21 June 2018 – The TUI Turtle Aid programme, launched today by the TUI Care Foundation, has been created to protect the welfare of one million new-born turtles by 2020. The foundation has joined forces with local organisations on Cape Verde, Turkey and Greece and the plan is to expand globally in the coming months. The project will pioneer innovative research and protection methods to help safeguard the endangered global sea turtle population.
Today, six of the seven marine turtle species feature as ‘critically endangered’, ‘endangered’ or ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Moreover, according to experts, only one in 1000 baby turtles survive to adulthood under natural conditions.
Their threats are numerous: suffocation due to ingesting plastic bags; poachers; irresponsible beach use leading to the destruction of turtle nests and the killing of hatchlings. Furthermore, bycatch, coastal development, climate change, consumption and (illegal) trade are also critical factors. Despite intensive work, many of these key threats to sea turtle populations still remain.
In Cape Verde, the TUI Turtle Aid programme has joined forces with the local organisations ‘Project Biodiversity’ and BIOS.CV on the islands of Sal and Boa Vista, Archelon in Greece and DEKAMER in Turkey.
The Cape Verde archipelago has the third largest loggerhead nesting populations in the world, and the second most important in the Atlantic Ocean overall. Five of the seven existing marine turtle species can be found in the Cape Verdean waters. With recently approved legislation expanding the scope of national protection for sea turtles and their nesting areas, 2018 marks a pivotal moment for sea turtle conservation in Cape Verde. Support from the TUI Care Foundation will provide critical resources to ensure both organisations can continue to build on existing programmes and further broaden their impact.
The foundation supports projects to protect turtles’ nests to increase the hatchling survival rate as well as engaging with the community and local stakeholders to strengthen turtle conservation competencies.
Local tour guides are also taught about best practices and give practical advice to visitors to help them enjoy their holidays in a responsible manner. The involvement of hotel partners is crucial in order to foster responsible beach use and waste management, and to promote sustainable excursions.
In Greece, the foundation engages in monitoring and research projects, for example the assessment of impacts of climate change in loggerhead sub-populations in the Mediterranean, as well as public awareness campaigns.
Most importantly, conservationists will liaise with local companies and the tourism industry on Crete and in the Peloponnese to implement management measures on the loggerhead nesting beaches. It is expected that more than 60,000 loggerhead hatchlings will be born each year with most of them entering the Mediterranean from those beaches.
On the Turkish beaches of Dalyan, Dalaman-Sarıgerme and Fethiye the focus is to involve national and regional government, local businesses and visitors in the turtle-protection activities. And a rescue centre will also be supported, allowing for the care of injured turtles found along the coast.
The partnership will enable DEKAMER to continue to develop international research and conservation projects, including the satellite tracking of turtles, sex ratio estimation of turtles under global warming, genetic differences of sea turtles on various beaches and mitigation studies on fisheries by-catch issues, among others.
The TUI Turtle Aid Programme will be extended and further activities launched later in the year.
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