Saving Sea Turtles: Preventing Extinction

WED, FEB 22, 2017

Late each autumn, hundreds of sea turtles strand on Cape Cod due to hypothermia. For more than 25 years, the New England Aquarium and the Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary have worked together to rescue, rehabilitate, and release thousands of these turtles, mostly Kemp ridleys. Over the last decade, the number of stranded turtles has steadily increased, but the late autumn of 2014 saw an unprecedented event as more than 1,200 cold-stunned sea turtles washed ashore. This massive wildlife emergency marshaled an inspiring response that reached from individuals to the federal government.

Fortunately, two independent filmmakers from Seattle, Michele Gomes and Jenny Ting, were on hand to document this phenomenon. They also traveled to Mexico and Texas to tell the larger natural history story of the world’s most endangered sea turtle and how humans pushed a healthy population to the precipice of extinction and are now slowly helping it to recover. Please join Michele and Jenny to view their film, “Saving Sea Turtles: Preventing Extinction,” with a panel discussion immediately following. Watch the trailer.

+ BIO: Connie Merigo

Connie Merigo’s current leatherback research project is on the health of wild caught and disentangled leatherbacks.

+ BIO: Bob Prescott

Bob Prescott is Director of Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary on Cape Cod, where he is actively involved in coastal issues and research.

He has a degree in wildlife biology from the University of Massachusetts and has studied such diverse topics as whale strandings, harbor seal distribution around Cape Cod, and, most recently, the home ranges of box turtles.

Bob is also Massachusetts coordinator for the Northeast Sea Turtle Stranding Network.

His particular interests include seabirds and coastal ecosystems.

Bob has led tours throughout the world, including Baja, Costa Rica, the Galápagos Islands, Churchill, Antarctica, Belize, and Big Bend, Texas.

+ BIO: Kate Sampson

Kate finds rehabilitation space for cold-stunned sea turtles, solves state and Federal permitting issues, locates drivers and pilots to carry turtles to warmer climes, and facilitates communication through the Stranding Network. She finds places for the turtles wherever she can within the network’s rehabilitation facilities. Private citizen pilots generously donate their plane, fuel, and time to fly turtles south, as does the U.S. Coast Guard. The largest transport Kate arranged was a 2014 Coast Guard flight that took 193 turtles to seven different rehab facilities in Florida.

Kate is a marine biologist who came to NOAA Fisheries in 2010. Prior to that, she worked as a Senior Biologist for the New England Aquarium Rescue Program to support stranded sea turtles and marine mammals. She also served as Assistant Director and Stranding Coordinator for the Whale Center of New England. Her experience and dedication makes her a tremendously valuable contributor to the recovery of these threatened and endangered sea turtles.

New England Aquarium