The story of ETC started when German marine biologist Maike Heidemeyer gave a presentation about coastal-marine conservation near El Jobo in 2014. Right after the talk, a group of locals lead by Ricardo Obando, the siblings Randall and Kembly Mora approached Maike and asked for help to protect the local turtles. From the beginning, they were a driving force, invited Maike to El Jobo and tried to convince her about the extraordinary turtle activity they experience all year long. However, Maike, still a scientist, wanted to see some data. Since she was also involved in another marine conservation NGO at that time, she offered to teach the locals how to collect data, promised to keep in touch and returned to her project.
Full of confidence and energy, the locals patrolled the beaches and recorded every turtle activity as Maike had shown them. They learned a lot about sea turtle species and could identify most of them after a few months. During the whole time, the locals were in contact with Maike and sent her update reports.
After a couple of months, Maike was convinced by the data. The records did not only show many turtles, but they did also appear off their usual nesting seasons. Maike got really interested in the bays and beaches around El Jobo and came to visit the village again. The locals and the research sat together, developed a sustainable community-based strategy and soon after, ETC was founded in 2016. The founders were mostly local families, fishermen, housewives, local tourism operators and scientists, so since the beginning of ETC, we have been combining local passion with scientific interests! The name ‘Equipo Tora Carey’ emphasises our characterising aspects; the Spanish word ‘Equipo’ translates into ‘team’ and ‘Tora Carey’ is the local name for the endangered Indo Pacific turtle species we protect.
Since our foundation, we have added other conservation and research activities to our portfolio. We started collecting data and conducting research on rays and parrots found around El Jobo. Soon, children also became interested in the marine species living in their waters and the Environmental Protectors were born; they receive classes every week and take active part in the beach cleaning as well as monitoring activities. Tourists, especially foreign students got involved; they come to El Jobo to volunteer and learn about marine life and sustainable tourism. By lodging in houses of the village and participating in activities offered by locals, they also contribute to the local families’ income.
Over time, we have become a movement of many ordinary people making a difference. All together, we strive to protect the incredibly rich nature of the Punta Descartes region!
You want to read about our founding story from an external source? Then here is an article for you!