Since 2017, Maha has supported the Tamar Turtle Sanctuary Project in Brazil. The support helps the Tamar project in monitoring of sea turtle nests near the Tartaruga operations. The Tamar Sanctuary Project was started by a group of students from the Federal University of Rio Grande in 1980. Today the project is internationally recognized as one of the most successful marine conservation developments. It has become a model for other conservation programs in Brazil and other countries because it incorporates conservation, research and socio-environmental work with communities.
The project started as an attempt to save the five sea turtle species: Olive Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta), Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) and Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) in Brazil from extinction. The eggs from the female turtles were once hunted as a food source for the coastal communities. Additionally, the improper use of fishing gear contributed the inadvertent catch of sea turtles, further pushing these species to extinction. The project, together with enacted Brazilian law, has helped mitigate these threats and the results have been positive.
Protecting the Brazilian turtles is important because turtles play a role in the ecosystems they inhabit. These turtles are migratory species and move between different water bodies that differ in ecosystem type (coral reefs, sandy substrate floors, and sea grasses). As they move, they transfer energy between the environments and are considered ecosystem engineers due to their influence on the different ecosystems. Turtles serve as disperses for various organisms like barnacles, tunicates and mollusks, which has an important impact on the ecosystems. The turtles are also a source of food for many marine and terrestrial predators, some of which may be key stone species to an ecosystem. Other organisms have been observed feeding off of turtle shell and internal organs, which also contributes to the ecosystem and food chain.
Tamar Project Highlights
- All five species of sea turtles in Brazil are showing signs of recovery,
- 1,100km of beaches are protected for sea turtle nesting,
- Approximately 30,000 protected sea turtle nests each year,
- Over 37,000,000 turtles have been returned to the ocean in 38 years,
- 1,800 job opportunities created,
- Approximately 1,000,000 visitors have visited the Tamar Visitor Centers
We work very closely with the staff of the Tamar Turtle Sanctuary Project. Prior to any drilling and expansion work at the Tartaruga field, the Tamar project managers are consulted to ensure minimal impact to the environment. One of the main impact sources for the turtle project is artificial light. We have on multiple occasions self-imposed light restrictions and light mitigation techniques to minimize the impacts on nesting sea turtles.
Then by providing the Tamar project team with an all-terrain vehicle, we help the Tamar project monitor the extensive coastline for nesting turtles. We also assist with fuel to the Tamar all-terrain vehicle. In addition to providing equipment and material, the Tamar project provide employment opportunities. To ensure accountability of the project’s progress, we receive and review reports sent from the Tamar Turtle Sanctuary.
This information and more can be found on the Tamar Sea Turtle website found here.