Gwinneth Jones Reflects on Rollins College Students’ Summer Volunteer Experience

While on the island of Nusa Penida volunteering with Green Lion Sea Turtle Conservation, I realized that most problems in this world are not a result of the actions of malicious people who do not care about the world’s problems—they are a result of the actions of people who are simply uneducated on the issue. When examining the issue of sea turtle endangerment (specifically around the island of Nusa Penida), there are three main factors that are at fault: sea turtles and their eggs are considered a delicacy among the Indonesian locals, fishermen will many times dispose of their used fishing nets into the ocean which ultimately entrap sea turtles and other sea life, and island locals dispose of their trash in their backyards which back up onto the beach making it unfit for sea turtles to lay their eggs.

Rollins College students Gwinneth Jones, Kevin Chadaideh, and Isaac Gorres working at Green Lion Turtle Conservation in Nusa Penida

After seeing the impact of talking to these locals and fishermen and educating them of the consequences of their actions, I believe that ignorance is the number one cause for the current state of sea turtles, and education is therefore the number one way to solve it.

The sea turtle conservation center at Green Lion first began as a very small group of locals who recognized the issue and wanted to do something about it. They recognized the flaw in their own way of living, and they realized that while doing damage control such as picking up trash off of the beach and rescuing turtle eggs from markets and fishermen, is important, it would be a never ending cycle unless they placed education at the top of their concern. So, Green Lion made it a priority to go to local schools and speak to the children about the consequences of improper waste disposal, and they taught them how to dispose of trash properly so that these children could pass on the knowledge to their parents. Green Lion also waited on the beaches for boats to come in so that they could talk to fishermen about the endangered state of sea turtles and how the catching and selling of turtles and their eggs, and the disposal of their nets into the ocean encouraged the endangerment.

Because Green Lion placed education as their top concern, the children and fishermen were able to assist in the efforts to increase the sea turtle population around Nusa Penida. Many fishermen ended up partnering with Green Lion by bringing injured turtles caught in their nets into the rehabilitation facility, and bringing sea turtle eggs from the beach to the Green Lion hatchery to prevent other poachers from accessing them. The children also play a large role in helping to solve the issue—because they are now educated on why they should practice proper waste disposal, they bring trash from their own homes to the concrete waste bins (built by Green Lion volunteers) at their local schools.

Rollins College and other students at the Green Lion Turtle Conservation program in Nusa Penida

If education was not emphasized at the beginning of Green Lion’s efforts, I do not think that their organization would not have made it nearly as far as they have today. Because Green Lion focuses on proactive methods such as education in addition to their reactive methods such as turtle rehabilitation, they are able to progress farther in their efforts to increase sea turtle population on Nusa Penida.

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