Pictured Above: Marine mammal rehabilitators from the Riverhead Foundation releasing a sea turtle back to the ocean at Ponquogue Beach in Hampton Bays in 2013.
The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research & Preservation announced in late July that it is refocusing its mission and changing its name to the New York Marine Rescue Center.
Over the last 23 years, the foundation’s team has responded to more than 5,000 stranded seals, sea turtles and cetaceans, and has successfully rehabilitated and released more than 1,000 marine animals.
The revamped mission and name change are designed to better reflect the conservation needs of the Greater Atlantic Region, focusing more attention on endangered sea turtles, according to a press release from the New York Marine Rescue Center, which will be known by the acronym NYMRC.
NYMRC will remain the only facility in New York State authorized by the state and federal government to rehabilitate seals and sea turtles rescued from New York waters.
While the Riverhead Foundation had long focused its efforts on rehabilitating both seals and sea turtles, in recent years, researchers have seen an increase in the seal population in the northeast Atlantic.
Seals currently have a very stable population, in part due to the Riverhead Foundation team’s ongoing conservation efforts and the Greater Atlantic stranding network.
However, the four species of sea turtle that are known to inhabit New York waters — the green, loggerhead, leatherback and Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles, are all listed as threatened or endangered and in need of critical support.
This is due to entanglement, coastal development, plastic and other marine debris, climate change, ocean pollution, human consumption and illegal trade, according to the NYMRC, which plans to shift its resources to better support the needs of these threatened and endangered sea turtle populations.
The organization’s new logo, depicting a sea turtle beside a red cross, is designed to highlight this newly focused mission.
“With this new direction, we are rebranding our organization with a new name and logo to better reflect the work we do throughout all of New York State and the animals we support to allow us to have the strongest, most effective impact on these important marine conservation initiatives,” said Charles Bowman, President of NYMRC Board of Directors. “We do intend to continue responding to sick and injured seals and cetaceans as feasible and necessary and provide rehabilitation to those seals in need while increasing our support and capacity for endangered sea turtles. We are also planning to revitalize our rescue center tanks and equipment and to make renovations that will allow greater public viewing of the rescue center activities.”
NYMRC will continue to need the financial and community support to allow them to attain their ultimate goal of the conservation and preservation of the sea turtle population.
The new name is effective immediately and will be implemented throughout all aspects of the organization throughout 2019.
More information is online at nymarinerescue.org.