Sea Turtles 911

Sea Turtles are Endangered: Help!
   School Trip for School Groups to Volunteer to Save Sea Turtles

Education in sea turtle conservation class Teaching students sea turtle conservation Touring Turtle Museum at Hainan Normal University Touring Turtle Museum at Hainan Normal University Touring Turtle Museum at Hainan Normal University Touring captive sea turtle research facility Measuring sea turtle for conservation research Sea turtle conservation research Floating Sea Turtles 911 hospital Student inspecting plastron of sea turtle Group releases adult sea turtle Tour sea turtle hospital Students at floating sea turtle hospital enclosures Sea turtle hatchling in hand Meet Sea Turtle Patients Up Close and Personal Teachers help clean sea turtle Eco tourist helps sea turtle Medication for sea turtles Antibiotic eyedrops for sea turtle Eco tourists help tubefeed sea turtle Students with hatchling sea turtles Educating local students about sea turtle conservation and English Educating local students about sea turtle conservation and English Educating local students about sea turtle conservation and English Educating local students about sea turtle conservation and English Educating local students about sea turtle conservation and English Tabling to raise public awareness for sea turtle conservation Tabling to raise public awareness for sea turtle conservation Tabling to raise public awareness for sea turtle conservation Tabling to raise public awareness for sea turtle conservation Students clean up beach Beach cleanup group photo Students build sea turtle shaped sandcastles Students raise awareness with sea turtle sandcastles Student group at beach raising awareness for sea turtle conservation Students release sea turtle Student group releases sea turtle Student group at Sea Turtle Shelter
School Field Trip to China to Save Sea Turtles

Introduction

"In the end, we will save only what we love. We will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught."
-Baba Dioum, famous conservationist in 1968

This group tour is designed for you to experience sea turtle conservation first-hand. Start out being taught about sea turtles at the local university, as you begin to grasp an understanding of their unique biology that allowed them to survive through the extinction of dinosaurs. Then, tour the last-ditch conservation research project to save these endangered species from the brink of extinction. Why are marine turtles going extinct at such alarming rates now? As you step into the heart of the sea turtle market trade, you hopelessly witness thousands of turtle shells being sold in the open public. You understand now but how can we help our ancient reptilian ancestors? Volunteering at the sea turtle hospital to care for handicapped turtle patients reminds you what it is to be human – to love. Conservation strategies to save the species are taught to you, giving you renewed hope. Your hope changes to action as you reach out with love to local fishermen, students, tourists, to join you. With new supporters by your side, you release an endangered sea turtle back to her ocean home, as you make your way back home too. You saved her - free, at last.

Program Description

Sea Turtles 911 offers 3-7 day school field trips for school groups looking to offer students the chance to experience conservation work firsthand. Students are able to gain hands-on experience with one of the world’s most ancient creatures: sea turtles. Since education is a major part of species preservation and restoration, students are exposed to many different aspects of conservation efforts throughout their stay.

While on these visits, focus will be put on exposing students to the physical work involved in sea turtle conservation as well as to the community education that takes place. Students will perform all daily sea turtle husbandry tasks, as well as weigh and measure live sea turtles for records to be used in future research. Maintenance work on the floating hospital will also be performed as necessary, including changing nets, removing pollution from the environment, basic carpentry and painting of fishermen homes.

Throughout the stay, various discussions and activities could take place at different locations around Hainan Island, including Haikou, Wenchang, Qionghai, Lingshui, and Sanya. These activities are aimed at making individuals think about extinction and conservation in a new way.

Click here to download background information about the program.

Conservation Strategy Discussions and Plans

Human imposed threats to sea turtles are of the greatest concern to sea turtle populations in China because of the increased demand for sea turtle products. Everyday we are faced with the task of developing new ideas and strategies for combating the illegal harvesting of sea turtles. Having a variety of perspectives is valuable and necessary for a successful conservation plan. During the trip, the group will learn about marine turtle conservation problems and be asked to discuss the problem as a group to devise a solution or plan of action for the problem. The group will draw upon their motivation or inspiration from the activities with sea turtles. Creating a conservation plan will challenge the group to be creative and utilize their pre-existing knowledge and skills in an innovative way. It will advance communication, negotiation and leadership among group members. The group will then present Sea Turtles 911 staff with their solutions and we will then discuss the feasibility of the plan, make any necessary adjustments and put the plan to action.

Conservation Research

Sea turtle conservation research is minimal in China and introducing research techniques to students is necessary as they may be the future sea turtle conservationists in China. Aside from basic measurements of sea turtles for growth studies, we will show students how to collect sea turtle skin samples for DNA analysis. We also tag sea turtles to give them an identification to facilitate conservation management efforts and students may have the opportunity to practice sea turtle tagging techniques on mock turtles. We have deployed satellite tracking tags to learn more about their migration, where they breed, where they eat, and where they are spending most of their time so that we can establish marine protected areas to save them. With our research partners from the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), City University of Hong Kong, and Hainan Normal University, we have published satellite tracking research, which we will discuss with the group in more detail.

Community Involvement

We believe it is a necessary step in any conservation setting to get involved with the local people to instill in them an appreciation for ocean diversity, as well as show them how working together to save sea turtles benefits the community as well as the environment. We can arrange community service activities per school request including but not limited to teaching ocean-focused English at the local elementary school to very excited and eager children. These local children will most likely have direct contact with sea turtles caught by their families, and so teaching them the basic concepts of sea turtle conservation becomes very relevant and important. Classes that involve a sea turtle theme have been successful because sea turtles are charismatic “cute” animals to children, serving as the perfect ambassador for the ocean environment, and easily garnering support for their protection. As kids learn about sea turtle conservation, they can affect their parent’s attitudes and behavior toward the environment. We have heard of true stories in which children have influenced their parents not to purchase sea turtle products and to discard trash properly. Teaching English to introduce the local children to foreign cultures and visitors makes them feel more comfortable among people from other places. This could also help them considerably in the future when they are looking for alternative jobs in the tourism industry of Hainan.

Experience Rural Chinese Culture

Students can be exposed to rural life during their time here. They can travel by local or private bus and taxi boats, shop in family owned stores, and sample the array of cultural food sold in family stalls offered every night. Students will also have the option to have dinner with a local Chinese family. This cross-cultural experience allows students to see a glimpse of what life in China is like. The fishing village is a rural area with limited options for specific needs. In such rural areas with rural food, some people do have digestive issues, so being armed with medicines to combat as such would be warranted.

Beach Clean-Up

The pollution in our ocean is killing hundreds of thousands of sea turtles and other marine life each year, as they mistaken it for food such as jellyfish. Some of the pollution wash up on the beaches and can be swept back into the ocean. Thus, your group will help clean up the trash along a stretch of beach. To be as efficient as possible in the cleaning process, the group can break up into different roles for collecting the trash and disposing it properly. When performing beach clean ups, visiting students may join with local students to clean trash off a nearby beach. By joining together, teenagers from two very different backgrounds will learn how they can work together to do something for the advancement of society.

Raising Public Awareness

Students can set up tables to raise awareness for sea turtle conservation in tourist areas, pass out fliers, and speak with tourists about not buying sea turtle products as souvenirs during their vacation. The more people who learn about the reasons why sea turtles are going extinct, the more turtles we can save, as people begin to adjust their own behaviors. We will train students on how to promote sea turtle conservation to the public, which they can continue to do when they return to their home school. Students can also build numerous sandcastles in the shape of sea turtles on the beach to raise awareness. Tourists on the beach become curious about why students are making sea turtle shaped sandcastles. As one student volunteer once said to the public, "We told them we were shocked to discover sea turtles being sold in our markets and hope people would stop buying them, so we wanted to use art to express our dream for the turtles." The sand art evoked visions of successful conservation efforts such as in Hawaii, where live sea turtles crawl up on the beach to bask in the sun, or lay eggs. This gives the public a glimpse of the future if people worked together to protect the environment so the turtles could return safely to the beaches. Read this true article from a past student group.

Sea Turtle Adoption and Release

The group will personally name their rescued sea turtle and have the opportunity to release their adopted sea turtle back to nature. This is a wonderful moment to witness an endangered animal given a second chance in life, returning home to the ocean. Releasing a turtle draws a lot of public spectators, so it also becomes a good opportunity to raise awareness to the public. During this time, it is also a great opportunity to raise public awareness by taking excellent photos and videos. After the turtle is released, students can share the photos and videos on social media to raise more public awareness online.

Past major sea turtle releases:

Optional Outings

Groups also have the opportunity to take supplementary trips around Hainan Island to visit ecological parks, hiking mountains, rainforests, surfing, natural hot springs, Chinese temples, island hopping, Hainan ethnic villages, or simply lounge on the beautiful beaches of Sanya!

IB Benefits

Earn hours towards CAS while working with locals in community outreach programs and service projects. Great for Group 4 Projects as well—Biology, Environmental Science, Chemistry, etc. Read about a past IB school group in our program here: http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-944870

Where Are We Located?

Our conservation projects extend throughout the coast of Hainan Island, which is often referred to as the "Hawaii of China." Hainan is a tropical island where mosquitoes are prevalent at night, so insect-repellents are recommended. The sun is bright and hot, so sun blocks are necessary and sunburn does happen. Our office is located in the capital city of Haikou, at Hainan Normal University's Life Sciences building. The largest turtle museum is located at the university, as well as our Sea Turtle Rescue and Research Center. In Wenchang county, we are working with a government sponsored aquaculture facility, in which hundreds of sea turtles are being captive-reared for conservation research purposes. While in Lingshui county, our Sea Turtle Hospital floats among other neighboring fishermen homes in a floating fishing village, where we raise awareness to the local fishermen community. Finally, in Sanya, an international tropical seaside resort area, we are working with hotels on ecotourism, such as tours to our Sea Turtle Shelter at the Ritz Carlton Sanya, which raises conservation awareness to tourists.

Getting To Us

The recommended arrival city is Haikou (HAK) and departure city is Sanya (SYX), so you would be going from the North to the South of Hainan island, along the eastern coast.

Sample 7-Day Program Schedule

The below schedule is a sample only as programs can be tailored to the needs of the specific group, depending on total days, which can be either more or less than 7 days.

Day 1 – Museum Tour & Sea Turtle Introduction
13:00 - Arrival at Haikou Airport (airport code: HAK)
14:00 - Check-in hotel
15:00 - Tour the Biodiversity and Turtle Museum at Hainan Normal University
16:00 - Presentation on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation
17:00 - Tour the Sea Turtle Rescue and Research Center
18:00 - Dinner

Day 2 – Conservation Research & Turtle Market Survey
8:30 - Breakfast
9:00 - Depart to Wenchang County
10:20 - Sea Turtle Research Facility (refer to
Background info, page 24)
          - Tour a captive breeding facility with a man-made beach
          - Discussion on Captive breeding as a conservation strategy
12:00 - Lunch
13:00 - Depart to Tanmen Town (refer to Background info, page 22)
14:00 - Survey public sea turtle market
          - Discussion on Interviews and Market Surveys
          - Collect data on product types, prices, and quantity
15:30 - Depart to Lingshui Fishing Village
18:00 - Dinner

Day 3 – Sea Turtle Rehabilitation & Hospital Introduction
8:30 - Breakfast
9:00 - Floating Sea Turtle Hospital
          - Sea Turtle Patient Introduction (names, histories, maladies)
          - Discussion on Husbandry: How to Care for Sea Turtles
          - Daily Volunteer Duties Training, Feeding, Cleaning, Net Changing, etc.
          - Hands-on Sea Turtle ID Activity
12:00 - Lunch
13:00 - Free / Rest Time
14:30 - Floating Sea Turtle Hospital
          - Discussion on Sea Turtle Rehabilitation and Research
          - Sea Turtle Health Assessment, Diseases, Medical Treatments, Nutrition
          - Physical Exam and Record Keeping: Measurements & Weights
          - Tagging methods and Tissue Sampling for DNA analysis
15:00 - Sea Turtle Medical Treatment and Research Tagging
          - Learn how sea turtles receive medical treatment and research tags
15:30 - Review Sea Turtle Biology
          - Play Turtle Jeopardy, a trivia game based on knowledge learned thus far
18:00 - Dinner

Day 4 – Sea Turtle Conservation
8:30 - Breakfast
9:00 - Floating turtle hospital, students in charge of volunteer duties
10:30 - Raising Public Awareness Activity
          - Distribute conservation fliers in local tourist area to discourage the purchase of turtle products. “When the buying stops, the killing can too.”
12:00 - Lunch
13:00 - Free / Rest Time
          - Wear bathing suits, hats and board shorts this afternoon!
14:30 - Afternoon Beach Walk
          - Discussion of Importance of Healthy Beaches for Sea Turtles
15:00 - Beach Clean-up
16:30 - Sea Turtle Nesting Game
          - Experience what real world conservationists do to protect sea turtle eggs on nesting beaches by becoming a sea turtle conservationist!
17:30 - Free Swim at Beach
18:00 - Dinner

Day 5 – Local Fishing Community Service
8:30 - Breakfast
9:00 - Floating turtle hospital, students in charge of volunteer duties
10:30 - Boat Tour of the Fishing Village
          - Introduction to Aquaculture & Fishing Culture
12:00 - Lunch
13:00 - Free / Rest Time
14:30 - Presentation on Engaging Local Communities in Sea Turtle Conservation
15:30 - Volunteer at fishermen home
          - Paint fishermen floating homes
          - Clean fishermen nets
          - Teach English to fishermen families
18:00 - Dinner with fishermen families

Day 6 – Educational Outreach at Local Schools
8:30 - Breakfast
9:00 - Floating turtle hospital, students in charge of volunteer duties
10:30 - Tour of local elementary school
          - Prepare lessons and games
12:00 - Lunch with local students
13:00 - Free Time at local school playground
          - Play basketball, volleyball, or frisbee with local students
14:30 - Teach at local elementary school
18:00 - Dinner

Day 7 – Public Awareness & Sea Turtle Release
8:00 - Breakfast
8:20 - Depart to Yalong Bay, Sanya (Best beach in Hainan)
9:00 - Tabling at Hotel Resort Lobby and Beach
          - Raise awareness and promote turtle release event
12:00 - Lunch
15:00 - Sea Turtle Release Event
          - Public educational speech on sea turtle biology and conservation
          - Release sea turtle to ocean
16:00 - Depart to Sanya airport (airport code: SYX)

Group Registration Requirements

Ideal group size for optimal hands-on experience is 10-20 students, however we have worked with much larger groups and can be arranged per request.

We request a 4-week minimum group registration deadline prior to date of arrival. Because we only host one group at a time, we recommend reserving your school trip dates as early as possible. To register, complete the Program Registration Form.

Questions?

Please review our
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

For all other inquiries or to register for this trip, please contact us at: volunteer@seaturtles911.org

     
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