Sea Turtle Rescue Alliance Launches on World Wildlife Day
A global network of veterinarians come together to save endangered sea turtles around the world
Florida – USA, Bohol – Philippines, Zurich – Switzerland, 1 March 2021: This Wednesday, March 3, marks World Wildlife Day and the launch of the Sea Turtle Rescue Alliance (STRA) with Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) as its flagship US hospital, under the patronage of Swiss based marine conservation organisation, OceanCare. This first ever global alliance provides a professionally designed cloud-based platform to share resources, information, and tools to bridge the gap between leading sea turtle hospitals and smaller-scale rescue centres in a truly collaborative approach. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists six of the seven species on their Red List as Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered. Some of the main threats include entanglement in ghost nets, motor-craft strikes, tumours and infectious diseases, which all require specialist knowledge and immediate medical care.
On World Wildlife Day 2021, the Sea Turtle Rescue Alliance (STRA) will officially welcome its first members to join the interactive global network. This new organisation was formed to facilitate the sharing of knowledge between veterinarians worldwide, working to provide the best possible care to injured sea turtles. STRA’s goal is to advance medical practices globally by supporting smaller centres that currently have limited access to specialist knowledge and expertise in the field. This initiative reflects a need to address recent human activities that have threatened the survival of these ancient animals, human-wildlife conflict incidents such plastic ingestion due to increased marine debris, entanglements in fishing gear and blunt trauma from boat strikes and propeller injuries are just a few of these threats.
While decades of conservation efforts have shown positive results, tens of thousands of sea turtles are still lost each year to bycatch, poaching and illegal trade. Today, all seven species of sea turtles are listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which includes all species that are threatened by extinction. “Marine turtles have survived the dinosaurs, meteorite impacts and the ice age. The biggest threat to their survival, however, are the impacts caused by humans. We are confident that STRA will become an effective global instrument to save many crucial lives”, says Fabienne McLellan, Director International Relations at OceanCare.
The basic concept of STRA is a simple and effective one, it will distribute medical material to those that need it most and to share advances and expertise from rescue centres that are able to improve the care of turtles around the world. The new digital platform will include:
- A directory and an interactive global map of rescue centres to encourage collaboration, engagement, and act as a public reference of rescue locations for injured turtles
- enhanced connectivity between professionals and veterinary efforts
- live case consultations between members and the ability to provide telemedical support
- a centralised sick turtle management system to record medication, treatments and diseases
“International collaboration, by connecting the community of turtle veterinarians and rescue rehabilitators is crucial for rescuing sea turtles around the world – our vision is that STRA will make this happen” says Dr. Claire Petros, founder and project lead at STRA.
“New technological tools will break physical barriers and give rescue centres the expanded expertise they need during remote surgeries and procedures.” adds Dr. Maximilian Polyak, Director of Rehabilitation at LMC and STRA Steering Committee Member.
The network will continue to develop and roll out new features for the remainder of 2021 and will be ready to scale up its impact during the first quarter of 2022, with the addition of new and exciting features to come.
Starting now, STRA is seeking collaborators and centres that are interested in joining the alliance. Importantly we are looking for veterinarians to provide support and expertise for crucial roles, including regional chairs, reviewers for medical procedures and content creators for our online and interactive platform.
“In a time where hope is often beyond the horizon, the Sea Turtle Rescue Alliance offers a concrete and practical solution to enhance medical practices and save lives where it matters the most.” Dr. Alessandro Ponzo, co-founder of the Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines and STRA Steering Committee Member.
Dr. Alessandro Ponzo, Co-Executive Director, Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines
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