Ambassador: Andersen Lima , Guatemala
Anderson founded Casa de Aak in 2015 to preserve and protect the endangered populations of sea turtles in Guatemala. Casa de Aak has rescued almost 16,000 sea turtle hatchlings to date.
The organisation runs three main programmes to preserve the endangered sea turtle population. The first programme is the hatching and incubation programme. This is where turtle eggs are rescued from the market and then incubated until they hatch, at which point they are released back into the sea. Turtle eggs are a local delicacy and so fisherman will often collect the eggs from the beach and take them to the market for consumption. Casa de Aak steps in to buy the eggs, so that fishermen sell 80% of the eggs and donate the remaining 20%. The organisation has chosen to work with the existing market system rather than around it, to re-educate the local fishermen and to advocate for greater care and sea conservation across Guatemala. This relates to Casa de Aak’s second programme, which is a formal education programme for fishermen to learn about the importance of sea turtles and ocean conservation. So far, 47 fishermen have been educated through this programme. A study by the WWF found that sea turtles bring greater economic benefits when they are alive than when they are consumed1. Through this programme, Casa de Aak works to educate locals about the realities of the economic and social benefits of conservation.
The third programme aims to promote tourism to the local area by arranging public viewings of sea turtle hatchings and their release back into the ocean. Casa de Aak volunteers make projections on the estimated hatching period of the incubated eggs and then tourists are invited to come and observe the releasing activities. This encourages tourists to spend money in local businesses.
So far 3,117 tourists have visited the project since it began in 2015.