The Leatherback Trust
 is a non-profit foundation established by James R. Spotila, Ph.D. to save the leatherback turtle and other sea turtles from extinction. The Leatherback Trust scientists were instrumental in founding a new national park, Parque Marino Las Baulas, on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. The park protects the most important leatherback nesting beaches in the Pacific Ocean. Our scientists have trained park rangers and guides, worked with local school children and advised the local community on living in harmony with the leatherbacks. Before the Park was established poachers took 100% of nests. Now almost all nests are protected and a hatchery protects nests that would be washed away by high tides or eaten by predators. Now thousands of hatchlings crawl to the ocean every season where five years ago only a few survived. 

How the Trust Differs From Other Organizations...


There are many conservation organizations and several that work for sea turtles. There is none that focuses on the critically endangered leatherback turtle. In addition, most conservation organizations are top heavy with bureaucracy, large staffs, buildings, and other trappings of large organizations. Many such organizations spend almost as much effort promoting themselves as saving endangered species.

The Leatherback Trust is different:

  • It is focused on concrete actions to save the turtles where they live and reproduce.
  • It does not have a large administration tail, it has no headquarters to support, and does not engage in litigation.
  • It does support scientists and students on the beach.
  • It does support the training and education of people in the countries where turtles live.
  • It makes a difference in the local communities that are asked to make a sacrifice to protect the turtles. Conservation only works if supported by local residents. If they do not have enough to eat, a decent place to live and hope for their children then they won't worry much about the turtles that come to their beaches to lay eggs. Therefore, the scientists and members of the Leatherback Trust work with and help educate local peoples who live near the nesting beaches year round.
  • The Leatherback Trust also supports the education of the next generation of sea turtle biologists and conservationists.
  • Finally, it also educates and informs the general public and decision-makers about the plight of leatherback and other sea turtles and of actions that can be taken to protect and enhance these magnificent creatures.
Cooperating Scientists

Dr. Frank Paladino
Indiana-Purdue University 
Fort Wayne, IN

Dr. Mario Boza
San Jose, Costa Rica
Dr. Richard Reina
Monash University
Melbourne, Australia
Dr. Robert George
Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Gloucester, VA
Dr. Edward Standora
State College at Buffalo 
Buffalo, NY
Dr. Stephen Morreale
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY
Dr. David Rostal
Georgia Southern University 
Statesboro, GA
Dr. Walter Bien
Drexel University 
Philadelphia, PA
Dr. Paul Sotherland
Kalamazoo, College
Dr. Barbara Block
Stanford University
Dr. Harold Avery
Drexel University
Philadelphia, PA
Dr. Pamela Plotkin
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY
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