Karen Eckert is a zoologist with an interest in international conservation and policy, especially as they pertain to threatened and endangered sea turtles. She is the executive director of WIDECAST an international scientific network comprising national coordinators and partner organizations in nearly 40 wider-Caribbean states and territories. WIDECAST is dedicated to the survival of six species of sea turtle in the Western Atlantic basin.
With help from the Pew Fellowship, Eckert transformed the formerly volunteer WIDECAST network into a formal non-profit organization, thus enlarging WIDECAST's institutional capacity to provide technical assistance and promote integrated, scientifically sound conservation, research, and management for threatened and endangered sea turtles in the Western Atlantic.
As a result of WIDECAST's efforts over the last two decades, many remnant populations of sea turtles in the Caribbean Sea are increasing in size. In recognition of her major strides to save these endangered marine animals, she received a 2003 ChevronTexaco Conservation Award for "outstanding contributions by individuals and organizations to the conservation of natural resources."
WIDECAST experts work with local partners to develop comprehensive national Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plans, and then assist government and non-government entities in implementation. The network is engaged in a wide range of activities that emphasize information exchange and the integration of science into policy-making. These activities include community-based training, providing technical assistance in establishing conservation and monitoring programs, advocating changes in legislation, coordinating research and conservation efforts sea turtle range states, promoting best practices, and fund raising.
Eckert also serves as a member of the U.S. Recovery Team for Marine Turtles and the Global Marine Turtle Specialist Group of IUCN. She is a past member of the Haiti-International Task Force on the Environment and Sustainable Development.