Animal related

Sea Turtle Conservancy

  • Gainesville, FL
  • http://www.conserveturtles.org

Mission Statement

It is the mission of Sea Turtle Conservancy to ensure the survival of sea turtles within the Caribbean, Atlantic and Pacific through research, education, training, advocacy and protection of the natural habitats upon which they depend.

Main Programs

  1. Tortuguero Green Turtle and Leatherback Research and Conservation Program
  2. Chiriquí Beach and Soropta Beach Hawksbill and Leatherback Research and Conservation Program
  3. Tour de Turtles: Sea turtle migration-tracking education program
  4. Bermuda Turtle Project
Service Areas

Self-reported

International

As sea turtles are migratory reptiles that use both marine and terrestrial habitats, Sea Turtle Conservancy focuses on researching and protecting significant nesting populations in the Caribbean, Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The organization has a special focus on sea turtle and habitat issues in Florida, where over 90% of nesting takes place in the U.S. STC also maintains long-term research and conservation programs in Tortuguero, Costa Rica, Bocas del Toro, Panama, and in Bermuda.

ruling year

1961

Executive Director since 1997

Self-reported

Mr. David B. Godfrey

Keywords

Self-reported

sea turtles, endangered, wildlife, environment, marine, conservation, ocean, beaches

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EIN

59-6151069

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Wildlife Preservation/Protection (D30)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

To maximize effectiveness, STC’s mission focuses solely on protecting sea turtles and their habitats because these ancient reptiles are important indicators of the health of the world’s marine and coastal ecosystems. For example, sea turtles are one of the few animals to eat sea grass, acting as a grazing animal that maintains the health of sea grass beds. These beds are important breeding and developmental grounds for many species of fish, shellfish and crustaceans. Sea turtle eggs also provide nutrients for stronger and healthier dune vegetation. Stronger vegetation and root systems help to hold the sand in dunes and help protect the beach from erosion. Through research, STC has been able to identify key threats to sea turtle survival that are addressed through a multi-faceted approach. By conducting research, educating the public and advocating on behalf of these endangered species, STC is achieving success in recovering key sea turtle populations. STC’s five-decade-long research and monitoring program in Costa Rica has recorded a more than 500% increase in sea turtle nesting since the 1970s. It is this comprehensive, long-term approach to research and conservation that is helping sea turtle populations rebound.

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

Tortuguero Green Turtle and Leatherback Research and Conservation Program

For over 50 years, STC has conducted
annual sea turtle nest monitoring studies on the 21 mile black sand
beach of Tortuguero, Costa Rica, the nesting site of more endangered
green turtles than anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere. Since being
initiated by Dr. Archie Carr in the 1950s, this monitoring program has
provided much information on the reproductive ecology and migratory
habits of sea turtles. A recent peer-reviewed analysis showed an
encouraging trend in green turtle nesting activity. Through this
five-decade-long conservation initiative, STC has reversed the decline
of green turtles in the Caribbean.
The overall goal of STC's sea turtle research and conservation work in
Tortuguero is to conserve the area's nesting green and leatherback
turtle populations so that these species fulfill their ecological
roles. The strategies used to achieve this goal include the following:
(1) monitoring and studying Tortuguero's nesting turtles; (2) working
with the Costa Rican government, the community of Tortuguero and others
to protect nesting turtles from poachers; (3) training young
scientists, conservationists, and others to help ensure the
continuation of sea turtle protection efforts in Tortuguero and
elsewhere; and (4) educating the public about sea turtles and the
threats to their survival.

Research methods include turtle tagging, turtle track surveys,
collection of biometric data, fibropapilloma examination, determination
of nest survivorship and hatching success, collection of physical data,
and collection of data on human impacts to the nesting beach and the
turtles. Protection methods include a cooperative effort with
Tortuguero National Park officials and law enforcement to reduce
poaching of eggs and turtles. Training methods include training
research assistants, recruited heavily from Latin American countries,
and training Tortuguero National Park guards as well as local eco-tour
guides in sea turtle biology and conservation. Public outreach methods
include teaching Tortuguero school children, local adults and tourists
about sea turtles and working with the international media to raise
awareness about sea turtles and threats to their survival.

Continued
survival of the sea turtle populations at Tortuguero will require many
years of protection, but STC believes it is a feasible goal, and one
that can be accomplished while providing an opportunity for research,
training of professionals from Latin America and the Caribbean, and
local education, as well as economic development for the Tortuguero
community through sea turtle tourism.

Category

None

Population(s) Served

Adults

None

None

Budget

$324,503.00

Program 2

Chiriquí Beach and Soropta Beach Hawksbill and Leatherback Research and Conservation Program

STC's most recent project is
working to protect and restore the once globally-significant hawksbill
sea turtle nesting population at Chiriquí Beach, Panama. The program
consists of intensive monitoring of hawksbill and leatherback sea
turtle nesting activity, protection of nesting females and their nests,
and public education in the region and will build upon an ongoing
research project carried out since 1989 by Drs. Anne and Peter Meylan.

Chiriquí
Beach was once described by Dr. Archie Carr as the most important
nesting beach in the Caribbean for the “critically endangered”
hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata). However, by the 1980s
and 1990s, sporadic aerial and ground surveys suggested that nesting
had declined as much as 98%. Although today’s nesting population is
only a fraction of what it once was, there is increased optimism that
depleted hawksbill populations can respond positively to long-term
protection. This optimism is based on increased hawksbill nesting
activity in recent years on well-protected beaches in Mexico, Barbados
and Puerto Rico. In Panama, increased hawksbill nesting has been
observed at Zapatilla Cays in the last few years, very likely due to
the enhanced protection that hawksbills have received since the cays
became a part of a new national marine park in 1988. Results from STC’s
sustained protection programs at other sea turtle nesting beaches give
us confidence that depleted sea turtle populations can be restored
through long-term, coordinated protection of nesting beaches and
foraging grounds.

Chiriquí Beach also remains one of the most important sites for leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea)
nesting in the Atlantic, with as many as 7,170 to 14,005 leatherback
nests deposited yearly between the Nicaragua/Costa Rica border and
Central Panama.

The project involves local students and indigenous Ngöbe
leaders in order to build a connection between the community and the
project.

This
program helps protect and recover the hawksbill and leatherback
populations of Chiriquí Beach and adjacent nesting sites.

Category

None

Population(s) Served

Adults

None

None

Budget

$106,013.00

Program 3

Tour de Turtles: Sea turtle migration-tracking education program

Sea Turtle Conservancy's Tour de Turtles: a sea turtle migration marathon — is an online sea turtle migration-tracking event that utilizes the satellite-tracked migration of sea turtles as the core component of an education program. Since its launch in 1996, the migration-tracking program has reached millions of people who have logged on to STC’s website each year to track the movements of sea turtles. An estimated 16,000 teachers in the U.S. and around the world have used the program as part of their classroom curriculum — reaching more than a half million students!

Tour de Turtles is a three-month-long event beginning each August that tracks individual sea turtles leaving their respective nesting
beaches as they “race” to see which turtle can travel the furthest distance over the course of three months.  

Tour de Turtles is a multimedia experience using interactive online maps, videos, games and educational activities centered on the biology and conservation of sea turtles and their habitats. It is designed to provide the broadest possible audience with a fun and educational approach to science, geography and marine conservation — all utilizing the satellite-tracked migration of sea turtles. This program will let people identify with and track individual turtles. To get people even
more involved, individuals will be able to support each turtle’s cause during
the Causes Challenge. The Causes Challenge is a side competition that
challenges each turtle to raise the most money for the issue they are
representing. To make the program useful to teachers and students, a full
compliment of online material will be available for use in the classroom and at
home. These materials include an
Educator’s Manual, interactive online games and quizzes, and classroom
activities that incorporate standard classroom curriculum such as math,
geography and science into the program.

Category

None

Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

None

None

Budget

$87,000.00

Program 4

Bermuda Turtle Project

This is the world's longest continuous in-water sea turtle research and conservation program. STC carries out the project in close collaboration with the Bermuda Aquarium.

Category

None

Population(s) Served

Adults

None

None

Budget

Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    STC's long-term goal is to protect all species of sea turtles and their habitats so that they can survive, thrive and fulfill their ecological roles in the marine and coastal environment.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    (1) Advocacy aimed at improving the survival outlook for sea turtles. STC’s policy work includes active involvement in the myriad coastal and marine management policies impacting sea turtles and the habitats upon which they rely. Special focus is given to improving beach and coastal management in areas where sea turtles nest and forage; reducing bycatch of sea turtles in commercial fisheries; mitigating for the impacts of the Gulf oil spill; and working with governments around the world to protect sea turtle habitat and replace the consumptive use of sea turtles with alternative livelihoods such as ecotourism.

    (2) Public Education initiatives that raise global awareness about sea turtles. STC uses a diversity of print and electronic educational programs and materials to reach broad audiences with accurate, engaging information about sea turtles, threats to their survival and steps everyone can take to help them survive. STC’s Tour de Turtles online education program reaches hundreds of thousands of people around the world with a fun, interactive education program based on the satellite-tracked migrations of sea turtles. STC also operates the Barrier Island Center in Florida and the Tortuguero Visitors Center in Costa Rica, both of which are museum-quality education centers located on some of the most important sea turtle nesting beach in the world.

    (3) Research and Conservation at critical sea turtle nesting beaches and in-water sites. STC’s 50-year-long program at Tortuguero, Costa Rica, is the most successful sea turtle research and recovery project in the world. A similar initiative at Chiriquí Beach, Panama, is utilizing lessons learned at Tortuguero to monitor and protect some of the world’s most important nesting colonies of leatherback and hawksbill turtles. The organization also monitors juvenile turtle populations in Bermuda. In Florida, STC conducts research on the migratory patterns of various species in order to help shape conservation efforts. And at various sites around the Caribbean, STC conducts research to help inform decision-makers and the public about threats to sea turtles and steps that can be taken to ensure their long-term survival.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    The Sea Turtle Conservancy (formerly Caribbean Conservation Corporation) is the oldest sea turtle research and conservation organization in the world. The group was founded in Florida in 1959 by Dr. Archie Carr, the man widely recognized around the world as the leading authority on sea turtles. Over the last 50 years, STC’s work helped spawn a global movement to protect sea turtles and developed successful models for studying and protecting sea turtles that are now in use around the world. Most importantly, STC, through its many successful projects, has proved that sea turtles can be saved. It takes a great commitment of time, expertise, resolve and funding to achieve lasting results, but sea turtle conservation does work.

    Over the last half century, STC has discovered much about what is known about the biology and life history of sea turtles. In the process, we have trained generations of sea turtle biologists and spawned a global movement toward sea turtle conservation. STC’s sustained research and conservation programs have been credited with saving the Atlantic green turtle from near extinction and improving the survival outlook for many other turtle populations. Despite the global advances in marine turtle conservation, threats to the survival of these species are on the rise. It is increasingly important that STC remain engaged in the diversity of issues affecting sea turtles and their habitats.

    STC’s geographic focus encompasses the United States and Wider Caribbean because of the region’s unique importance to the world’s remaining sea turtle populations. However, the five-decades-long research and conservation program in Tortuguero, Costa Rica, remains a cornerstone of the organization’s efforts. STC is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization. The group’s headquarters is located in Gainesville, Florida, where project administration is coordinated. STC also has a Latin American office based in San Jose, Costa Rica, which serves as a base of operations for the organization’s Latin American Director, Roxana Silman, and the Scientific Director, Dr. Emma Harrison, both of whom provide vital scientific and logistical oversight for the project. The long-term research and conservation program in Tortuguero takes place out of STC’s fully functional Biological Field Station—a modern facility that includes several types of living accommodations, a dining room, a library and a visitor center and natural history museum. STC has an international membership of over 8,000 individuals. In addition to its professional staff, STC is led by a 23-member Board of Directors, which includes U.S. and Latin American members. Scientific guidance is also provided by a Scientific Advisory Committee, which includes ten of the world’s most accomplished and respected sea turtle scientists.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    The success of STC Sea Turtle Research, Protection and Conservation activities is evaluated by monitoring sea turtle nesting trends at each of the major beaches where we work, as well as the overall health of in-water populations at places like Bermuda and Florida' Indian River Lagoon. In addition to nesting trends, the organazation carefully monitors and evaluates hatching and emerging success of nests -- as well as trends in human poaching and predation of nests. The organization's educational functions are evaluated by monitoring participation in educational activities, many of which include before and after evaluations of participants. Scientific training at many of STC's research sites is evaluated by monitoring the level of participation and success of students, as well as the geographic diversity of our student participants (the organization strives to build conservatoin capacity among Latin American and Caribbean biology students).
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    o STC's long-term conservation work in Tortuguero has produced one of the greatest marine conservation success stories in the world. Since the green turtle population at Tortuguero stopped its decline in the 1970s, STC has documented an over 500% increase in nesting at Tortuguero. In addition, the organization has worked with the people of Costa Rica to build a sustainable economy in Tortuguero based on turtle tourism, which replaces the extractive use of sea turtles. The Tortuguero nesting colony of green turtles is now the largest in the world.

    o In 2003, STC launched a hawksbill and leatherback monitoring project at Chiriquí Beach and several other sites on Panama’s Caribbean coast. STC is now documenting a steady increase in nesting by both species, proving that our long-term conservation strategies work and that diminished sea turtle populations can be recovered.

    o 2013 saw record levels of both loggerhead and green turtle nesting in Florida, particularly in the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, which STC helped establish in 1990. The story unfolding in the Carr Refuge is nothing short of miraculous. The well-documented successes at this refuge, which is named after STC’s founder, continue to inspire turtle conservationists around the world.

    o STC’s annual Tour de Turtles research and education program deployed more than a dozen turtles in Florida and around the Caribbean with satellite transmitters to track their migrations. The 2013 program was featured in national and international media stories, helping STC reach hundreds of thousands of people with fun and inspiring information about sea turtles and the threats they face.

    o In 2011, STC produced a high-definition film titled Tortuguero: The Epicenter of Sea Turtle Conservation to raise awareness about the organization’s history and role in sea turtle conservation. The film release coincided with the opening of a new theater at the Visitors Center located at STC’s Research Station in Tortuguero, Costa Rica, which hosts over 30,000 visitors each year.

    o STC achieved a major victory for sea turtles in 2012 when it successfully stopped construction of an experimental “breakwater” project off the coast of Singer Island, Florida. This beach has some of the highest density of sea turtle nesting in the United States. The breakwater project would have posed a serious threat to nesting turtles, hatchlings leaving the beach, and to turtles that forage and migrate along that area of the coast. As a result of STC’s campaign against the project, the county commission abandoned the project and started analyzing other, natural options to combat coastal erosion. This victory set an important precedent that is forcing coastal communities to seek alternative solutions to erosion control that do not rely primarily on hard structures to protect economically and environmentally important sandy beaches.
Service Areas

Self-reported

International

As sea turtles are migratory reptiles that use both marine and terrestrial habitats, Sea Turtle Conservancy focuses on researching and protecting significant nesting populations in the Caribbean, Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The organization has a special focus on sea turtle and habitat issues in Florida, where over 90% of nesting takes place in the U.S. STC also maintains long-term research and conservation programs in Tortuguero, Costa Rica, Bocas del Toro, Panama, and in Bermuda.

Additional Documents

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Financials

Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

SEA TURTLE CONSERVANCY
Fiscal year: Jan 01-Dec 31
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Sea Turtle Conservancy

Leadership

NEED MORE INFO ON THIS NONPROFIT?

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  • Forms 990 for 2014, 2013 and 2012
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Executive Director

Mr. David B. Godfrey

BIO

David Godfrey is Executive Director of the nonprofit Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC). Formerly known as the Caribbean Conservation Corporation, the STC is the world’s oldest sea turtle research and conservation group. Founded in 1959 by Dr. Archie Carr—the world’s leading authority on sea turtles—the Florida-based STC continues a 50-year-long effort to study and protect sea turtles in the U.S. and around the world. Godfrey has been involved professionally in environmental conservation for over 20 years. Since 1993 he has been focused on sea turtle and coastal habitat issues. David has authored numerous articles and papers on environmental matters, with an emphasis on coastal protection and sea turtles. He has participated in numerous sea turtle research projects, and he has written and/or narrated numerous documentaries and videos pertaining to sea turtle and coastal conservation issues.

During his tenure with STC, Godfrey led the effort to establish Florida’s sea turtle specialty license plate, which is now the main funding source for sea turtle protection in Florida. Godfrey is Chairman of the Florida Sea Turtle Grants Program, which awards annual financial support for sea turtle research and education projects benefiting Florida sea turtles. He also is a member of the World Conservation Union’s Marine Turtle Specialist Group.

STATEMENT FROM THE Executive Director

"David Godfrey has been the executive director of Sea Turtle Conservancy since 1997. Prior to that, he served as program director for the Sea Turtle Survival League program for five years. He has extensive experience directing environmental campaigns and education programs. He has a BS in public relations, a minor in business administration, and a specialty in environmental politics and communications. Before joining STC, he worked for four years as Coordinator of Florida Defenders of the Environment's Ocklawaha River Restoration Project."

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Landon T Clay

East Hill Management

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

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BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?


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CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?


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ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?


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BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?


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BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?