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While sea turtles are threatened with extinction throughout the world, the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge (ACNWR) hosts the largest nesting population of loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and green (Chelonia mydas) sea turtles in the U.S. We know this because researchers began monitoring sea turtle nests on these beaches in 1982 and have counted nests annually through support of local governments, community donations, and the National Wildlife Refuge System since 1992. After 34 years of continual data collection (the longest sea turtle dataset in the U.S.), we have learned that peak nesting totals for green sea turtles have increased over 600% since the establishment of the ACNWR in 1991. For leatherbacks, the figure is 900%. This information is critical to those who work to protect and maintain the beach habitats so integral to the success of the sea turtle populations.
But now the program is in trouble. The university researchers who monitor the ACNWR beaches are facing a "perfect storm" of funding shortfalls in 2017, shortfalls that could force them to cancel part or all of the nest counting during the coming season. Of particular concern is the Florida Index Nesting Beach Survey (INBS) and Florida State Nesting Beach Survey (SNBS), which involve daytime monitoring from May through October. Unable to respond on their own, the managers of ACNWR requested that the Friends of the Carr Refuge (FOCR) step in to assist. As a nonprofit citizen support group with a mission to promote the conservation of marine turtles and the natural resources of the Refuge, FOCR is stepping in the assist the UCF Marine Turtle Research Group continue their work. This project will allow undergraduate and graduate students to gain priceless experience for their future research and conservation efforts, assist the incredibly small staff of the Archie Carr Refuge, and contribute to valuable long-term data that can and will be used at the local, state, federal, and international level to enhance sea turtle conservation.
Please help us make sure that the longest continuously-collected sea turtle nest dataset in the U.S. is not interrupted. Our goal is to raise $50,000 to purchase equipment and supplies, and provide stipends to student interns, so that sea turtle nest monitoring on the Refuge can continue in 2017. Our goal is ambitious, but we believe our community supports this important conservation effort. While we continue to advocate for full long-term funding from local, state and federal governments, you can help meet the current urgent need by contributing what you can today.
Will you help us?