While we are in the process of adapting to the COVID-19 outbreak, Turtle Island Restoration Network remains committed to our work. From providing emergency support to nesting beach programs around the world, to monitoring the constant flow of deadlines for comments on proposed projects and policies, our team is still fighting against marine extinction. The stories below are a small drop in the ocean of the conservation world as we know it, but we hope they give you inspiration, entertainment, and a sense of optimism during this time.
First Kemp's Ridley Nest of 2020 Reported!
On March 18 Turtle Island Restoration Network received the great news that our sea turtle colleagues in Veracruz, Mexico reported the first Kemp's ridley sea turtle nest of the 2020 nesting season! Kemp's ridleys are the world's most endangered sea turtle and nest on U.S. beaches each year from April to mid-July. This heartening news brings excitement to our team among the chaos that our nation faces, and we appreciate your support as we forage ahead in our ongoing, communal efforts to give these ancient creatures a fighting chance at survival.
Newest TAT Statues Celebrate Sea Turtle Protection
Turtle Island Restoration Network and Clay Cup Studios installed the latest additions to our Turtles About Town (TAT) community art project this month! The twelve new turtles will be joining 19 statues installed last year around Galveston Island, Texas. Created in 2018, Turtles About Town showcases the City of Galveston and the conservation efforts of Turtle Island Restoration Network to protect endangered sea turtles on the upper Texas coast. Statues are designed by local artists and sponsored by local businesses and individuals, each representing a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, the Texas state sea turtle and the world’s most endangered sea turtle.
Amid COVID-19 Outbreak, Groups Offer Emergency Funding to Protect Nesting Sea Turtles
As communities around the world face uncharted territories from the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus), many groups have closed beaches to the public. This directly impacts organizations that work tirelessly to monitor and protect endangered sea turtles as they return to beaches to nest. With the loss of volunteers and likely donations, sea turtle nesting beaches are going to need extra support during this difficult time. That's why Turtle Island Restoration Network is teaming up with SEE Turtles to offer nonprofit organizations around the world a grant opportunity to support research and conservation projects relating to a global priority for sea turtle conservation: nesting beaches. The Summer Sea Turtle Sustainability Grant will award $5,000 to the eligible organization who receives the most public votes. In addition, one organization will be chosen randomly to receive $1,000!
Scientists Document First Evidence of Shark Swimming Between Cocos Island National Park and Las Gemelas Seamount
For the past 12 years, Turtle Island Restoration Network’s work at Cocos Island National Park to tag turtles and sharks with our colleagues MigraMar has focused on understanding where highly migratory species go when they leave protected “no-take” zones of the Park. Now, for the first time, we have documented a scalloped hammerhead shark moving persistently between Cocos Island National Park and the Las Gemelas Seamount, emphasizing the need to create swimways between marine protected areas to protect the migratory route of hammerhead sharks and other species that have shown to move between biodiversity hotspots.
TIRN Urges Congress to Address COVID-19 Causes: Wildlife Trade, Habitat Destruction
Turtle Island Restoration Network joined more than 100 organizations in urging Congress to address the wildlife trade and habitat destruction, the root causes of emerging zoonotic diseases like COVID-19 that have erupted over the past several decades in the United States and around the world. In a letter the groups noted that 60% of known infectious diseases in people can be transmitted from animals, and 75% of emerging zoonotic infectious diseases originate in wildlife. These emergent diseases have quadrupled in the past 50 years.
Microplastics Impact Marine Sanctuaries—We're Helping NOAA Understand Their Impact
Since 1989, scientists have been monitoring the corals areas of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary for signs of stress, disease, and pollution. Our research, spearheaded by our Gulf Program Coordinator Theresa Morris, evaluates water samples to understand how microplastics are affecting the sanctuary, and was recently highlighted in NOAA's newsletter! “One of the most typical things we find in water samples are microfibers,” says Morris. Filter feeders, like the whale shark and the threatened manta ray, feed by straining food particles from the water. These animals are particularly susceptible to consuming microplastics and fibers. Click here to read the full article online.
In Coronavirus Crisis, 575 Groups Urge Halt to Electricity, Water Shutoff
Turtle Island Restoration Network joined more than 575 utility justice, labor, faith, consumer and environmental groups to urge state governors, mayors and utility regulators in March to put a moratorium on electricity and water-utility shutoffs in response to the coronavirus crisis and resulting job losses. The letter also called for deeper policy changes that deploy distributed solar and establish percentage-of-income water-payment systems to address the systemic issues leading to shutoffs. The coronavirus crisis will likely cause widespread job losses across America, disproportionately hurting low-wealth households, communities of color, and American Indian and Alaska Native communities. These families face difficulties in affording basic utility services, and some have already been disconnected from water and electricity.