Esther Horvath began documenting the efforts to protect Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles on the coasts of the United States three years ago. The work that goes into the recovery of this endangered species is quite intense, with groups sometimes working around the clock to protect and save what Horvath calls “Baby Giants.” She is specifically documenting sea turtles because six species (of seven) are found in U.S. waters, where all are listed as endangered or threatened.
While her photographs could easily focus on the ancient-looking and much-loved animals themselves, she chooses to tell the entire story. This includes taking a step back to show us images of the people behind the work. Horvath’s journey to photograph this work began at the New England Aquarium and has since moved to other rehabilitation organizations along the East Coast, Gulf of Mexico and Mexico. She also has documented nesting sites in Texas and Mexico where each and every sea turtle egg is collected and incubated. In some instances, conservation organizations have learned their methods of protection from former egg poachers who have switched sides from being part of the problem to part of the solution. Once the baby turtles begin to emerge from the tiny eggs they are released back to the sea.
The images take us behind the scenes and provide hope that thanks to people caring for them, the sea turtles can be saved. For Horvath, this is a life-long project to document the process and outcomes of conservation efforts. Our actions, she believes, are deciding whether Kemp’s Ridley turtles “survive or not.”
All images: ©Esther Horvath