Going beyond the ecotourism mantra of “leave only footprints”, SEE Turtles suggests that people should make a positive impact through conservation tourism. Conservation tourism supports communities protecting sea turtles by increasing the income needed for local conservation efforts, providing economic alternatives to end their threats and inspiring travelers to take a more active role in their protection. SEE Turtles is a conservation tourism project that links people with turtle sites in ways that directly support protection efforts, while increasing resources in communities to help residents thrive and value sea turtles in their environment.
The origin of my interest in sea turtle conservation is a simple story. As sea turtles swim all our ocean basins they are ideal candidates to represent how a conservation initiative needs attention from international teams. With this notion, I use the power of the still image to disseminate conservation strategies that permit change and action through decisions each and every person can make around the world. Conservation tourism can be the conduit for this change while advocacy and education create the action. On behalf of SEE Turtles I have spent the last two years documenting the plight of endangered sea turtles while showcasing the value of connecting people with these historic nomads of the sea. I have witnessed firsthand accounts of change in the eyes of Mexican fishermen, through the words of Indonesian elders, and on the paths of the conscious traveler, while my photographs continue to stimulate action towards sea turtle conservation. I am involved in this project for that very reason.
“Conservation is as much about people as it is about the animals and habitats we are trying to preserve.” – Wallace J. Nichols