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Oceana Newsletter Fall 2009: Kate Walsh Wants to Get Sea Turtles Off The Hook

By Suzannah Evans | Photos • Tim Calver and Joe Walsh

Actress Kate Walsh is an established television star, best known as the driven neo-natal surgeon Dr. Addison Montgomery on the hit shows “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice.” But when the actress wanted to lend her fame to the greater good, she came to Oceana. It was a perfect fit: Kate, a native Californian, has a natural affinity for sea turtles. And the character that made her famous, Dr. Montgomery, could perhaps relate to the staggering odds that face just-hatched sea turtles as they struggle toward the sea.

As the face of Oceana’s Save Sea Turtles campaign, Kate stars in a print, online and television campaign. She traveled with Oceana’s experts to the Virgin Islands this summer to witness sea turtles both laying eggs and hatching. While in St. Croix, she spoke with Oceana marine biologist Kerri Lynn Miller.

To learn more about Kate’s trip to the Virgin Islands and to see exclusive photos and videos, visit http://oceana.org/turtlesoffthehook.

 

Kerri Lynn Miller What makes you interested in sea turtles?

Kate Walsh As a kid, you love turtles. When I started diving and snorkeling and swimming with them, I found them to be totally majestic, incredible creatures. You know, they’ve been around since prehistoric times; it’s incredible to see them. They’re so graceful in the water.

KLM What do you think your involvement can do to help sea turtles?

KW I’m hoping to raise awareness because I think that most people don’t know that they are an endangered species. I want them to be around for many generations to come. And I think that if more people know what’s specifically happening that fishing gear is catching and killing sea turtles, they can take action to prevent it.

KLM Why did you decide to partner with Oceana?

KW Oceana is one of the biggest and most comprehensive ocean conservation groups in the world. For me, it was always a natural fit. I grew up in northern California and I was always at the beach as a kid, so the ocean is
a huge part of my life. I love the ocean. When I was a kid, for a while I thought I wanted to be a marine biologist. So it’s a natural fit to be involved with ocean conservation.

KLM What was your first impression when you saw sea turtles in the wild?

KW The first ones I saw were the baby leatherbacks. They’re so tiny, and they work so hard to be born and there are so many natural, environmental things working against them – when they do finally hatch out of the
eggs and they do this long walk to the ocean, it’s just incredible. And then to think there is so much against them, it’s such an arduous journey, their whole life, so you think whatever we can do to make that easier and not scoop them up in a big fishing net, that’d be great.

KLM So what do you think your take away message will be from this trip with Oceana?

KW It was amazing to be able to swim with the sea turtles and experience them hatching. They struggle. I think one of the most profound things is seeing the leatherback babies, they struggle so much just to be born and to make it to the sea, so I’m hoping that we can at least do our part and ensure that they have a fighting chance once they get in there.

I want to get the word out and make people aware about the challenges facing sea turtles. I also want to help get legislation enacted to keep harmful fishing techniques to a minimum and help protect the sea turtles.