The Beacon

Blog Tags: Sea Turtles

Where Are They Now?: Casey Sokolovic

Casey Sokolovic with her specialty: sea turtle cookies.

We are now accepting nominations for our third annual Ocean Heroes Contest! Today we’re catching up with one of our favorites, sea turtle activist Casey Sokolovic.

Casey might look familiar - we can’t get enough of her ever since she was a nominee in the first annual Ocean Heroes contest in 2009. She’s now 13, but her parents say she still isn’t allowed to have a cell phone. Judging by all of her activities, she probably doesn’t have time to chat on the phone anyway…

Last year she had an internship at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center on Topsail Island, NC. She helped with the care of the injured turtles and video blogged her experiences at her website, loveaseaturtle.com.

That’s not all. She’s also busy giving school presentations about sea turtles, and participating at camps with Boys and Girls Clubs in North Carolina. She says she really wants to inspire other kids to help, too.

We are, as ever, inspired by Casey’s dedication to sea turtles. Thanks, Casey!

Nominations end April 27, so don’t delay -- nominate an ocean hero in your life today!


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Rachael Harris at Sea Turtle Symposium

Rachael Harris at Sea Turtle Symposium

Rachael Harris, actress and sea turtle advocate.

Oceanography legend Jacques Cousteau once said “The Sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” This spellbound wonder is certainly true for our fascination with the 7 species of sea turtles that have inhabited the world’s oceans for four million years and, sadly, which are all now threatened or endangered with extinction. These awe-inspiring ocean reptiles were the focus of the 31st Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology & Conservation in San Diego.

Actress and sea turtle advocate Rachael Harris (“The Hangover”) presented at our Friday reception. She shared a special connection she made with a green sea turtle named Esmeralda while touring a sea turtle rehabilitation center in Mexico with Oceana last year.

Harris was captivated by how expressive Esmeralda was despite her flippers being mutilated after becoming entangled in fishing line and being attacked by a dog while on a beach to nest. Harris’ enthusiastic support for sea turtle protections is shared by fellow sea turtle advocate Angela Kinsey (“The Office”). The two will storm the nation’s capitol in early May to educate Congress about why we need to get turtles off the hook and the need for more sea turtle protections throughout our nation’s waters.  


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Studies Begin to Reveal Effects of Gulf Oil Spill

Caesar grunts, damselfish and amberjacks in the Gulf of Mexico. © Oceana/Carlos Suarez

A week from today marks the one year anniversary of the BP oil spill, and the effects of the spill on the gulf’s ecosystems and wildlife are beginning to come into view, though the full effects won’t be understood for years.

This week the New York Times published an overview of the latest findings. The good news is that although miles of marsh are still oiled and tar balls continue to wash up on beaches, the Gulf of Mexico can thank its oil-eating bacteria for digesting some of the crude oil and the methane gas.

Not all the news is so good, however. Here are some of the latest findings about Gulf wildlife:


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Oceana Proposes a Canary Islands MPA

Last week, in a culmination of several years of work, our European colleagues presented a proposal to protect 15% of the marine area around Spain’s Canary Islands. If the proposal is accepted, it would multiply the current protected area by 100.

Here’s the back story: In 2009 the Oceana Ranger, our research catamaran, sailed to the Canaries, which are off the coast of Morocco. Over the course of two months, the crew documented the seamounts and seabeds of the archipelago, and found a dozen species never before seen in the area, and filmed many rare species, including three-foot-tall glass sponges, Venus fly-trap anemones and lollipop sponges. (For more on the Canaries see this piece from our magazine last winter.)

The protected area would harbor many other threatened species in the area, such as sea turtles, deep-sea sharks, seahorses, the giant grouper, blue and right whales and the white gorgonian.


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U.S. Gov’t Fails to Protect Sea Turtles, Again

A loggerhead hatchling in North Carolina. © Oceana/Cory Wilson

While the U.S. government continues to dawdle, loggerhead sea turtles continue to suffer. (Yes, they need your help!)

Yesterday the U.S. government failed to meet its legal deadline for issuing a final rule providing additional protections for loggerhead sea turtles, whose populations have faced severe declines over the last decade.

Oceana, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Turtle Island Restoration Network filed legal petitions in 2007 urging the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service to uplist North Pacific and northwest Atlantic loggerheads from “threatened” to “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act.

Then, a year ago, the government proposed to list loggerheads as endangered in response to a court-ordered settlement over prior delays. It has now failed to take timely action by missing the legal deadline to issue a final rule within one year.


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Protecting Costa Rica’s Biodiversity

A collared aracari on Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Sometimes our supporters point out organizations that are doing inspiring work for the oceans around the world. Thanks to supporter Joanna Adler for alerting us to the great work of an organization in Costa Rica called CIRENAS.

The Center of Investigation for Natural and Social Resources, or CIRENAS, is an organization that co-manages the Caletas Ario Nature Reserve, which is located on one of the last undeveloped stretches of coastline on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula.


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Give Today to Save Sea Turtles

© Oceana/Carlos Suarez

For millions of years, sea turtles have been a vital part of ocean ecosystems – but today they are on the brink of extinction as a result of irresponsible fishing and habitat destruction, among other threats. We’re working our hardest to save them, but we need your support.

All six sea turtle species that swim in US waters threatened or endangered, but it’s not too late to save them. Donate today and join Oceana in the fight to protect sea turtles and restore ocean balance. With your donation, we will continue pushing for stronger fishing regulations and legislation that will help protect and sustain turtle populations for years to come.

Our goal is to raise $40,000, and we still have a long way to go. Please donate today to help us in the fight to save sea turtles from extinction. And if you’ve already given, thank you -- now pass the word on via Facebook, Twitter, and however else you can!


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The Great Sea Turtle Migration Mystery: Solved?

Just call him Magellan: this loggerhead has a built-in navigation system. ©Oceana/Cory Wilson

It’s one of the most miraculous journeys in the natural world: sea turtles travel thousands of miles across the ocean to return to the very beach where they first scuttled into the sea.  

There aren’t exactly brightly lit mile markers in the sea, so how they do it? Scientists from the University of North Carolina (my alma mater!) say they have figured it out.

The researchers say that loggerhead sea turtles appear to be able to determine their longitude using the strength and angle of the Earth's magnetic field. Although several species of turtles are known to use magnetic cues to determine latitude, it had never been shown for longitude.

I didn’t realize this, but apparently the most difficult part of open-sea navigation is determining longitude (east-west position.) While human navigators struggled for centuries to figure it out on long-distance voyages, loggerhead hatchlings are naturals as soon as they hit the water.

To carry out the research loggerhead hatchlings were placed in circular water containers and tethered to electronic tracking systems to monitor their swimming direction.

You can read more about the research in Current Biology, and help protect sea turtles by telling President Obama to support comprehensive protections for the ancient mariners.


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Video: Tour a Sea Turtle Hospital

Ever visited a sea turtle sick ward? I have, and it's an enlightening, if sad, experience. Here’s your chance to do so virtually. Oceana supporter and actress Lauren Norman visited a Florida sea turtle hospital and science center and made the video below about what she learned.

Lauren discovers the main reasons sea turtles end up in rehab (fishing gear, boat propellers and cold stunning) and what can be done to protect sea turtles from ending up tangled in fishing gear, such as the use of turtle excluder devices.

 

Inspired by Lauren’s video? Now take action to protect sea turtles by telling President Obama that the ancient mariners need comprehensive protections in U.S. waters. Thanks to Lauren and all of you for helping protect sea turtles!


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Sea Turtles and Circle Hooks in the NYT

sea turtle x-ray

© Oceana/Cory Wilson

The Latest NYT “Scientist at Work” blog follows a sea turtle researcher, Lekelia “Kiki” Jenkins, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington, as she travels to Ecuador to study factors in the cross-cultural adoption of sea turtle conservation technologies like turtle excluder devices and circle hooks.

Here’s an excerpt from her first post, including a great explanation of how circle hooks help sea turtles, and why turtles are like 40-year-old virgins:

“Some scientists estimate that a quarter of a million sea turtles are ensnared in fishing lines each year. This is truly a problem for sea turtles, which are the “40-year-old virgins” of the oceans. Turtles have a life span similar to humans, but might not start having young until they are several decades old. Dehookers and circle hooks are part of a suite of solutions that help longline fishers protect sea turtles, allowing them to mature and bear young while helping fishers continue to catch profitable tuna, swordfish and mahi-mahi.


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