In October 2012, five incredible ocean actions were kickstarted thanks to your vote. 12 months on these awesome conservation projects are almost coming to an end. We caught up with two of our 2012 ocean heroes to find out exactly how your donation is making a big difference to ocean protection in their local communities.
Chris Pincetich from the Turtle Island Restoration Network has an ambitious goal: to create plastic free sea turtle habitats in Costa Rica. Building on a successful pilot program, Marine Debris Action teams are now in place in critical sea turtle nesting sites.
"The Marine Debris Action Teams Create Plastic-Free Sea Turtle Habitat project works directly with residents and organizations in the local community of Costa Rica to post the educational signs, perform beach cleanups, remove the garbage collected from sea turtle nesting beaches, and increase community awareness of the problems caused by marine debris and plastic pollution in the ocean," says Chris.
The scale of this problem in Costa Rica is one echoed in many other areas of the world. "Our biggest challenge? The lack of established public infrastructure for garbage collection and disposal. This is now being addressed for the benefit of continuing the beach cleanup efforts and for the benefit of the entire community, " adds Chris.
Thanks to support from this project two sea turtle station managers are now fully trained to perform a scientific assessment of marine debris density. They will continue to collect data crucial to developing an understanding of the problem in the region. With marine debris teams mobilised and effective educational signage in place, Chris aims remove over one ton of debris and educate one thousand local children and adults by end of 2013.
Over in Indonesia, another local team has been deployed, this time collecting and recording data on shark and manta catch at the Tanjung Luar fishery. A joint project led by Gili Eco Trust and Aquatic Alliance is working directly on the ground with locals and other organisations with the aim of protecting shark and manta species through a system of identification, photographic evidence and data collection.
Already the team is uncovering some shocking and depressing information about the massive scale of the Tanjung Luar fishery problem including previously unknown catch of dolphins, whales and reef mantas.
Delphine Robbe of Gili Eco Trust, "We are working with a team professional animal care people from JAAN to collect the data and understand everything about the process and mechanism of fisheries in Tanjung Luar. Where do they fish? How much the fishermen get? How much the boat captain gets? How much the fins or gills are sold? To who? Where is it going?"
There is no simple solution for Tanjung Luar - developing alternative livelihoods, community based education, ecotourism models are just some of the answers but it is not a quick and easy fix.
Adds Delphine, "We want to show that sharks, rays and dolphins can bring so much money alive rather than being killed. But we know that awareness is the key to our success and this needs to be an ongoing effort."
You can stay up to date with all our 2012 Ocean Action Projects by visiting their My Ocean blogs.