To Ease COVID-19 Impact, Groups Award Emergency Funding to Protect Nesting Sea Turtles

To Ease COVID-19 Impact, Groups Award Emergency Funding to Protect Nesting Sea Turtles

For Immediate Release, June 5, 2020

Press Contacts
Todd Steiner, Turtle Island Restoration Network, tsteiner@seaturtles.org 
Brad Nahill, SEE Turtles, brad@seeturtles.org
Sudipta Dasgupta, ESO, sudipta.dasgupta@traccs.net 
Euclides Resende, Fundação Tartaruga, resende@turtle-foundation.org 

To Ease COVID-19 Impact, Groups Award Emergency Funding to Protect Nesting Sea Turtles 

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. From the loss of volunteers to beaches being closed down, groups that work tirelessly to monitor and protect endangered sea turtles as they return to beaches to nest have been directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To support projects dedicated to protecting nesting turtles, nonprofit groups Turtle Island Restoration Network and SEE Turtles held a grant contest this summer, known as the Summer Sea Turtle Sustainability Grant, to offer nonprofit organizations around the world emergency funds. Forty-five nonprofit organizations applied to be eligible to receive the grant and more than 30,000 individuals from around the world voted for the group they wanted to receive the funds. 

One $5,000 grant was awarded to the Environment Society of Oman (ESO) for receiving the most votes. A second grant was given to Fundação Tartaruga, who was randomly selected to receive $1,000.

“It was a pleasure for Turtle Island Restoration Network to sponsor this grant to protect nesting sea turtles,” said Todd Steiner, executive director of Turtle Island Restoration Network. “While there were only two winners, we hope the tens of thousands of voters took the time to read and learn about the scores of great projects and dedicated conservationists working to protect sea turtles. We look forward to working with all 45 organizations and each participating voter to make nesting beaches and seas around the world safer for sea turtles.”

“SEE Turtles is thrilled to be able to partner with Turtle Island Restoration Network to provide needed funding for sea turtle projects around the world,” said Brad Nahill, president of SEE Turtles. “The Environment Society of Oman protects one of the most important loggerhead beaches in the world and we are glad to be able to help support their efforts.”

ESO’s mission is to help protect Oman’s natural heritage and influence environmentally sustainable behaviour through education, awareness and conservation. Grant funds will be used to organize a dedicated net cleanup on Masirah Island, one of the most important rookeries in the world for loggerhead sea turtles. In the past three years the group has removed 500 tonnes of nets from nesting beaches, saving nesting female sea turtles and hatchlings from being caught and entangled in discarded fishing gear and ingesting marine debris — a result of both small-scale and industrial fishing activities around the island.

“Oman has a vital role to play in global efforts to protect sea turtles. ESO’s Sea Turtle Research and Conservation project, established in 2008, and our annual net removal campaign, have been central to the protection of various species of sea turtles that nest on our shores. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on our ability to raise the funding necessary to continue to support this important work,” said Suaad Al Harthi, ESO’s executive director. “We are overwhelmed by the support we have received, both locally and internationally, to secure this valuable grant. We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to Turtle Island Restoration Network and SEE Turtles for sponsoring this contest, and for ensuring that the protection of these critical marine species continues.”

The mission of Fundação Tartaruga is to contribute to sea turtle’s conservation at their own project sites by cooperating with local communities to create a future where both sea turtles and people can thrive. Grant funds will be used to implement an anti-poaching task force to their beach patrols in Boa Vista, Cape Verde consisting of a night vision drone and a conservation dog team — the more effective and dissuasive techniques for protecting nesting loggerhead sea turtles from poachers. In 2018, seventy sea turtles were killed on the beaches and in 2019 it reduced to 17. These results are mainly due to a combination of stricter legislation and the introduction of the new methods of beach monitoring.

“It was a big surprise for us that we have been selected to receive this grant, which is not only a valuable financial support but will also give a boost of popularity to our work. We are very proud and happy and we wish to thank Turtle Island Restoration Network and SEE Turtles for this important support in difficult times,” said Euclides Resende, CEO of Fundação Tartaruga. “Like many other places in the world, our island Boa Vista has been hit hard by the Corona pandemic, because many people lost their jobs in the tourism sector, but we are even more dedicated to continue our cooperation with local communities and to protect the Capeverdean sea turtles.”

Sea turtle nesting beaches face threats from uncontrolled coastal development, vehicle traffic on beaches, and other human activities that have directly destroyed or disturbed sea turtle nesting beaches around the world. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many communities have closed beaches to the public, impacting groups that monitor beaches as sea turtles return to nest. Travel bans have caused organizations to lose volunteers and tourists who financially support projects. 

To learn more about the organizations nominated for the Summer Sea Turtle Sustainability Grant, visit https://seaturtles.org/sea-turtle-grants.

Turtle Island Restoration Network is a leading advocate for the world’s oceans and marine wildlife whose mission is to inspire and mobilize people around the world to protect marine biodiversity and the oceans that sustain all life on Earth.

SEE Turtles protects endangered sea turtles throughout Latin America and the world by supporting community-based conservation efforts.

Founded in 2004, ESO is the only non-profit organisation in the Sultanate of Oman dedicated to environmental conservation.  Our mission is to help protect Oman’s natural heritage and influence environmentally sustainable behavior through education, awareness and conservation. 

Fundação Tartaruga started as the Capeverdean branch of Turtle Foundation and became an independent NGO in 2012. We are working on the island Boa Vista, which has the highest annual number of loggerhead turtle nests in Cabo Verde. Our approach is to closely work together with the local communities and to develop and implement innovative beach surveillance techniques to prevent poaching.

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