9 Best Charities for Protecting Sea Turtles (Complete 2022 List)

9 Best Charities for Protecting Sea Turtles (Complete 2022 List)

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Carla Shaik

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Sea turtles have been around for 110 million years. Yet, all of the 7 sea turtle species alive today are threatened with extinction. Sea turtles face a number of threats including poaching, habitat destruction, climate change, and harmful commercial fishing practices. Furthermore, the survival rate of sea turtle hatchlings today is just 1 in 1,000. Thankfully, many charities have recognized the need for drastic change and are working to protect these prehistoric creatures. So we had to ask: What are the best charities for protecting sea turtles?

The best charities for protecting sea turtles are SEE Turtles and the Turtle Foundation. Charities such as the Olive Ridley Project and Sea Turtle Inc. rescue and rehabilitate injured sea turtles before releasing them back into the wild. 

Whether you want to protect female sea turtles and vulnerable hatchlings from poaching, educate the public and tourism companies on turtle conservation, or invest in research to further understand and protect endangered sea turtles, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities for protecting sea turtles are all about, how they work, and what your best way would be to make a contribution.

Did you know that you can also help protect sea turtles by giving yourself the gift of a sea turtle-tracking bracelet? Next to the bracelet, you’d get a picture and the name and size of your sea turtle, gain knowledge of their amazing stories, where they came from, and be able to follow their incredible journey on an exclusive tracking map. All in partnership with the Sea Turtle Conservancy, to where a portion of all proceeds are donated. You can find out more here: www.myfahlo.com/sea-turtle-tracking-bracelet/

Here’s What All the Best Charities for Protecting Sea Turtles Have in Common

The charities on this list were chosen based on their mission, impact and transparency ratings, and achievements. They operate all over the world, from North America to Indonesia, protecting vulnerable sea turtle populations and their habitats. 

Many of the charities on this list focus their efforts on conducting beach patrols to protect vital sea turtle nesting sites. Others focus on rescuing and rehabilitating turtles that have collided with boats or been caught in fishing nets. Furthermore, many of these charities run education outreach programs to raise awareness of the plight facing all 7 sea turtle species. Yet, they all share the same goal; to ensure sea turtles thrive in our oceans once again. 

These Are the 9 Best Charities for Protecting Sea Turtles

Below are our favorite charities for protecting sea turtles:

  • SEE Turtles
  • Turtle Foundation
  • Olive Ridley Project
  • The Leatherback Trust
  • Turtle Island Restoration Network
  • Sea Turtle Conservancy
  • Oceanic Society
  • Archelon
  • Sea Turtle Inc.

(At the end of this article we’ll also share our six-step approach on how you can select the best charity to support.)

SEE Turtles: Connecting People With Sea Turtles

SEE Turtles was founded in 2008 by conservationists Dr. Wallace J. Nichols and Brad Nahill to protect sea turtles through ecotourism. Today, the charity conserves threatened sea turtle species around the world by connecting people with sea turtles in meaningful ways and supporting community-based conservation efforts. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: SEE Turtles holds a Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. According to their financial report, the charity spent 74.1% of their income on conservation projects, 16% on ecotourism, and 6.8% on administration. 

“We help save sea turtles through conservation tours, supporting important nesting beaches, working to end demand for turtle shell, helping clean up plastic waste from turtle habitats, and promoting inclusivity in the turtle community.”

SEE Turtles

What they do: SEE Turtles allows members of the public to observe sea turtles up close to instill a love of conservation for these animals. They do this through their various conservation tours that run across Latin America, including hands-on experience and the opportunity to talk to local conservationists. In addition, they support the protection of vital turtle nesting beaches by providing small grants through their Billion Baby Turtles program. Furthermore, through their Too Rare To Wear campaign, they work with over 150 tour operators and conservation groups to end the demand for tortoiseshell products that are decimating hawksbill turtle populations.

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, SEE Turtles has raised more than $1 million for sea turtle conservation efforts and saved over 4 million hatchlings through their conservation tour programs. They have also reduced the tortoiseshell trade by 80% in Cartagena, Columbia. Furthermore, they have provided more than 150 grants totaling over $700,000 which has saved over 6 million endangered turtle hatchlings at more than 50 beaches in 20 countries around the world. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to SEE Turtles through their website. You can also support the charity by joining a conservation tour or joining their Turtle Club

Turtle Foundation: Protecting Sea Turtles and Their Habitats

The Turtle Foundation was founded in 2000 by a group of international organizations to protect the habitats of all 7 vulnerable sea turtle species. Today, the charity is a global organization, working with local communities to protect nesting sites and raise awareness of turtle conservation worldwide. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: According to their financial report, the Turtle Foundation spent 84% of their expenditure on conservation programs, 9.6% on fundraising and public relations, and 6.2% on administration and management. 

“We envision a future where sea turtles and their habitats are sustainably protected, healthy, and safe from threat of extinction and destruction.”

Turtle Foundation

What they do: The Turtle Foundation collaborates with local communities to protect dwindling populations of loggerhead, leatherback, and hawksbill turtles across the Indonesian islands and Boa Vista. For example, in Indonesia, they are running a nationwide campaign to protect hawksbill turtles from the lucrative turtle shell trade by influencing buyer behavior. Furthermore, they conduct anti-poaching patrols of Boa Vista’s beaches to protect nesting female loggerhead turtles and educate local tourism companies on best practices to reduce the threats facing local sea turtle populations. 

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, the Turtle Foundation has remained committed to protecting sea turtle populations in Indonesia and Boa Vista. For example, in 2021, their 92 rangers protected 35,367 loggerhead turtle nesting beaches on Boa Vista and 64 vital green and leatherback turtles nests in Selaut Besar, Indonesia. Since 2000, the charity has successfully enabled the hatching of 9 million green and hawksbill sea turtle hatchlings in the Derawan archipelago which would have otherwise ended up in the illegal egg collection trade. Today, 5 species of sea turtle are protected under the Turtle Foundation’s projects. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the Turtle Foundation through their website. You can also support the charity by volunteering on Boa Vista or by purchasing items from their online store

Olive Ridley Project: Preventing the Decline of Sea Turtles

The Olive Ridley Project was founded in 2013 by Dr. Martin Stelfox to research why olive ridley turtles were constantly getting caught up in nets in the Maldives. Today, the charity is passionate about protecting sea turtles around the world through scientific research, advocacy, and rescue missions. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: According to their financial report, the Olive Ridley Project spent 26.5% of their income on charitable activities, 23.6% on sea turtle rehab and veterinary services, 23.8% on research, and 10.1% on education and outreach. 

“Working to prevent the decline of sea turtles and safeguard their habitats.”

Olive Ridley Project

What they do: The Olive Ridley Project rescues and rehabilitates injured sea turtles at their two rescue facilities in the Maldives; the Marine Turtle Rescue Center in Baa Atoll, and the Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center in North Male Atoll. At these sites, turtles receive comprehensive veterinary care before being released back into the wild. In addition, the charity utilizes innovative research techniques to study sea turtle populations and their habitats to address gaps in our knowledge about these animals. Furthermore, the charity runs education outreach initiatives to resort guests and local schools to educate them on turtle biology, conservation, and current research findings. 

What they’ve achieved: Today, the Olive Ridley Project runs conservation and education initiatives in the Maldives, Oman, Pakistan, Seychelles, and Kenya. For example, since 2013, the charity has rescued and rehabilitated around 1000 injured turtles in the waters surrounding the Maldives. In the same year, they conducted 135 dives and 2 snorkeling surveys along Diani Beach, Kenya, which resulted in 722 green turtle sightings and 84 hawksbill turtle sightings. This added 116 new green turtles and 11 new hawksbills to their database. In addition, they recovered almost 400kg of ghost gear off Pakistan’s beaches. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the Olive Ridley Project through their website. You can also support the charity by symbolically adopting a sea turtle or by becoming a part of their Track a Sea Turtle initiative.

The Leatherback Trust: Saving the Leatherback Sea Turtle

The Leatherback Trust was founded in 2000 by turtle biologists Jim Spotila and Frank Paladino to engage local communities to protect vital leatherback sea turtle nesting sites. Today, the charity is an international organization protecting leatherback turtles through research and community action programs. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The Leatherback Trust has a 90% Encompass rating for finance and accountability from Charity Navigator

“To promote the conservation of leatherback and other turtles at risk of extinction.”

The Leatherback Trust

What they do: The Leatherback Trust tackles the 5 most deadly threats facing leatherback Turtle populations through research, local community engagement, and advocacy. For example, they conduct research studies on vital nesting beaches to take note of threats facing hatchlings, such as bright lights, and to monitor populations. The presence of charity staff and volunteers wards off potential poachers and helps researchers to determine population size. Furthermore, the charity works with local communities to improve habitat protection at Las Baulas National Park and surrounding nesting sites. They also work to conserve critical migration corridors and foraging sites, where turtles can be injured by fishing vessels, by using scientific data to support transboundary conservation efforts

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, the Leatherback Trust has helped to establish conservation efforts for leatherback turtles and other vulnerable species. This includes the Las Baulas National Park which is the most important site for the critically endangered East Pacific leatherback in the world. Around 99% of the hatchlings from the 200 female leatherbacks that use this site hatch successfully thanks to the efforts of the charity. This is in stark contrast to the 0% success rate in the 1980s, which was caused by poachers. Furthermore, their advocacy efforts successfully ended the destructive bottom trawling for shrimp practices in Costa Rica that endanger sea turtles and other marine life. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to The Leatherback Trust through their website. You can also keep up to date with the work of the charity by following them on Facebook or Twitter

Turtle Island Restoration Network: Fighting For a Blue-Green Planet

The Turtle Island Restoration Network was founded in 1989 by Todd Steiner to raise funds for basic field supplies and research equipment to protect one of the world’s most significant olive ridley turtle nesting beaches. Today, the charity is a leading advocate for endangered sea turtles and the oceans that they live in. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The Turtle Island Restoration Network has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator

“To mobilize people in local communities around the world to protect marine wildlife and the oceans and inland watersheds that sustain them.”

Turtle Island Restoration Network

What they do: The Turtle Island Restoration Network protects vulnerable sea turtle populations through advocacy and hands-on conservation projects. For example, they collaborate with like-minded conservation organizations and concerned citizens to end the driftnet fishery industry. In addition, they campaign heavily against oil and gas exploitation projects that harm 5 species of sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico. They also utilize volunteers and partner organizations to protect nesting females in places such as Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Texas, Australia, and Papua New Guinea.

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, the Turtle Island Restoration Project has continued to fight for the survival of endangered sea turtles through their advocacy efforts. For example, they save 50,000 sea turtles every year by shutting down a Mexican sea turtle slaughterhouse and convincing the government to end all legal slaughter of sea turtles. They also forced Japan to end its illegal trade in endangered sea turtle parts for luxury items. In addition, they successfully closed off 250,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean to trawlers and driftnet fisheries to protect local marine life, including sea turtles. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the Turtle Island Restoration Network through their website. You can also support the charity by purchasing items from their online shop or by symbolically adopting a sea turtle nest

Sea Turtle Conservancy: Ensuring the Survival of Sea Turtles

The Sea Turtle Conservancy was founded in 1959 by world-renowned sea turtle expert, Dr. Archie Carr, to save sea turtles from imminent extinction. Today, the charity utilizes research to run the most successful sea turtle protection and recovery programs in the world. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The Sea Turtle Conservancy has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator as well as a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

“To ensure the survival of sea turtles within the Caribbean, Atlantic, and Pacific through research, education, training, advocacy and protection of the natural habitats upon which they depend.”

Sea Turtle Conservancy

What they do: The Sea Turtle Conservancy works to ensure the global survival of sea turtles through habitat protection, education, and research. For example, through their Beachfront Lighting project, the charity is refitting beachfront property lights across the Florida coast to reduce the bright lighting that disorientates young turtle hatchlings. Furthermore, they run regular Sea Turtle Watch Walks for the public to inspire future naturalists. They also raise awareness of the migratory patterns of various sea turtle species and the threats facing them through their innovative Sea Turtle Migration-Tracking Education Program. Moreover, the charity offers grants to support sea turtle research and conservation efforts that protect Florida’s sea turtles. 

What they’ve achieved: Every year, the Sea Turtle Conservancy protects and monitors 35km of the black sand beach of Tortuguero, Costa Rica, which is the nesting site of more green turtles than anywhere else in the world. This has resulted in a hatchling emergence success of 78.3% in 2021, which is high for this species. Since 2010, they have also retrofitted lights on over 200 beachfront properties in Florida which has darkened more than 20 miles of vital nesting beach sites. Furthermore, during 2021, over 22,800 people engaged in their online sea turtle education program. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the Sea Turtle Conservancy on their website. You can also support the charity by symbolically adopting a turtle or by joining a sea turtle experience

Did you know that you can also support the Sea Turtle Conservancy by giving yourself the gift of a sea turtle-tracking bracelet? Next to the bracelet, you’d get a picture and the name and size of your sea turtle, gain knowledge of their amazing stories, where they came from, and be able to follow their incredible journey on an exclusive tracking map. All in partnership with the Sea Turtle Conservancy, to where a portion of all proceeds are donated. You can find out more here: www.myfahlo.com/sea-turtle-tracking-bracelet/

Oceanic Society: Protecting the World’s Oceans

The Oceanic Society was founded in 1969 by a group of sailors and scientists in San Francisco to improve the state of the world’s oceans. Today, the charity inspires people around the globe to build a healthy future for oceans and their inhabitants, including sea turtles. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The Oceanic Society has a 70% Encompass score for finance and accountability from Charity Navigator. The charity also has a Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

“Working to improve ocean health by deepening the connections between people and nature to address the root cause of its decline: human behavior.”

Oceanic Society

What they do: The Oceanic Society leads the only globally focused sea turtle conservation program by partnering with like-minded individuals and institutions. For example, they set up The State of the World’s Sea Turtles (SWOT) program to compile and publish global sea turtle data to help conservation and research efforts around the world. They also regularly assess the global risk of extinction for all sea turtle species through their IUCN-SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group. This helps conservation organizations to persuade governments to make vital changes to protect these animals and to develop tools to further conservation efforts. 

What they’ve achieved: Today, the Oceanic Society leads over 300 of the world’s top sea turtle experts in over 80 countries through their Marine Turtle Specialist Group. For example, since 2006, the charity has awarded 123 small grants to 102 applicants in over 53 countries to improve sea turtle conservation efforts worldwide. Furthermore, in 2021, the charity completed 5 beach cleanups, removing over 450lbs of trash, and reached over 53,000 people through their digital articles on sea turtle conservation topics. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the Oceanic Society through their website. You can also support the charity by adopting a sea turtle or by volunteering

Archelon: The Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece

Archelon, previously known as the Sea Turtle Protection Society, was founded in 1983 by Dimitris and Anna Margaritoulis to protect local populations of loggerhead turtles on the island of Zakynthos. Today, the charity is dedicated to conserving sea turtles and their habitats in Greece through research, monitoring, rescue, and rehabilitation. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: According to their financial report, Archelon spent 83% of their income on conservation projects and 5.6% on utilities. 

“To remove threats facing sea turtles to allow them to continue existing as part of nature.”

Archelon

What they do: Archelon protects populations of sea turtles and their habitats across Greece and neighboring islands. For example, they conduct on-the-ground protection of loggerhead turtle nesting sites. They also lead educational and awareness presentations in schools to improve local knowledge of turtle welfare. In addition, the charity is directly involved in the rescue and rehabilitation of injured sea turtles that have been caught up in fishing nets or collided with speed boats. For example, their Nationwide Rescue Network is responsible for activating reports on injured turtles and conveying the information to port police authorities and environmentally active organizations. In addition, they perform regular beach cleanups every year to remove harmful plastics from nesting sites. 

What they’ve achieved: Today, Archelon protects 75km of beach on Zakynthos, which is the nesting site for over 2,600 loggerhead sea turtles. Through their efforts, they have saved around 300,000 hatchlings so far. Furthermore, the charity rescues around 50 injured sea turtles every year and transfers them to the Sea Turtle Rescue Center in Glyfada for treatment, rehabilitation, and release. Between 2018 and 2019, Archelon also raised environmental awareness and taught sea turtle conservation to around 10,000 pupils and teachers in local schools. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Archelon through their website. You can also support the charity by adopting a sea turtle or by visiting their E-Shop.

Sea Turtle Inc: Education. Conservation. Rehabilitation

Sea Turtle Inc. was founded in 1977 by Ila Fox Loetscher, known as ‘The Turtle Lady of South Padre’, to protect sea turtles after she began caring for them at Rancho Nuevo, Mexico. Today, the charity rescues, rehabilitates, and releases injured sea turtles through their facility on South Padre Island.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Sea Turtle Inc. holds the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

“To rescue, rehabilitate, and release injured sea turtles; educate the public; and assist with conservation efforts for all marine turtle species.”

Sea Turtle Inc.

What they do: Sea Turtle Inc. rescues and rehabilitates injured sea turtles and educates the public on the threats facing these animals through their rehabilitation center in the Gulf of Mexico. They also collaborate with government agencies and like-minded organizations to protect nests of endangered kemp’s ridley turtles across Rancho Nuevo, Tamaulipas, and Mexico. In addition, they run virtual education programs in turtle rehabilitation for kids aged 3-18, and an online Be a Vet program for budding young animal lovers. 

What they’ve achieved: Every year, Sea Turtle Inc. rehabilitates between 40 and 100 injured sea turtle patients and releases them back into the wild. Furthermore, since 1999, they have conducted daily patrols across 50 miles of the Southernmost Texas beaches to protect nesting females and transfer vulnerable eggs to incubation facilities. In 2022, they also provided funding to a sea turtle hospital in Glyfada and a sea turtle nesting project in Sri Lanka to further sea turtle conservation worldwide. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Sea Turtle Inc. through their website. You can also support the charity by adopting a sea turtle or by purchasing items from their online shop

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities for protecting sea turtles. However, you may have a particular charity you want to support. Let’s look at what you can do to ensure your contribution has the most significant impact.

  • Check out the charity website. Charities that are worthy of your donations are transparent in their mission and their figures. Familiarize yourself with their history, mission, and values. Their website usually is the best place to start.
  • Identify the charity’s mission. Without a goal, the charity is likely to fail. If the charity’s mission isn’t clear, it’s probably worth looking for a charity that does have a clear mission. 
  • Check if the charity has measurable goals. An effective charity has clear goals. You want to know your donation will help the charity reach its goals. But if it doesn’t have targets, it’s likely to fail or squander your gift. The charity should be able to account for its spending and supply evidence of the work they do.
  • Assess the successes or goals the charity has achieved. You wouldn’t invest in a business if it kept missing its targets. In the same way, charities are like this too. If no one is assessing a charity’s progress in reaching its targets, the chances are they’re not making a substantial positive change.
  • Check the charity’s financials and stats. Trustworthy organizations will publish financial statements and reports each year. Some might be exempt from having to do so, but they should be able to provide them to public members who are interested in donating.
  • Locate sources who work with or benefit from the charity. Word of mouth and first-hand experience of a charity’s work lets you know the charity’s quality. If you’re able to do so, check out the charity for yourself or speak to someone familiar with it. This way, your donation will go to the right place. 

How Can You Best Support These Charities?

After you’ve made your decision, it’s time for you to decide on how you’d like to help the charities you’ve chosen. Check how you can help – each charity runs specific programs that have unique aims. Find out what the aim of such programs is and whether they are right for you. 

Here are a few ways you can help your chosen charity:

  • Donate money. You can find donation pages on the website of most charities. Your donation can be a one-time payment, or you can set it to be deducted regularly at different intervals. You can mostly pay via credit card, but some charities also take PayPal or Bitcoin payments.
  • Buy their official merchandise. The charities can also raise money by selling merchandise. So, you can support them by buying the mugs, shirts, caps, pens, pencils, and any other such items they may be selling. Ideally, you should buy as much as you can to share and spread the word about the charity’s activities.
  • Donate a percentage of your online purchases. If you bought anything on sites like Amazon lately, you’d find a prompt asking you to donate to your favorite charities through their Amazon Smile program. You can set this up so that your chosen charities will get a fraction of your online purchases.
  • Engage in volunteer work. As you’ve seen from our descriptions above, some charities engage in a lot of local and grassroots programs. You can help by taking on and organizing the program in your local area.
  • Help their fundraising efforts. You can spread the word about the charity in your workplace, school, church, etc., and hold creative fundraising drives on social media or offline within your small circles.
  • Share their stories. Most charities have compelling stories that you can share with your audience to attract more people to the cause.

Final Thoughts

Now it is up to you to select the charity that resonates most with you. And whichever charity you end up choosing and contributing to, we are sure that they will immensely appreciate your support. Hopefully, the information within this article has made this selection process a bit easier for you to support charities dedicated to protecting sea turtles – based on the causes that matter most to you.

Stay impactful,

PS: Finally, I want to leave you with a thought-provoking TED talk from Dan Pallotta, a leading philanthropic activist and fundraiser, about what is wrong with the way we think about charities – and what we can do about it:

Sources

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Carla Shaik

Carla is passionate about animal welfare and our natural environment and is on a mission to give you the knowledge you need to help protect our planet and all of its inhabitants. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare, is a teaching support officer at the College of West Anglia, and also works as a cat sitter in her local community. Aside from writing, she has a love of music, teaching her daughter how to play piano, and enjoys getting creative with craft activities.

Did you know that the internet is a huge polluter of the environment? But fortunately not this site. This site is powered by renewable energy and all hosting-related CO2 emissions are offset by three times as many renewable energy certificates. Find out all about it here.

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