BBC and Sir David Attenborough’s smash hit sequel, Planet Earth II, has taken the world by storm; not only for bringing joy to millions of people with it’s breathtaking insight in to some of the world's amazing wildlife, but also - on occasion - leaving viewers upset and distressed.
The season finale, shown in the UK on Sunday 11th December, was one such episode, ending with footage of baby Hawksbill turtles being run over by cars and getting stuck in storm drains in Barbados, after being confused by electric lighting and heading into the town instead of the water. The hatchlings traditionally use the light of the moon reflecting off the ocean to guide them to the water, however, due to the electric lights, they went in the wrong direction and headed straight into danger.
Sir David Attenborough used this as a plea, expressing his dismay at humans’ inability to “build cities more in harmony with nature”, and insisting: “It doesn’t have to be like this.”
Globalteer works with two Sea Turtle Projects, in Costa Rica and Borneo where you can volunteer to help preserve these beautiful marine creatures.
Both projects are based in idyllic and unspoilt locations and although these are not city-based projects, the threats to the turtles are still mainly human. They range from poachers who trade in the turtles’ eggs, meat, skin and shells, to the destruction of their natural habitat, pollution and from accidental capture in fishing lines. Volunteers at the projects patrol the beaches on a nightly basis during nesting season to protect sea turtles from poachers, predators and other threats. All identified nests are removed to hatcheries where the eggs are protected until they hatch and the tiny hatchlings can be safely released into the ocean.
Unfortunately without programmes like this, the extinction of these wonderful and ancient species could be imminent. The programme gives hatchlings the opportunity to successfully grow into mature sea turtles and hopefully, the females will in turn return to the same beaches to nest once they reach maturity. Volunteers play a key role in ensuring the safety of hatchlings and therefore the future of Costa Rica and Borneo’s turtles.