Turtle Island Restoration Network is committed to helping the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle become an endangered species success story, but there is much work to do! We invite everyone to be a part of our continuing work to protect and restore the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle population in the Gulf, and donations will be matched through the end of the year. We have expanded our focus on the Gulf to help the sea turtles recover from impacts including the BP oil spill, entrapment in shrimp nets and habitat loss.
With the help of our members, we carry out hands-on conservation, building community pride in these amazing sea turtles, and developing far-reaching plans including a vision for a sea turtle rehabilitation center that would help cold-stunned sea turtles and other injured marine life.
Already, with the help of thousands of members and activists around the country, and a growing corps of hands-on volunteers and advocates on the Upper Texas Coast, Turtle Island accomplished significant victories for Gulf sea turtles over the past year including:
- Turtle Island opened a public Sea Turtle Action Center in Galveston, Texas which serves as a volunteer and outreach hub. In total we have reached nearly 4,500 adults and children on Galveston Island this year through presentations and direct communication at events. We have presented at dozens of schools, dive clubs, rotary clubs, and major bay and coastal events; placed materials at local parks and businesses, and collaborated to include new information on sea turtles for anglers.
- Turtle Island maintained a strong focus on hands-on conservation efforts. We took over responsibility for volunteer recruitment and coordination of the Upper Texas Coast Nesting Beach monitoring program, in partnership with Texas A&M, after the University lost funding for the program.
- We compelled beach managers to protect nesting sea turtles and hatchlings from mechanized sargassum clean up processes. After we commented at a public meeting, the Parks Board announced that it would use trained monitors to protect the sea turtles. This occurred only after our Galveston staff member insisted authorities hire trained monitors after they had deleted this requirement from their rules and regulations. We were included in a Houston Chronicle article about the issue.
- We made inroads to addressing the growing impact of recreational anglers that hook sea turtles by accident, through signs, bookmark distribution and articles.
- We called for sea turtle eggs laid on the Upper Texas Coast to be incubated locally, and the hatchlings released locally. We are also working on a long-term vision of a sea turtle rehabilitation hospital on the Upper Texas Coast.
- We delivered more than 7,000 petitions to Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal calling on him to halt the state’s ban on enforcing federal rules that require turtle-saving equipment called Turtle Excluder Devices in shrimp nets, and will continue this campaign until the state changes its rules.
- We partnered with conservation allies to reduce single-use plastic bags in the city of Galveston. This bag campaign is getting ready to kick off with events with both Clean Galveston and the Surfriders.
- With the help of activists nationwide and a persistent legal campaign, we won a critical habitat designation for endangered loggerhead sea turtles on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, which protects more than 685 miles of nesting beach and more than 300,000 square miles of ocean habitat.
(Photo by Ron Wooten)