Sea Shepherd expands to Florida beaches

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society will launch a third location for Operation Jairo, its 2015 Sea Turtle Defense Campaign, in Florida this week. The campaign will bring Sea Shepherd volunteers from Belgium, China, Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom and United States to the shores of southeastern Florida’s Greater Fort Lauderdale area beginning today, the organization said.

Operation Jairo also continues in Costa Rica and Honduras where it began May 31, marking the two-year anniversary of the tragic murder of young Costa Rican sea turtle conservationist Jairo Mora Sandoval.

In Costa Rica and Honduras, Sea Shepherd is currently patrolling the beaches to protect nesting turtles and their eggs from poachers. In Florida, Operation Jairo volunteers will work to defend these ancient marine species from other human-induced threats – the most deadly being commercial lighting along the beaches, which can disorient nesting turtles and hatchlings, causing them to head away from the sea and toward dangerous lighted roadways and properties where they can become dehydrated and die or get crushed by cars.

Florida beaches are crucial nesting grounds for sea turtles, important for sustaining populations of these migratory marine animals around the world. All five species that nest in Florida, loggerhead, green, leatherback, hawksbill and Kemp’s ridley, are considered threatened or endangered. Each year, tens of thousands of turtle nests are laid on Florida’s shores. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 90 percent of all loggerhead turtle nesting in the United States occurs in Florida and the federal government states that Florida is the most important nesting region for loggerhead, green, and leatherback turtles in the United States.

Teams of Sea Shepherd volunteers will patrol the beaches each night from July 15 through Sept. 30, working in collaboration with the local non-profit organization, Sea Turtle Oversight Protection to locate nests and rescue and release newly hatched leatherback, green and loggerhead turtles to the sea, as well as to ensure that local ordinances put in place to regulate lighting along the shore are adhered to and enforced by documenting and reporting violations.

Operation Jairo patrols continue in Costa Rica and Honduras, despite an attack by armed poachers against Sea Shepherd crew members on Costa Rica’s Pacuare Beach June 25. Two volunteers sustained minor injuries. In Honduras, Sea Shepherd volunteers have located 16 nests to date, saving more than 1,600 eggs since the campaign began. Sea Shepherd is receiving ongoing updates from its team in Costa Rica, which has also been successful in its patrols of the beaches for nesting turtles and their eggs.

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