SEE Turtles 2020 Annual Report

President’s Letter

2020 was truly a unique year, bringing both extraordinary challenges but also incredible support from our community, which helped our organization and our dozens of partners survive the loss of income from tours and volunteers. Billion Baby Turtles continues to grow its support for important nesting beaches around the world. Our Too Rare To Wear campaign published a major report on the illegal turtleshell trade. And our efforts to educate the public about sea turtles have grown in new ways this past year.

At the beginning of the pandemic, it became clear that the steep decline of the tourism industry would be a problem for turtle nesting beach conservation efforts around the world. While media outlets published stories about how lockdowns were good for sea turtles, we were surveying our partners and finding a much different story happening in developing countries. Conservation programs that rely on travelers for income and volunteer help, coupled with a drop in income and desperation for food, resulted in reduced vigilance on nesting beaches.

SEE Turtles stepped up to create an Emergency Fund for these projects to quickly get financial support. Our donors responded and we raised $50,000 in grants for 11 conservation projects. Our regular grants continued to grow as well and Billion Baby Turtles set new records for grant money provided and hatchlings saved. For the first time, we supported beaches in Africa and the Middle East.

Our turtle conservation trips suffered the most from the pandemic and we had to cancel or postpone all of our trips after February of 2020. We also had to shelve plans to launch trips to new places in 2021. We are hopeful for a better 2021 and have plans to do our first Galapagos trip along with our popular Costa Rica and Belize trips planned for the summer. In April, our Too Rare To Wear campaign released the first global report on this trade in three decades, detailing available and new research in 40 countries around the world where this trade continues. As tourism starts to recover, we hope to launch a new tool to fight this trade in 2021.

We also launched new ways to reach the public with stories of how people are protecting sea turtles. Sea Turtle Week grew dramatically in its second year with 125 participating organizations and new social media channels. Our Save The Wild podcast highlighted the the effort to protect hawksbill turtles in the Eastern Pacific and celebrated the life of Dr. Archie Carr III. Our webinars reached more than 1,000 people. And we’re thrilled to announce the publication of a new book Sea Turtle Research and Conservation from Elsevier Press.

The support for our work from donors around the world this year has been overwhelming. We ran our first general support fundraiser this year to help cover our operational costs for 2021 and the response was tremendous, tripling our initial goal. We also received a large anonymous that allowed us to keep the lights on this year while also providing an emergency grant. This help will ensure that we can continue helping important nesting beaches and fighting the tortoiseshell trade around the world.

Brad Nahill, President