If you love something, let it go.
That’s what Donna Shaver does every season with the tiny sea turtles she cares for.
For more than 30 years, Shaver has dedicated her life to sea turtle conservation and recovery at Padre Island National Seashore. She serves as the chief of sea turtle science and recovery.
On Friday, the International Sea Turtle Society gave Shaver its Lifetime Achievement Award.
Like a mother to the endangered species, Shaver has created a bond with them.
From sleeping in a cot in the turtle lab listening for hatching to placing the little fighters on the sand to watch them make their debut into the ocean, she savors every moment.
“When people have children, they grow up and go away,” Shaver said in an interview with the Caller-Times in 2012. “I have a new batch each year.”
Shaver began her work with sea turtles as a Student Conservation Association volunteer at Padre Island National Seashore in 1980. Since she began volunteering, Shaver has been focused on saving the Kemp’s ridley species.
For Shaver, releasing the sea turtles on the beach is like dropping off children at school for the first time.
“I see grown men with tears in their eyes,” she said.
The Lifetime Achievement Award was officially presented at an International Sea Turtle Symposium in Kobe, Japan on Friday.
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