A Sad Day For Sea Turtles and Their Defenders

The murder of Costa Rican sea turtle defender Jairo Mora Sandoval, on Thursday or early Friday morning, has outraged environmentalists and promoted calls for a full government investigation.

Jairo Mora Sandoval at work

Jairo Mora Sandoval at work

All species of sea turtles are endangered and Sandoval protected turtle nests on beaches in Costa Rica, which are frequently targeted by egg poachers.

In his New York Times blog (quoted below), journalist Andrew Revkin has been posting updates about the killing and links to related sites.

On a personal note, I did not know Sandoval, but have friends in the “Turtlehead” community who did. While working on a book about sea turtles several years ago, I spent time with turtle advocates in several countries and know that they’re a dedicated and tough bunch. I have no doubt Sandoval’s murder will lead them to redouble their efforts.

Here’s the beginning of Revkin’s Dot Earth blog post on the killing:

This quiet stretch of beach near Limón, Costa Rica, was photographed on May 19 by Jairo Mora Sandoval, a 26-year-old conservationist who regularly patrolled there to protect endangered sea turtles and their nests from poachers.

Jairo Mora Sandoval, a 26-year-old Costa Rican sea turtle conservationist who patrolled beaches near Limon, was found murdered on Friday morning.

According to Costa Rican news reports, police said he was kidnapped Thursday night by armed men — along with three American women and one from Spain who were volunteering as turtle surveyors.

via A Costa Rican Turtle Defender is Murdered on the Beach He Patrolled – NYTimes.com.

Congress Approves Wildlife Conservation Stamp

Artist's conception

The Breast Cancer Research stamp has raised $77 million since it was introduced in 1998. Now, another “semipostal” stamp will raise funds to help endangered species worldwide, thanks to a bill passed by Congress on Thursday.

The Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC), one of 31 groups that supported and lobbied for HR 1454, praised the efforts of Representatives Henry Brown (R-SC) and Madeleine Bordallo (D-Gaum) in making the stamp a reality.

“The success of this bill demonstrates the importance of bipartisan support for conservation and the value Members of Congress and their constituents place on the world’s imperiled species,” said Marydele Donnelly, director of international policy for STC. “As the United States is faced with budget shortfalls, creative legislation like HR 1454 is enormously appealing, a situation in which all win.”

The stamp, which will be printed in 2011, will cost a few cents more than a regular first class stamp, with the extra money going to protect sea turtles, tigers, rhinos, elephants and great apes.


Mutinational Species Coalition

Video | ‘Off The Deep End’ in the Gulf of Mexico

Like anyone with a heart, I’ve been saddened and outraged by the images of oil-covered birds and turtles from the Gulf. As a diver, I was concerned from the start about the potential effects of the oil and dispersant on the life we land-dwellers can’t see — the life teaming deep beneath the surface.

Recently, I put together a reading list for World Oceans Day. Of the dozen books listed, two were by Dr. Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and former chief scientist with the National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration.

Gale Mead

Gale Mead

Two out of a dozen apparently wasn’t good enough for Earle’s daughter, Gale Mead, who suggested adding her mother’s most recent book, The World Is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean’s Are One. On a whim, I did a search for Mead. I was delighted by what I found. Not only is Mead an explorer in her own right, she’s also a talented musician with a wonderful CD titled Common Good that’s filled with as much passion and life as a coral reef. And, it turned out, Mead had filmed the first — and only — glimpse of the bountiful life on a seamount off the Louisiana coast. Unfortunately, that spot is just sixteen miles from where, eight years later, the BP Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, killing 11 and spewing millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

The OnEarth Video

I contacted Mead and she readily agreed to do an over-the-phone interview/narration of her 2002 dive, including her assessment of the threat posed to this unique ecosystem by oil and chemical dispersants. The resulting video was produced for OnEarth magazine, a part of that publication’s continuing coverage of the Gulf disaster.