Island Times Blog

Staff Highlights: Sea Turtle Conservation

April 23rd, 2024 by Seatrek Staff |

Happy Earth Day!

We are thrilled to introduce our new segment highlighting the incredible journeys of our SeaTrek alumni!

This month, we shine a spotlight on Anna Ortega, a former FATHOMS lead and lead biologist for the SeaTrek program.

Anna shares her inspiring story: “My master’s and PhD have both been focused on trying to save two sea turtle populations: the Pacific leatherbacks. They’re critically endangered and predicted to be extinct in the next sixty years – even though people have been working hard to save them for decades. My work focuses on using computer modeling to understand more about leatherbacks so we can help protect them better. I use math and models to help stakeholders choose the most effective conservation strategies to save populations. I love hearing passionate stories from people who have spent their whole lives trying to save these turtles.”


She also reflects on her time at SeaTrek: “I learned so many things at SeaTrek, but nothing compares to how much it taught me about the value of hands-on learning. SeaTrek turns strangers into a crew overnight, each person working hard to make the boat run smoothly. We all cook, we all clean, we all get to experience the fun of taking responsibility to make our boats safe and positive environments. And the reward of that teamwork is getting to experience some of the most amazing hikes, dives, snorkels, science, and sails that I have ever done. I would not be where I am today without SeaTrek. It is an experience I will always be grateful for, and one I’ll never forget.”


The photo above shows Anna working on an Australian flatback turtle project and counting and measuring eggs (handled under the University of Western Australia Ethics permit 2023/ET000724). If you would like to learn more about Anna or her journey to a PhD, please contact us or check out her latest scientific paper “Key issues in assessing threats to sea turtles: knowledge gaps and future directions“.


Thank you, Anna, for sharing your story with us. We look forward to seeing your journey develop as you continue to make an impact on the marine world. Now, onto some fun fish facts! Did you know that parrotfish are vital to coral reef ecosystems because they help control algae growth by eating it? They also have the unique ability to produce a mucus cocoon around themselves at night, which helps protect them from predators. You can see these extraordinary creatures during the day in the BVI and Bahamas. 😊


Thank you for joining us on this exciting journey!

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