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Eckerd College

Publication Date

Fall 2016

Program Name

Panama: Tropical Ecology, Marine Ecosystems, and Biodiversity Conservation


Being the ancient, world traveling, iconic mega-fauna they are, sea turtles have found their way into cultures and traditions around the world, often holding great prestige. Along with their mystical qualities, sea turtles have also been intricately intertwined in the livelihoods of cultures around the globe, utilized for food, jewelry, income, and more recently, scientific research. The ways in which humans around the world perceive the value of this species varies greatly, often causing conflict between those who wish to protect and conserve sea turtles, and those looking to continue using turtles as either a source of income or food. Through the process of semi-structured interviews, the values of sea turtles held by varying demographics making up the diverse community of Bocas del Toro, Panama – including Colon Island, Bastimentos Island, Carenero, Zapatilla Cays, Almirante, and Changuinola – were evaluated. Expression of values were found to both overlap and vary in frequency between the demographics. The findings of this study emphasize the need for a multifaceted conservation program, focused on accommodating each demographic’s existing values, in order to serve the diverse needs of a community with diverse values.


Animal Sciences | Animal Studies | Community-Based Research | Folklore | Latin American Languages and Societies | Latin American Studies | Life Sciences | Other Animal Sciences | Other Anthropology | Sociology of Culture | Zoology


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