marking the first time any animal had been tracked swimming across an ocean. The experience convinced Nichols that the best way to change cultural habits was to earn the trust and respect of a local population, rather than alienate them through guilt and reams of scientific data. “These turtles are big, strong, and wild—yet gentle,” Nichols ays of these 150-pound sea creatures. “And you can get close to them and interact with them. There aren’t many creatures that big that you can do that with in the wild, and on their own terms. My goal was to share that sense of wonder; not to preach.” So Nichols invited dozens of turtle-hunting fishermen to a meeting to talk about their knowledge of local turtles and the possibility of their extinction. In time, many of the poachers agreed to catch
and eat fewer turtles— which are traditionally prized for their
red-meat-like flesh—and soon began working with Nichols to
monitor local turtle populations and collect data.