Our Magical Sea Turtle Adventure

By Nicole Weatherholtz

Rob and I met Princess Aliyah and her husband, Ron in November 2015 because of their mutual passion for drones. I found the couple extremely interesting and knowledgeable and discovered that they had been on a trip to South Africa in 2014 in order to use drones to help with anti-poaching methods for the endangered rhinos. After our first encounter, I joked with Rob and told him that it would be so exciting to offer our help and go on an anti-poaching trip with them one day. I never dreamed that one day we would actually go on a trip with Princess Aliyah and Ron with the sole purpose of helping endangered animals; only this time, we would be helping sea turtles instead of rhinos.

On August 10, 2016, Rob and I arrived in Melbourne, Florida with our two children for one of the most enlightening and rewarding trips I have ever been on. Kashmir World Foundation was hosting the Fly for Conservation Workshop, which was a three day long workshop that would teach students to build and fly their own drones. Rob was to help assist the students and I came along with our children to learn how we could help save the sea turtles. The first night of the trip, we went to the Turtle House in Melbourne, Florida, where we learned about the sea turtles that came to the beaches in Melbourne year after year.

During a two hour presentation given by Dr. Erin Seney, we learned all about the loggerhead sea turtles, green sea turtles, and leatherbacks and why it was so critical to have teams of animal conservation scientists and volunteers to help these animals. Our group included Kashmir, the five year old daughter of Princess Aliyah and Ron, as well as my eight year old daughter Lilian and my twelve year old son Jarek. Kashmir had been to St. Catherine’s Island off the coast of Georgia earlier this year and she even helped to relocate nests of sea turtle eggs, so she was extremely excited to find out that the team at the University of Central Florida had several rescued hatchlings that they were going to allow us to release into the ocean that very night!