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  • Protecting sea turtles of the Coral Triangle and the long-term benefits of conservation tourism

Protecting sea turtles of the Coral Triangle and the long-term benefits of conservation tourism

  • 19 Feb 2019
  • 7:15 PM - 9:00 PM
  • USC, Sunshine Coast, Lecture Theatre 2


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RGSQ Lecture Series

Geoffrey Gearheart

In 2005 Geoffrey teamed up with "YPP", a local Papuan non-profit, to save Raja Ampat's most important sea turtle nesting sites. Poachers were killing every animal that came up the nesting beaches of the uninhabited Islands of Sayang and Piai. Through sometimes challenging interactions with the tribal owners of the Islands, the turtles of Sayang and Piai were saved. A permanent patrol post was built and former poachers were trained to protect the animals. 13 years onward, the results are compelling: from 900 nests in 2006 the rookery has seen over 4,500 nests in 2016 – a five-fold increase. Not only turtles benefited from the program, as the surrounding reefs have recovered from blast and cyanide fishing. These resources are now attracting "conservation tourists" who, by visiting these pristine islands, provide direct income to the tribal owners. They also contribute to a dedicated fund enabling to directly help Raja Ampat's conservation heroes through tax-deductible donations. 

Born in Holland, raised in France, Indonesia and Latin America, Geoffrey Gearheart is a French/American citizen. He now lives on Australia's Sunshine Coast with his family. He holds a PhD in Oceanography from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (USA). He specialised in sea turtles (oceanic dispersal of leatherback hatchlings) and Antarctic megafauna distribution (emperor penguins, seals, etc.). Geoff has worked in marine conservation throughout Indonesia since 2005, mostly in West Papua, where he advised local NGOs on sea turtle conservation. He is currently the Regional Adviser to Conservation International's sea turtle program for the Coral Triangle region. He takes conservationists and nature lovers on expeditions to West Papua to experience first- hand some of the natural wonders of this remote corner of our Planet and founded the "community based sea turtle conservation fund for West Papua." More information can be found on his website:  

Venue: Lecture Theatre 2 (K Block) Parking area P6

The Royal Geographical Society of Queensland Inc
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