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Conservation benefit: Sea turtle protection

Community benefit: “Bottle Bead” women’s livelihood initiative

Date Approved: 02.2015

The island of Antigua, in the Eastern Caribbean, hosts important populations of hawksbill, green, and leatherback turtles. The Antigua Sea Turtle Project (ASTP) monitors sea turtle populations there and collects data on nesting numbers. It also plays an important role in turtle conservation. Staff protect nesting turtles from artificial lighting, entrapment in building and swimming pools, poaching, and predation by the invasive mongoose. The team of eight volunteers also raises awareness with presentations in schools, communities and hotels, turtle-watching trips, and media publicity. The ASTP works with coastal properties to protect beachfront habitats from erosion caused by storms or construction, places signs at nesting sites, develops conservation guidelines for important habitats, and rescues stranded turtles.

Developing sustainable income sources is critical to the continuation of sea turtle conservation activities. Seacology is funding a women’s livelihood initiative in cooperation with the ASTP. The program will help local artisans produce and market jewelry from “bottle beads”— colorful glass beads made from bottles found on the beaches. The ASTP will supply materials for a line of jewelry with a sea turtle theme and upgrade the artisans’ workshop. It will buy the finished products directly from the artists and market them, with the proceeds supporting turtle conservation efforts.

Project Updates

December 2019

The jewelry line was launched in November. Necklaces, bracelets, and anklets are now for sale in the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda gift shop, the Antigua Artisans market, and an upscale boutique. The pieces are made from carved bone sea turtle pendants, natural coral, shell, cotton cord, and old fishing line that volunteers pulled from beaches—or, in some cases, removed directly from entangled sea turtles and dolphins.

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May 2019

Volunteers from Adopt-a-Coastline Antigua have helped ASTP produce four jewelry designs using carved bone sea turtle pendants, natural coral, shell, cotton cord, and old fishing line that volunteers pull from beaches. Since December, they have put together 40 cotton cord necklaces. They are now cleaning, cutting, and knotting the used fishing line, and fabricating small copper clasps. As soon as the first pieces are labeled and priced, they will be available for sale.

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December 2018

Materials have been ordered, and the items should be available by February 2019.

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May 2018

The ASTP team has decided to partner with the local group Adopt-a-Coastline Antigua, which organizes coastal cleanups and produces quality recycled jewelry products. Its well organized team of volunteers will help ASTP produce a jewelry line.

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May 2017

A local jewelry artisan has created a lovely “dreamcatcher” incorporating a turtle design. Another artisan conducted a training session for members of the sea turtle volunteer team on May 10, and the attendees will start making pieces as soon as materials arrive.

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January 2017

Two local jewelry artisans are currently preparing new samples, and the team hopes to finalize styles and start production very soon.

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May 2016

Handmade materials for the first half-dozen jewelry items arrived on Antigua in January–but were the wrong shape and size. They were sent back, and the correct replacements arrived in April. Prototypes have now been made, and the team will review them and decide on final styles for production soon.

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January 2016

The first half-dozen products have been designed and are being produced now by a full-time local jewelry maker. A merchandizing plan is also being developed. The organizers hope to launch the sea turtle jewelry line in May of this year.

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May 2015

The first Seacology funds have been sent, and launch activities have begun. A graphic designer is working on a logo and packaging; five women who will be involved in making the jewelry have met to discuss next steps. A volunteer from the Antigua Sea Turtle Project is assisting with design and marketing. It is expected that by late May, design templates will be finalized and raw materials will be ordered.

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