The Beacon

Blog Tags: Sea Turtles

Guest Post: Sea Turtles Are a Girl’s Best Friend

Angela Kinsey and Rachael Harris swim with a green sea turtle. © Tim Calver

Guest blogger Angela Kinsey ("The Office") recently joined Oceana in Mexico to swim with sea turtles and film a PSA.

 Sea turtle nesting in the U.S. is still a couple months away, but I just couldn’t wait to write something about my new RBFF (reptilian best friend forever) – the sea turtle.

How’d we get so close? It was actually on a trip to the Mexican Riviera last May with Oceana and my good friend Rachael Harris. There, Oceana took us to swim with sea turtles in the wild and visit injured turtles at Mexico’s only sea turtle hospital – it was a wonderful, moving experience.

We went to Akumal Bay to snorkel with green sea turtles (and a one slightly scary barracuda) and I was struck by how lucky I felt to be able to see them in the wild, eating seagrass and going about their day. Then at the sea turtle hospital, seeing turtles injured by fishing gear, boat propellers and other animals was incredibly emotional.

I grew up overseas and had seen sea turtles before, but swimming with them up close and personal changed my perspective in a powerful way. I’m overwhelmed by how much humans are affecting marine life and in the case of sea turtles, which are very susceptible to impacts from climate change too, I worry that my daughter won’t be able to see them and have the same experience swimming with them that I did. Playing at the beach and in the ocean was such  big part of my childhood and I hope it can be for her too. And folks...our oceans and the marine life livng in them need someone to start looking out for them.


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The Year Ahead for Oceana

A new year has brought us a new U.S. Congress. While there has been a changeover in power on the political stage, I am hopeful that the new Congress will continue a great tradition of truly bipartisan support for ocean conservation.

In recent years, we’ve seen incredible progress from both ends of the political spectrum. President Bush established one of the world’s largest marine reserves in the Pacific as he was leaving office, and President Obama recently ended offshore drilling for much of the American coastline. Just last month, the outgoing Congress unanimously passed a ban on shark finning in U.S. waters.


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The Greatest Ocean Hits of 2010

Chile's Sala y Gomez Island, a new marine reserve. [Photo illustration by Heather Ryan]

It’s that time of year when “best of” lists abound, so what better reason to sing the ocean’s greatest hits of 2010?

Raise your eggnog glasses high for these ocean victories that we helped accomplish this year, with your generous support and enthusiasm:

  • The Obama Administration reinstated a ban on offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast -- and that was after months of pressure by Oceana and more than 100,000 (!) of you said it was time to Stop the Drill.
  • After pressure from Oceana and our allies, the Chilean government halted the construction of a coal-fired thermoelectric plant near Punta de Choros, a marine reserve home to Humboldt penguins, bottlenose dolphins, and blue whales.
  • Two big bottom trawling victories: the U.S. banned bottom trawling in a 23,000 square mile area off the Southeast Atlantic coast, home to the largest area of pristine area of cold-water corals in the world. And in Belize, we helped pass a ban on all trawling in the country’s waters.

For These Four, Sea Turtles Come First

10-year-old sea turtle activist Hannah Bywater.

We are inspired and impressed by the efforts of several young sea turtle conservationists, and I just had to share their stories with you:

When she was just 6 years old on a trip to Bali, Indonesia with her parents, Hannah Bywater visited a sea turtle sanctuary and was inspired to contribute to the cause. Now, at age 10, Hannah has already raised $7,000 for sea turtle preservation. Some of that money has funded the construction of an artificial reef – “Hannah’s Reef” – off the coast of Pemuturan, Bali, Indonesia. “This artificial reef will provide food and shelter for the very turtles I’ve been able to release from the sea turtle sanctuary,” Hannah noted.

Hannah has recently expanded her conservation efforts to include the orangutans of Sumatra, Indonesia, and it’s unlikely that she’ll stop there – “My goal is to help save all the animals that could become extinct,” she asserted. There’s no doubt that any endangered species would be lucky to have Hannah on their team.


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New Sea Turtle PSAs with Angela Kinsey and Rachael Harris

Fun stuff for you today, dear readers! Remember the videos actress Kate Walsh made with us last year about protecting sea turtles?

Well, we have a new batch out today, this time featuring Angela Kinsey, the hilarious ice queen on “The Office” and Rachael Harris from “My Boys” and “The Hangover”. And needless to say, we think they are pretty clever:

Rachael Harris and Angela Kinsey want to 'Get Turtles Off the Hook' from Oceana on Vimeo.

Last spring the two comedians joined Oceana on a trip to Mexico to learn about and swim with green and loggerhead sea turtles at the Centro Ecológico Akumal and Xcaret Ecological Park.


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As ICCAT Begins, Bluefin Hangs in the Balance

Yesterday the 17th Special Meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) began in Paris, France. Oceana is in Paris with this simple message for the ICCAT delegates: Restore depleted bluefin tuna and shark populations.

Oceana’s chief scientist and head-of-delegation Dr. Michael Hirshfield had this to say as the meeting commenced:

“We can not continue to let the demand for sharks and bluefin tuna drive these populations toward extinction. Immediate and proper international management is needed now or we will empty the oceans of these top predators and vastly change the oceans as we know them today… Oceana hopes the next ten days are not wasted playing ‘politics.’ The science is clear and it is time to get to work.”

And you can help us put the pressure on -- tell the US and EU delegates at ICCAT to increase protections for sharks and bluefin tuna!

For more info about ICCAT, bluefin tuna, sharks, swordfish and sea turtles, and for downloadable images, check out http://oceana.org/ICCAT. We’ll keep you posted as the meeting goes on.


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Oceana Prepares to Defend Bluefin Again at ICCAT

Starting next week, the 17th Special Meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) will meet in Paris, France. It’s another year, and another chance for the international body to take greater action to prevent the extinction of bluefin tuna, and to better protect sharks, swordfish and sea turtles.

We will have a team of scientists in Paris, and they will be calling on ICCAT to do the following:

* Suspend the bluefin tuna fishery until a system is implemented that follows the scientific advice on catch levels, stops illegal fishing and protects bluefin tuna spawning areas in the Gulf of Mexico and Mediterranean.


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Six Months Later, the Gulf is Still Healing

Remember this? NASA image from April 29, 2010.

Today marks the six month anniversary of the start of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Around 200 million gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. More than 6,000 birds, more than 600 sea turtles, and almost 100 marine mammals have died, and news surfaced this week that the spill likely killed 20 percent of juvenile Atlantic bluefin tuna in the vicinity of the spill. And the long-term effects remain to be seen.

It was the nation’s largest environmental disaster in history, and yet, there’s a pervading sense that the disaster is behind us, that the majority of the country has taken a deep breath and moved on. Congress hasn’t passed climate legislation, and the Obama administration lifted the moratorium on deepwater oil drilling several weeks earlier than planned.

What’s wrong with this picture?

We’re frustrated. If you are too, here are some ways to channel that frustration into action:

1. Tell your Senators to support the development of offshore wind power. We have a new report out that shows how offshore wind would be cost-effective, more beneficial to job creation, and better for the environment and ocean in a variety of ways than offshore drilling.


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Oil Spill Quote of the Day

From Reuters UK today:

The oil spill poses a large threat to the Kemp's Ridley population which makes its home in the Gulf.

"This is a major blow to that population," said Todd Steiner, executive director of the California-based Turtle Restoration Project, said. "Here you have a situation where the adults, hatchlings and juveniles are all in the Gulf."


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Oil Spill Quote of the Day

Today’s Oil Spill Quote of the Day features Elizabeth Griffin Wilson, one of our very own scientists:

 From yesterday’s Guardian:

Some 1,020 sea turtles were caught up in the spill, according to figures (pdf) today – an ominous number for an endangered species. Wildlife officials collected 177 sea turtles last week – more than in the first two months of the spill and a sizeable share of the 1,020 captured since the spill began more than three months ago. Some 517 of that total number were dead and 440 were covered in oil, according to figures maintained the Deepwater Horizon response team.


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