endangered Species Act must not be weakened. If the US abandons endangered species, the rest of the world will quickly follow. We urge you to write to all U.S. senators expressing your support for the US Endangered Species Act. You do not have to be an American citizen to voice your concern. Please write today. You can find the email addresses of members of the U.S. Congress through The Electronic Activist.

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Donations

We have collected a number of addresses to which you can send donations. These organizations all have funds devoted specifically to marine turtles. Because of our own special interest, we hope you choose to support the ones that we know are working on understanding and solving the fibropapilloma problem. Any one of these organizations is well worth supporting, however.

University of Florida Fibropapilloma Research

When you start looking for information about marine turtles, you immediately discover that the University of Florida is bearing Archie Carr's torch into the next century. It is therefore not surprising that a lot of research into fibropapilloma tumors goes on there. Find out how you can contribute directly to this research by sending email to erj@vetmed1.vetmed.ufl.edu.

The Honu Project

This small organization does what we are attempting: it provides public information and education about the fibropapilloma problem. The Honu Project produced the video Fall of the Ancients--Hawaiian Green Turtles In Crisis.

The Honu Project
P.O. 61499
Honolulu, Hawaii 96839

Donations to The Honu Project are tax deductible for U.S. residents.

The Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research

The Archie Carr Center needs no introduction. This organization, located at the University of Florida, Gainseville, accepts donations to help them continue their programs in aid of marine turtles. Please make cheques (checks if you're American) payable to the University of Florida Research Foundation, Inc., Sea Turtle Account, and send them to:

Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research,
Bartram Hall, University of Florida,
Gainesville, Florida 32611 USA

Donations to the Archie Carr Center are tax deductible for U.S. residents. The University of Florida does not charge overhead on your donation.

The Marine Turtle Newsletter

If you want to keep abreast of events in the world of marine turtles, you need the Marine Turtle Newsletter. It contains short articles, summaries, and lists of recently published work.

The Marine Turtle Newsletter is published in English and Spanish and is distributed quarterly to more than 2000 readers in more than 100 nations. Whether or not you subscribe, we recommend that you consider donating. Visit:

Marine Turtle Newsletter donations

Donations are tax-deductible for U.S. residents.

Sea Turtle Restoration Project

Among other things, the Sea Turtle Restoration Project (formerly associated with Earth Island Institute) has long been known for its fight to get shrimp boats to employ Turtle Excluder Devices, and to get the US government to encourage their use in other shrimp-fishing nations. The Sea Turtle Restoration Project is now one of the leaders in the campaign to establish the Turtle-Safe Shrimp program. You can help them in this effort by donating to:

Sea Turtle Restoration Project
P.O. Box 400
Forest Knolls, CA 94933

STRP supporters receive the STRP newsletter and action alerts.

Center for Marine Conservation

The Center for Marine Conservation is the United States' leading non-profit organization protecting the nation's marine resources. The CMC is currently mobilizing opposition to U.S. Senate Bill S-768, an insidious attempt by Senator Slade Gorton (R-WA) and others to dismantle the Endangered Species Act. You can support the CMC in this and other fights by sending donations to:

Center for Marine Conservation
1725 DeSales St. NW
Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036

Donations are tax-deductible for U.S. residents. Please make sure that the cheque (check for you Americans) is clearly marked Sea Turtles.

HEART (Help Endangered Animals -- Ridley Turtles)

HEART (Help Endangered Animals-Ridley Turtles) was organized in 1982 to save the Kemp's ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempi) from extinction by educating the public and supporting conservation laws that protect sea turtles. HEART serves as an educational referral source for teachers and students seeking information about the Kemp's ridleys and all sea turtles. A grass-roots all-volunteer organization, HEART strives to inform the public of breaking news about Kemp's ridleys and the challenges facing their survival. You can support HEART by sennding donations to:

HEART
PO Box 681231
Houston, TX 77268-1231

Donations are tax-deductible for U.S. residents.

The Turtle Foundation

The Turtle Foundation is based in Germany, and was founded by two film producers and two sport divers from Lichenstein. Its main purpose is to protect the turtles on Sangalaki, a tiny island off Borneo, and elsewhere. Project Sangalaki has been formed to protect the eggs laid on the island by green turtles. You can help by donating. Visit:

http://www.turtle-foundation.org/help-eng.htm

Donations are tax-deductible for German residents.

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Volunteering

Another way you can help sea turtles is to volunteer to help with beach monitoring programs. These require your time, but you get experience with fieldwork and the chance to see turtles nesting and hatching. You are usually required to pay at least part of the expenses, and the conditions are sometimes a bit primitive, but the opportunity to have close contact with the turtles is worth it.

Tortuguero, Costa Rica

The Caribbean Conservation Corporation runs two volunteer programs:

The Leatherback Project--March to May: The Leatherback Project, initiated in 1995, is investigating the use of Tortuguero beach by these huge turtles, weighing up to 2,000 pounds. Participants work with researchers to find, tag, and record data about the leatherbacks. Track count surveys will also be conducted to help determine the extent to which the area is used for nesting. Tag data and tag return information will reveal the life cycle and migratory patterns of this largest and widest-ranging sea turtle species.

The Green Turtle Project--July to September: CCC studies have solved many of the mysteries of green turtle reproductive ecology and behavior. Long-term tagging at Tortuguero facilitates monitoring of the nesting population to evaluate the survival status of the species. You will work with nesting turtles weighing up to 350 pounds and measuring 3 to 4 feet in length. As with the leatherback program, participants will work in teams with researchers to help tag and record data about the nesting turtles. The presence of tagging teams on the beach also acts as a strong deterrent to poachers and egg collectors.

For details and instructions for applying, visit the CCC's page describing its Research Participation Programs.

Serafin Station Turtle Project

Asociacion ACONDE is looking for volunteers to help with the newly formed Serafin Station Turtle Project, located on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Volunteers will work nights, patrolling a 6 km beach (4 miles). Other work will include beach cleaning, hatchery duty, and studies of the turtle population (tagging, measuring, etc.). Nesting season for the Leatherback runs from March to August, and Green turtle season from approximately May to September. Volunteers will be housed on a private reserve, Puente de Arena, and help to cover meals. There will also be the option to work on other projects such as organic farming and reforestation. Please see www.aconde.org for more details, or contact Brad Nahill: brad@aconde.org.

The Other Hawaii

Local legend has it that founding father, Domingo Montepeque, on seeing the beaches and estuaries of this area of the south coast of Guatemala was reminded of a postcard he had seen of Hawaii, and named it after it. He then set about planting hundreds of coconut trees which now, 50 years later, tower over the thatched roofs of the town of 600 people. Beyond coco trees, similarities with the real Hawaii stop: no high rise hotels, but a few two-story homes; no booming tourist industry, just artesanal fishermen and sesame farmers; and no surfers, the waves break too straight.

Two kilometers down the beach from Hawaii, towards the resort town of Monterrico, lies Hawaii Park, the 1 1/2 hectare base of activities for ARCAS's Marine Turtle Conservation Program. ARCAS is a non-profit, Guatemalan NGO fighting to save endangered species and their habitat in Guatemala. In 1993, ARCAS initiated its conservation activities in the Hawaii area primaryily as a response to threats to leatherback and olive ridley turtle populations by local egg collectors. Despite their endangered status, virtually all turtle nests are harvested and the eggs sold to restaurants or at market. (Turtle eggs are popular in Guatemala as an aphrodisiac; clearly not a real need given a population growth rate of nearly 3%.) Under its Hawaii Program, ARCAS, together with the Guatemalan forestry agency (DIGEBOS), solicits donations of turtle eggs from local collectors and then reburies the eggs in protected hatcheries. After an incubation period of roughly 45 days, the hatchlings are released into the sea. Over 5000 hatchlings in 1993, 7000 in 1994 and 10,000 in 1995 were released. As an experimental pilot project and as an attempt to gather more eggs, ARCAS built a small "food-for-eggs exchange" whereby donated corn was exchanged for turtle eggs.

An important aspect of the Hawaii Program is environmental education. ARCAS staff and volunteers offer classes, develop teaching materials and conduct beach clean ups in area schools. ARCAS also manages three school hatcheries where students collect and bury their own eggs and then release them when they hatch.

The Hawaii Program also includes iguana and crocodile breeding, mangrove reforestation and a latrine and well-building project. If this has captured your interest, you'll want details about cost, facilities, etc.

To volunteer for ARCAS's Hawaii Sea Turtle Conservation Project, contact Colum Muccio by E-mail at arcas@pronet.net.gt or by mail at Section 717, PO Box 52-7270, Miami, FL 33152-7270. (Guatemalan mail is very unreliable, so they have it couriered in from Miami.) They can also be reached by fax or phone at (502)2-914731. Remember to send them some details about your background and your expectations from the volunteer program.

San Francisco, Nayarit, Mexico

The Grupo Ecologico de la Costa Verde of San Francisco, Nayarit, Mexico, is a Mexican nonprofit, civil association dedicated to the protection on the natural environmental, with special interest in the protection of the marine turtle. They are looking for volunteers to assist them in a vigorous ongoing program of marine turtle protection and environmental education.

Time: Their work begins with the onset of the Olive Ridley nesting season, June 15th, and ends around November 15th. An ideal length of stay would be five months, although periods as short as one month are fine.

Location: San Francisco is located 32 miles north of Puerto Vallarta, in the Stare of Nayarit, Mexico. San Pancho as it is commonly call, is a small tranquil pueblo of 1,200 inhabitants.

Duties: The Group is enlisting summer help for two special programs. Working with marine turtles will involve keeping records, collection of nests, releasing hatchlings to the sea, maintaining a marine nursery and driving a dune buggy. Youth Environmental Education will involve working with Spanish speaking children, ages 7 to 17.

Requirements, skills, education, and fitness: No special skills are required to work within the marine turtle program, although volunteers should be willing to work during the night in occasional heavy rain, and will be required to operate a Volkswagen dune buggy on good to muddy roads. Youth education instructors should have a fair understanding of rural environment problems, preservation of the natural resources, etc. and enjoy working with children.

Salary/expenses: Because our work is centered within the community of San Francisco, a "turtle encampment" facility for the lodging of volunteers is not necessary. Volunteers are not required to pay any fees, but are responsible for their own living expenses. We will, if requested, arrange for your lodging and special needs in advance of your arrival. In some years free lodging is available. If not, rooms can by rented, or a single home can be rented for 125 dollars and up, a month.

If you are interested and have questions, or would like to help, please fax Frank Smith, 011-52-325-84110. You can also visit their web site at http://www.zona-virtual.com.mx/tortuga.

Protect hawksbills on the Big Island, Hawaii

The hawksbill is quite rare in the Hawaiian Islands. In 1998, only 38 nests were documented on the Big Island. They need volunteers for the 1999 nesting seaon, which runs from May to December. You will be monitoring hawksbill nests on remote beaches in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and adjacent lands. They prefer stays of 8-12 weeks, but will consider shorter periods.

Volunteers camp 3-5 nights a week. Duties include monitoring nesting hawksbills and basking green turtles, rescuing stranded hatchlings, excavating nests, and trapping and euthanizing predators (mongooses, feral cats, and rats). Some nesting beaches can be reached only by hiking a 6.6 mile trail over recent lava flows, but others can be reached by 4-wheel drive truck. The weather is hot and very windy.

Shared dormitory-style housing is provided near Park Headquarters at the summit of Kilauea Volcano (4,000 ft. elevation). A small stipend ($10/day) is provided, so you will need some of your own money. Contact the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, P.O. Box 52, Hawaii 96718. Phone (808) 985-6090, fax (808) 985-6029, or send email to havo_turtle_project@nps.gov.

ANAI Leatherback Sea Turtle Conservation Program

ANAI is a Costa Rican organization helping the people of Talamanca. One of its projects is a Leatherback Turtle Conservation Project. You can volunteer to help with this project.

In the past, EarthWatch has helped to fund a project to camouflage and protect the nests of leatherbacks in this area, but apparently can no longer afford to do so. Prior to EarthWatch's intervention, nearly 100% of the turtle eggs were lost to poachers. Through the EarthWatch program, the loss was reduced to around 15%, but this advance is now threatened.

In addition to protecting nests, this project also tagged nesting females and collected data about the nests and hatchlings. This was accomplished with a very low budget and only a few paid organizers and beach guards. Now, however, they are forced to try to find money from a source other than Earthwatch.

Please visit ANAI's web pages to find out how you can help.

EarthWatch pages

EarthWatch is an organization that sponsors numerous projects to study and protect the environment. EarthWatch seeks volunteers to join its projects. Here's a list of the ones that affect marine turtles.

Watamu Turtle Watch

The Watamu Turtle Watch is the original programme of the Kenyan marine conservation organization Local Ocean Trust, which works with local communities to protect and conserve the marine environment. They need help to conduct beach patrols, perform nest excavations, educate local communities as well as visitors to the area, and develop other programmes to raise awareness and help protect turtles and their environment. Visit the Watamu Turtle Watch website to learn how you can participate.

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Adopt a Turtle

Another way you can contribute to sea turtle research is to adopt a turtle.

Watamu Turtle Watch

The Watamu Turtle Watch project would like you to buy adoption packages online and help support sea turtle conservation in Kenya.

In recent years egg poaching has been 100% on most Kenyan beaches. As a result of these activities only a small population of sea turtles return each year to Watamu. With only 1 in a 1000 eggs reaching adulthood (each nest usually contains around 100 eggs) the Watamu nesters are living on borrowed time. Since 1997 WTW's Turtle Nest Protection Programme has encouraged local people to protect, rather than poach, turtle nests.

The continued success of this programme is dependent on funds raised through the Turtle Nest Adoption Scheme. For just $25 or 15 you can ensure the protection of a Watamu sea turtle nest by becoming an 'adopter'. An adoption pack contains a certificate, A3 poster, free gift, and adopters get e-mail updates about their turtle.

Caribbean Conservation Corporation

The Caribbean Conservation Corporation was founded by Mr. Joshua Powers, Dr. Archie Carr, and others for the purpose of conserving sea turtles through research, training, advocacy, education and the protection of natural areas. One of the programs run by the CCC allows you to adopt a turtle in return for a small donation.

Mote Marine Laboratory

Mote Marine Laboratory also runs a program that allows you to adopt a sea turtle or hatchling for a small donation. The cost for adopting a mom turtle is $100 and for that you, or your loved one, will receive an adoption certificate, nesting data, a beautiful sea turtle poster, and sighting reports when she comes back to nest in future years. Hatchlings can be adopted for the low, low price of $25 each. You'll receive an adoption certificate, the date and location of the nest, and a photograph of the hatchling. For information, call 941-388-4441 or 800-691-MOTE.

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