Dear friends of Turtle Foundation,
With great pleasure we have noticed that the United Nations agreed on the long overdue international High Seas Treaty at the beginning of March. An important goal of the agreement is to create the legal prerequisites for the protection of marine areas outside national zones. As is well known, however, it is a big step from the decision to the implementation when considered in an international context. For this reason, it is now important to quickly follow up the decisions with deeds in order to place the endangered areas of the high seas under protection and to save marine life from further destruction.
While the United Nations have been working towards this milestone, we have been busy doing what we do best: protecting our beloved sea turtles. Everything about the way we succeeded in the past year and what we were able to achieve for the local communities can be found in our recently published Annual Report 2022.
Among other things, we report on the positive developments of our community-based projects on Boa Vista and how we managed to bring the number of poaching cases on site to a new record low. You will also hear news from our anti-turtleshell project in Central Sulawesi and gain an insight into our head office in Bali.
At the 41st annual meeting of the International Sea Turtle Society
Finally, the time had come again: After a three-year break due to the pandemic, the International Sea Turtle Society (ISTS) held another face-to-face conference in March. The aim of the conference, which lasts several days, is to promote exchange between scientists and organisations from over 60 countries in order to jointly strengthen the protection of sea turtle populations.
At the ISTS meeting in Cartagena, Colombia, we had the opportunity to resume the 5 years effect of the dog and drone team since its deployment on Boa Vista. The 10-minute presentation by our Scientific Director Dr Thomas Reischig came to a positive conclusion: the number of poached female turtles decreased from 238 in the year before the project‘s start in 2018 to only 10 in the last nesting season.
In addition, we presented the results of the master’s thesis of our staff member Kate Yeoman to the conference visitors with a poster. Here, the connection between plastic pollution on the beaches of Boa Vista and its impact on the reproductive success of the loggerhead turtle was investigated. You can find the poster on this work on our website.
Sumatra: end of the leatherback nesting season
In two projects off Sumatra (Indonesia), we are dedicated to the protection of the impressive leatherback turtle. Due to poaching for eggs and nesting females, the relatively small subpopulation in the northeastern Indian Ocean, which is important for the genetic diversity of the species, is acutely threatened with extinction. However, we have noticed a positive development: in the last two nesting seasons, after a previous collapse in nesting numbers, we were pleased to again count 29 and 31 nests respectively at Buggeisiata beach on Sipora. On the uninhabited island of Selaut Besar we protected an additional 11 leatherback turtle nests from poaching during the last nesting season 2021/2022. In addition, there are now indications of further nesting sites in the region, which could raise the total nesting numbers in the Indonesian area to a promising level – similar to those in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the core area of the subpopulation up to now.
Sewers’ cooperative in Cabeçã dos Tarafes
In addition to the conservation projects on Boa Vista and in Indonesia, our work has been accompanied for many years by equally interesting community projects we would like to introduce to you in more detail. In 2020 we launched a sewing project in cooperation with our local partner Fundação Tartaruga. By the name of Atelier Tarafes, a small sewing studio was created in Cabeçã dos Tarafes, which has been run by women ever since. After beginners’ courses in sewing and the necessary equipment were financed through subsidies, various items of clothing have been manufactured in the facility. The cooperative receives orders from the local government and other public institutions; for example face masks, work clothes, and school uniforms have already been sewn. From the beginning, the aim of this project was to open up an independent source of income for the local population to become independent of tourism.
Helping hands needed on Boa Vista
Since last year, we have again been welcoming international volunteers to Boa Vista to actively support us in the protection of the loggerhead turtle. At the moment, the first preparations are underway so that everything is ready in time for the start of the nesting season in June. What are we still missing? A few more helping hands who would like to actively contribute to the protection of the endangered sea turtles. Do you know someone who might fancy helping us with night patrols and scientific data collection at one of the beach camps on Boa Vista? Wonderful. Feel free to forward the link to our website, where you will find all the important information.