Greetings from the Sparkling City by the Sea! I am thrilled to announce that registration is now open for the 5th Southeast Regional Sea Turtle Network (SERSTN) Meeting that will be held on February 4th-6th, 2020 at the Omni Hotel in Corpus Christi, Texas. This is the first major sea turtle conference held in Texas in two decades. We hope that many people from throughout the southeast U.S. join us for this informative meeting and opportunity to network with friends and colleagues!
Many people have been hard at work for more than a year to help organize the meeting and try to make it the best SERSTN Meeting yet. This year’s meeting theme is Exploring New Frontiers. The meeting will showcase new areas of research and conservation efforts for sea turtles in the southeast U.S. The program will feature interesting Workshops, Keynote Speakers, and Invited Presentations, and a Special Session about past, present, and future research and conservation efforts in Texas. Through our Call for Abstracts, we should attract many other interesting potential oral and poster presentation topics. These abstracts will be paneled and the final line-up of presentations and posters should be announced by mid-November.
Workshop topics span a wide range of topics relevant to sea turtle conservation and research. Back by popular demand, there will be an all-day workshop on Sea Turtle Health and Care, organized and led by Dr. Terry M. Norton, DVM, Dipl. ACZM and Director, Veterinarian, and Founder of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. There will also be half-day workshops focusing on Women in Science, Grant Writing, Social Science Survey Design, and Predator Management.
Three informative and inspirational Keynote Presentations will be highlights of the meeting. On Wednesday, February 5th, we will hear from Dr. Thane Wibbels, Professor, Department of Biology, University of Alabama at Birmingham. Thane’s distinguished career has included four decades of focus on sea turtle research and conservation. He has been a first-hand witness to, and integral part of, the evolution of Kemp’s ridley conservation in the Gulf of Mexico. His presentation will include a historic perspective of how sea turtle conservation efforts, and will conclude with how technology is expanding the frontiers of our conservation capabilities. On Thursday, February 6th, there will be a combined Keynote focusing on efforts by Texas-based researchers working to quantify and educate the public about marine debris. The first presentation will be by Christine Figgener, a Ph.D. student at Texas A&M University, who changed the world with a single video that she recorded of her research team removing a plastic straw from the nares of an olive ridley. This video and Christine’s associated public education efforts led to a worldwide movement to eliminate the use of plastic straws and many accolades for Christine. Her presentation will focus on the importance of our actions and daily choices concerning plastic products. Following her presentation will be Jace Tunnell, Reserve Director at the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, Texas. Jace has produced and directed more than 100 short videos about science, nature, and research. He has served on over 20 science and environmental committees across the United States, and has received several awards for his work. Jace’s presentation will focus on his Citizen Science Nurdle Patrol, the impacts of plastic pellets on sea turtles, and the future direction of the program.
There are many lovely attractions in the Corpus Christi area and we hope that you take time to enjoy them while you are here. We look forward to seeing everyone in Corpus Christi, Texas in February 2020.
Dr. Donna J. Shaver