For Immediate Release
Turtle Island Restoration Network
Cell: (415) 488-7711
Carole Allen ‘Sea Turtle Fanatic’ Retires from Turtle Island Restoration Network
Houston (Feb. 24, 2016) – Turtle Island Restoration Network announced today that its director of the Gulf of Mexico office, Carole Allen, will be retiring. Allen has served Turtle Island in this role for 14 years.
Allen’s passion for saving endangered sea turtles is ever-present in print and news publications, which over the years have called her a “sea turtle fanatic,” “a modern-day Dearl Adams,” (a man from Texas who personally saved thousands of sea turtles), and a “shepherd,” for vigilantly watching over her ‘flock’ of sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico.
“Carole may be retiring from the day to day struggle to save the Kemp’s ridley, but not from the life-long battle to save these magnificent animals. She will continue to be a thunderous voice for the sea turtles and will remain an active member of Turtle Island’s Board of Directors,” said Todd Steiner, Executive Director of Turtle Island Restoration Network. “We thank her for tireless decades of advocacy on behalf of the voiceless turtles.”
Allen joined Turtle Island after first founding her own non-profit, HEART (Help Endangered Animals-Ridley Turtles). The two organizations joined forces, and together provided a strong conservation voice for sea turtles and all marine wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico.
Most recently, under Allen’s leadership, Turtle Island successfully pressured Governor Bobby Jindal to sign Louisiana House Bill 668 into law. The law will give Louisiana law enforcement officers the power to inspect shrimp boats for Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs), which allow sea turtles to escape drowning via a turtle-sized hatch on the trawl nets. This is but one of decades of battles to secure passage, and ensure enforcement of TED laws in the Gulf and beyond.
She also fought for and rescued the Headstart program of the National Marine Fisheries Service when government funds were in danger of being cut, raising money to expand the facilities and feed the Kemp’s ridley hatchlings being raised at Galveston, Texas.
In the last decade, Allen has helped Turtle Island reach more than 30,000 students and teachers in the state of Texas to inform and inspire them about sea turtles, and the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. Allen is known for using a larger-than-life Kemp’s ridley sea turtle costume (‘Rob’ the Ridley) to inspire young children to care and learn about these endangered sea turtles. With school children’s help, Turtle Island was able to help introduce and pass a bill that made the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle an official Texas state symbol. And just last year, Turtle Island opened the Gulf of Mexico Sea Turtle Action Center in Galveston, Texas. This Center now serves as a hub for volunteers, and a space where the public and school groups can learn about Kemp’s ridley turtles.
Allen has been honored countless times for her tireless sea turtle conservation work by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, the Houston Sierra Club, the Texas Lone Star Sierra Club, Greater Houston Chapter of the American Association of Zookeepers, Seaspace Divers Award, the Piney Woods Wildlife Society, the National Awards Council for Environmental Sustainability and Renew America, and Turtle Island Restoration Network. Allen is also an active member of the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group, and was featured as an activist of note in the book ‘Eco Barrens’ and Oprah Winfrey’s magazine.
Allen’s background in writing, journalism and public relations has made her a respected voice in the sea turtle conservation community. Her favorite part of her work is, “providing a voice for magnificent marine creatures.” Allen plans to continue to support sea turtle conservation efforts in her retirement through HEART, which is sponsored by the Piney Woods Wildlife Society of Houston, and though her work as a Board Member of Turtle Island, and also spend time teaching her grand children about Kemp’s ridley sea turtles.
Carole and Turtle Island are now working to create the first turtle rehabilitation and education facility hospital on the upper Texas coast to treat sea turtles injured in fishing nets, hooked by anglers, struck by boats, run over by vehicles on the beach and stranding events associated with changing climate.
“Carole Allen has dedicated her life to saving the world’s smallest sea turtle, the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle. These turtles are also known as ‘heart turtles’ for the shape of their shells as hatchlings. It’s no coincidence then, that Allen is someone with a lot of heart, who doesn’t give up,” said Joanna Nasar, communications director at Turtle Island.
Turtle Island Restoration Network works to mobilize people and communities around the world to protect marine wildlife, the oceans and the inland waterways that sustain them. Join us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. SeaTurtles.Org