Your monthly update from Turtle Island Restoration Network

April Newsletter

Although we are living through very difficult times, we can still find much to feel happy about this month: persisting endangered wildlife, wild lands, clean air, and waterways that make our blue-green planet healthy and habitable. Our staff, volunteers, and interns continue working every day to protect marine wildlife and the habitats they need to survive. And you — our supporters who are a vital part of our mission to save the world's oceans. Thank you for helping us along the way as we all work together to protect our planet for future generations.

Possible Dugong Sound Recorded in Okinawa

On April 10 the Okinawa Defense Bureau publicly released a new survey summary report that their underwater sound recorder in Oura Bay, Okinawa recorded a series of possible dugong sounds! Dugongs are a critically endangered relative of the manatee that holds a central place in the culture of Okinawa, Japan. Their critical habitat is currently facing threat from the U.S. Department of Defense as they plan to construct a Marine Corps base that will fill in and pave over hundreds of acres of rich coral and seagrass habitat critical to the survival of dugongs. The three days in February when possible dugong sounds were recorded were holidays and no construction took place. Given these trying times we are in, this news is very heartening.

On Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary, Activists Call on U.S. to Stop Environmental Rollbacks

April 22 marked the 50th anniversary of Earth Day — five decades of global, grassroots action to demand a better planet for wildlife, their habitats, and humans. Today, however, the fight to protect wild animals and their ecosystems continues with increasing urgency. The federal government of the United States has spent the past four years deconstructing our nation's critical wildlife protection laws – and even more so in recent months while the public's attention has been diverted. We asked our supporters to join our Digital Earth Day Rally and express why they want the U.S. to stop rolling back environmental protections; their powerful actions became the voices for many species and wild places that they think are worth saving for the next 50 years, and for future generations.

23 Kemp's Ridley Nests Located on Earth Day!

Sea turtle nesting season is officially underway in the Gulf of Mexico and Earth Day was an especially great day for Kemp's ridley sea turtles with 23 nests confirmed on the upper Texas coast! So far this year, 41 Kemp's ridley sea turtle nests have been confirmed, with more expected as the season continues all 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, to support the protection of nesting sea turtles and their eggs. For the most recent nesting reports from the Texas coast and Padre Island National Seashore please visit our website.

NMFS Reduces Observer Coverage Amid COVID-19

Due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recently implemented reductions in observer coverage on fishing boats. Observer personnel is crucial to ocean conservation and sustainability, as observers collect important data to monitor the size of the stock, as well as help enforce and monitor illegal fishing activity and bycatch. Turtle Island Restoration Network submitted a letter with Earthjustice in response to the NMFS decision addressing our concerns for a lack of observer coverage. We suggested solutions that we hope would allow for the continuation of monitoring and enforcement without compromising the health and safety of fishermen, including the increased use of electronic monitoring, a method already used in some U.S. fisheries and across the world. Electronic monitoring has proven to provide an effective and potentially cost reducing method for fisheries via the use of cameras on boats.

More Than 300 Groups Call on Congress to Bail Out People, Not Polluters

Turtle Island Restoration Network joined more than 300 groups in calling on Congress to demand that federal relief money be directed to people affected by the COVID-19 crisis and not to fossil fuel polluters. Citing the fossil fuel industry's successful lobbying of Trump's Environmental Protection Agency to suspend enforcement of pollution safeguards, the letter warns against more concessions to Big Industry polluters when Congress drafts its next relief bill. The letter calls on Congress to exclude the fossil fuel industry from receiving loans and other federal support, ensure affected fossil fuel workers are provided with assistance and labor protections for weathering a job transition, and bar financial institutions receiving loans or loan guarantees from using that money to finance fossil fuel infrastructure projects.

TIRN Certifies the Next California Naturalists

The UC California Naturalist course is designed to teach various environmental skills – like plant and wildlife identification and geological analysis – and to give people an opportunity to create deeper connections with our natural world. Our course at TIRN did exactly that! The classroom took on different forms each weekend: students observed ancient flatworms in the Bolinas tide pools, tracked bobcats in Point Reyes National Park, and so much more! Thanks to course coordinator Harry McGrath, the UC California Naturalist Program, the West Marin Fund for offering scholarships, and the incredible guest teachers, we have 15 brand new naturalists roaming Northern California, spreading their knowledge and appreciating nature!


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