STC Executive Director David Godfrey holds a little Bermuda green turtle. Three days will be spent on the white sandy beaches of the Guanahacabibes Peninsula and Viñales. Participants will have the opportunity to work at night at the nesting beaches, collecting data with biologists by keeping count of the turtle nests and helping scientists locate turtles that will be tagged with a tracking device. “This is a very good, productive nesting beach. Last year we saw more than 200 green (Chelonia mydas) sea turtle nests, and that’s on only four. kilometers of beach,” Godfrey said. “We will be putting satellites on three turtles this year to track their movement over the next year.” Each device costs $5,000 and they’re placed on the top center of the turtle’s shell. The Mission of Sea Turtle Conservancy 26 GASPARILLA ISLAND May/June 2017 During the trip, visitors will have a chance to go snorkeling in the unscathed reefs at María la Gorda that have yet to be affected by heatinduced bleaching as a result of global warming. Many reefs in the United States and throughout the world that were once brilliantly colorful and blossoming with life have become desolate over the past decade. Attendees will also have the opportunity to experience cultural day trips and learn about the history of Havana and the political past of how Cuba was once structured and controlled. The expedition will include a stop at Ernest Hemingway’s home, Finca La Vigía. Godfrey said people from all over the United States have attended the trips in the past two years and he’s also had international guests express interest in the program. “We have really seen a diverse group of people of all ages sign up to participate,” he said. The cost of the excursion is $3,625 and includes lodging, all activities listed in the itinerary, meals, a Cuban Visa and health insurance, local guides and snorkeling equipment. It does not include airfare. In 1995, a statewide effort (in Florida) was initiated by the organization. Staff designed and lobbied to establish the Florida “Helping Sea Turtles Survive” license plates to provide a permanent source of income for funding of Florida’s marine turtle protection program, as well as for the creation of a sea turtle grants program. STC partnered with sea turtle groups is 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.
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