Upwell envisions healthy populations of sea turtles thriving in all the world’s temperate and tropical oceans, free from threats related to fishing, ship strikes, plastic pollution, climate change and other detrimental human activities.
Sea turtle conservation to date has largely focused on protecting nesting beaches. Relatively little is known about how sea turtles use marine environments. Only a fraction of female sea turtles are tracked after their departure from nesting beaches and far fewer males are tracked. Even less is known about the the time between the departure of hatchlings from nesting beaches until females reach maturity and return to their natal beaches to nest; scientists refer to this period as “the lost years.”
We reduce threats to sea turtles by learning more about how they make use of the marine environments where they spend most of their lives. Upwell’s satellite and acoustic tracking efforts generate greater knowledge of sea turtle behavior, foraging patterns and migration routes. We use this data to develop predictive models based on real-time oceanographic conditions and fisheries observer records. Through targeted community outreach and strong partnerships with policymakers and resource users, Upwell leverages these models to reduce negative human interactions with turtles at sea. We also develop tools and outreach programs to enlist sailors and other constituencies on the water to act as citizen scientists, providing observations and datapoints to further improve our predictive models.