World Oceans Day Marks Launch of Efforts in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to advocate for and protect critically endangered species

June 8, 2020 – Campeche, Mexico – Plastic Oceans International, a global non-profit dedicated to ending plastic pollution and fostering sustainable communities, has joined a project in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to help protect the Hawksbill Sea Turtle, which is one of the most endangered marine animals worldwide.

Plastic Oceans is partnering with two local NGOs in the region: Ninth Wave, based in Campeche; and Yuumtsil Káak Náab, based in Seybaplaya, which is home to the Hawksbill nesting habitat being protected. 

“We are extremely impressed with the program and the results that the local teams have achieved over the past five years,” said Tod Hardin, Chief Operations Officer for Plastic Oceans International. “Their use of turtle conservation as an entry point to multi-level community engagement is something that we look forward to supporting and enhancing.” 

Hawksbill hatchlings making their way to the Gulf of Mexico.

Hawksbill hatchlings making their dash for the Gulf of Mexico.

The program includes direct conservation for the turtles and their habitat, plastic reduction initiatives, beach cleanups, youth and adult education, arts, culture and political advocacy. It will serve as the inaugural pilot program for Plastic Oceans International’s Blue Communities initiative, in which they work with local NGOs to support existing environmental and sustainability projects, while also developing new ones based on local need

“We’re delighted to welcome Plastic Oceans to the team and look forward to having their expertise enhance our efforts here in the local community,” said Jon Bonfiglio, co-founder of Ninth Wave. “They are a fabulous can-do organization of progressive action and ideals, amplifying the broad coalition committed to systemic reimagining of what is possible for our oceans and communities.”

Found throughout the world, the Hawksbill has seen its population decline by more than 80% over the last 100 years. This was primarily a result of the trade in its highly desirable shell, which has been very popular for jewelry and other products. Despite being outlawed since 1992, there is still a strong blackmarket for the shells, and other threats to the turtles have materialized in recent decades.

Turtle education in Seybaplaya, Mexico

Luis conducts an education session with youth in Seybaplaya, Mexico.

“There’s only about 20,000 nesting females worldwide,” said Luis Antonio Góngora Domínguez, lead biologist for the project and founder of Yuumtsil Káak Náab. “The turtles and their habitat are constantly under threat by such things as plastic pollution, boat strikes, coastal development, entanglement in fishing gear, and more. We are thankful to have the support of Plastic Oceans in our small effort to make a big difference.”  

Given that only about 1 in 1,000 of the turtles actually survives to adulthood, the Hawksbill can use all the help it can get. The nesting season runs until September, during which the goal is to see an increase in the number of nests, hatchlings and baby turtles that actually make it to the sea. Data will be collected and shared with the Mexican Secretary of Environment & Natural Resources, and additional research partnerships will be announced in the near future.

CLICK HERE to visit our Campeche Turtle Project.

About Plastic Oceans International
Plastic Oceans International is a global nonprofit organization, based in the U.S., that is dedicated to solving plastic pollution and fostering sustainable communities. It aims to change consumer behavior, corporate practice and public policy, with the goal of creating solutions that lead to a healthier planet and society. 

About Ninth Wave & Yuumtsil Káak Náab
Ninth Wave is an independent, international organization and think tank which generates space for investigation and positive change in environmental, community and social settings. In keeping with all Ninth Wave’s processes and relationships, the long-term partnership with Biologist and Conservationist Luis Antonio Góngora Domínguez, and his organization, Yuumtsil Káak Náab, began organically and developed over time on a human level, making it a strong, multi-level, meshed friendship and partnership.


Tod Hardin
Chief Operations Officer, Plastic Oceans International
(408) 656-3570