SEE Turtles was conceived in 2007 and launched to the public in 2008 with the aim of supporting sea turtle conservation efforts through travel. What began as a small project of the Ocean Conservancy, now after more than ten years, has grown to provide financial support for important sea turtle nesting beaches, a campaign to end demand for turtleshell, and a school program that gives kids a way to help these iconic animals. As an independent non-profit now, we can make our donations go further to meet these lofty goals.
2019 was a year of recognition for our efforts. First, in April we won the prestigious Changemakers Award from the World Travel & Tourism Council, which this year recognized efforts to protect endangered wildlife through tourism. We were presented the award at the WTTC Summit in Seville, Spain in front of leaders of the tourism industry from around the world. Then in August, we also won the Skal Sustainable Tourism Award in the Marine and Coastal category. These are two of the biggest honors in the world of sustainable travel and were only possible due to the success of our dozens of partners and hundreds of donors from around the world.
In addition, in 2019, our Billion Baby Turtles program grew rapidly and for the first time, surpassed 1 million hatchlings saved in one year! That included support for more than 10 new nesting beaches, expanding to Asia for the first time, and totaled more than $100,000 in grants. Our Too Rare To Wear campaign added more than 25 new partners, funded new research on the turtleshell trade in several countries, and helped expand efforts to end the trade in Colombia, Costa Rica, and Indonesia. Our Turtle Conservation Trips generated roughly $70,000 for conservation and local communities including our most successful trip ever to Colola, Mexico. In total, we generated more than $200,000 for sea turtle conservation in 2019.
SEE Turtles also organized the first large-scale celebration of Sea Turtle Week. This week, which runs from June 8th to 16th, helped to educate millions of people about sea turtles and their threats. In its first year, we had 68 partners, 4 million people reached, thousands of social media posts, and a new website. We expect 2020 to be even bigger!
In 2020, we will continue to find unique ways for our small organization to advance sea turtle conservation. We will release a groundbreaking report on the turtleshell trade and develop new technologies to address the trade, continue to grow our support for nesting beaches, and add new destinations for our Conservation Trips. We hope you will join us in this effort, we need your help now more than ever.
Brad Nahill, President