South Padre Island, '99--19th Annual Sea Turtle Symposium

Ursula's Reflections

South Padre was terrific--a wonderful experience with tons of learning. We want to be the first to thank Dr. Dave Owens and his TAMU crew for the hospitality they extended to all of us.

It's strange how I'd come back from previous Symposia with lots of information crammed inside me. This time I returned with one word dominating my head. "Stay." To me that was the focus of this whole 1999 experience.

I got that from a talk by Dr. Colin Limpus. Now he didn't use that word exactly, but it's the message that came through sweet and clear anyway. He mentioned how fortunate the Western Hemisphere is as far as sea turtle conservation goes--but the much larger part of the world is having a tough tough time of it.

He invited sea turtlers to bring their expertise and enthusiasm to South East Asia, not just to show up and then leave but to commit for the long term. To stay. To figure out trends.

That was another important theme at the 1999 Symposium: how important trends are. Trends in nesting. Trends in beach temperatures. Trends in migration. Trends in sex ratios. Trends in fibropapilloma. Trends in population dynamics.

There are recognizable human trends as well. Each Symposium attracts a greater number and range of attendees. This event attracts students from all over the world in addition to volunteers and fellow enthusiasts.

Expert and lay people alike meet for an exhilarating week of talking turtle. And something we've discovered only recently: sea turtles are wonderful but sea turtle people are (almost) as interesting as sea turtles themselves! To prove it, below we've collected a small sample of captured digital video pics.

Hope to see you next year at Orlando!

Ursula Keuper-Bennett, March 13, 1999

The Photo Album

Click on the images on the left for a larger version.
Fetches a 21K JPG Dr. Rene Marquez talks about the Kemp's Ridley and the trends at Rancho Nuevo. There's hope for the Kemp's Ridley--that's the message we got from that talk.
Fetches a 47K JPG Dr. Richard Byles holds a flashlight for honoured guest Dr. Henry Hildebrand, the man who found the Kemp's ridley nesting film shot by Andres Herrera back in 1947.
Fetches a 58K JPG This is Dr. Félix Moncada of the Research Fisheries Center, Cuba as he gives his paper on The incidence of fibropapillomas in green turtles (Chelonia mydas) in Cuban waters (Jeff Seminoff translating). It was important for us to learn about the prevalence of FP in Cuba.
Fetches a 49K JPG Here is Dr. Colin Limpus at the exact time he challenged people to help out in South East Asia and "stay."
Fetches a 39K JPG Wallace J. Nichols presents his paper on the sea turtles of Baja, California.
Fetches a 29K JPG Denise Ellis advances a slide from her PowerPoint presentation on satellite tagging of Pacific loggerheads.
Fetches a 43K JPG Bivash Pandav shares the grim news about the obscene number of sea turtle drownings at Orissa, India.
Fetches a 47K JPG Nicholas Pilcher elaborates on the behaviour of hatchlings and the implications for their future conservation.
Fetches a 57K JPG It wasn't all hard work and lectures. The Topsail Sea Turtle Hospital Crew made sure we had plenty of fun. The first Wave at a scientific conference--well executed too.
Fetches a 42K JPG The Symposium president takes the cake. Dr. Dave Owens demonstrates he knows a good thing when he sees one. We thank Dave for the support and encouragement he's given us along the way.
Fetches a 43K JPG We don't like to post pictures of ourselves on Turtle Trax, preferring to keep the turtles front and centre. This year, however, in order to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the sea turtle tagging programme at the French Frigate Shoals (FFS), we've happily made an exception. Here we pose with George Balazs (centre), pioneer researcher of the Hawaiian green sea turtle and the person who initiated the sea turtle tagging programme at East Island, FFS, on June 1st, 1973. He has championed their cause and orchestrated their steady recovery ever since.

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Last modified 99/03/20
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