PLATINUM2023

Upwell

Protecting Turtles At Sea

aka Upwell Turtles   |   Monterey, CA   |  www.upwell.org

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Mission

Upwell's mission is to protect endangered sea turtles by reducing threats at sea, including fisheries, ship strikes, pollution, climate change and other detrimental human activities.

Ruling year info

2017

Executive Director

Dr. George Shillinger

Operations Director

Dr. Kristin Reed

Main address

99 Pacific Street Suite 375-E

Monterey, CA 93940 USA

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Formerly known as

For Sea Turtles

EIN

82-1309235

NTEE code info

Protection of Endangered Species (D31)

Biological, Life Science Research includes Marine Biology, Physiology, Biochemistry, Genetics, Biotechnology, etc.) (U50)

Wildlife Preservation/Protection (D30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Upwell is dedicated to protecting turtles at sea, where they spend most of their lives. Even with strong protections at nesting beaches, pernicious threats offshore including fisheries bycatch, ship strikes, pollution, climate change and other detrimental human activities can push sea turtle populations into decline.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

West Pacific Leatherbacks in the California Current

By satellite tagging West Pacific leatherback turtles in the California Current, Upwell scientists are gaining insight into how sea turtles use designated critical habitat zones along the US West Coast and the ways in which foraging behavior is affected by anthropogenic threats, including climate change.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Upwell's team trains citizen scientists to identify sea turtles and report sightings of turtles offshore to increase local awareness and collection of reliable data on the presence and behavior of endangered sea turtles in marine habitats.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Upwell researchers use acoustic and satellite tracking technologies to study the movements of hatchling and juvenile sea turtles during the “lost years” life history stage, which encompasses the time from which a hatchling turtle departs its natal beaches until its return as a reproductively active adult.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of Facebook followers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Upwell's social media following has been steadily growing across all platforms since tracking began in 2018.

Number of new donors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of organizational partners

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of unique website visitors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Upwell's mission is to protect endangered sea turtles by reducing threats at sea. Upwell uses innovative techniques to track sea turtles in the ocean and even predict their movements. By understanding where turtles go and how they use different marine habitats, we can better advance protections for turtles at sea.

We tag and track turtles at various life history stages to generate new data to fill gaps. Citizen scientists and fishing vessels also provide Upwell with data on sea turtle species they observe, their locations, behaviors and environmental conditions at the time the observations are recorded.

We examine the data, looking for specific patterns in sea turtle movements and distribution as well as wider trends in population structure and health. Upwell scientists also use the data to examine environmental and climatological conditions and how they influence sea turtle behavior and movements.

We model high-use areas and foraging habitats, factoring in shifting oceanic conditions like those associated with climate change, to predict sea turtle distribution and abundance. Working with partners around the globe, Upwell deploys cutting-edge scientific models to inform dynamic fisheries management and transboundary conservation efforts to improve protections for endangered populations of marine turtles worldwide.

Upwell was founded by Dr. George Shillinger and Dr. Kristin Reed. George brings decades of experience in marine research and conservation, with a specific emphasis on the movement ecology of leatherback turtles and other highly migratory species, derived from electronic tagging studies and remotely sensed environmental datasets. As a socio-ecologist, Kristin brings complementary experience working with fishing communities around the world on resource rights and environmental change.

George and Kristin began working together with the founders of Las Baulas National Park to protect the last mass nesting beach for leatherbacks on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. However, despite the extraordinary efforts of community members, park officials and scientists working to support Las Baulas National Park, the numbers of East Pacific leatherbacks returning to nest at the Park continue to decrease. (Whereas researchers recorded 1504 leatherbacks nesting in Las Baulas National Park during the 1988-1989 season, they recorded only 22 in the 2015-2016 nesting season.) Researchers working on nesting beaches around the world report similar declines among hawksbill, Kemp’s ridley, loggerhead and other sea turtle species.

George saw an opportunity to use his expertise in tagging and tracking sea turtles at sea to arrest the decline in East Pacific leatherbacks and other critically endangered populations of sea turtles. He knew that with enough data (including where sea turtles go at different life history stages and how oceanographic conditions like sea surface temperatures correlate with food availability) scientific models could predict the abundance and distribution of turtles at sea. Kristin found fishermen wanted to reduce bycatch and knew that scientists could learn much more about turtle movements from people spending most of their time on the water.

George and Kristin seek to transform sea turtle conservation by engaging new constituencies in data collection and improving access to predictive and real-time data on turtle movements. They founded Upwell as a collaborative organization committed to generating and mobilizing scientific data to protect endangered turtles at sea.

Upwell has further unraveled the mystery of sea turtles’ lost years through improvements to Lotek microsatellite tags for longer transmission time and deployment on 24 juvenile leatherbacks in partnership with Florida Atlantic University and 6 juvenile loggerheads in collaboration with COSTA, University of the Azores, and Aquário do Porto Pim in Portugal, while our partnership with Mercator Ocean International continued to be instrumental in determining release locations using the Sea Turtle Active Movement Model (STAMM).

In 2021, we launched a new study under the leadership of our wildlife veterinarian involving collection and analysis of archival samples taken from hard-shelled sea turtles that stranded along the US West Coast since 2009 for identification of underlying health issues and potential biotoxins with the aim of developing a standardized intake protocol to aid in early diagnosis and treatment of key comorbidities commonly found in cold-stunned Pacific sea turtles.

Upwell also inaugurated a project with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science in 2021 to examine the overlap of vessel and sea turtle movements during internesting periods (when females remain concentrated in nearshore habitats) by analyzing sea turtle movements in the context of vessel traffic exposure and speed, which yielded preliminary evidence of leatherbacks changing course (measured by turning angles) in the presence of vessel traffic.

Financials

Upwell
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Upwell

Board of directors
as of 07/20/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

William Sullivan

William Sullivan

Rodney Berens

Ann Morris

George Shillinger

Upwell Turtles

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 5/6/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data