From Turtles for Supper to Turtle Conservation

With our trip to Magdalena Bay just a couple of days away, our class is closing in on the final stages of preproduction.

Last week, our class prepared and interviewed conservation biologist and veterinarian Dr. Alonso Aguirre.

Dr. Alonso Aguirre

Dr. Alonso Aguirre

Aguirre has taught at Columbia University in New York City, worked as a senior Vice President of the Wildlife Trust, and is currently the executive director of the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation of George Mason University.

The interview focused on his experience in the field and his time in Mexico, both as a scientist and a citizen.

Dr. Aguirre explained in detail the struggle to protect eight different species of sea turtles, including the four species in and around Magdalena Bay. He said two factors were very important to consider.

One is that not all sea turtles are captured intentionally. Many die when they become entangled in fishing net that don’t have features designed to let turtles escape —  called turtle excluders. Often, the fisherman is unaware that a turtle has been snagged.

Second, the consumption of sea turtles is not only bad for the species, but also the ecosystem, and even the health of humans who eat them.

While we learned a lot about turtle conservation and sustainability, perhaps the most inspiring part of the interview came through Dr. Aguirre’s memories of growing up with turtles as food, not a focus of research.

He had his first experience with sea turtles when he was about seven years old and his mother prepared the reptile as a meal.

Despite the deep-rooted tradition of eating turtles in his culture, Dr. Aguirre felt that something was not right about the practice.

Years later, Dr. Aguirre has made it a goal to inform and educate companies, community groups, and even his family about the dangers in eating sea turtles.

While conducting the interview with Dr. Aguirre our class learned many important aspects of the struggle between sustainability and culture in the Baja Mexico region. We are all excited to see what role Dr. Alonso Aguirre will play in our documentary.

To follow our progress, be sure to subscribe to our blog, ‘like’ us on Facebook, and track our journey on Twitter using the hashtag #pacebaja or by following our @pacebaja tweets. Additionally, you can follow us on instagram at instagram.com/pacebaja

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