Matura Beach, Trinidad—This tropical island off the coast of Venezuela is known for its vibrant ethnic diversity and rich cultural events. It is also the site of one of the most important nesting beaches for endangered leatherback turtles, enormous reptiles that can weigh a ton and dive deeper than many whales. Each year, more than 2,000 female leatherbacks haul themselves onto Matura Beach to lay their eggs.
With leatherback populations declining more quickly than any other large animal in modern history, each turtle is precious. You can help an internationally acclaimed community organization, Nature Seekers, patrol this nesting beach and collect information on visiting and (depending on the season) hatching turtles. Take this opportunity to get up close to what's been called "the last living dinosaur,” while helping prevent its extinction.
Meet the Scientists
Mr. Sammy was the President of Nature Seekers from 1995-2000 and has been involved with the Matura Community Tourism and Conservation Programme since its inception in 1990. He is the Managing Director of Nature Seekers and oversees day-to-day management of the Matura Turtle Conservation Programme, administering research, guiding tours, and raising funds. He is the Coordinator of the Matura Turtle Tagging Project and one of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Newtork’s (WIDECAST) Trinidad coordinators. Mr. Sammy has an Associate Degree in Tourism Management, and received the Hummingbird Medal, Trinidad’s highest conservation award. During each Earthwatch expedition, he will provide training and support for volunteers and will communicate with Dr. Eckert on scientific issues.
Dr. Scott Eckert
Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network;
Dr. Eckert has worked for more than two decades in the field of pelagic marine vertebrate research and conservation, focusing largely on sea turtles. He is a pioneer in the study of leatherback sea turtles, particularly in understanding the important role they play in the marine environment. He holds a Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Georgia, having studied the diving and foraging of leatherbacks. He held a postdoctoral research appointment at the Physiological Research Laboratory of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego before joining the National Marine Fisheries Service as Chairman of the US Pacific Marine Turtle Recovery Team. In August of 1992 he left the Fisheries Service to join Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute as a Senior Research Biologist, where he continued his work as Chairman of the Recovery Team.