MATURA, Trinidad and Tobago and MONTREAL, Sept. 12, 2022 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — Age of Union Alliance, led by tech leader and environmental activist Dax Dasilva, is proud to announce a USD $1.5 million donation to Nature Seekers, a non-profit community-based organization in the village of Matura, on the east coast of Trinidad, with a focus on the conservation and protection of sea turtles. This will be the single largest private donation in Nature Seekers’ history. Age of Union’s support will be instrumental in the protection of endangered leatherback turtles whose nesting grounds on Matura Beach are in more danger than ever before due to climate change and pollution.
Matura Beach is one of the last remaining major turtle nesting sites in the world for leatherback turtles, which have existed for over 100 million years, dating back to the age of dinosaurs. These massive creatures, as long as 2.2 metres, are the largest sea turtle species in the world and also one of the most migratory, crossing the Atlantic Ocean. New GPS technology has allowed scientists to track their journeys, and many have migrated to Canada’s Atlantic coasts in recent years where they feed on the abundant jellyfish every summer and fall.
The population of these turtles has declined drastically in the last century as a result of intense egg collection, poaching, fishery bycatch, habitat loss, climate change, and much more. They are listed as Vulnerable on International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list of Threatened Species. Nature Seekers, who have been working to conserve these turtles for over 30 years, were in desperate need of help after beach closures during the pandemic nearly eradicated their historical revenue sources.
Age of Union’s funds will help Nature Seekers:
- Patrol and protect the nesting site throughout the annual season to maintain or increase the survival rates of both adult and hatchling leatherback turtles. New drone technology will now extend their capabilities.
- Collect data during nesting season to better understand the physical health of the nesting population and monitor inter-nesting movement and migration of satellite-tagged turtles. This work is done in partnership with Dr. Michael James of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Sea Turtle Network.
- Collect data and assess the potential impacts of climate change on the turtle population at the Matura nesting site; create climate adaptation and/or mitigation plans.
- Design and deploy artificial hatcheries to promote the survival of at-risk nests and allow for the collection of new data sets.
- Increase community engagement and provide opportunities for sustainable livelihood activities that align with conservation goals, such as becoming a ranger to patrol the beach during nesting season.
This marks the ninth conservation project Age of Union has announced in less than one year following Dax Dasilva’s initial pledge of $40 million. Today’s announcement also aligns with Age of Union’s global premiere of its short documentary film CAUGHT in Toronto on the evening of September 12. In partnership with Sea Shepherd, this film reveals the shocking consequences of industrial fishing and excess consumerism, depleting oceanic ecosystems, with a specific lens on dolphin bycatch off the coast of France.
“When I first met Suzan Baptiste, Managing Director at Nature Seekers, I was incredibly inspired by her determination and perseverance to help shift this coastal community in Trinidad from turtle poaching to turtle conservation. We hope with Age of Union’s help, Nature Seekers will now be better equipped to protect these beautiful, endangered turtles who, through their incredible migration journeys, also have connections to Canada.” – Dax Dasilva, Founder of Age of Union.
“We couldn’t be more thankful for this generous gift from Age of Union. Leatherback turtles are recognized as a keystone species, and their demise could have global consequences on our oceans and their ecosystems. Now, with the help of Age of Union, these turtles have an amazing chance for survival.” – Suzan Baptiste, Managing Director of Nature Seekers
“The Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries looks forward to continued conversations with both the High Commission of Canada and Mr. Dasilva to improve the sector and by extension Trinidad and Tobago.” – Kazim Hosein, Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries
“The Government and people of Trinidad and Tobago sincerely appreciate the support from Age of Union for their conservation initiatives in the country. We commit to working with Dax Dasilva and his team, exploring opportunities for broader collaboration in the environmental and technology sectors and beyond.” – Senator Dr. Amery Browne, Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago
“Age of Union’s conservation project for leatherback turtles is an excellent example of Canada Trinbagonian cooperation on environmental conservation.” – Kumar Gupta, High Commissioner of Canada to Trinidad and Tobago
About Age of Union Alliance
Age of Union is a non-profit environmental alliance that supports and makes visible a global community of changemakers working on the ground to protect the planet’s threatened species and ecosystems. Launched in October 2021 by tech leader and environmental activist Dax Dasilva in Montreal, Canada with an initial $40 million pledge, Age of Union seeks to ignite a flame within every person through conservation efforts that solve critical environmental challenges around the world and inspire high-impact change by showing the positive impact that every individual can make.
About Nature Seekers
Nature Seekers is a non-profit community-based organization founded in 1990 and situated in the village of Matura, on the east coast of Trinidad in the south Caribbean. Its primary focus is the conservation and protection of the sea turtles that nest in the region, including the Leatherback turtle. Over a 30+ year period, Nature Seekers helped to shift this coastal community from turtle poaching to turtle conservation.