Sandwatch in Belize
Sandwatch Partners with ECOMAR in Belize for Marine Turtle and Beach Project
The Sandwatch Foundation was contacted in May 2011 by Linda Searle of ECOMAR (www.ecomarbelize.org) a Belize based marine conservation organization. She and her organization were interested in combining Sandwatch into their existing environmental studies particularly as they relate to the protection of marine turtles and their nesting environments.
In particular ECOMAR was eager to receive 25 copies of the new Sandwatch Manual for an upcoming Sea Turtle Workshop that was planned for Gales Point, Belize in June (photo below)
Sandwatch Partners with WWF Belize
Based in Belize and Costa Rica, The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is working on a project to understand how climate change might affect hawksbill sea turtles across the Caribbean. All 5 species of marine turtles that are found in the Caribbean are of special conservation concern, and climate change will likely become a very serious threat to them in the future. However, turtles are a really good way to study climate change because they depend on healthy beaches (on which they nest) as well as mangroves, sea grass beds, coral reefs (in which they develop and feed) and ocean ecosystems to live. If we can understand and mitigate how climate change may affect the beaches, it will not only benefit sea turtles, but also people who live along the coast.
WWF hopes to map how the most important nesting beaches for hawksbill sea turtles across the Caribbean will changes through time with global warming. The project also wants to record where natural (e.g. mangrove) and artificial (e.g. sea walls) coastal defences exist that may make it difficult for turtles to nest. In addition, they would like to work with Sandwatch to record the temperature of the beach sand, as this is a very important environmental feature for sea turtles – it determines the sex of incubating turtles eggs in the sand.
This is where Sandwatch can help – the data collected by Sandwatch can be used to map where Caribbean beaches are located and how they might change with sea level rise.
WWF would like to work with Sandwatch teams both to collect and analyse these data.
This project (http://www.panda.org/lac/marineturtles/act), an initiative of the World Wildlife Fund, through a grant from the MacArthur Foundation and support from Hewlett Packard, is a component of the LAC marine and species program. By 2010 the project hopes to understand the current state of knowledge about the impacts of climate change on marine turtles and their habitats with a global network of marine turtle and climate specialists and make management recommendations for their conservation. By Dr.Lucy Hawkes.