2017 was a great year for both sea turtles and SEE Turtles. Research is showing an improving situation for a number of sea turtle populations around the world and several important nesting beaches had their strongest year on record. SEE Turtles became an independent non-profit, reached the 1 million hatchlings saved milestone, our conservation trips had their biggest impact to date, and our Too Rare To Wear program got off to a great start. And the best is yet to come!
Our decision to become an independent non-profit was a tough one. We had great support from our past fiscal sponsors Oceanic Society and The Ocean Foundation that helped us grow and thrive. Being an independent organization though will allow SEE Turtles to both grow and become more efficient. Our overhead costs will drop, allowing us to invest in growing our programs and saving more turtles over the long-term. We are very thankful to our wonderful new board of directors for and to Oceanic Society and The Ocean Foundation for their help in this transition.
Looking back, 2017 was the year we hit our first major milestone for our Billion Baby Turtles program, one million hatchlings saved. We also raised more than $6,000 to help restore Puerto Rico sea turtle conservation efforts. We’re thrilled to be able to support many important sea turtle nesting conservation programs and look forward to increasing our support for these programs and bringing in new partners.
Our Too Rare To Wear campaign, which started in late 2016, made great progress in elevating the issue of the turtleshell trade in the tourism industry, with more than 80 tour companies and conservation organizations partnering on the campaign, innovate educational tools, a ground-breaking report, and millions of people reached. Our Sea Turtle Conservation Tours had more than 100 travelers participate in trips with roughly 400 volunteer work shifts and more than $100,000 generated for turtle conservation and local communities.
Looking ahead, 2018 promises to be another exciting year. 2018 is our 10th anniversary and hopefully passing $1 million generated for conservation and communities. We are planning a month-long celebration with discounts on tours, giveaways, and much more, be sure to follow us on social media to learn more. We will also be expanding Too Rare To Wear to Asia, offering a great slate of conservation trips, and expanding our support to new nesting beaches through Billion Baby Turtles.
Thank you for joining us for this ride. SEE Turtles would not exist without our wonderful donors, travelers, schools, and partners.
-Brad Nahill, President