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Work of J. Nichols '89 to Save Sea Turtles Produces Results, Reports San Diego Union-Tribune

January 21, 2008

J Nichols Turtle Kiss.jpgJanuary 21, 2008, Greencastle, Ind. - "The goal was not to amass academic data," J. Nichols, senior scientist at the Ocean Conservancy and 1989 graduate of DePauw University, says of his research involving sea turtles. "The goal was to save a species." Nichols is noted in a San Diego Union-Tribune article, "Slow, steady wins conservation race: S.D. ecologists, Baja fishermen work 15 years to save sea turtles."

In the early 1990s, Nichols and Jeffrey Seminoff, a fellow graduate student at the University of Arizona, "wanted to unravel the mysteries of the loggerheads' life cycle," writes Terry Rodgers. "But they soon realized they could make a more important impact by engaging fishermen and villagers in turtle conservation efforts." The two scientists "earned credibility with the locals by coming back year after year to areas such as Magdalena Bay. They stayed there for months at a time, speaking Spanish, attending weddings and even sharing meals of poached turtle to show they weren't condescending."

Their work paid a large dividend for endangered J Nichols Waterside.jpgloggerhead turtles with a "landmark turtle conservation accord signed last fall between Groupo Tortuguero, a Mexican environmental group overseen by Pro Peninsula, and a fishing cooperative near Magdalena Bay on Baja's Pacific coast. The cooperative's members agreed to give up their longline fishing gear. In return, Pro Peninsula and the Ocean Conservancy raised $10,000 for them to buy less harmful gear, such as traps and surface nets," reports Rodgers.

Access the complete article at the Union-Tribune's Web site.

Wallace J. Nichols, who is known by his middle initial, is also president of the International Sea Turtle Society, and a researcher for the California Academy of Sciences. He is seen in Leonardo DiCaprio's documentary, The 11th Hour and returned to campus in the fall to participate in DePauw Discourse 2007.

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