“More Turtles. Less Plastic.”
Sea Turtles Forever
Sea Turtles Forever is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization which conducts research and monitoring of endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica, and also researches the effects of marine plastic debris in the Pacific Ocean.
In 1998, Marc and Rachel Ward, U.S. visitors to Punta Pargos, Costa Rica, became aware of massive poaching of sea turtle eggs. Subsequent investigations indicated that about 99% of the eggs laid on beaches near Punta Pargos were typically poached, and the sea turtle population had declined dramatically in the last 30 years. Although sea turtles and their eggs are legally protected in Costa Rica, a poor economy and coastal population growth has led to continuation and expansion of poaching and black market trade (i.e., eggs are sold as aphrodisiacs – based on a cultural myth).
In 2000, the Wards started protecting a few nests on their own. In subsequent years, they organized Sea Turtles Forever (STF), a small non-profit organization, and obtained permits from the Costa Rican government.
Today, STF pays former poachers to save eggs. From this work, they make more than they would by poaching. Also, STF’s “Turtle Man” educates local school children about the importance of sea turtles. Both of these activities help turn the local lifestyle and economy towards sea turtle conservation. The success of this program will help STF expand this model to other areas of Costa Rica where poaching is rampant and there is no law enforcement.
The map below shows the Punta Pargos project area of STF.
Sea Turtles Forever at a glance:
- Punta Pargo, Costa Rica & the United States
- Oregon (United States)
Date of Foundation: 2002
Main Focus: Sea turtle conservation & marine microplastic removal
Volunteering Opportunities: Yes
Sea Turtles Forever’s Marine Microplastic Debris Removal Program
Blue Wave, the STF’s Microplastic Response Team, is an active and growing group of volunteers dedicated to removing plastics from our ocean beaches. Since 2008, this team has been involved in marine plastic fragment research, filtration system development and testing, and group clean-up events.
With the rise in global plastic production and the inadequate plastic recycling infrastructure in many parts of the world, many sea turtle nesting beaches have fallen victim to marine plastic debris landfall. Microplastics (small pieces of eroded plastic) are the most toxic of all, absorbing high concentrations of PCBs and other harmful chemicals from the ocean. This increase in pollution prompted the organization to conduct research in partnership with the University of Tokyo and Northwestern University around the effects of microplastic pollution on the surrounding environment and community. In response to the devastating findings of research regarding the toxicity of marine microplastics, Sea Turtles Forever designed an easy-to-use clean-up solution for coastal communities to adopt for their beach remediation efforts. This Microplastic Filtration System uses patented static charged filtration (SCF) technology to remove microplastics as small as 100 micrometers in size (the size of a grain of sand). It is a carbon neutral, manually operated filtration system that is designed to remediate a beach environment to its pristine state.
Have a look at their revolutionary approach to freeing our seas from microplastic!
Join Sea Turtles Forever!
Are you looking for a project to support or are you interested in volunteering?
Visit them on their homepage or social media channels and…