April Fools’ Day nest kicks off early turtle season

| 03/04/2017 | 3 Comments
Cayman News Service

Turtle nest discovered 1 April 2017 (Photo by Djon Brown)

(CNS): It may have been April Fools’ Day but this was no joke: The Department of Environment received the first report for the 2017 turtle nesting season on Saturday 1 April from a resident who spotted a new nest on a Grand Cayman beach. In the twenty years that the DoE has been monitoring turtle nests on local beaches, this was the earliest a nest has ever been recorded. DoE research officers Paul Chin and Leah Grant along with volunteer Lorri Lamb responded to the first report and found that the nest was laid on 31 March.

“When the nest was reported we suspected an April Fool’s joke as we have never had a nest this early,” said Janice Blumenthal, the DoE turtle programme coordinator. “But it has been confirmed as the first turtle nest of the 2017 nesting season. With that, we have begun our 20th year of DoE turtle nesting beach monitoring.”

Blumenthal explained that turtle nesting season in the Cayman Islands typically begins in May, though nests are occasionally found in late April. The previous record for the earliest nest was 12 April in 2012.

“During the turtle nesting season, we ask members of the public to avoid driving on the beach and to seek permission before operating heavy equipment on the beach or lighting beach bonfires. Report anyone poaching or disturbing a turtle, and contact Department of Environment for information on turtle friendly lighting,” she added.

Blumenthal also urged people, especially beach residents, to be aware of how artificial light impacts the turtles and to install turtle friendly lighting.

“Artificial lights that shine onto the beach discourage female turtles from nesting and are a critical threat to baby turtles,” she said. “When baby turtles hatch at night, they go in the direction of the brightest light they can see. If this is not the moon and stars reflecting on the ocean’s surface, they will go toward land, where they die from exhaustion, dehydration, vehicles, or predators.”

Blumenthal said there are cost-effective options for turtle friendly lighting including just redirecting lights away from the sea, planting vegetation such as hedges in front of lights, lowering and shading lights, or putting security lights on motion detectors, placing turtle friendly bulbs in existing fixtures, and replacing selected lights with turtle friendly fixtures.”

Report anyone taking or disturbing a turtle to DoE conservation officers at 916-4271 or by calling 911.

Information on turtle friendly lighting is available from Department of Environment. 

Anyone finding a turtle nest should call the DoE’s sea turtle hotline at 938-NEST or email DoE@gov.ky. Volunteers are also needed for the 2017 turtle nesting season. For more information, see the DoE’s website.

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Category: Land Habitat, Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (3)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Please please can someone who knows the owners/tenants of Surfer’s Paradise in South Sound near the SS Community centre, please can you advise them that their casino lights on both of their properties are the brightest on the beach. They may have altered the lights on the main house but last summer the second property was closed up but lit up. Seriously. Like a casino. A light beacon. If I knew them I’d tell them myself but as many times as I walk past I never see a soul that lives there. Probably inside watching TV…

    • Anonymous says:

      The house was vacant last year, but it recently changed owners. You might be able to speak to them now.

      Also, the street light across the road from ‘Surfer’s Paradise’ kills dozens of hatchlings every year. Please CIG can someone switch off the street light at the end of May so the turtles don’t get disoriented. I hate seeing them squished on the road in the mornings.

  2. Sharkey says:

    I believe that this is a good April fool day , if I ever seen a turtle track to her nest . But sure a good one .

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