The Loss of a Sea Turtle Legacy

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“Our collective hearts reach out to the Pritchard family on this day of sad news. It’s hard to avoid hyperbole when speaking of Peter. He truly was a “giant” in the field of turtle biology and conservation. For so many, Peter was a trusted mentor and generous friend. He served as a source of inspiration, showing us all new ways to do conservation.

As an undergrad, I recall telling friends, “I am going to work for that man if I have to mow his lawn.” I couldn’t have imagined the next 20 years. Peter provided me an opportunity to live and work at the Chelonian Research Institute prior to grad school, and wrote a letter to help me follow in his footsteps at the University of Florida. The education and memories I received at the CRI were every bit as critical as what I learned while working on my Ph.D. In fact, I came back to the CRI many times while working on my dissertation to utilize the collections, library, and fully immerse myself in his turtle world. Peter and Sibille always treated their visitors as esteemed guests, and, for me, it felt like family.

A few years ago I had the privilege of honoring Peter through a talk at the TSA / IUCN-TFTSG Annual Symposium on the Conservation and Biology of Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles in New Orleans entitled, “Larger than Life: Peter Pritchard’s Influence and Legacy.” I hope we all take time to reflect on Peter’s contributions. May his legacy encourage us all to do more.”

– Dr. Ben Atkinson, Flagler College