What Kids Can Do To Protect Sea Turtles
The Billion Baby Turtles Program
[Guest Post by Brad Nahill]
Sea turtles are important to the health of the oceans. They help keep their prey in balance (including jellyfish, sea sponges, and others), maintain healthy seagrass beds, provide nutrients for beach vegetation, and more. Witnessing a sea turtle nesting on a beach or swimming through a coral reef is a highlight for many people and the dollars people spend to see them are important to coastal communities.
However, sea turtles are in serious trouble. Six of the seven species of sea turtles are considered endangered or threatened due to getting caught in fishing gear, poaching of their eggs, meat, or shells, and other threats.
With so many big problems facing sea turtles, it is easy to get overwhelmed and feel like nothing can be done.
That is why our Billion Baby Turtles program offers students a simple and concrete way to help save baby sea turtles around the world. Through our annual Baby Turtle School Fundraising Contest, school classes from around the US compete to raise funds that go to important turtle nesting beach conservation projects. Three classes win gift packs including turtle postcards and activity books and products from great sponsors like Endangered Species Chocolate and EnviroKidz.
Over the past four years, roughly 1,500 students from dozens of schools have raised nearly $20,000 for sea turtle conservation efforts, helping to save nearly 20,000 turtle hatchlings. The funds support guards to patrol turtle nesting beaches, helping to keep poachers and predators away and helping hatchlings get to the water. As part of the contest, classes also receive an online educational presentation by SEE Turtles staff to learn more about these amazing animals and other ways they can help protect them.
The Baby Turtle School Fundraising Contest takes place every fall but classes can do fundraisers any time during the school year. Interested teachers and students can learn more and inquire about the program here.
Students can also do other things to help sea turtles and other ocean life. Plastic in the ocean is a big threat to sea turtles – they confuse plastic bags for their favorite food (jellyfish), they can get caught in it swimming through the ocean, and it can block them crawling on the beach. If you can avoid using plastic (like straws or plastic bags), that is the best but if not, make sure to recycle it if possible or that it goes into the trash and not on the street.
[Photos in this post are by Hal Brindley / TravelForWildlife.com .]
The Billion Baby Turtles section of the SeeTurtles.org website includes:
Sea Turtle Lesson Plans
Developed by teachers for Grades 6–12.
Sea Turtle Classroom Resources
You can watch videos about sea turtles and their migration, nesting, and more. There are sea turtle fact sheets for each of the 7 species (Leatherbacks, Green Turtles, Loggerheads, Hawksbill, Olive Ridley, Kemp’s Ridley, and Flatback Turtles. You’ll also find links to other great teaching resources, such as the Sea Turtle Conservancy’s teaching modules for classrooms.
Guest post author Brad Nahill is president of the SEE Turtles organization. He has worked in sea turtle conservation, ecotourism, and environmental education for 15 years with organizations including Ocean Conservancy, Rare, Asociacion ANAI (Costa Rica), and the Academy of Natural Sciences (Philadelphia).
See Turtles mission is to protect endangered turtles around the world, with a focus on Latin America, by supporting community-based conservation efforts through ecotourism, education, and the Billion Baby Turtles program. They partner with and support 15 community-based organizations in 6 Latin American countries.
We encourage educators to check out their site and consider planning a classroom project. Help your students get involved in activities that will have a real impact on saving endangered sea turtles.