The Ritz Carlton is participating in Sea Turtles 911's Raise and Release program to give baby sea turtle hatchlings a head start at life while educating guests about the threats to sea turtle populations. Sea turtles are most vulnerable in the early stages of their life because of human threats and natural predators; it is estimated that only one out of a thousand hatchlings will survive to adulthood. The Ritz Carlton will care for three endangered green sea turtle hatchlings, for one year, until they are large enough to be released back to the wild. Like all guests at the Ritz Carlton, the sea turtles will have luxurious accommodations in a 5-star aquarium donated by Yeh for Games, Inc.
Education is the most powerful tool for conservation. The Ritz Carlton has taken a commendable role in increasing the awareness and need for sea turtle conservation in China. By placing the turtles in the kids club, the area draws attention to sea turtles in a positive light, establishing a perception of sea turtles as valuable living creatures. Children will become acquainted with the plight of the sea turtles; thereby instilling the concept of marine conservation at a young age.
To welcome the hatchlings to their new home at the Ritz Carlton, Yeh for Games volunteers hosted a children's education event. Children played a variety of games to learn about sea turtle conservation. They pretended to be sea turtle hatchlings making their way through an obstacle course of human threats by crawling through fishing nets, dodging parents acting as poachers, and selecting a picture of the correct food item: jelly fish or plastic bag. At the end of the event, the children were awarded a certificate of participation and instilled with the concept of being sea turtle guardian angels.
A critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle rescued from poachers was also present as a guest to the event; the children learned about the illegal harvesting of its shell for the production of jewelry that has driven this magnificent species to near extinction.
The event brought local media attention from television stations, bloggers, and local press that advanced the awareness and need for sea turtle conservation on Hainan Island, and hopefully a decrease in the demand for sea turtle products. Special thanks to Mario Cavolo for the feature story on sanyaexpat.com