Image of a baby sea turtle crawling toward ocean with text: "Marine Turtle Conservation- An Interactive Guide"Marine turtles are truly the ancient mariners of the world’s oceans, with ancestors dating back more than 100 million years. Once abundant, marine turtle populations now are a fraction of what they once were. Threats to marine turtles include the loss of nesting beaches to human development; harvest and poaching of turtles for their eggs, meat, and shell; man-made disasters such as oil spills; accidental or intentional capture in fishing nets, trawls and hooks; and the degradation of grass beds and coral reefs that they rely on.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Marine Turtle Conservation Fund is working to ensure the long-term survival of these imperiled species. Because marine turtles migrate vast distances throughout the oceans, successful conservation requires close cooperation among countries sharing the same oceans. Since 2004, grant funds have been used to help partners in more than 40 countries protect marine turtles and their nesting habitats.

In 2018, the program provided funding for 49 projects in 32 different countries totaling $2.3 million, which was matched by approximately $5 million in additional leveraged funds.

Marine Turtle Conservation Fund Funding in 2018

Total Number of Grants Awarded 49
Total Funds Distributed Through Grants $2,341,095
Total Partner Contributions Leveraged by Grants $5,052,300
Total Number of Countries that Received Program Support

Project Highlights Include:

Olive Ridley sea turtles on the beach. Credit: Roldan Valverde

Credit: Roldan Valverde

  • Caribbean-wide:  Protecting key hawksbill turtle nesting beaches throughout the Caribbean. In Panama, this includes helping to restore the population of hawksbills on Chiriqui Beach, once the largest colony in the region.
  • Indonesia: Helping partners to monitor and protect West Pacific leatherback turtle nests on its most important remaining nesting site for this species.
  • West Africa: Supporting  conservation efforts to protect  the world’s largest leatherback nesting population in Gabon and 6  neighboring counties as well  to reduce mortaliy from fisheries bycatch in gill nets and trawls by working with artisianal fisherman and industrial fisheries several West African countries.