Dear Friends and Fellow Tortugueros,
Thanks to your support we were able to bring the regional sea turtle network together and convene our sixteenth (XVI) meeting of the Grupo Tortuguero held this year in Sinaloa, Mexico and co-hosted by our wonderful colleagues working hard for sea turtles in that region.
It was a great success and many new tortugueros and projects were involved as well as long-term colleagues from Michoacan to California.
In the opening remarks we reflected on the theme of the meeting "Volviendo al inicio juntos" (Back to the beginning, together).
Each person there--young and old--had a different story about their beginning in nature-related work. For some the meeting itself was the start of their work in ocean conservation.
What I learned when I began studying ocean conservation in Mexico is that while strong laws and sound science are important, they don't do much on their own. It takes passionate, hard working, patient and persistent--some say "fanatical"--people to save sea turtles, protect their habitat, and fix what's broken in nature. In Mexico we are called Tortugueros.
We've seen that we are far more successful when we work together, build solutions based on the best information available, and share our results freely and widely. Even when defenders of the status quo don't want to listen or prefer to deny the science. It helps to provide good food and great music too!
Yet, sometimes there are barriers and challenges. Make that ALWAYS. But we've found that over time the Grupo Tortuguero has stuck to its strong foundations and as a result, the five species of sea turtles in the eastern Pacific are much, much better off than they were 16 years ago thanks to a network of more than fifty communities and projects who have risen to the occasion. In NW Mexico, sea turtles as a group represent a rare bright spot in an ocean of trouble.
This weekend, we called on the GT network to consider this halftime on the way--if we sustain these efforts--to a great conservation success.
But this is also when mistakes are often made, relationships and funders tire, and all the gains in the first half can slip away in a flash.
We have quite a formidable "second half" ahead and we have learned a lot in the first half. It's not time to celebrate in the end zone, make bold proclamations, get sloppy, slow down, or remove critical funding for sea turtles. Quite the opposite.
Sunday the Sea Hawks won the Super Bowl in a landslide victory. I think the Sea Turtles are going to win too.
Thanks for begin an important part of this wonderful effort to restore Ocean Wildlife.
I wish you water,
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