President, International Sea Turtle Society


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The theme of the New Orleans Symposium is “Cultures”, in honor of all the cultures that have interacted, and continue to interact today, with sea turtle populations around the world. During the Symposium we will also honor the Culture of our Society, which focuses on the conservation and study of sea turtle species and their environments. The city of New Orleans is the perfect place for such celebration given its rich heritage; indeed, the region was first inhabited by Choctow, Houma, and other pre-Colombian native cultures. Later, the city was also influenced by French, Spanish, English, African and Cajun cultures. As a result, the multi-cultural life of the unique city of “Nawlins” (New Orleans) is dominated by festivals (two of the largest being Mardi Gras and the Jazz and Heritage Festival) and its amazing food. This rich cultural heritage and relative proximity to major southern cities, in addition to the exciting scientific program, likely will contribute to attract over 1000 attendees from nearly 80 countries to the Symposium.

Besides the regular sessions usually held at Symposia, the Nawlins Symposium will feature special sessions on Collaborative Fisheries, and the Biology and Conservation of Sea Turtles in the Gulf of Mexico and on the Eastern US Seaboard. Among the topics included in the program are marine turtle ecological interactions, linkages among scientists, coastal communities, turtles, humans, consumptive and non- consumptive use, collaborative research, community- based conservation, policy-makers and managers. On 11-13 April, we will convene and host several regional meetings and special workshops that will enrich our knowledge and complement our capacities for reaching our conservation goals. On 14-17 April, we will have the themed oral and poster sessions, an outstanding group of returning and new Exhibitors and Vendors, as well as traditional Symposium activities.

Evidence indicates that sea turtles evolved well over 100 million years ago; some evidence suggests that the early forms may have evolved over 200 million years ago, before dinosaurs. As a group, these reptiles have withstood various extinction events. However, current species are under significant stress, mainly as a result of technology and industrialization.

Indeed, data show that current populations are only a fraction of historical levels; this awareness and reality is what gave rise to our Society, to our Culture of conserving and understanding sea turtle species. This is the culture that together we will celebrate and renew in New Orleans. The symposium registration website will go live later this summer (http://iconferences. seaturtle.org/), and the deadline for early registration, abstracts and travel grants will be October 15th, 2013.

Please join us in New Orleans in April 2014 to celebrate CULTURES!

Roldan Valverde, President International Sea Turtle Society
34th Annual Symposium “CULTURES” New Orleans, LA, USA
April 10-17, 2014