Age of Union Alliance, a Canadian non-profit organization, donated US$1.5 million over five years to Nature Seekers, which focuses on the conservation and protection of sea turtles.
This will be the largest private donation in Nature Seekers history.
Age of Union Alliance is led by tech leader and environmental activist Dax Dasilva.
Dasilva told the Express from his Montreal home last week that the alliance looks for new conservation projects every year.
Nature Seekers, from the village of Matura, were chosen because they have made a difference in preserving one of the world’s last major leatherback turtle nesting sites, Dasilva said.
“When I met Suzan Baptiste, Executive Director of Nature Seekers, I was incredibly inspired by her determination and persistence in helping to move this coastal community in Trinidad from turtle poaching to turtle conservation.
“We hope that with the help of Age of Union, Nature Seekers will now be better equipped to protect these beautiful endangered turtles who, through their incredible migratory journeys, also have ties to Canada,” said Dasilva.
Dax Dasilva said the funds will allow Nature Seekers to patrol and protect nesting sites throughout the annual season to maintain or increase the survival rate of adult and hatchling leatherback turtles.
“New drone technology will now expand their capabilities. Collect data during the nesting season to better understand the physical health of the nesting population and monitor the inter-nesting movements and migration of satellite-tagged turtles. This work is done in partnership with Dr. Michael James of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Sea Turtle Network,” he said.
The funds, Dasilva said, will help collect data and assess the potential impacts of climate change on the turtle population at the Matura nesting site, as well as create climate adaptation and mitigation plans. .
He said the funds will also be used to design and deploy artificial hatcheries to promote the survival of at-risk nests and enable the collection of new data sets.
Suzan Baptiste, Managing Director of Nature Seekers, said, “We couldn’t be more grateful for this generous gift from Age of Union. Leatherback sea turtles are recognized as a keystone species, and their disappearance could have global consequences for our oceans and their ecosystems. Now, with the help of Age of Union, these turtles have an incredible chance of survival.
This is the ninth conservation project announced by Age of Union in less than a year after Dasilva’s initial commitment of $40 million.
Nature Seekers’ funding also aligns with Age of Union’s world premiere of its short documentary “Caught” in Toronto on the evening of September 12.
In partnership with Sea Shepherd, the film reveals the shocking consequences of industrial fishing and overconsumption, depleting ocean ecosystems, with a particular focus on dolphin bycatch off the coast of France.