Navigating the Future:
39th Annual Sea Turtle Symposium Held in
Charleston, South Carolina
Larry Wood, Ph.D.
The 2019 sea turtle symposium included 7 days of lectures and
poster presentations that cover topics from nesting biology to
fisheries management to publlic education. Representatives from
over 50 countries had the opportunity to present and discuss their
projects, results, and future plans with the international sea turtle
community. Next year, we’ll be visiting Cartagena, Colombia.
The International Sea Turtle Symposium is an event that most of us in the sea turtle community look forward to every spring. It has provided the opportunity for us to travel the globe, visit new places and cultures, and create memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. The meeting typically alternates between domestic and international locations, and this year’s meeting was held in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. The theme of the meeting was “Navigating the Future”; which reflects not only the amazing natural abilities of sea turtles, but also our ability to work together to ensure humans and sea turtles can share a bright tomorrow.

Ms. Liberty Boyd presented the findings of her study on the
barnacles and corals that live on the shells of hawksbill sea
turtles. Her project was in partnership with Dr. Larry Wood
and The Florida Hawksbill Project, sponsored by the National
Save The Sea Turtle Foundation.
Over 800 participants from more than 50 countries attended lectures and viewed poster presentations on topics that included fisheries and threats, management and policy, anatomy and physiology, population biology, nesting biology, education, outreach, and advocacy. Throughout the week there were also special sessions and meetings, a video night, the ever-raucus Live Auction, and the parting Banquet where students and sea turtle ‘dignitaries’ are awarded for their work and accomplishments. We were proud to see Florida Atlantic University’s Boris Tezak receive the Archie Carr best oral presentation award in the biology section, and both Dr. Jeanette Wyneken and Dr. Mike Salmon receive recognition for their remarkable long-term contributions to sea turtle biology and conservation. Dr. Larry Wood presented a poster that discussed hawksbill sea turtle abundance in the Florida Keys, and co-presented a poster with a student from Florida international University about the various barnacles, corals, and other organisms that live on the shells of hawksbills. We were thrilled to be invited to barnacle-expert Dr. John Zardus’ lab at the Citadel to see his remarkable collection of specimens and discuss future collaborations.

We were treated to extremely thought-provoking Keynote presentations from Dr. Elena Mustakova-Possardt, Dr. Colin Limpus, Dr. Blair Witherington, and Dr. Jay Nichols, and of course got to catch up with friends and colleagues from around the world. The National Save The Sea Turtle Foundation is a proud sponsor of the International Sea Turtle Society.

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