Your monthly update from Turtle Island Restoration Network

May Newsletter

This month we received the exciting news that the Cocos-Galapagos Swimway was declared a Mission Blue Hope Spot by Dr. Sylvia Earle! Not only does this advance our thinking about how to protect highly migratory and endangered species like sea turtles and sharks, it brings us one step closer to making the Swimway a reality. Instead of endangered species only being protected within small marine protected areas (MPAs), the Swimway will connect two sovereign nation's marine National Parks to create a large, underwater superhighway — something we hope will become a replicable blueprint across the globe!

Cocos-Galapagos Swimway Declared a Hope Spot!

What could become one of the world’s first marine protected area connecting the UNESCO biosphere reserves of two countries has been declared a Mission Blue Hope Spot by Dr. Sylvia Earle, highlighting the need for cutting-edge solutions to protect highly migratory species like sea turtles and sharks in the Eastern Tropical Pacific. Known as the Cocos-Galapagos Swimway, this Hope Spot is a 120,000-kilometer migratory underwater highway that connects the National Parks of two sovereign nations – Costa Rica’s Cocos Island National Park with Ecuador’s Galapagos Marine Reserve – both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

Patrol volunteer Carlos Rios writes "Sea Turtle Beach Patrol 2020" in the sand.

After Covid-19 Delay, Texas Nest Patrols Resume

After delaying this year's sea turtle nest patrols for the health and safety of our volunteers amid the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, our patrol team is up and running with new protocols in place! Thanks to our volunteers for getting back out there! So far this year, 208 Kemp's ridley sea turtle nests have been confirmed on the Texas coast — surpassing last year's total of 190 — with more expected as the season continues this summer until July. Turtle Island Restoration Network’s team in the Gulf of Mexico has been part of the sea turtle nest patrol on the upper Texas coast every year since 2002, supporting the protection of nesting sea turtles and their eggs and sponsoring the sea turtle rescue hotline (if you're on the upper Texas coast and see a sea turtle on the beach, please call 866-TURTLE-5). For the most recent nesting reports from the Texas coast and Padre Island National Seashore please visit our website.

Groups Sue to Stop Trump Administration From Allowing Deadly Gear in Tuna Spawning Grounds

At the very same time that thousands of Western Atlantic bluefin tuna are gathering in their only known spawning grounds in the Gulf of Mexico, Turtle Island Restoration Network and Healthy Gulf filed a lawsuit to stop a new Trump administration rule that could decimate the species’ population. The groups are challenging a new rule the National Marine Fisheries Service passed on April 2 that removes critical restrictions on pelagic longline fishing gear, which can stretch five to 40 miles and have as many as 30 hooks per mile. The restrictions applied in bluefin tuna spawning grounds during April and May — peak spawning time. 

New Crew Aims to Keep Balloons out of Nature

Year after year, balloon-related litter is one of the most prevalent and identifiable items found ingested by local wildlife. Animals like sea turtles, coastal birds, and fish are often found entangled in the ribbon attached to balloons. With help from our partners and community, Turtle Island Restoration Network actively monitors how frequently balloons are ending up on beaches and waterways. You can help us gather information about where balloon pollution is located across the United States, remove the balloons from the environment, and build awareness surrounding the issue of balloon releases by joining the Balloon Busting CrewThe data will be used to enact legislation banning intentional balloon releases. 

 An oiled Kemp's ridley sea turtle is rescued during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

Action Needed to Stop SPOT!

Right now, oil giants Enterprise and Chevron are proposing to build a massive crude oil storage facility, offshore pipeline, and export terminal off the coast of Freeport, Texas. The project is called the Sea Port Oil Terminal, or SPOT, and is an immediate threat to our Texas coastal communities, to our delicate environment, and to the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle – the world’s most endangered sea turtle. The pipeline alone is anticipated to result in 568 spills over a 30-year period. Please take action to stop SPOT by submitting a public comment against the proposed project! Publicly submitted comments have an impact and help agency policy makers improve federal regulations. We only have until June 1, 2020 to make our voices heard and ask the Maritime Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation to reject this project.

Kemp's Ridley Nest on Beaches: WATCH

On Sunday, the upper Texas coast saw two more Kemp’s ridley sea turtle nests! The beautiful turtle in this video laid 85 eggs and the other one, 119! Every egg of this critically endangered species is crucial. When a nest is located, the eggs are excavated and transferred to Padre Island National Seashore for incubation and release. “Our volunteers give sea turtle hatchlings the best chance at survival,” says Nest Patrol Coordinator Theresa Morris. “Between the danger humans present with driving on beaches, debris, and poaching, and the many natural predators sea turtles face, it is safer for the eggs to be moved to a hatchery for incubation.”

Ocean-Going Coho Salmon Smolt Start Strong

The 2020 coho salmon smolt year in Marin County, California’s San Geronimo Creek is off to a big start! When coho salmon are born in the freshwater creeks, they spend 1-1.5 years growing and preparing for their adult phase in the ocean, where they will spend another 1.5 years before coming back to lay their eggs in the freshwater system where they were born. The process, known as “smoltification,” prepares salmon for saltwater intake and the ocean environment—changing physiologically and morphologically, internally and externally. Since installing the traps on April 17, our salmon-saving program SPAWN has come across a little over 2,000 coho smolts, marking a significant count for this endangered species!

Do Your Part to Keep Our Oceans Plastic-Free

Our Sea Turtle Nest Patrol volunteers were out looking for sea turtles on the morning of Memorial Day on the upper Texas coast, but found only discarded toys and trash from the long weekend. Although we are grateful to our volunteers and community members who were willing to clean up (thank you!), every individual has a responsibility to take care of the ecosystems we share with other living things. Please remember to pack it in and pack it out when you visit the beach. Plastics are one of the most common pollutants found in our oceans, and they are not only crowding our seas, they are hurting sea turtles and other ocean wildlife. There are many things we can do to keep plastics out of our oceanshere are 10 easy things you can do today!

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Turtle Island Restoration Network
PO Box 370, Forest Knolls, CA 94933