A wildlife filmmaking student from Ashington will embark on a trip to remote El Salvador in July to document the work of an inspiring all-female team of sea turtle conservationists.
24-year-old Catherine Brookes is studying for a masters in wildlife Filmmaking at the University of the West of England in partnership with the BBC Natural History Unit.
Her upcoming short documentary film, ‘Treasures from the Tides’, will raise awareness about a devastating threat to endangered sea turtles, whilst also providing a glimmer of hope through its story of female empowerment through conservation.
Catherine said: “Through this film, I’m really hoping to raise awareness about a lesser known threat to sea turtles.
“More and more people are becoming aware of the threats that marine plastics can cause to turtles, which is amazing, but fewer know about the threats of nest poaching.
“I’m also keen to shed light on the great work of these Salvadoran women, who have truly broken stereotypes within their traditional community and fought against a fair bit of backlash to get to where they are.
“Hopefully, I can encourage more women to follow their passions and stand up for conservation.”
In many parts of Central America, sea turtle egg poaching is rife, with 95 per cent of all eggs laid on beaches stolen in some areas. The valuable eggs are sold for human consumption.
They are seen as a local delicacy and supposed aphrodisiac, despite their being no scientific backing for this.
In the tiny fishing village of Barra de Santiago, a team of local women are fighting back against the poachers.
They have formed a women’s conservation organisation called AMBAS, and run a sea turtle hatchery where eggs can be safely protected.
This is community where it is often frowned upon for a woman to have any kind of role outside of simply cooking and cleaning at home, so the AMBAS ladies are truly breaking stereotypes and standing up for their passions through this vital conservation work. The result is incredible, with tens of thousands of sea turtle eggs having been saved. The ladies have also converted many poachers from the local community into conservationists.
Catherine has been passionate about marine conservation from an early age, and developed a particular soft spot for sea turtles when volunteering with a conservation organisation in Greece five years ago.
Catherine is also currently crowdfunding towards the production of her film. You can support her at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/treasures-from-the-tides/