SEA TURTLES 2008
28th Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and
Conservation in Loreto, Baja California Sur
January 19-26, 2008
Plans for the 28th Annual Symposium
on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation (STS)
are coming together nicely. The Symposium will take
place in the coastal town of Loreto, Baja California Sur,
Mexico, from January 19-26, 2008. The symposium will
be a different sort of gathering this year, thanks to both
the planning of the 2008 organizing committee, in
Mexico and the U.S., and the venue itself.
This year’s theme is Native Oceans, asking us to consider the relationship
between sea turtles and humans and celebrate and learn about
the world’s turtle cultures, both past and present. We are making an extra
effort to invite members of various indigenous groups working on sea
turtle research and conservation programs. The Seri Indians ofSonora,
Mexico will share their leatherback ceremony during this year’ssymposium.
The Native Oceans theme also asks the question: Howmany turtles
were there? In Baja, we get some fascinating insights intothe former
abundance of sea turtles based on accounts of native people,explorers
and missionaries as well as whalers and early turtle hunters.
Combined, this information may give us a sense of what the
oceanwas once like. Another theme of the symposium this year is sustainability.
This year we have an STS “green team” working on making the
footprint of the meeting compatible with our values. Michael Coyne and
the STS 2007 organizers have left us in good shape financially and have
set a high bar for a smooth-running and fun meeting. We hope to build
on that and send a healthy, green STS on to Australia in 2009.
WHY LORETO, BAJA CALIFORNIA?
The reasons are compelling. First, it is an ideal opportunity for the
members of the STS from around the world to interact, share and learn
with our colleagues on the Baja California Peninsula. What has
happened on the peninsula over the past two decades is worth noting—
a grassroots sea turtle conservation movement emerged from communities
where turtles were hunted to the edge of extinction. We believe
there are now many new opportunities for fruitful collaboration
between you and our colleagues in northwest Mexico and I’d likethe
chance to introduce you to them. It’s likely that many members of the
Grupo Tortuguero (the growing sea turtle network in northwest
Mexico) would not be able to afford to attend the STS as many are
fishers and low-income coastal residents and therefore wouldn't be able
to afford the travel or the time away from home.Bringing the STS to
them in Baja changes this.
In addition, this year the STS coincides with the tenth anniversary
of the Grupo Tortuguero (you can read more at http://www.grupotortuguero.
org. Turtles are making a comeback in northwest Mexico and
we’ll celebrate that together in Loreto.In a way, having the STS in Baja
at the tenth anniversary of the Grupo Tortuguero is a gift to the people
working on one of the front lines of sea turtle conservation.
Another reason for hosting the meeting in Loreto is this is the “Year
of the Sea Turtle” in Mexico. As the regions sea turtles return, people are
faced with some new decisions about how to manage them. New
marine protected areas and sea turtle reserves have been decreed while
others have been proposed by fishers and coastal residents and
supported by the state and federal governments. A new livelihood alternative
associated with the protected areas is ecotourism. While visiting
Baja, you’ll have the chance to learn about the reserves and participate
in an emerging ecotourism economy. We deliberately chose to hold the
STS in the town of Loreto rather than one of the existing coastal megadevelopments
such as Cabo San Lucas in favor of spreading our dollars
among many people and embracing a different model for tourism over
the more convenient mega-resort choice. We want to be clear here that
this choice begs your patience and planning as well as your responsibility
for your own consumption and waste in order to be successful
Think: organic tequila, reusable cups, short showers, biodegradable
soap, walks across the plaza and sustainable seafood!
We hope that you come early to Baja and stay long. It is graywhale
calving season on Baja’s Pacific coast, the birding is excellent and the
towns, islands and bays of the peninsula are wonderful to explore.
One of the highlights of the meeting will be a mini-symposium on binational sea turtle conservation and research in the Californias
held Tuesday the 22nd. For more information, please contact Jeffrey Seminoff (email: Jeffrey.Seminoff@noaa.gov). The 28th Symposium will also serve as the venue for the 10th Annual Meeting of the Grupo Tortuguero together with the meeting of Latin American Sea Turtle Specialists (RETOMALA), to take place in the Municipal Auditorium in Loreto. The coordinators for this meeting are Omar Chassin (email:email@example.com) and Chuy Lucero (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). As usual, the MTSG annual general meeting will occur the morning after the banquet, Saturday the 26th.
You must register to attend the Symposium and to submit an abstract. The preferred registration method is to use the Symposiums web site at http://iconferences.seaturtle.org. There you will find everything you need to know about the Symposium in addition to a user-friendly interface for registration.
LODGING AND TRAVEL
The Organizers are currently negotiating discounted lodging and airfares, as well as a formal relationship with a travel provider that will allow for the purchase of tickets and the arrangement of pre- and post- symposium travel online. All STS travel and lodging as well as pre- and post- symposium travel will be coordinated by Journey Mexico (contact: Rebecca Scotti at email@example.com. Because we are organizing such a large group of people and using every hotel, bus and taxi and plane in Loreto, we ask that you please coordinate your lodging and travel with Journey Mexico.
ON THE WEB
Check the website for regular Symposium updates at http://iconferences.seaturtle.org or contact ISTS President Wallace J. Nichols
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a Pdf of this article Featured in Baja Life Magazine.