1. FFI Australia
  2. FFI US
  3. Conservation Circle
Credit: Karen B. Winnick

Helping turtles head in the right direction

Posted on: 27.01.12 (Last edited) 29 June 2012

Karen Winnick, a Board member for Fauna & Flora International in the United States, is the author and illustrator of children’s books and an avid supporter of wildlife conservation. Recently she joined US Executive Director Katie Frohardt on a visit to our turtle project in Nicaragua.

What memories of Nicaragua! Midnight on the beach in Chacocente watching baby olive ridley turtles bubble out of the sand. First one baby turtle’s head, then another and another until there are perhaps a hundred emerging from the nest. And only a few feet away another nest and more baby turtles struggle to the surface. Soon the beach is bursting with baby turtles trying to make their way to the ocean. José Urteaga and his able team lead us in our efforts to assist them. Shoo away the vultures. Head the babies in the right direction. Reposition those that the surf has brought back.

Photo: Karen B. Winnick

And early the next morning we are back collecting baby turtles in buckets to be released when the sun goes down, when it is safer for them to make their way to the ocean.

José leads FFI’s efforts in Nicaragua to save the turtles and to help the local people to support and value these efforts as well as to preserve their other natural resources. With great charisma and a natural leadership style, José is doing an amazing job. Meeting with the local people and many school children (who are learning “No Come Los Huevos De Las Tortugas”), José and his team have made a a strong impact. There is much more to be done and I was so impressed with their tireless efforts.

Photo: Karen B. Winnick

My Nicaragua trip was filled with wonderful experiences. Hiking in Ometepe with Salvadora Morales to see parrots, kiskadees, caracaras, hummingbirds and those wonderfully noisy howler monkeys. A delicious home grown lunch, even the coffee, at a local finca.  A boat ride to watch the mama olive ridley turtles swimming near shore in preparation for laying their eggs en masse–the arribada. Ferry rides, cold showers, good food and visits to a volcano and museum. Sharing these experiences with Eugene Rutagarama, who came all the way from Rwanda, Katie, Amy, Julie, Lisa and Yaritza as well as José, Salva and the others made for the most memorable trip–full of laughter and many warm feelings. Without a doubt a highlight in my life!

Photo: Karen B. Winnick

Written by
Karen Winnick

Karen Winnick is an author and illustrator of children's picture books, including Lucy's Cave, Mr. Lincoln's Whiskers, Sybil's Night Ride, A Year Goes Round, Barn Sneeze, The Night of the Fireflies, Cassie's Sweet Berry Pie, Sandro's Dolphin and Patch & The Strings. Her paintings have been exhibited in local galleries, and her poetry has been published in magazines and anthologies. She has also produced a play, Kindertransport, about Jewish children sent to England during WWII. Karen serves as President of the Board of Commissioners for the Los Angeles Zoo; the Board of Trustees Emeritus at Brown University; and the Board of Directors of Fauna & Flora International. She and her husband, Gary, Chairman of Pacific Capital Group, support many education and literacy programs in Los Angeles and throughout the country. Karen received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Syracuse University. She also studied in Florence, Italy, at NYU, the School of Visual Arts, and at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Other posts by Karen B. Winnick
Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is a company limited by guarantee, incorporated in England and Wales, Registered Company Number 2677068. Registered Charity Number 1011102
Fauna & Flora International Australia (Ltd) is a company limited by guarantee, and recognised as a Charitable Institution (ABN 75 132 715 783, ACN 132715783)
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