GivingTuesday is Tuesday, December 1st

#GivingTuesday™ is a movement created to celebrate giving on the Tuesday following Cyber Monday. Join in by making a donation to Turtle Island on Dec. 1st!!

Earth Educator Spotlight: Teacher Debra DiBenedetto of Dixie Elementary School

For over 22 years, Debra DiBenedetto has been teaching kids and infusing her classes with hands-on, outdoor education experiences. Debra, who spoke with SPAWN before the start of her 10 am class, is currently teaching a class of 23 second grade students at Dixie Elementary School in San Rafael, Calif. Debra incorporates SPAWN and Turtle Island’s projects into her curriculum and gives her students the chance to engage with the science happening outside of the classrooms doors, in the real world.

Photography for a Change Transformation

After much consideration I ended up picking ‘Celeste Wave Break’ by Dana Bove, the show’s founder. I love how he captured this moment when the wave is about to crash down. It’s such a unique perspective that makes the ocean almost morph into a mountain for a split second.

Teachers to Learn New Environmental Education Skills at Turtle Island’s ‘Headwaters to Sea’ Professional Development

The Summer Salmon Institute for 3rd to 5th grade teachers encourages science-based watershed education in elementary classrooms in the San Francisco Bay Area. Turtle Island Restoration Network’s Salmon Protection And Watershed Network (SPAWN) program is leading the free workshop in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Bay-Watershed Education and Training (BWET).

UC California Naturalist Certification hosted by SPAWN- Oct. 7 to Dec. 16

The SPAWN California Naturalist Training Course will introduce you to the interwoven wonders of the unique ecology and natural history of the Lagunitas Creek Watershed and engage you in direct stewardship actions. The 40-hour course will utilize a combination of science curriculum, guest lecturers, field trips and project based learning to immerse you in the natural world of California. Expert instructors will uncover strategies to continue conservation of biodiversity in the Lagunitas Creek, and all, California watersheds. Transferable UC college credits or Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are available to participants for an additional fee.

Meet Photography for a Change’s Ron Wooten

Ron is one of the featured photographer’s in Photography for a Change’s incredible online show. As a quick recap for those of you who haven’t already heard, Photography for a Change, provides exquisite photographs of our natural environs. This show features four photographers who have generously donated their images and prints to support Turtle Island Restoration Network.

Make Shark Week About Saving Sharks

The first time I saw an image of a finned shark I was appalled. The shark was sinking in clear beautiful blue water without it’s classic dorsal fin.

Turtle Island Joins Sea Party Coalition!

The Sea Party Coalition represents coastal and inland cities and towns, businesses, fishermen, surfers, divers, boaters and other concerned citizens regardless of political affiliation who support a healthy and vibrant coastal economy and oppose proposed new oil surveying and drilling along the Atlantic Coast and in the U.S. Arctic Ocean.

Texas Piers are Helping to Protect Endangered Sea Turtles

Turtle Island Restoration Network (Turtle Island) has partnered with Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) to adopt the Center’s “Responsible Pier Initiative,” to promote a healthy pier environment for sea turtles and other marine life.

Volunteers on the Lookout for Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Nests

It’s not likely Bridget Dix will see the official sea turtle of Texas, the endangered Kemp’s ridley, but that doesn’t stop her from making a five-mile walk down a Galveston beach.

Searching the dunes and checking the sand for tracks, Dix walks one of the six stretches of beach that volunteers with the Turtle Island Restoration Network patrol. Dix is one of about 120 volunteers who will be walking almost 27 miles of beach a day looking for Kemp’s ridleys as they make their way up the beach to nest.

Letter to the Editor: Bring the Bag

The efforts of the an island group – “Bring the Bag
– to raise awareness of the risks of single-use plastic bags is deserving of attention and applause. The group, which is not seeking a ban on single-use plastic bags in Galveston, is working to encourage a healthier, greener and clearer environment and community. That is a goal we should all share.

A Bag’s Life campaign a lesson in the 3 Rs

Starting on America Recycles Day in November 2014 and concluding on Earth Day on Wednesday, students across Galveston made a tremendous environmental impact. Schools from Galveston ISD, as well as private and charter schools, combined to collect and recycle more than 680,000 bags as part of A Bag’s Life program.

Bringing the bag

In honor of Earth Day, environmental volunteers and thousands of school kids are working to support one mission: reduce single-use plastic bags in Galveston.
Students in the Galveston Island Independent School District collected 683,100 bags in a five-month “A Bag’s Life” competition.

Stranded Whale Shark

A large whale shark became stranded on a beach near Manta, on the coast of Ecuador yesterday. It was first reported by local fishers, swimming close to the shoreline, but eventually became stranded on the beach. Although a team of over 50 volunteers attempted to return it to sea, the whale shark eventually died.

Turtle Love

We felt it would be fitting to have a turtle grace our cover for this April issue. After all, the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle nesting season begins each year in April and lasts through early August.

Meet Rej Iscan a Salmon Institute Teacher

Meet Rej a Salmon Institute teacher! The 2015-2016 school year brings continued expansion of watersheds education for my 4th grade students at Hesperian Elementary. 

SPAWN’s Smolt Monitoring Program

SPAWN’s smolt monitoring program began about 10 years ago as a way to measure the health of endangered fish populations in San Geronimo Creek – an important tributary to Lagunitas Creek. Monitoring the population of coho smolts is an extremely important gauge for the population as a whole because it indicates how well the baby salmon fared over the winter.

What is a Smolt?

Smolts are young, 12-15 month-old juvenile coho salmon and steelhead trout. Technically, any anadromous salmonid (a member of the trout family that is born in freshwater, lives in salt water and then returns to freshwater to spawn) is called a smolt when it is in the juvenile stage of its lifecycle.

Make Way for Dolphins (Day 8)

Everything was moving, the water was a bit colder, there were strong currents, and giant schools of black tuna swimming in slow circles by us. We were surrounded by life.

The Sea Turtles & Science (Day 6)

Today the Blue Team caught the first sea turtle of the journey – a Hawksbill named Georgina! They approached the main boat the Argo shouting “sea turtle!” I was about to meet my very first sea turtle!

Ana Berninger’s Turtle Island Internship Experience

My six months interning for Turtle Island has reached an end, and as I wrap up my last week here I am in awe of the amount of work I have accomplished in such a short time frame, and of the experiences I have gained.

With Cod Numbers at Historic Low, Petition Seeks Ban on Gulf of Maine Cod Fishing

With numbers at the lowest levels ever recorded, environmental groups petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service today to end targeted fishing for Gulf of Maine cod. These once-plentiful fish have declined 90 percent since 1982, when monitoring began, and 77 percent in the past five years alone. Currently Gulf of Maine cod are at 3 percent to 4 percent of what a well-managed stock should be.

Three Restoration Grants Totaling $665,237 Go to Salmon Projects in Marin

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (FRGP) has announced 2015 funding totaling $665,237 for three projects all located in West Marin’s critical Lagunitas Creek Watershed. Turtle Island Restoration Network’s Salmon Protection And Watershed Network (SPAWN) program was awarded two of the three grants, with the third grant going to the Marin Municipal Water District.

Following HEART: How a Houston-area Elementary School Helped the Kemp Ridley’s

HEART (Help Endangered Animals-Ridley Turtles) began at Oak Creek Elementary school (now Reynolds Elementary) near Houston in 1982.

As the HEART Founder, I kept records showing what school children contributed to help the Kemp’s ridley sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico that were on the brink of extinction. A number of students were chosen by the principal to form the first HEART Council and look for ways to help the Kemp’s ridleys.

Q&A on Driftnets with Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael)

I have always believed we need to be good stewards of our environment for future generations. Our ocean and its marine wildlife is an integral component of that. The health of our ocean affects our air, food, and coastal communities. California’s health is directly tied to the health of the ocean.

United Nations, Environmental Groups Condemn Verdict in Jairo Mora Murder Case

“We are outraged that nearly two years later, there has been no justice for the brutal murder of Jairo,” said Todd Steiner, executive director of Turtle Island Restoration Network, which offered up part of a $10,000 reward for information on the case. “We call on the Costa Rican government to appeal the decision and find a way to convict the criminals of this heinous crime, or locate and convict those responsible. Failure to do so can have serious consequences for conservation and eco-tourism in this nation that has built its reputation on its peace with nature, safety of visitors and respect for the rule of law.”

Steelhead Run Starting

RSVP to January & February SPAWN Creek Walks Steelhead trout will soon start their run in our creeks, and can sometimes be seen alongside

How to Tell a Coho Salmon from a Steelhead Trout

Coho salmon and steelhead trout will soon both inhabit the Lagunitas Watershed at the same time. SPAWN’s Watershed Biologist Preston Brown explains how you can tell the two endangered fish apart with some simple tips!

Winter San Geronimo Valley Coho Salmon Report

This winter SPAWN found native endangered coho salmon in Woodacre and Arroyo Creeks. These are two of the eight tributaries of the Lagunitas Creek that SPAWN and a team dedicated volunteers survey each season. This season two redds (coho salmon nests made underwater) and six fish were found on Woodacre Creek, and another four redds and seven fish were found on Arroyo Creek.

Super PAC created to boost Bobby Jindal presidential bid

Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana has scoffed at the Endangered Species Act
regulations to save endangered sea turtles in its state waters for years.
Now, he wants to run for president! What other federal laws would he ignore
if he became president? Now is the time for Governor Jindal to show the
country that he respects a law that was passed by Congress over 25 years ago
and is honored by all other coastal states! Should he run for president if
his own state is breaking a federal law?

Pregnant Whale Sharks Use Galapagos as Pit Stop

A new study in the Journals of PLOS aims to unravel some of the mystery surrounding the largest fish in the sea – the whale shark. The study, led by collaborating scientist David Acuña of the Charles Darwin Foundation and co-authored by Alex Hearn of Turtle Island Restoration Network, discovered that more whale sharks than previously suspected use Darwin Island (one of the smallest islands in the Galapagos Archipelago) as a rest stop in their migration route.

Whale Sharks to be Tagged to Save Species

It is the largest fish in the ocean with some individuals reaching sizes of up to 65ft (18m) long and weighing more than 30 tonnes, but whale sharks remain one of the enigmas of the deep.

Bigeye Tuna Remains on Hawaii’s Menu — But for How Long?

We should be leaders in fisheries management, not cheaters,” said Doug Karpa, of the California-based Turtle Island Restoration Network, noting that the U.S. is one of the few nations that ban the fishing in its own waters of overexploited stocks unless they are recovering.

Whale Sharks to be Tagged to Save Species

There are fears that the gentle giant, whose flesh is prized in countries such as China, India and the Philippines, is being slowly driven towards extinction. And so little is known about them that there is huge uncertainty about how their decline can be arrested.

Assemblyman Richard Bloom Joins Lawmakers To Phase Out California Drift Gillnets

With the full support of Turtle Island Restoration Network, OCEANA, and other marine conservations organizations, California Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael), Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay), Assemblymember Das Williams (D-Carpinteria), Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), and Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) this week called on the Pacific Fisheries Management Council and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service to transition away from deadly California drift gillnets.

Despite Rain, Coho Salmon Still Struggling

State fisheries biologists recently reported some disturbing news: the coho salmon that typically spawn near Muir Woods had vanished. Recent rainstorms may be helping

Whale Sharks Back on the Map

Two of our whale sharks tagged in August on a joint expedition with our collaborators Jonathan R Green, the Charles Darwin Foundation and the

Rescuing Coho Salmon from Redwood Creek

This summer fisheries biologists took drastic steps: rescuing the remaining juvenile Coho salmon from Redwood Creek in Muir Woods. These roughly 100 fish are

Technology and more than 32,000 Square Miles of Area Closures Will Safeguard Atlantic Bluefin Tuna in the New Year

Turtle Island Restoration Network delivered more than 3,800 petitions to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) supporting greater protections for Atlantic bluefin tuna populations. After five years of work by Turtle Island, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and our partners, on Dec. 2, 2014, NOAA Fisheries officially announced new, stricter regulations for the U.S. Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery.

Sea Turtle Strandings

Due to unusual cold spells in early November, as of November 21st more than 400 cold-stunned sea turtles – mostly Kemp’s ridleys and loggerheads – were recovered from shorelines of Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia. This is triple the amount of turtles from 2013.

Sea Turtle Saturday & Sea Turtle Saturday for Kids

As the 2015 Kemp’s ridley sea turtle nesting season approaches, you’ll want to make plans to attend this event presented by Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council (GINTC) to learn about and celebrate the sea turtle. You will also find out how you can become involved in helping preserve this extremely endangered species.

Fears Confirmed: Texas Turtle in Trouble

Carole Allen, Gulf Office Director of Turtle Island Restoration Network, and Joanie Steinhaus, Campaign Director of the Turtle Island Restoration Network Galveston Office, attended

Turtle Island Call for Action on Ocean Acidification.

Turtle Island signed on to an open letter addressed to Washington Governor Inslee’s commending him for his leadership on ocean acidification, and also addressed to the Department of Ecology asking that they follow suit and also take action on ocean acidification.

Intern Spotlight: Meet Zephyr Sylvester

Zephyr Sylvester joined SPAWN Habitat Restoration as an intern in October. She grew up in a small town in Vermont near Dartmouth College. She graduated with a degree in Biology and Environmental Studies from Whitman College located in Walla Walla, Wash. in 2013.

Intern Spotlight: Allie Chavez

Fresh out of college, Allie Chavez joined the SPAWN team of Habitat Restoration Interns this past August. With a degree in Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, Allie is applying her studies through hands-on experience in the field.


“It’s the most incredible underwater place I’ve ever been,” says Todd Steiner, executive director of the California-based Sea Turtle Restoration Project. “It’s a superhighway of giant animals — like the plains of Africa, only underwater.”

Scientists Sound Alarm on Texas Turtle

Scientists from the United States and Mexico will congregate in Brownsville starting Tuesday to discuss an unexpected setback for the official Texas sea turtle, which had been making a remarkable recovery from near extinction.

Rain Triggers Chinook Salmon Migration

Migrating Chinook salmon have entered Lagunitas Creek (through Tomales Bay from the Pacific Ocean) and are now spawning. These Central California Coastal Chinook Salmon

Nominate Turtle Island for Heart of Marin Awards

Have you sent in your nomination for the 22nd Annual CVNL Heart of Marin Awards? Please nominate Turtle Island Restoration Network for the ‘Achievement in Nonprofit Excellence’ award; And please nominate a dedicated SPAWN volunteer for ‘Volunteer of the Year.’

Vast Ocean of Marine Advocacy

The Arrival Golden hills, blue skies, warm weather, the bay, and the Pacific Ocean surrounded me as I arrived in Marin County in California.

Banner Day for Shark Conservation!

This week, Turtle Island has been in Quito, Ecuador for the 11th meeting of the United Nation’s Conference of Parties of the Convention on

Film, Sea turtles, Day of Dead Converge

It all begins at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Half Moon Bay Library at 620 Correas St. in Half Moon Bay. There, Coastside filmmaker Gail Evenari, the library and the Marin County-based Turtle Island Restoration Network will team up to present an evening of learning.

Why We’re Petitioning Louisiana’s Governor

Why should we care about Louisiana and its sea turtles? Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana received more than 7,000 petitions on Oct. 22 asking him to take action to protect endangered sea turtles in Louisiana waters.

Sea Turtle Supporters Call on Gov. Jindal to Enforce Increased Protection Measures

More than 7,000 Louisiana residents are calling on Gov. Bobby Jindal to increase protection for sea turtles along coastal waters.Members of the Turtle Island Restoration Network attempted to deliver the petitions to Jindal’s office Tuesday, but were only able to by mail and email. Supporters are calling on him to show a stronger environmental record, among other demands.

Constituents Demand Protection for Louisiana Sea Turtles

Turtle Island Restoration Network will present Gov. Bobby Jindal with over 7,000 petitions from Louisiana residents and concerned citizens from around the country asking Gov. Jindal to take action to protect endangered Louisiana sea turtles in state waters.

Movers & Shakers: Doug Karpa

Turtle Island Restoration Network, an international ocean and marine conservation organization headquartered in Marin, has hired Kentfield native Doug Karpa as a staff attorney.

Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle Conservation Day

Today is Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle Conservation Day! Today is a day to celebrate conservation achievements and to continue to work for real protections for these critically endangered sea turtles.

Oct. 15th is Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle Conservation Day

Today is Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle Conservation Day! Two years ago on this day Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1776 into law and declared Oct. 15th an official celebratory day for the endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtles that swim off the coast of California. Turtle Island Restoration Network championed the awareness-raising bill, which was sponsored by California Assemblymember Paul Fong. Now, on Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle Conservation Day, Turtle Island is calling for action to safeguard these gentle ocean giants from the Hawaiian longline fisheries for swordfish and tuna, and for the closure of the costly driftnet fishery off the coast of California.

Marin Primary Middle School Unplugged

60 students from Marin Primary Middle School unplugged from their Ipads to spend the week at Clem Miller Environmental Education Center in Point Reyes.

Turtle Power

With Turtle Island Restoration Network opening its Galveston office on Monday, the Gulf Coast sea turtles have someone watching their leatherbacks. Helped by Rob

Be a Sea Turtle this Halloween!

This Halloween dress up as a sea turtle! Doing so will help raise awareness about endangered sea turtles in your neighborhood, and also save you

Habitat Development Update

Intern Jeremey A. Rich’s habitat development program is well underway at Turtle Island’s Headquarters in Olema, Calif.  The program provides hidden-in-plain-sight niche habitats for

Intern Spotlight: Meet Sara Gendel

Sara Gendel, a graduate student at Bard College in New York, joined the Turtle Island Restoration Network team this July as our newest conservation intern.

Shark Scientists Focus on Finding Out Where Threatened Sharks Swim at International Bogotá Conference

Shark scientists gathered last week at a conference organized by the Colombian Presidential Agency for International Cooperation to learn how to effectively track the migration patterns and behavior of threatened sharks species with specialized underwater acoustic tags,* as well as strengthen the Latin-American Migramar network of scientists studying marine migratory patterns in the Eastern Pacific.

Teachers Demonstrate Human Impact on the Environment Through Plastics

During the month of August, Turtle Island Restoration Network hosted the Summer Salmon Institute – a program designed for elementary school teachers to share ideas and collaboratively plan how to best engage students with current environmental issues. Here are a few updates on teachers work in the field post Summer Salmon Institute 2014.

The Summer Salmon Institute Goes Swimmingly

Thanks to Turtle Island Restoration Network’s hard work, and funding provided by the NOAA BWET grant, this years Summer Salmon Institute was a huge success. Teachers spent the week learning about hands on watershed education and it’s links to the newly adopted Next Generation Science Standards.

Trash Policy

RE: Comment Letter – Trash Amendments Dear Chair Marcus and Board Members: On behalf of California Coastkeeper Alliance, Heal the Bay, 7th Generation Advisors,

Free, Bi-lingual Snapshot Contest Educates Public About California’s Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtles

Turtle Island Restoration Network and the California Coastal Conservancy are sponsoring the bi-lingual Be a California Sea Turtle Hero: Sea Turtle Sand Castle Snapshot Contest to raise awareness about endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtles and encourage exploration of the California Coast. The contest is free and open to everyone, and the winner will receive a three-night stay at San Diego’s oceanfront family resort, La Jolla Coves Suites.