Friday, July 10, 2009

Sea Turtle Sensation

By guest blogger Frances Kinney, Education Coordinator,
Pro Peninsula

On one Ocean Connectors program field outing to the Marine Turtle Research Program study site, the experience was even more memorable than usual. That day, researchers captured a 308 lb green sea turtle that had never been captured by scientists before. Our low-income students stood wide-eyed and grateful as the scientists studied the magnificent creature. One of the lead scientists whispered to me that the students could actually choose a name for the turtle since it had never been captured or named before. I informed the students of this rare opportunity to choose a one-of-a-kind name for this creature that might travel thousands of miles and live to be 100 years old someday. After a quick, informal voting period, the students decided on the name “Bobby”. Yet they still looked skeptical.

“How will other scientists even know that’s his name?” they questioned.

At Pro Peninsula, we welcome the opportunity to explain that sea turtle conservationists share their data with other scientists all over the world. This willingness to collaborate internationally, along with highly advanced tracking technology, allows scientists to plot the long migrations of individual sea turtles. Now the students were truly stunned. Seeing this giant sea turtle in their own “backyard” was impressive, but choosing his name was absolutely astounding. We explained that Eastern Pacific green sea turtles migrate along the coast of Mexico; Bobby could very well swim from the San Diego Bay right down along the coast of the Baja California peninsula, maybe even coming in close to our Mexican Ocean Connectors students. The students’ interest in this animal piqued; the goal of invoking them with the desire to protect endangered wildlife was complete. They had established a personal connection with sea turtles—they contributed firsthand to an international conservation project. In fact, that day they each became Ocean Connectors themselves.

Through Ocean Connectors and other initiatives, Pro Peninsula works to build strong communities for the long term conservation of the Baja California Peninsula.

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