The 41st International Sea Turtle Symposium was held in Cartagena, Colombia, and brought together more than 600 experts from around the world from March 18-24. The meeting had a wide variety of activities, including regional meetings, workshops, conferences and cultural spaces, all focused on the conservation of the world’s sea turtle species.
Pacuare Reserve was able to be part of this important event through our Research and Conservation Coordinator, Claudio Quesada, who explains that "the symposiums are the best time to share with the turtle family of the planet. A lot of experiences are shared; we learn and teach".
Claudio Quesada, Pacuare Reserve Research and Conservation Coordinator
Bridging the gap
This year's Symposium focused on community outreach, something in which Pacuare Reserve has extensive experience, as its staff is mostly made up of people from the area, in addition to having developed numerous environmental education experiences with local schools and colleges.
One of the main topics discussed at the symposium was the illegal trade of sea turtle products. To address this problem, regional groups were created, and the Pacuare Reserve was included in the Americas group. A Latin American group was also created with more than 400 people, which allows for closer contact between the different organizations, in parallel to the regional meeting held by RETOMALA (Reunión Tortuguera Latina/Latin Turtle Reunion).
Sharing experiences and knowledge
Pacuare Reserve participated in several workshops, including one on “Technologies for Large Scale Monitoring”, where we explained how drones can support research processes. We also shared in a workshop on Sea Turtle Medicine and Rehabilitation about our experiences with flipper problems, liquid assisted feeding, radiology, shell stabilizations and healing, and blood sampling.
Participants in the workshop on Technologies for large-scale Sea Turtle Monitoring
The Reserve presented an analysis of the population trend of sea turtles that have arrived on Pacuare Reserve’s beaches in the last 32 years, including data on the number of females registered, which allowed us to discover that some of them nest on other beaches. Emphasis was placed on the need to work together with organizations from other countries to learn about trends, needs, and threats. Additionally, we also spoke about how the work of the Reserve is linked to the Sustainable Development Goals.
Infographic presented through a poster. The infographic was designed by Vanguart Communication Agency and is available for download here
On the other hand, Claudio participated as one of the speakers in a keynote presentation on the tracking data of nesting females with satellite transmitters. In the presentation, a comparison was made with females whose transmitters were installed in Florida, which made it possible to discover that both groups of females use the same feeding site.
The Symposium also included several cultural events, and for the first time, the idea was to leave a memory of the event in the hotel, so a local artist was commissioned to create a mural representing the work being done to protect sea turtles. Claudio had the honor of being the first to leave his mark on the painting.
The 41st International Sea Turtle Symposium was a very beneficial experience for the conservation of these species. The Pacuare Reserve had the opportunity to share its experience and knowledge, and at the same time learn from experts from around the world. It is essential to continue working together to protect and preserve these species and their habitat, and the symposiums are an ideal space to continue advancing this goal.