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Check out official trailer for our film, ¡Viva La Tortuga! Meshing Conservation and Culture in Magdalena Bay, and join us at the May 7th & 8th premieres!
May 7, 2013 May 8, 2013
4:00 PM 4:00 PM
Wilcox Stage Student Union
Pace University Pleasantville Campus New York City Campus
861 Bedford Rd. 1 Pace Plaza
Pleasantville, NY 10570 New York, NY, 10038
When found, May had a fractured bottom shell, a laceration in its neck caused by a boat strike, and a hook in its mouth. Just a juvenile, it is hard to tell if May is a boy or a girl. This is a determination that is difficult to make before the turtle reaches 30 years of age. Suffering greatly from its injuries, May was kept on a feeding tube and out of any deep water. Having made a surprisingly full recovery, May is now eating on its own, can handle deep water again, and is described by the Center as “one of their most amazing cases.”
We were introduced to May recently when we reached out to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center for some audio of a green sea turtle breathing for our film, ¡Viva La Tortuga! Meshing Conservation and Culture in Magdalena Bay. During production down in Mag Bay, most of us had the privilege of encountering sea turtles for the first time up close. As communicators we are supposed to remain objective, but all of us couldn’t help but have an emotional experience when we heard a sea turtle breath. This is an experience we wanted to share with the audience of our film but due to a high level of background noise, we had no audio we could use. The Georgia Sea Turtle Center came to our rescue and supplied us with a recording of May breathing. This breathing can be heard in our film, making May a bona fide movie star!
May is currently in great health and ready to be adopted — symbolically, that is. The Georgia Sea Turtle Center adoption program allows people to symbolically adopt one or more of these magnificent creatures. For $50, someone could adopt May and ensure the longevity of the Center and help it pursue its mission. Our May 7-8 premieres are within swimming distance and we are all excited that our sea turtle friend, May, has made such a remarkable recovery.
The sea turtle conservation efforts of marine biologist, conservationist, and author Dr. Wallace J. Nichols are soon to be the main focus of an episode of the Weather Channel‘s upcoming series BRINK. The show will feature individuals who greatly contributed to bringing an endangered species back from the brink of extinction. Nichols told us the show is part of a new direction in digital content soon to be integrated into the Weather Channel website and all smartphone and tablet apps. Why are endangered species on the Weather Channel? Based on the thought that weather connects everything, Nichols explained, the new content is a way to reach new audiences. Neil Katz, vice president and editor-in-chief of the Weather Channel digital properties and a longtime friend of Nichols, is the major force behind the show. Showcasing Nichols’ substantial contribution to sea turtle conservation, the episode was screened at the NewFront event in Manhattan this past week. Nichols could be found there handing out blue marbles, part of a movement started by Nichols to foster care for the planet, which NASA astronauts have compared to a blue marble. In addition to BRINK, Nichols can be heard narrating Orion Magazine‘s new audio slide show, Tortuga Rising.
With our release date just days away, we realize our film-making journey is coming to an end. As we reflect on the process we are grateful for all who have so graciously contributed their expertise to this film. Wallace J. Nichols has been instrumental to our project and continues to supply us with useful information, compelling stories, and a tremendous sense of encouragement as we approach our May 7-8 premieres in Pleasantville and New York City.
The Center For Biological Diversity and Sea Turtle Restoration Project have petitioned the United States government to impose trade sanctions on Mexico for failing to abide by international sea turtle conservation agreements. Their core concern is described this way:
“Over the past decade, scientists estimate that Mexican gillnet and longline fisheries have killed over 2,000 endangered North Pacific Ocean loggerheads a year. Bycatch reached a record high last July, when a mass mortality event left 483 loggerheads stranded on just one stretch of beach – a 600 percent increase over previous years’ averages. This extraordinarily high level of bycatch cannot be sustained and may ultimately drive this endangered sea turtle population to extinction.” [news release]
The groups say the United States has leverage through the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles. The decade-old agreement is designed to protect both dwindling sea turtle populations and the habitat they rely on for feeding and breeding. The “bycatch” of loggerhead sea turtles in gillnets is centered in ocean waters off Magdalena Bay, Mexico, the focal point of our documentary, which will be released next week.
In an interview earlier this week, Sarah Uhlemann, a senior attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, said the surge in deaths of loggerheads is enough to invoke the “Pelly Amendment,” which allows the U.S. to sanction any country that violates the treaty. In the next several years, a ban on imports of certain Mexican seafood products could be instituted by the U.S Commerce Department if government agencies find that the loggerhead bycatch has not been addressed.
For the moment, as we reported earlier this week, Mexican officials — at least publicly — don’t seem inclined to press for turtle protection. On April 30, senior Mexican officials challenged years of peer-reviewed studies demonstrating that the recent spike in loggerhead deaths in the region was from gillnets set on the bottom off the Pacific coast. They were quoted in Mexican newspapers as saying that toxic algae blooms could be to blame.
Our goal in the film is to offer an objective exploration of issues and options in the region. “¡Viva La Tortuga! Meshing Conservation and Culture in Magdalena Bay” will have its premiere on May 7 and 8 (in Pleasantville and New York City).
We hope the film will help clarify steps that can be taken now to protect turtles while sustaining the economies of fishing communities in Mexico’s Baja region.