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Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire Is Celebrating Its 25th Anniversary This Year!

Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire Is Celebrating Its 25th Anniversary This Year!

KRALENDIJK (STCB) -- Twenty-five years ago Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) was established to protect Bonaire’s endangered sea turtles.

Since its inception, STCB has not only contributed to the conservation of endangered sea turtles but also has connected people to sea turtle conservation in ways that inspire caring for nature. STCB is undoubtedly playing a crucial role in addressing the multifaceted challenges confronting Bonaire’s endangered sea turtles and their habitats.

In 1991 sea turtles were only partially protected: only females laying their nests and the sea turtle eggs were protected by local legislation. It was actually legal to catch turtles in the waters. At that time sea turtles were an important source of food for Bonaire, and they were also caught for their shells which were used for arts and crafts. The catching of sea turtles globally has led to a serious decline of sea turtles to the extent that they have been given the status of endangered or critically endangered species, at risk of extinction.

It was 25 years ago that two young men on Bonaire, Albert de Soet and Larry Gerharts witnessed local fishermen selling sea turtles at Lac. Instead of buying them for food or crafts they bought the sea turtles to release them on the west coast. This act of compassion was the beginning of a long journey to protect these charismatic animals on Bonaire.

In 1991 Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire NL (STCB-NL) was registered in The Netherlands to fundraise and support Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB). In that same year, and thanks to the work of STCB, local legislation was amended to fully protect sea turtles in all their life stages on Bonaire. Initially STCB solely depended on dedicated volunteers and students doing their internships to do the conservation work until the first funding was received in 2002. This funding gave STCB the opportunity to hire STCB’s first Project Director, Dr Robert van Dam, and their first Field Assistant, Gielmon Egbreghts (Funchi), in 2003. With the arrival of Robert and Funchi the STCB’s two main conservation activities; nest monitoring and in-water surveys were established.

Three years later, in 2005, Mabel Nava was hired as Manager of STCB to integrate the research component with education, public awareness, fundraising, regional networking, communication and advocacy. After her placement, STCB set up their strategic plan for 2006-2010 and gained WWF-NL as their main source of funding in 2008. The support from WWF-NL gave STCB the opportunity to raise more awareness by branding the organization, setting up a sustainable merchandise line and hiring Dr Sue Willis as STCB’s Program Coordinator.

With the arrival of Sue Willis, the Beachkeepers’ Program and the Fishing Line Recovery Project were created and The Ministry of Economic Affairs of The Netherlands started to financially support STCB’s on-going monitoring work.  Given STCB’s experience in sea turtle conservation they also started to support sea turtle conservation work in Curacao, Sint Maarten and Antigua. Not only has STCB supported other Caribbean partner organizations, together with STINAPA, they created the ‘Save Bonaire Marine Park’ initiative in 2013 which has raised the importance of advocacy on the local agenda aiming to prevent negative impacts on Bonaire’s marine park. During the past two years STCB moved office to Kaya Korona #53, received a new boat funded by the WWF-NL Junior Rangers, introduced STCB’s strategic plan 2014-2018 and hired Lisette van Marrewijk as communication coordinator to support the organizational growth needed for the work that STCB does today.

STCB will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a dedicated 25 years logo, a new website, a crowdfunding campaign and a limited edition of specially designed STCB shopping bags. They are also pleased to announce that they will offer 25 sea turtle nests available for adoption for local companies – more details to follow! STCB encourages everyone to join their 25th Anniversary celebration by taking part in these celebrations and also by taking extra special care of our natural environment.   

Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) is a non-governmental research and conservation organization that has been protecting Bonaire’s sea turtles and their habitats since 1991.