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Voluntourism Spotlight: Help Sea Turtles on Hainan Island

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turtleHainan Island is the southernmost province of the People’s Republic of China, and is located in the South China Sea. It is positioned close to Vietnam, and is home to multiple species of animals, including frogs, butterflies, and sea life. While visiting the island, travelers can help sea turtles who have been taken away from poachers. Check out the program below and remember to tune in to Peter Greenberg Worldwide this weekend for more information. Plus, don’t forget to check out our archive for all kinds of voluntourism opportunities.

Sea Turtles 911 is an organization based in Hainan Island, China that was founded in 2008. The non-profit organization strives to revive turtle populations in the South China Sea. Their efforts include rescuing illegally captured turtles, rehabilitating injured turtles, raising hatchlings poached from distant islands (in their very own sea turtle nursery), and releasing turtles back into their natural habitat to help give them a fighting chance at survival.

They focus on stopping restaurants and fishermen from selling sea turtles, as well as lowering the demand by convincing people to stop purchasing sea turtle products. Sea Turtles 911 follows the five R’s—Rescue, Rehabilitate, Research, Raise, and Release; working to break the cycle of sea turtle poaching and consumption around Hainan Island.

turtlesIf you are traveling in Southeast Asia, Sea Turtles 911 has an amazing program for volunteers, offering both short and long-term options for travelers. They have a sea turtle hospital located in a floating fishing village just outside the city of Sanya. It is easily accessible from all major mainland Chinese airports.

Volunteers are given the opportunity to work in one or many areas including feeding the turtles, cleaning nets, and assisting in medical treatments. Volunteers will also be able to work with locals in community outreach and education programs that work to build awareness about the importance of sea turtle conservation. Interacting with locals on a grassroots level is a rare experience to encounter on the island unless you speak Chinese, so it’s definitely something to take advantage of.

The program caters to volunteers, taking care of modern accommodations with full living spaces and Internet access. They also assist with travel arrangements, visa clearance, and provide three Chinese meals per day. While volunteers incur the expense of their flights, the program takes care of most other costs, making it a very affordable option.

Sea Turtles 911 also offers other programs available to travelers beyond the basic volunteer option, including internships, Chinese language immersion, and ecotourism. There is something for all ages and types of travelers, so head to www.seaturtles911.org for more information.

By Courtney Crockett for PeterGreenberg.com 

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