First turtle nest marks start of season

| 23/04/2019 | 13 Comments
Cayman News Service

DoE Research Officer Paul Chin inspects an egg from the first sea turtle nest of the 2019 season

(CNS): Local turtles are off to an early start for this summer’s breeding season, with the first nest of the year already having been recorded by the Department of Environment’s team on a beach along Grand Cayman’s south coast. From now until at least November turtles will be nesting and hatching on local beaches and the DoE is urging the public not to interfere with wild turtles, especially adult females, if they are spotted on the beaches, and also not to rake or cover turtle tracks, or tamper with turtle eggs in the nests.

“Baby turtles usually take 50-60 days to hatch from their eggs, so it’s important those nesting areas are not disturbed while they are preparing to emerge and that the baby turtles are protected while they make their way to the sea,” said Dr Janice Blumenthal, DoE’s research officer in charge of the turtle nesting programme.

“While sea turtle nesting numbers have increased, the overall number of female turtles in the population is still extremely low and threats to the population have worsened. The most critical threats are poaching of nesting female turtles and bright lights on the beach that disorient turtles,” she added.

The ongoing development of DoE’s turtle-friendly lighting programme aims to help reduce turtle disorientation. In recent months, DoE scientists have met with a number of beachfront property owners who are implementing softer, amber-coloured outdoor lighting schemes that do not confuse or draw turtles away from the beach where they face danger from predation, vehicular traffic and exhaustion.

Cayman News Service

Sea turtle off West Bay coast (Photo courtesy of the DoE)

The DoE reminded people that it is an offence to crush or excavate a nest with a vehicle or machinery, and any vehicle or machinery to be used on the beach must first obtain planning permission.

Residents should always check with the DoE’s Environmental Management Unit (EMU.doe@gov.ky) to clarify if any permissions are required for certain beaches, and whether any nests might be impacted by works on the beach in the turtle nesting season.

“Everyone must do their part in trying to ensure that nesting mother turtles and the baby turtles are not harmed during the nesting season,” said Environment Minister Dwayne Seymour, as he urged the public to be respectful and vigilant during the turtle nesting season.

If anyone finds a turtle nest or track, please report it to the DoE’s 24-hour hotline 938-NEST (938-6378). This number is also used to report nests to DoE volunteers and staff in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

Poaching sea turtles is a crime under the National Conservation Law. If anyone becomes aware of such illegal activity, they are asked to please immediately contact 911 or call the DoE’s Chief Conservation Officer Mark Orr at 916-4271.

Tags: ,

Category: Land Habitat, Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (13)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I like cats

  2. Anonymous says:

    Curious: why do our DoE “experts” need to excavate perfectly good nests and handle these fragile incubating eggs for social media shots? Can’t we do one thing right on Earth Day and just leave them be out of an abundance of respect?!? Aren’t DoE asking us not to molest nests? #mixedmessages

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  3. Anonymous says:

    What would be good would be if the Department of Environment do some public relations in telling people where to get turtle friendly lights.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Yummy. Just in time for Easter too.

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