Kari Gehrke with female Green nesting turtle going back to the ocean.
This summer I was able to go to Costa Rica and work with Green sea turtles in Tortuguero. Also while I was there I was able to do my own research on if plastics found on the beach had any affect on sea turtle nesting. I was there for three months and had an amazing time. I loved working with the turtles and being able to go to a different country.
After I got back form Costa Rica I wanted to look for what might be my next step into doing what I want to do for the rest of my life. So I looked around my area and was only able to find one organization that worked with sea turtles. That is what made me start my internship at seaturtles.org.
I am a senior in college and about to graduate. I want to work with sea turtles as my main job and I want to work with them in the water. I’m not to sure what I exactly want to do so far but I do know that I want to work with them in the water. My next move after college is to take a year off of going to school and get more field work in working with sea turtles. After this I also plan on starting my PhD work at a school that has a sea turtle graduate program. I hope this all works out for me and I am excited to get it done.
Teal showing some turtle love at SailFest 2012! Photo: Kristyn Jensen.
People always ask me, why sea turtles? What makes you love them so much? And despite the fact that they have outlived the dinosaurs, are an important keystone species for our ecosystem, are greatly endangered, and amazingly cute, there is something deep in me that knows that they are my love. After having experience in eighth grade in Baja, Mexico tagging turtles in the Sea of Cortez, and then spending four years studying biology, I guess you could say I have found my passion.
But after graduating, we are all faced with the question of what do we do now? It took me a little while to remember this dream of mine from the eighth grade to go into sea turtle conservation, and even still I was held back by not knowing how to get into this world of sea turtle advocacy… Until I found the Sea Turtle Restoration Project. After writing to them expressing how much I loved sea turtles, and that I would move across the state to come work with this group, they offered me the opportunity to come work for them here in Marin County, and I have been so happy with it.
Even though I have only been here a month, I have already experienced and learned so much about what it takes to run a non-profit, and it has opened my mind to how much there really is to learn and do to protect sea turtles! I feel like I have actually gotten to make a difference, whether it is responding to school kids letters, or researching scientific articles on Hawaiian turtles, or helping to create policy that could change the whole system of how fishing industries work, it has been so rewarding. I recommend anyone looking to jump-start their career in sea turtle biology, or just someone with a great passion for learning more about non-profits. Plus, the staff is super friendly and accommodating, which is really great to have such great support behind all of these projects.
A beautiful hawksbill swimming along a coral reef inspires action to protect pristine ocean habitats! Photo: (C)Doug Perrine/SeaPics.com
This summer I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to intern with the Sea Turtle Restoration Project in their northern California headquarters office. Walking into work the first day was nerve-racking, but this anxiousness quickly dissipated after I met the friendly staff members and with the realization of all the good that this small organization was doing for sea turtles worldwide. And I cannot wait to be a part of it.
I was born and bred in the bustling of the northeast (about 45 minutes south of New York), and I have constantly been surrounded by friends and family in the business industry. As an undergrad student in Pennsylvania, I was the exception, majoring in environmental studies, as opposed to finance, accounting, and economics. In fact, there were less than 10 environmental studies majors in my graduating class of about 1200! It makes me smile to think about the road that I have taken. The fact is that we really can make a difference, but we need far more people to get on board.
Following my desire to pursue a career in conservation of marine life, I moved to Miami to attend the University of Miami and work towards a master's of science in Marine Affairs & Policy. Surrounded by students with different passions ranging from sharks to marine mammals to billfish and beyond, it was here that I found my passion as well: Sea Turtles. Finally, I was not alone!
Although I was encouraged to join the Sea Turtle Restoration Project to fulfill a graduation requirement and pursue my thesis research, this thought is now on the back burner. All I can keep thinking is how I can really make a difference this summer! I will be assisting on a campaign to increase protection efforts within the Pacific, primarily in areas of Oceania and the Cocos Corridor. I also have the opportunity to assist in efforts to protect sea turtles within the Gulf of Mexico, harmed by shrimp trawls. But, what I am most excited about is the community outreach; I will have the opportunity to share my passion and knowledge in person with new friends in California and around the world with blogs like this one, social media updates I will be leading, and exciting new web content I plan to develop. With awareness and empathy, will action be taken; and only with meaningful actions, will sea turtle populations be able to be restored.
Although I have only worked here a few days I feel a lot of pride in the work that I am doing this summer. This summer promises to be full of life-changing experiences in which I will be able to help protect an amazing and mysterious animal, the sea turtle!
My first day on the job as an intern for the Sea Turtle Restoration Project was, to say the least, very unique. Instead of coming into the office, meeting the other staff and doing normal office work I was expecting, I was instead swept straight into the heart of what the Sea Turtle Restoration Project is all about through their BLUEMiND outreach event at the Romberg Tiburon Center. This event consisted of speakers from all different field and backgrounds, ranging as far as from neuroscience to choreography. Despite their differences, everyone in this group of speakers shared the same love and passion for the ocean and the environment and they have each found a call to action within themselves to work to be a part of an organization that makes a difference. They had dedicated their lives to better understanding the oceans and better understanding people in order to connect the two in a harmonious manner which would benefit both the populations of the sea and land.
This caused me to reflect on myself. Originally, I decided to join the Sea Turtle Restoration Project because of my own love for the ocean and my desire to protect marine life against all the threats the animals are facing in today’s world. I wanted to be a part of an organization that would make a tangible difference through bills and lobbying. BLUEMiND helped me realize that making change is so much more than that. Change starts with the people. You cannot simply tell people to do something, such as asking a fisherman not to use a certain type of nets, and expect results. There needs to be a connection between the people and the change you are trying to make, and our job is to find that connection between the people in our community and our cause.
The audience at BLUEMiND was full of people like me who share a love for the ocean, and want to work with us to make the changes to ensure that future generations can enjoy the same beautiful oceans full of marine life that we have today. It is outreach programs such as this which channel their love for the ocean into a powerful tool for change, empowering those people in the audience to do small things to collectively make a larger difference. These small things may be signing a petition for the Leatherback Bill to work towards making the Leatherback Sea Turtle California’s State Marine Reptile, or it may be choosing paper bags instead of plastic next time they are at the grocery store. The BLUEMiND event showed me how people can easily be empowered to turn their love for something into an action. It is our job to find this connection between the people we encounter and our cause to continue to create changes through our outreach program. Because of this, I am now more than ever looking forward to a summer working for as worthy a cause as the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, and I am excited to see the outreach continue to touch the lives of people and inspire change for the better.
Posted by Teri Shore , Program Director on March 28th, 2012
If you have ever wanted to
explore the ocean and see all its beautiful creatures from a submarine, then come on a dive with us on an expedition into the Grand Canyons of the
Our friends at Greenpeace have developed a new Submarine Adventure
that uses links embedded in YouTube videos to put you in the pilot seat. You'll
learn why we must protect this beautiful ecosystem and you might even discover
a new species. But be sure to watch out for squid attacks!
Posted by Carole Allen, Gulf Office Director on February 22nd, 2012
The Louisiana Legislature will convene in a few days and begin work to handle dozens of pre-filed bills. They will start officially on March 12 and finish no later than June 4. The most important subject before the legislators appears to be retirement with dozens of bills pre-filed in the House and in the Senate! Hopefully, other matters will also receive needed attention, one of them being the repeal of an antiquated 1987 law that cripples Louisiana law enforcement from doing its job in state waters. Statute § 56:57.2 preventing enforcement of the federal Turtle Excluder Device (TED) regulations was passed in a time of anger and lack of understanding by the Louisiana fishing industry and its legislative representatives. TEDs have long since been proven effective to prevent the drowning of sea turtles while shrimp is being caught and is used and enforced in all other coastal states except Louisiana. Statute § 56:57.2 promised that the state would move to enforce the regulations once research demonstrated that TEDs work effectively. That time came long ago. The federal government has been more than patient in this issue as well as neighboring states. Two years ago, House Bill 1334 would have settled the matter, but the Governor was understandably overwhelmed by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and vetoed it.
It's time Governor Jindal leads Louisiana's shrimping industry down the right path which will put him in the good graces of all the people who see him as a great prospect to serve the nation in the future. But how can a governor who ignores a federal law expect to rise from the Louisiana State House to the White House? Even a cabinet position requires people who respect the laws that have been passed by Congress. The Governor's office has received thousands of messages from voters around the country and expert scientists who recognize that the Endangered Species Act is needed to spare sea turtles and thousands of other creatures that deserve protection.
Now is the time, Governor Jindal. We're all waiting!
In 2010, a bill was introduced that would have repealed the long-standing state laws prohibiting the use of state money to enforce the federal TED requirements. However, after receiving overwhelming bipartisan support, the bill was vetoed by Governor Jindal. This year, we hope to see another bill reintroduced and and then approved by the Governor. This is just one strategy to reduce sea turtle deaths where some shrimp trawlers are ignoring national sea turtle protection laws. Together with allies, STRP has challenged the management of the entire shrimp trawl fishery by the federal government in a lawsuit that is still pending, an action provoked by the record number of sea turtle carcasses found on Gulf shores last year.
During a recent visit home to New Orleans for the holidays, I had the opportunity to meet with the Director of the Louisiana Humane Society to discuss their involvement in and support of the initiative to change Louisiana's out-dated statute on TED enforcement. In addition to the Humane Society of the United States, GreenPeace, EarthTrust, and Sea Turtle Conservancy have all joined forces with STRP to demand increased enforcement of federal laws and more responsible, sustainable fishing practices from the Gulf of Mexico shrimping fleet. A previous letter sent from a coalition of concerned scientists quite successfully garnered support for the cause; therefore, if you know of any organizations that may be interested in signing on to this cause, please let us know!
While 2011 was indeed a rough year for sea turtles, it also proved to be a year of successful and productive campaigning. In response to a gruesome assault on sea turtles by shrimpers in March and April we rallied our members through our action alerts and petitions to call for action, and as a result the on-water enforcement of TEDs increased 10-15 times and sea turtle deaths were virtually eliminated in several months. Check the graph below depicting how our combined actions, including e-mails, letters, and phone calls, saved the lives of sea turtles! Now, how can you help?
Take action today! Demand Louisiana's Governor lead the Legislature and Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to present a new sustainable seafood management bill this year that would require proper TED compliance and enforcement to ensure the safety the endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle. Take the time to make a phone call, write a letter or an e-mail, or even pay a personal visit to the individuals you voted in to office to ensure that they are fulfilling their responsibilities to protect our precious coastal resources. Click here for those Louisiana Legislature contacts!
Posted by Teri Shore , Program Director on December 1st, 2011
Chevron broke ground on its massive and environmentally destructive Wheatstone natural gas plant in Western Australia today, triggering a boycott of the official ceremony by the Australian Aboriginal community for the company's disregard for their interests. Read the story from the West Australian.
When I visited Onslow two years ago, I was shocked by the run-down, dusty, disheveled condition of the town that had experienced previous oil company booms and busts. No economic prosperity in sight, but lots of falling-down oil company signs and clumps of oil on the beach.
Peter Klinger, The West Australian December 1, 2011, 6:27 am
Today's ceremony near Onslow to mark the start of construction of the Chevron-led $29 billion Wheatstone LNG project threatens to be overshadowed by a rift between the US giant and traditional owners. As of last night, disgruntled elders of the Thalanyji people, who hold Native Title rights for the area around Onslow, were threatening to boycott this morning's ceremony at the Wheatstone location, Ashburton North industrial precinct. It would rob the ceremony, which will be attended by senior executives from project partners Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, Apache and Kufpec as well as Premier Colin Barnett, of a traditional welcome to country, which has become a feature of ground-breaking and milestone ceremonies to recognise the importance of traditional owners. Unlike Woodside Petroleum, Chevron has said little about its dealings with traditional owners other than to flag this year that a wide-ranging access and compensation package had been agreed with the Thalanyji. Chevron and partners approved Wheatstone's development two months ago. Despite agreement on appropriate compensation, it is understood the latest row between Chevron and the Thalanyji revolves around a request for the oil and gas giant to fund and build a Keeping Place for cultural materials, as well as a clash over the invitation list for today's first-sod turning ceremony. Some elders were invited but others apparently not, leading to a decision by the Thalanyji leadership to not attend at all unless grievances with Chevron could be resolved by this morning. A Chevron spokesman said it was "disappointed and regrets" that Thalanyji elders were planning not to attend.
Outside magazine profiles the "blue mind" of sea turtle visionary J. Nichols, a TIRN board member. J shares his vision for a new field of research that crosses conservation with neuroscience. He has captivated my mind and those of scientists, researchers, environmentalists, biologists, surfers and even sports magazine writers! This is an inspiring read. I hope that this story and his appearance on the cover of Outside, one of my favorite magazines (yes I subscribe), will take J's message that loving and caring for sea turtles and the oceans is good for you to new heights! Congratulations J! And thank you Outside!
Although the Gulf of Mexico region has been devastated repeatedly by man made disasters ranging from broken levees to oil inundation, we cannot use those tragedies as blinders to ignore the ongoing and flagrant violation of a 25 year old federal law mandating the use of TEDs by shrimp trawlers in the region. Having eaten as much fried shrimp growing up in bayou country as any other self-respecting y’at, I am growing increasingly aware of the unconscionable cost of this delicacy.
With no scientific data supporting the argument that TEDs significantly reduce the amount of shrimp caught by fishermen, there is no base to the argument against them. Though TEDs are a requirement on trawl nets, they are not yet required on the skimmer nets so often used in the Gulf of Mexico, creating yet another loophole for turtle bycatch to slip through.
Deeply rooted in a unique culture, desperately attempting to survive against the odds in a habitat where water represents more than recreation, but rather a way of life, Louisiana fishermen and law makers, along with the National Marine Fisheries Service overseeing regulation enforcement, need to realize that the only means of persistence is to adapt. If I achieve one goal with this internship, I hope that I manage to successfully convey the message to my beloved home state that progress necessitates change, and in this instance, everyone involved, including the commercial fishing industry, stands to benefit from proper use of TEDs.
If we allow this travesty to continue, it may reach a point of no return, a point where mutually cooperative policy no longer remains an option. We cannot allow ourselves to reach a point where the policies needed to protect the five species of endangered and threatened sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico necessitate drastic reductions in the fishing industry that sustains so much of the life and culture of my dearly beloved Cajun Country.
STRP has compiled a list of concerned scientists, fisheries managers, and industry representatives who support the call for action by NMFS. So come on Louisiana, work with me and the Sea Turtle Restoration Project to demand that our government agencies enforce the long standing federal law requiring the protection of our ancient, ailing sea turtles with no negative consequences for the shrimp fisheries of the Gulf Coast. C
Posted by Chris Pincetich, Ph.D., Sea Turtle Restoration Project on October 28th, 2011
This summer has seen unprecedented success of our Leatherback Watch Program thanks to our growing team of interns, project partners, and citizen scientists contributing to our all-volunteer network monitoring the critically endangered West Pacific leatherback sea turtles off the U.S. West Coast. Just this week we shared a press release that put the Sea Turtle Restoration Project in the news in several California coast print and online media sources. The sightings information and contributions from our key project partners Blue Ocean Whale Watch in Moss Landing, The Oceanic Society in San Francisco, and Sea Turtles Forever along the Oregon coast, were quoted in the Pacifica Tribune online and print news story. We've teamed up with the Oceanic Society team to invite the general public on three Leatherback Watch Program fundraising expeditions through the Gulf of the Farralones National Marine Sanctuary where a leatherback was spotted on October 2, 2011. STRP members and guests received a discount price and STRP received a portion of the proceeds for these trips (win-win!). The amazing leatherback photos and videos have just been compiled into a video short by our intern Ming Ong and is now available for viewing on the Sea Turtle Restoration Project's YouTube Channel and posted below. Since we have the exact GPS coordinates from each photo and video, these amazing images will soon be hosted in the Ocean Explorer layer of Google Earth!
Posted by Chris Pincetich, Ph.D. on October 24th, 2011
Watching the sun rise over San Francisco's skyline while on my way to the docks to board another offshore expedition to the Farallone Islands in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary is always an inspiring moment, and this Sunday was no exception! Our vessel was booked full for an entire day of searching for the rare leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), watching whales, and experiencing all the wildlife diversity in and around these amazing islands. I gave a short talk to our group before departure, sharing facts on the biology and ecology of Pacific leatherbacks and our conservation successes in California and Hawaii. Many of the guests had no idea leatherbacks were present offshore of California and were energized by my talk to see one and help them!
This summer has been very rewarding for our all-volunteer Leatherback Watch Program, which kicked-off with a huge party at the Cal Academy of Sciences on June 16, World Sea Turtle Day, and has tallied over twenty leatherback sightings from Point Sur, California up to British Columbia, Canada this summer and fall. The majority of the leatherbacks seen have been in California's National Marine Sanctuaries, so our expedition to the Farallones was buoyed by high hopes that we would be rewarded with another leatherback sighting.
Within the first half an hour of smooth sailing, I spotted two floating balloons on the surface of the sea, a potentially harmful meal for feeding leatherbacks that might mistake them for jellyfish (which are also round, and float on the surface). Research shows that one-third of all leatherbacks have plastic in their stomachs, and these balloons are a grim reminder why that is true. During the two hour journey out to South Farallone Island, I spotted two more cases of plastic pollution in what is proposed to be critical habitat for the endangered leatherbacks; a mylar and another plastic balloon.
We reached the islands in just under two hours, and immediately spotted a young gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) feeding in shallow water. As the whale meandered, we passed by two shark-diving operators, some marine researchers, and two more wildlife viewing vessels. We spotted the leatherback's favorite food, the brown sea nettle (Chrysaora fuscescens), in the highest abundance on the leeward side of the south island, but no leatherbacks were seen. We headed offshore to the edge of the continental shelf when an offshore blow directed us to two humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) feeding on what appeared in our sonar to be a dense aggregation of krill. These whales were bringing us farther and farther off course, but were thrilling to watch as they repeatedly dove to feed, showing us their flukes on several occasions. Our captain reversed our course and we headed home, passing close to middle rock, and then directly into a pod of Dall's porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli). Three more balloons littering the Marine Sanctuary surface were spotted, but still no leatherback sea turtles.
Passing under the Golden Gate bridge on our way home, we all felt mixed emotions; sadness that we had not seen a leatherback sea turtle and that our journey was coming to an end, and elation at the amazing marine mammals we had witnessed. New friends and supporters of the Sea Turtle Restoration Project were made during hours of engaging discussions, and many of the guests left with fantastic photos of the humpbacks. We will continue to partner with the Oceanic Society in the San Francisco Bay and beyond, and look forward to joining them again for another expedition on October 29!
Thanks to the activism and connections of a dedicated Australian woman, an Australian news team followed her to the Amazon where she showed them the oily mess left behind by California-based Chevron. The company is now building massive new liquid natural gas plants in the remote Kimberley of Northwest Australia. Why won't the U.S. media make these links? Perhaps they don't want to lose Chevron's advertising?
Posted by Ming Ong, STRP Intern on September 8th, 2011
I was thrilled to learn of the latest victory in the campaign to halt the cruel practice of shark finning. As an intern with the Sea Turtle Restoration Project of the Turtle Island Restoration Network, one of my assignments has been to work to support AB 376, which bans the sale, purchase or possession of shark fins in the state of California. Yesterday, it passed the Senate floor on a bipartisan 25-9 vote, and now goes to the Governor Jerry Brown’s office for a signature. Brown has 12 days from the time it reaches his desk to sign or veto the measure. Since he has not indicated publicly whether he intends to sign the bill or not, I am now focusing my efforts on outreach to his office and encouraging our members to join me.
STRP members sent 817 email messages and made countless phone calls directly to their Senators in support of AB 376. In our office we made many phone calls to Sacramento and sent a hand-written letter to our Senator via overnight mail last week prior to the final vote. It is always encouraging to see this hard work pay off.
The AB 376 bill was supported by many ocean conservation groups, including the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, as a way to help end the cruel practice of shark finning, which is largely the cause of the drastic decline of shark populations worldwide. AB 376 supporters, including actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Bo Derek, emphasize that our ocean’s apex predators play a crucial role in the health of our ecosystems and are thus, important to conserve and protect. Time Magazine describes the practice of shark finning to be “wasteful, cruel and, most significantly unsustainable for the ocean ecosystems as it threatens to deplete the numbers of these top predators and spoils the natural balance of the seas. According to The Washington Post, activists have begun pushing for shark fin bans across the U.S. in an effort to combat the global shark fin trade, which scientists estimate kills between 26 million and 73 million sharks each year.
Many of those that opposed the bill claimed that it is an attack on Asian culture and cuisine, as shark fins are the key ingredient for shark fin soup, a Chinese delicacy. But, when one of China’s most famous celebrities, Yao Ming, is also in support of banning shark finning and ending the cultural use of shark fin soup, it is clear that not all Chinese are heartless shark-killers.
There were several key provisions added to the bill during its evolution in Sacramento this summer, including an exemption allowing taxidermists to possess shark fins and letting licensed fishermen donate shark fins to research institutions. Also, a companion bill was introduced and passed that allows for a longer grace period until July 2013 for retailers to sell in-stock shark fins and requires the California Ocean Protection Council to submit a yearly report on any sustainable shark fisheries operating.
California, home to approximately 1.1 million Chinese-Americans, is one of the largest importers of shark fins outside Asia. As quoted in Reuters, state Senator Christine Kehoe, a San Diego Democrat who was one of the bill’s chief proponents, said, “(This bill) addresses an important environmental threat to our oceans’ health. It’s our market here that drives the slaughter.” She further cited in The Huffington Post estimates that 85 percent of dried shark fin imports to the United States come through California, giving the bill an impact beyond efforts to restrict the practice in the U.S. and abroad. This is why I am especially excited that the state may soon join Washington, Oregon and Hawaii by passing this ban on shark fins. Passing this strict law banning the possession of shark fins, will put an end to the legal shark fin trade in California. Hopefully we can use California as an example to ban shark finning in international waters. In January, President Obama signed federal legislation tightening an 11-year-old ban on shark finning in U.S. waters. While that law prohibits finning, it does not prohibit the possession and sale of shark fins, like the new California law would.
This shark fin ban is representative of the passion and collaboration of diverse individuals that can come together around a unified goal. Unwavering determination and grassroots outreach by organizations such as ours and the local non-profit Sea Stewards helped gain momentum and enormous support of those who wanted to put an end to the inhumane practice of shark finning. We can now celebrate another victory for sharks and a victory for everyone who helped make this ban come to life. Just one more signature is needed from Governor Brown before the true celebration begins!
August 15, 2011 was Shark Day at the Capitol Building in Sacramento, California. Representing the Turtle Island Restoration Network as a new intern, I joined supporters of the bill to ban the practice of shark finning, AB 376. We gathered outside the Capitol, with a big blow-up shark, tents filled with organizations in favor of the ban, and posters with shark statistics to raise awareness about sharks and to show our support for AB 376. This bill would make it unlawful for any person to possess, sell, offer for sale, trade, or distribute a shark fin in the state of California. Click here to learn more and take action in support of AB 376!
Sharks around the world are in grave danger, and the practice of shark finning is causing the decimation of shark populations. Shark finning involves hacking off the fins of live sharks, then leaving the crippled bodies to die in the ocean. This gruesome practice is often combined with longline fishing, which is largely contributing to the major decline in many sea turtle and shark species.
According to International Union for Conservation of Nature, some 30 percent of shark species are threatened or nearly threatened with extinction, and up to 73 million sharks are killed each year. Sharks are apex predators and their demise has a cascading effect on other marine species. Their fate is of particular importance as sharks play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy and balanced marine ecosystem. A scientific study showed that when 11 species of sharks were nearly eliminated, 12 of the 14 prey species those sharks once fed on became so plentiful that they damaged the ecosystem, including wiping out the species farther down the food chain.
California is a large part of this unsustainable practice of shark finning, serving as the main entry point for shark fin distribution in the US. By passing AB 376, California would strengthen the U.S. West Coast bans against shark fin trade by enacting the strongest of the regional shark fin laws, a significant step towards reducing pressure on rapidly declining shark populations.
When I entered the crowded room of the hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee, co-authors Huffman and Fong were in the process of introducing the bill to the Appropriations committee. They were followed by three witnesses, including actress Bo Derek.
“Sharks have been around for nearly 400 million years, and yet many stocks may be wiped out in a single human generation due to the increasing demand for shark fins,” Bo Derek told the Senate Appropriations Committee. Derek, who is a U.S. secretary of state special envoy opposing wildlife trafficking, highlighted the importance for California to pass this ban as 85 percent of dried shark fin imports to the United States come through California, a total of at least 30 tons of dried fins annually. According to ABC News, the actress called the process, which may sell for up to $400 per pound, “deplorable."
Once the witnesses were heard, supporters of the ban, including myself on behalf of TIRN, were given the opportunity to introduce themselves at the microphone and state that they support the ban. We filtered through after one another and the diversity of the individuals and organizations was inspiring. Some individuals made a point to ask for the ban to pass with no amendments, others were cut off for expanding on their thoughts.
When I turned away from the podium, I paused for a moment and scanned the room. Lined up behind me was an unending row of supporters for AB 376 who had each added some flair to their outfits with shark costumes, stickers, or shark backpacks. Meanwhile, the opposition, who were seated in the center of the room, was largely represented by an older generation of Chinese restaurant owners. Knowing that individuals were traveling from all along the California coast to show their support for the ban, I was honored to be part of this historic day.
I was pleased to represent not only the majority of the Californian population, but also a large proportion of the Asian-American population that are in favor of the ban. Like others who have shown their support for the ban, I believe that I have to do my part as I not only know that it is extremely unsustainable, but is also entirely inhumane. Support from not only celebrities, but everyday members of the society are what helps put an end to practices such as shark finning.
My time as an STRP intern has made me realize that there is so much to be done regarding conservation. I knew I wanted to be involved in this field before coming here, but being in the midst of such an influential organization made me realize that this is really the kind of work I want to be doing with my life. STRP made me realize that every person can make a difference.
The event that that spoke to me the most during my time here was the Chevron Annual Shareholders Meeting. This event attracted people from all over the world, and it made me more aware of how a lot of issues really are universal problems that need to be addressed. At this event, I participated with other volunteers to protect endangered flatback sea turtles by protesting the proposed oil drilling off the Kimberly, the Western coast of Austrailia.
Another event that I was very interested in was the World Ocean’s Day event held in San Francisco. In this event, I tabled with another intern to provide information about STRP, and help get signatures for our petitions.
I was very proud when and two other interns and I were able to build a small scale replica of a shrimp trawl net with a turtle excluder device for Cal Academy Nightlife. The Event was for World Sea Turtle Day, and it meant a lot to know that something I helped to make would be used to educate the public.
I am extremely grateful towards my supervisor and the other people in the STRP office for making me feel welcomed and mentoring me in my first interning position.
Overall, interning with STRP has been an experience I won’t soon forget. This experience has definitely solidified my passion for helping all marine creatures!
Dow Jones reported this afternoon that California-based Chevron is appealing the weak environmental conditions imposed by the compliant environmental authority in Western Australia on its massive Wheatstone LNG mega-project. Seems that big, bad Chevron can't even meet the lowest environmental bar without kicking and screaming. Read the story.
The project is getting green-lighted all the way even though it is being built on top of sea turtle and whale habitat, not to mention destroying dugong habitat, polluting the air, and trouncing on small coastal communities that are already suffering from years of oil company abuse.
I guess since Chevron didn't have to do diddly-squat to protect anything at the nearby Barrow Island nature reserve where it is squatting its Gorgon project, why should it have to lift a finger onshore?
What's even worse is that no reporter in the San Francisco Bay Area or the U.S. for that matter will cover Chevron's mid-deeds and bullying in Australia, not to mention the company's involvement in human rights abuses in the U.S., Nigeria, Ecudor, Angola, Burma, and dozens of other countries.
When I was in elementary school I absolutely loved visiting aquariums, learning about the different kinds of fish and snorkeling in the ocean. Even at that age I hoped that someday I would make a difference working with the oceans in some way. This past January I finally made this dream a reality and began my internship with the Sea Turtle Restoration Project as a part of a cooperative education program through Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.
Looking back over the past six months I have been fortunate enough to participate in a handful of intriguing and inspiring campaigns. From the very beginning I was very passionate about contributing to STRP’s Bag the Plastics campaign. As a part of this campaign, I was heavily involved in sending out letters of support for plastic bag bans in cities across California, I wrote a short article about plastic for STRP’s Viva La Tortuga newsletter, and I made three short videos about plastics and sea turtles for STRP’s YouTube channel. Ultimately, the most rewarding effort I put into the Bag the Plastics campaign—and the most memorable time spent with STRP—was attending the 31st International Sea Turtle Symposium (ISTS) in San Diego and presenting a poster I put together about plastic bag ban advocacy. Attending this symposium was the greatest experience I could have asked for: I was able to connect with individuals from all over the world and expand my limited knowledge of sea turtle biology and conservation efforts happening around the globe—all while spreading the word of plastic’s harmfulness to sea turtles to those who were unaware.
I was also involved in a few other projects, such as the distribution and promotion of STRP’s newest documentary The Heartbreak Turtle Today, communicating with ocean supporters through social networking, creating and uploading posts about sea turtle conservation to Google Oceans, creating short videos for the STRP YouTube channel, initiating contact with members of our Leatherback Watch Program, and tabling at several events including the March 29th screening of The Heartbreak Turtle Today, ISTS from April 11th through 15th, and World Sea Turtle Day at Cal Academy’s Nightlife on June 16th. Another memorable event was the Chevron annual shareholder’s meeting rally where myself and other sea turtle supporters donned large sea turtle costumes and protested on behalf of the Australian flatback sea turtles along the Kimberley Coast in Western Australia.
In the end I am so glad that I made the decision to intern with STRP, and I am exceptionally grateful for all the guidance, support, and mentoring received from my dedicated supervisor and colleagues. I will never forget my time spent with STRP, and for the rest of my life I will be dedicated to marine conservation wherever I am!
The Cal Academy of Science was packed on Thursday night with an
estimated 2,400 people who came to celebrate sea turtles on World Sea
Turtle Day. They came to enjoy demonstrations, interactive exhibits and
an amazing show using the Planetarium’s dome showing how these gentle
and endangered creatures migrate thousands of miles across the vast
ocean as they travel from their nesting beaches to faraway foraging
grounds. The evening won’t soon be forgotten, it was pure blue magic.
Staff & volunteers from The Sea Turtle Restoration Project,
SPAWN, and Got Mercury.org, along with supporters from Sea Stewards and
The Center for Biological Diversity transformed African Hall into a
teaching hospital about everything from ‘what does a turtle egg look
like’ to international threats such as commercial fisheries, poaching
and big oil interests. On the central piazza stage was a model of a TED
(Turtle Extruder Device) required by Federal Law to be installed on
commercial shrimping boats to give sea turtles an escape hatch from
their nets to avoid drowning. It was clear that many were surprised to
learn about the consequences to marine life caused by their appetite for
seafood, especially shrimp.
Scott Benson from NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science
Center’s leatherback turtle program took us on a grand tour across the
Pacific using the biggest computer monitor at the Cal Academy of Science
– the planetarium’s dome itself - to demonstrate the incomprehensibly
large distances covered by these turtles as they migrate from Indonesia
& Papua New Guinea to Northern California, Oregon & Washington
in search of their favorite eats, the Brown Sea Nettle. Little did the
audience know that just 20 minutes before the show, there had been a
malfunction in the dome. No problema, the CAS geniuses crossed a few
wires and fixed it in plenty of time for the World Turtle Day