Sea turtle populations are growing in many places around the world due to decades of hard work by conservationists and researchers. Consumption of turtle eggs, meat, and shell has declined as many countries have outlawed it; some of the most destructive types of fishing gear has been banned or improved; and new technologies are helping us learn about these animals and their habits. But as things improve in many ways for sea turtles, new and growing threats are emerging and old threats remain.
As we complete our tenth year, SEE Turtles is growing and expanding our work to inspire action for sea turtles and to help our international partners address these threats. We reached the milestone of $1 million generated for turtle conservation and local communities through our trips and programs. The number of endangered hatchlings saved through Billion Baby Turtles grew by nearly 20% over 2018. Too Rare To Wear has expanded to new regions and grown our coalition of tour operators and conservation organizations working to end demand for tortoiseshell. We’ve also launched a new effort called Divers For Turtles to inspire the dive community to become more active in sea turtle conservation.
We know from fifty plus years of work that protecting the beaches where turtles lay their eggs is key to bringing them back. 2018 was our most successful year yet, with nearly 500,000 hatchlings saved. We added four new partners, including a matching grant to help improve efforts in Nicaragua during the political crisis and supporting a project in Mexico recover from a fire that damaged its research station.
Too Rare To Wear is also growing to meet the pervasive threat of the turtleshell trade around the world. SEE Turtles has established itself as a leader in this effort with our groundbreaking tools, reports, and outreach efforts. In 2018, we began working to expand the program to Asia where the trade still happens on a large scale. We’ve grown our coalition to 125 tour operators and conservation organizations educating people how to recognize and avoid these products.
Thank you for joining us for this ride. SEE Turtles would not exist without our wonderful donors, travelers, schools, and partners.
Brad Nahill and Wallace J. Nichols, Co-Founders