Sea Turtles 911 – Hainan Normal University

Sea Turtles 911 Founder, Frederick Yeh, and U.S. Ambassador, Max Baucus, Release Satellite Tagged Turtle

The Sea Turtles 911-Hainan Normal University EcoPartnership aims to empower local communities to safeguard the health of the ocean, through: (1) environmental monitoring of persistent organic pollutants (POP) and climate change impacts on marine turtles using gas chromatography, satellite tracking, and laparoscopy; (2) habitat restoration of sea grass beds using aquaculture techniques; and (3) ecotourism development for Chinese tourists to observe marines turtles in nature.

Key Accomplishments:

On January 15, 2016, Sea Turtles 911 founder, Frederick Yeh, was joined by then-U.S. Ambassador Baucus and volunteers to release two satellite tagged turtles into the South China Sea. Under the auspices of the EcoPartnership, the movements of these turtles will be tracked for conservation research purposes. The satellite data will provide vital information on where to establish Marine Protected Areas (MPA) to focus sea turtle conservation efforts efficiently. For more information, please visit the links below.

On March 4, 2017, student volunteers from Sea Turtles 911 and Hainan Normal University won first place in the "2017 Volunteer Service Competition" for their volunteer service in which they taught sea turtle conservation to younger students in rural areas of Hainan province, including Haikou, Baoting, Danzhou, Ding'an, and Tunchang counties. This effort empowered local community members to safeguard health of the ocean, raised public awareness for the protection of endangered sea turtles, and increased community capacity and involvement in sea turtle conservation.

On April 25, 2017, United States Consul General Charles Bennett visited Hainan Normal University to present the U.S.-China Sea Turtle Conservation Scholarship to two students, Tina Zhang and Kaia Guo. Since 2014, college senior students Tina and Kaia have been volunteering for Sea Turtles 911 by educating tourists, children, and other students about the importance of conserving sea turtles. In October 2016, they trained 15 other university students to be volunteer educators who then taught sea turtle conservation to 800 elementary, middle, and high school students in rural China from November 2016 to January 2017. 

In August 2019, Professors from Hainan Normal University, including Dr. Haitao Shi, visited Sea Turtles 911 to see first-hand the wild sea turtles in Hawaii. Although this was not a demonstration of a specific technology, it was a demonstration of the success of turtle conservation and why China and the United States should continue working hard to save turtles in the Asia Pacific region. Chinese professors also met with other American professors in Hawaii. That year in November, Sea Turtles 911 also hosted Stanford University’s Dr. Larry Crowder, who is an expert in sustainable fisheries management. 

The Sea Turtles 911-Hainan Normal University EcoPartnership project won national awards for youth volunteerism in 2020.

Work Plan: 
Task 1 Establish Baseline Monitoring Data in China for Sea Turtle Conservation Research
Current baseline data from sea turtle research in the China region remain sparse to adequately monitor ecological risks and disturbances. Conservation research studies on marine turtles within or near Chinese waters will be conducted to provide a yardstick with which to gauge and alert potential changes attributable to disease or ecological hazards.
Task 2 Establish U.S.-China Sea Turtle Conservation Exchange Programs
Cross-cultural educational programs in the United States and China will be developed and implemented to build capacity for long-term marine turtle conservation efforts. This will include launching promotional films of celebrities with marine turtles in nature in Hawaii by September 2016 to coincide with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress.
Task 3 Train Enforcement Agencies to Efficiently Combat the Illegal Trade of Marine Turtles
The United States will share its expertise in multinational wildlife trafficking enforcement operations with China through enforcement training workshops so that China will have the capacity to strengthen implementation of international agreements and arrangements that protect sea turtles, positioning the country as an international team player in one of the most urgent issues worldwide.
Task 4 Develop Sustainable Aquaculture Systems to Open New Seafood Trade Markets
China will develop integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) systems and other sustainable aquaculture practices with the United States to reduce the incentives for sea turtle farming, which removes wild turtles from natural habitats. By improving the environmental conditions for fish production, local fishermen can increase economic opportunities by trading with new markets insisting upon sustainable seafood products.
Task 5 Develop Monitoring and Evaluation Systems throughout Project Implementation
The project will develop and implement a monitoring and evaluation system that encompasses data collection, data analysis, and sharing and application of results. Ultimately, monitoring and evaluation systems should lead to change and should be taken into account in the planning stage of new activities.