Sea turtles have held important, diverse, and evolving values for the peoples of northwestern Mexico for centuries. Today all five sea turtle species inhabiting the waters of this region are in danger of extinction, and human use and misuse of these animals have contributed to this dilemma. In response to this predicament, a group of fishermen, biologists, and conservationists founded a community-based conservation network, Grupo Tortuguero, in 1999 to work to preserve the region’s populations of these marine species and their environment. The sea turtles have become flagship species for the group’s broadening efforts to address the social as well as ecological roots of these problems. Here we share the strategies we have employed, the successes and difficulties we have experienced, and the challenges we have faced working at the interface of advocacy and academia.