Sea turtles are amazing creatures, but they are under threat. May 23rd 2022 is World Turtle Day, the perfect opportunity for us to share more information about the work of one of our amazing charity partners - The Olive Ridley Project (ORP).

By choosing Sea Change Wine, you are supporting this charity with every bottle of wine purchased. Here are some of the projects that your support has helped them to achieve this year…

ORP is on a mission to protect sea turtles and their habitats through rescue and rehabilitation of injured sea turtles, scientific research, and education and outreach.  At the heart of ORP’s work are their two marine turtle rescue and rehabilitation centres in the Maldives – find out more about the incredible work that goes on at the centres here.

Conservation Through Tracking

This year has seen the launch of ORPTrack, an exciting scientific research project that will help gain better understanding of the feeding habits of olive ridley sea turtles, through the use of satellite tagging technology. The first tag was fitted on Autumn, a sub-adult olive ridley turtle patient who had spent just short of two months at the Rescue Centre. She was rescued from a ghost net which claimed one of her front flippers. You can follow Autumn’s journey live and in real time here.

The satellite tags will allow ORP to track the turtles for up to a year and the data gathered will be consistently monitored, recorded, and analysed. The aim is to find out where the turtles go to feed, and what environmental factors make up a good feeding ground for olive ridleys. This will help to fill crucial gaps in sea turtle research and development of future conservation strategies.

National Red List – A First for the Maldives

Elsewhere, ORP’s founder, Dr. Martin and lead scientist Dr. Stephanie Köhnk were part of the team that helped operationalise the Maldives’ first ever National Red List. The Red List is the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global extinction risk of animal and plant species. While Dr. Martin Stelfox led the assessment for olive ridley turtlesDr. Stephanie Köhnk was responsible for spearheading the assessment for greens and hawksbills.
As per the assessment, hawksbills have been classified as critically endangered and greens as endangered in the Maldives. The Maldives Red List will be used for national decision making on species protection, management and conservation.

The Continuing Problem of Plastic Pollution

Sadly, 2022 has already been a busy year for the ORP Rescue Centre, with a record number of new patients admitted in the first quarter of the year. The most frequent reason for sea turtles to be admitted is entanglement in ghost gear or marine debris. Fishing nets are made of very strong and durable plastic and as an entangled turtle struggles to free itself, the net can tighten around its flippers, and sometimes around the neck too. Deep lacerations and partially or completely amputated flippers are common, in addition to exhaustion, starvation, dehydration and even predation by large fish or sharks. 

Other injuries include damage caused by ingestion of plastic and marine debris – shockingly it is so common that ORP often find plastic being passed by recovering and healthy patients, even if they were admitted for something completely unrelated, and even when many months have passed since they were in the wild.

ORP works not only to rescue and rehabilitate injured turtles, but also to prevent it in the first place. Education is a vital part of the organisation’s work, and has proved a powerful tool to increase awareness, engage people and stimulate action. ORP educates school children, communities, divers, fishermen, tourists, resort staff, biologists, and the general public. Visits by local school children to the Rescue Centre have now resumed following the coronavirus pandemic and the team is thrilled to be able to share the work it does with the local community again.

In Pakistan, ORP has successfully established a circular economy project based on recovered and recycled ghost gear, working with small fishing communities to upcycle ghost nets into Ghost Gear products , the profits from which are returned to local fisher communities.

How You Can Help ORP

Sea Change is proudly plastic free, but as well as supporting ORP through your choice of wine, there are several other ways you can help.

Turtle patients being treated in the Rescue Centres can be adopted. You can also name and adopt an identified wild turtle or adopt one of ORP’s ‘famous’ turtles that already has a name but which they encounter on a regular basis. Every time they spot your turtle you will be notified. Turtle adoptions are also a great gift idea – it's personalised, environmentally friendly and is a thoughtful way of giving back to nature! You can join ORP’s monthly giving program, or make a one-off gift towards their work or even help track a turtle by donating to the ORPTrack programme. Or, if you’d rather get involved in person, why not consider volunteering with turtles at their Marine Turtle Rescue Centre in the Maldives?

Sea Change Wine is a proud supporter of the Olive Ridley Project and, on World Turtle Day, we’d like to thank you for your continued support for these magnificent ocean creatures.

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