Sea turtle conservation in Raja Ampat, the epicenter of marine biodiversity

A couple of years ago, when still living in Bali, Geoff was interviewed by a local newspaper on his sea turtle work in Raja Ampat. The newspaper has disappeared since, but the interview was posted on a blog entry here. The Piai Island green turtle conservation program started after Geoff led Indonesia's first satellite tracking project of hard-shelled sea turtles (sponsored by The Nature Conservancy, WWF and Conservation International). Upon landing at remote Piai, at the northwestern tip of Raja Ampat, his team discovered 6 poacher camps scattered along the beach. At night, every single turtle that crawled out of the sea to nest was immediately butchered. By killing the female turtles the poachers were removing the most valuable individuals of the population and were driving the Piai rookery to certain extinction. A remarkable local conservationist, Ferdiel Ballamu, was part of that first expedition. He decided to protect Piai's turtles. Geoff and Ferdiel worked hand in hand, and with support of Conservation International and local villagers, Piai became a haven of peace for these animals and an example of a successful conservation project. The initial goal of protecting the turtles had an unforeseen effect on other inhabitants of the reefs. Read more about this here!