In late January 2006, hundreds of sea turtle protectors gathered in Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico, to celebrate the 8th Annual Meeting of the Grupo Tortuguero. The yearly gathering has grown from its founding group of 45 fishers, coastal residents, scientists, educators and conservationists to the current international network linking members of more than 40 coastal communities, dozens of non-profit organizations and numerous government agencies, NGOs and research institutes. All share the same goal: the aid in the recovery of eastern Pacific sea turtle populations.
At the annual meeting members presented results of their research and monitoring projects, communication and outreach programs, and attended hands-on training workshops. Most importantly, conservation strategies were debated and developed, and critical personal relationships were formed and renewed.
At the core of the meeting is a simple conservation model called the “conservation mosaic.” The three interrelated components are: 1) building a diverse network, 2) acquiring the needed knowledge and solutions, and 3) sharing and communicating it all widely and creatively. To this end, the network continues to grow and include new members such as public health professionals, environmental foundations and indigenous groups. Research is multidisciplinary, collaborative and participatory. Inquiry is expanding into local and traditional knowledge as well as new fields of the sciences and social sciences. The tools used to communicate and share include scientific publications, television and radio, magazines and newspapers, comic books, puppet shows, the internet, murals, music, giant dancing turtles and even appeals to the Vatican, soccer stars and supermodels for help.
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