The Sea Turtle Conservancy

The Sea Turtle Conservancy is the oldest and most accomplished sea turtle organization in the world! STC is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) membership organization based in Gainesville, Florida. STC was founded in 1959 by Mr. Joshua B. Powers in response to renowned ecologist Dr. Archie Carr’s award-winning book, The Windward Road, which first alerted the world to the plight of sea turtles. Dr. Carr (pictured) served as Scientific Director of STC from 1959 until his death in 1987. Since our founding, STC’s research and conservation initiatives have been instrumental in saving the Caribbean green turtle from immediate extinction, as well as raising awareness and protection for sea turtles across the globe with nearly 60 years of experience in national and international sea turtle conservation, research and educational endeavors. The organization began its work in Costa Rica, but has expanded its research and conservation efforts throughout Central America and the Wider Caribbean.


Turtle Studies in Tortuguero, Costa Rica

STC continues the work of Dr. Archie Carr every year on the 35 km black sand beach of Tortuguero, Costa Rica, the nesting site of more endangered green turtles than anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere. For more than 40 years, this monitoring program has provided much information on the reproductive ecology and migratory habits of sea turtles. Researchers, who are based at STC’s John H. Phipps Biological Field Station, continue to monitor nesting trends, growth rates and reproductive success.

Turtle Studies in Panama

In 2003, STC began working to protect and restore the once globally significant hawksbill sea turtle nesting population at beaches around Bocas del Toro, Panama, including Soropta Beach and Chiriquí Beach. The program consists of intensive monitoring of hawksbill and leatherback sea turtle nesting activity, protection of nesting females and their nests, and public education in the region.

Other Research

STC has supported hundreds of research projects on the biology and conservation of sea turtles around the world. Recent studies have focused on impacts of tourism on nesting beaches, the levels of turtle harvesting at feeding grounds, satellite tracking of turtles, and monitoring of juvenile turtles around Bermuda.

In 2006, STC began the Eastern Caribbean Hawksbill Tracking & Conservation Project to study the migration patterns of “critically endangered” hawksbill sea turtles nesting along the Caribbean coast of Nevis in the West Indies. The study will reveal important information about the turtle’s migratory behavior, which will help both conservationists and natural resource managers to improve protection efforts for this endangered species.

In 2008, STC began the Pacific Sea Turtle Tracking Project to study the migration patterns of threatened olive ridley sea turtles nesting along the Pacific coast of El Salvador. The study will reveal important information about the turtle’s migratory behavior, including migratory routes, foraging grounds, and the areas of potential conflict with commercial fisheries or legal harvest of sea turtles.

STC also supports the longest Bird Banding and Monitoring Project in Latin America. The program began in Tortuguero, Costa Rica in 1994 as part of the “Partners in Flight” program, in association with Costa Rican and North American ornithologists. Resident and neotropical migrant bird species are surveyed in natural and disturbed habitats of the area and vital statistics are collected. The project also seeks to train Latin American wildlife biologists in ornithological field techniques and conduct outreach in Tortuguero and throughout Costa Rica.

Advocacy & Policy Initiatives

STC’s advocacy program is addressing the threats that face U.S. and International sea turtle populations. Drawing on STC’s five decades of international sea turtle conservation experience, our Policy Initiatives work to improve the survival outlook for marine turtles in the United States, especially in Florida, by raising national awareness, advocating for protection of sea turtles and their habitat and by empowering small, local sea turtle groups. Representatives from STC regularly provide testimony to Congress, federal agencies and state officials on issues affecting sea turtles and their habitat. STC closely monitors all issues related to the survival of sea turtles and informs conservationists, the media and STC members about steps that should be taken to ensure sea turtle survival. STC also engages in direct advocacy designed to influence legislation or other policy decisions that will affect sea turtles.

Habitat Preservation

STC works to enact protective laws and establish refuges for the preservation of sea turtle habitats and coastal environments. The organization was instrumental in creating the Tortuguero National Park in Costa Rica. In the United States, STC worked with other groups and agencies to establish the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge and continues to lobby Congress and government agencies to purchase the lands necessary to complete the refuge. STC’s international efforts include advocating for sea turtles at the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, and protecting one of the most important sea turtle nesting beaches in the world by helping prevent off-shore oil-drilling in Costa Rica.

Education & Outreach

STC works with coastal residents, businesses, conservationists and governments to increase awareness of the threats facing sea turtles, including coastal development, pollution, poaching and accidental capture in nets. STC developed an educational program that uses the internet to allow school children and others around the world to learn about sea turtles as they follow the movements of turtles being tracked by satellite. More than 500,000 children around the world have been reached by this program already.

In Tortuguero, Costa Rica, STC operates the H. Clay Frick Natural History Visitor Center to inform the more than 40,000 people who visit every year about the importance of the region’s habitats to the survival of sea turtles, manatees and other tropical wildlife.

The STC is also the educational partner in the Barrier Island Ecosystem Center at the heart of Eastern Florida’s Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge.


STC members receive the newsletter, Velador, which keeps readers up to date on STC programs, education, research and advocacy efforts directed at sea turtle issues. In addition to the Velador, STC publishes research reports, action alerts and other educational materials. In particular, STC widely distributes anEducator’s Guide that helps teachers incorporate sea turtle awareness programs into their classroom curriculum.


STC provides training in the management and stewardship of sea turtles and coastal ecosystems. Graduates of previous training programs now lead conservation efforts in over 25 countries around the world.

Why Sea Turtles:

STC has chosen sea turtles as the focus of its conservation efforts in part because these ancient creatures are among the most important indicators of the health of the world’s marine and coastal ecosystems. STC believes that whether sea turtles ultimately vanish from the planet or whether they remain a wild and thriving part of the natural world, will speak volumes about both the general health of the planet and the ability of humans to sustainably coexist with the diversity of life on Earth.


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