Dr. Michael White — Cook Islands (2013)
Dr. Michael White, who leads a research team working on various atolls of the Cook Islands, has designed a community-based sea turtle conservation project in two villages of the remote northern islands. A 2013 SWOT grant is supporting the launch of an education and training component of the project.
Rahui is the centuries-old traditional practice of selective harvest closures (tapu) that locals use to regulate seasons for food resources, from seabirds and clams to sea turtles and their eggs. White’s initiative will present sea turtle conservation practices to the subsistence-based coastal communities. By encouraging islanders to report turtle sightings and takes, White hopes to improve research and raise local awareness regarding nesting green turtles and offshore populations of green, hawksbill, and leatherback turtles.