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Ronald Porter
Acting Director of Service Learning

Eckerd College
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711

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Service Learning

Service Learning

Trinidad: Spring Break 08


View photos from Trinidad

On the southernmost island of the Bahamas, off the coast of Venezuela are the islands Trinidad & Tobago. This year, 13 students took the long journey to work with a small NGO, SOS Tobago (Save Our Sea Turtles), with their mission to save the dwindling populations of leatherbacks, the largest sea turtle in the world, on the island of Tobago. Sea turtles have a long history of being a food source for coastal populations. Their eggs, meat, and shells are all highly prized commodities. Despite the wide spread criminalization of poaching, sea turtle populations have been steeply declining worldwide. SOS?s main duty is to monitor known sea turtle nesting sites in Tobago as well as collect data concerning their movement, growth, and population size.

Nesting beaches were monitored by students on a daily basis, once in the morning and for extended periods of time at night because turtles typically nest under the cover of darkness. Night patrols lasted for four hours and morning patrols usually lasted for 1-2 hrs. Once a turtle is found, the main duty of students and staff was to ensure that the turtle remains unmolested for the duration of the nesting process, which can last 3 or more hours. Students also helped SOS move settle into their new headquarters, an old house, by helping to spruce up the building with a fresh coat of paint, clearing debris, and making signs.

Students camped in tents adjacent to a small farm, in between two small towns, seconds from beautiful Grafton Beach. The camp ground was simple and rugged with a small out-house and a fire pit for a kitchen. Life, for a week, was no different from that of the locals. Food was simple, but delicious, often with students struggling to catch their own food for the day.

View photos from Trinidad

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