Tis the season for giving! Before year’s end many of us are searching for places where our year-end gift dollars can be shared in a way that is personally meaningful.
I have been enchanted by sea turtles since seeing my first turtle underwater while scuba diving. During the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to visit two nesting sites for endangered sea turtles in the Caribbean—Trinidad and Dominica—and, as a result, have become more aware of their plight and levels of endangerment throughout the world.
I also visited the Galapagos Islands in 2012, where I was able to see the Galapagos land tortoise, also an endangered species.
If you feel an affinity toward these special creatures as I do, you may want to consider donating to one or more of the organizations below, selected from those that exist throughout the U.S. and Caribbean.
Save the Sea Turtles International is a Hawaiian-based organization dedicated to the preservation and conservation of the Honu (Green Sea Turtles). They also provide education on other endangered wildlife, including the monk seal, humpback whale, Hawaiian shore birds, sharks and false killer whales. You can Adopt a Beach and participate in other beach clean up and rescue events. Their headquarters are located right on Chun’s Reef on the North Shore of Oahu and offer bed and breakfast accommodations for those who wish to stay in the area.
Sea Turtle Preservation Society is a Florida-based organization dedicated to helping sea turtles survive in the Brevard County area, a strategic location encompassing both the Atlantic and the Indian River Lagoon system. Three species of sea turtles nest there: the loggerhead, the green and the leatherback. Donors can Adopt a Hatchling for $15, Adopt a Nest for $45, and Adopt a Stranded Turtle for $75, a symbolic way to support the conservation efforts of STPS. You can become a volunteer or participate in beach cleanups, turtle walks (during June and July), where you may be able to observe while a turtle is laying her eggs, and more.
Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) has country coordinators in more than 40 nations and territories throughout the Wider Caribbean Region. To support turtle conservation efforts on any of the individual locations within the Network, go here where you can then click on an island or country. You will find information on the Country Coordinator, projects going on there, and how you can donate to their efforts.
Nature Seekers, based on the island of Trinidad, seeks to assist in sustaining the Sea Turtles Research Program at Matura Beach. Trinidad supports more than 80% of all leatherback sea turtle nesting in the Caribbean Sea and is the second largest nesting colony in the world. You can Adopt a Turtle for a donation of $35.
Save our Sea Turtles (SOS) is a registered community based organization based on Trinidad’s neighboring island of Tobago. Its mission is to conserve Tobago’s sea turtles and their coastal and marine habitat through research, education and ecotourism.
Oceana.org is the largest international organization devoted solely to ocean conservation. Oceana’s campaign to save sea turtles is dedicated to the protection and restoration of sea turtle populations in the world's oceans by reducing sea turtle by catch in fisheries, protecting sea turtle habitats and developing legislation to protect sea turtles. You can Adopt a Sea Turtle or make a general donation to Oceana here.
If you would prefer to donate to the preservation of the giant land tortoise, one of the most devastated of all species in the Galapagos Islands, check out the Galapagos Conservancy’s Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative. Your tax deductible contribution of $25 or more entitles you to a one-year membership that includes a subscription to Galapagos News (a biannual newsletter), Galapagos E-News (a monthly email newsletter), and invitations to lectures and other educational events. First-time donors of $100 or more will receive a complimentary plush Lonesome George* tortoise as a welcome gift.
*Lonesome George was the last surviving Pinta Island giant tortoise who died in the Galapagos Islands in 2012 at over 100 years old.