Volunteer Pilots Help Save Whales, Turtles

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Marine scientists in Belize conducted a count of offshore marine animals for the first time recently, thanks to help from volunteer pilots flying with LightHawk. Government fisheries staff have surveyed marine mammals along the shore for 18 years, but in April, they were able to extend those efforts up to 50 miles off the coast. The aerial surveys found two sperm whales and 33 dolphins, as well as 11 turtles and 4 crocodiles. The sperm whales were seen at the southern end of Belize's barrier reef, swimming south towards Honduras. "This was not the first recording of sperm whales in Belize, but very little is known of their ecology here," said LightHawk's news release. Eclipse Aerospace also pitched in recently to help out when eight sea turtles needed a lift.

Eclipse CEO Mason Holland happened to be in the Boston area for a company event in January when the New England Aquarium rescued a group of endangered Kemp's Ridley sea turtles that had been found stranded on Cape Cod. The South Carolina Aquarium was willing to take them in, but they needed a ride south. Holland volunteered to deliver the turtles in his Eclipse jet. Four months later, the turtles were released into the wild, and Holland was invited to attend. "It was pretty fortuitous," Holland said. "A sea turtle rescue is a cool thing to be part of. Some people needed to get something done, and we were able to pitch in and help."