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STCB 30 years of successful conservation work on Bonaire

STCB 30 years of successful conservation work on Bonaire

KRALENDIJK – This year, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) is looking back on 30 years of successful conservation work on Bonaire. Sea turtles continue to be iconic for Bonaire thanks to the conservation efforts that have taken place on the island since the early 1990s. It is a great example of collaboration between the community, the non-profit sector and the government.

The goal that has been achieved is a change of perception and cultural value of sea turtles, from being an important food source to becoming iconic and appreciated as an important part for the overall health of Bonaire’s precious reef and at the same time for the island’s economy, as sea turtles are a charismatic species that attract divers to the island. 

Had the work not been done, sea turtles would most likely not be around the island anymore because of their (critically) endangered status worldwide. There are many other successful projects around the world. However, an overall success of stable populations globally has not been achieved yet, indicating that the work has to continue. 

Stable population

Some places, like Bonaire, went from seeing fewer individuals to a stable resident population. However, other places continue to see numbers declining. The migratory nature of sea turtles reminds us about the connectivity of things; changes in one place will certainly affect other places.

These precious animals invite all of us to work together both locally and internationally to try to stop their numbers declining further. Similar to many other species, many of which have already disappeared, sea turtles became threatened due to an increasing demand of the product, linked to the continuously growing human population, without any ‘user-plan’. Coexisting and sharing one planet in harmony requires a responsible and conscious attitude, and Bonaire’s community deserves credit for the work that has been done in the past 30 years. From a single individual who in 1991 decided “to do something about it” to the ongoing research and conservation work done by hundreds of people to save sea turtles. With the job done by volunteers, dedicated staff, supporting organizations, generous individual donors, interns, schools opening their doors to share knowledge with children, the government amending legislation to fully protect turtles, dive shops and other local and international companies, local non-profit partners: a combination of laughter and tears, STCB was created within this community, and it is entrenched on the island’s amazing identity and spirit. 


In turtle years, STCB would be considered an adult individual ready to breed for the rest of its existence. The life cycle of sea turtles is complex and full of dangers from the get-go. Now that STCB is a mature, professional organization, it is their mandate to continue to work systematically and with expertise to mitigate both human- and weather-related effects that threaten sea turtles. This can only be done with the ongoing support from people, organizations and institutions.

STCB staff and their Board would like to thank everyone who has been part of this 30-year journey. Each person involved is part of this successful story of protecting sea turtles on Bonaire.

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