World Sea Turtle Day at the Cal Academy of Science

leatherback turtle The Cal Academy of Science was packed on Thursday night with an estimated 2,400 people who came to celebrate sea turtles on World Sea Turtle Day.  They came to enjoy demonstrations, interactive exhibits and an amazing show using the Planetarium’s dome showing how these gentle and endangered creatures migrate thousands of miles across the vast ocean as they travel from their nesting beaches to faraway foraging grounds. The evening won’t soon be forgotten, it was pure blue magic.

Staff & volunteers from The Sea Turtle Restoration Project, Spawn, and Got Mercury.org, along with supporters from Sea Stewards and The Center for Biological Diversity transformed African Hall into a teaching hospital about everything from ‘what does a turtle egg look like’ to international threats such as commercial fisheries, poaching and big oil interests. On the central piazza stage was a model of a TED (Turtle Extruder Device) required by Federal Law to be installed on commercial shrimping boats to give sea turtles an escape hatch from their nets to avoid drowning. It was clear that many were surprised to learn about the consequences to marine life caused by their appetite for seafood, especially shrimp.

Scott Benson from NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Loggerhead and TEDScience Center’s leatherback turtle program took us on a grand tour across the Pacific using the biggest computer monitor at the Cal Academy of Science – the planetarium’s dome itself –  to demonstrate the incomprehensibly large distances covered by these turtles as they migrate from Indonesia & Papua New Guinea to Northern California, Oregon & Washington in search of their favorite eats, the Brown Sea Nettle.  Little did the audience know that just 20 minutes before the show, there had been a malfunction in the dome. No problema, the CAS geniuses crossed a few wires and fixed it in plenty of time for the World Turtle Day Presentation.

Sadly this year has been a tough one for sea turtles. Between the Deepwater Horizon Disaster and an international community that still doesn’t ‘get it’ about how many ways we compromise wildlife, it’s been hard for endangered turtles to rebound. All we can hope is that by continuing to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves and educating the public, life will get better for our sea turtle friends in years to come.

Chevron Annual Shareholders Meeting 2011

Chevron World Headquarters
San Ramon, CA
May 25, 2011

With $20 billion in profits for 2010, and in the face of rising gas prices contributing to crippling worldwide inflation, oil giant Chevron met with opposition Wednesday as activists from across the globe converged at their world headquarters to give shareholders and executives a reality check about the ‘True Cost of Chevron’.

Issues ranged from the massive contamination of the Ecuadorian Amazon to human rights abuse in Burma and elsewhere. They have already been found guilty in Ecuadorian Court of having caused pollution in the Amazon at a devastating level, but Chevron’s lawyers continue to appeal and refuse to take responsibility for their devastating environmental policies. As one Chevron executive states, “It sure doesn’t look good, Chevron vs. the Amazon villages”.  

Earlier this week, advocates from the Rainforest Action Network in Northern California unfurled a 50’ banner on the lower deck of the Richmond Bridge blasting Chevron for it’s toxic legacy in the Amazon.

Representatives from Ecuador, Angola, Nigeria, Indonesia, Thailand, The Philippines, The Tar Sands region of Canada, Alaska, the Kimberly Region of Australia, Burma, and locals from Richmond, CA gathered to let Chevron shareholders hear about the true cost of maintaining our addiction to Chevron’s oil.  The folks from the Turtle Island Restoration Network were even there to represent the oceans and it’s creatures who cannot speak for themselves.



After being banned from last year’s meeting in Houston, 22 speakers were at last able to address shareholders from the podium. It was heartbreaking to hear stories of entire families lost to cancer, to see the tears and suffering first hand. But Chevron has not yet agreed to pay the fines in Ecuador, and it continues to make plans to expand its oil ventures to other ecologically and culturally delicate areas. 

These activists will not back down until their voices are heard and their grievances addressed.  As Antonia Juhasz from The Global Network states, “we will continue to work to fundamentally transform and restrict the way Chevron does business until we no longer need it’s operations at all.” 

For me, having spent most of this past year focused on the mess that we have created in the Gulf of Mexico, today was a huge wakeup call. I saw stark evidence of worldwide human rights violations, ‘pollute and run’ tactics, and multiple levels of environmental devastation far beyond what I previously knew about.  If you’d like to learn more about the havoc that Chevron has brought to the four corners of the globe, follow the links below. 

Participating Organizations

Amazon Watch

Asian Pacific Environmental Network

Burma America Democratic Alliance

Justice in Nigeria Now

 




Rainforest Action Network


Sea Turtle Restoration Project


The Global Exchange

The True Cost of Chevron