|Abstract or Summary
- Remote areas are frequently homes to regional subpopulations of endangered green
sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) and their essential habitat. Local communities are often
the users and primary stewards of this valuable and charismatic resource. Recognizing
this, a Hatohobeian community group in Palau has engaged in longterm
and conservation management within Helen Reef Reserve. Here, I report on and
evaluate the motivations, monitoring methods, and results associated with this
program. I provide recommendations for future monitoring and recovery planning of
Helen green sea turtles based on field results, informal community interviews,
community capacity, and existing literature.
nesting female observation, nest monitoring, hatch success,
collection of tissue samples, and habitat assessment methods and results between April
19, 2005 and December 8, 2005 are provided. A total of 301 nests were recorded with
peak nesting activity in June. All 47 nesting females were measured and tagged and
301 nests were monitored. The total minimum number of emerged hatchlings is
estimated at 24,000. No correlations were found between carapace length and
fecundity or hatch success. Additionally, 50 foraging green turtles and 6 hawksbill
turtles were tagged.
Limited harvests for local consumption and cultural preservation, as well as beach
habitat protection emerge as the primary near term recommendations. Long term
recommendations focus on continued nesting and improved habitat monitoring toward
a population assessment, the creation of regional and international alliances for
collaborative efforts, and use of satellite telemetry tracking to link foraging and
nesting grounds of Helen turtles.
I have determined several key factors influencing the successful implementation of sea
turtle management and conservation at Helen in terms of (i) the structure of
partnerships; (ii) scales of biological systems and capacity; (iii) relative remoteness;
(iv) balance of costs and benefits; (v) adaptive capacity; and (vi) influence of
traditional systems. Results of case study comparisons show that successful
implementation of sea turtle conservation and management programs within the
Republic of Palau is more likely when a local community drives the process and has
the qualities of adaptability, capacity for truly bottomup
recognition of valuable aspects of traditional management systems, and ability to
generate tangible benefits. Lack of adaptive capacity, equitable benefits, civil society
leadership; as well as, topdown
management are identified as key limiting factors for
successful implementation of turtle conservation and management.
The Helen program emerges as a model for smallscale
community conservation and
management of wide ranging species demonstrating that an organic communitydriven
process is fundamental to successful local endangered species management.