Baby turtles at risk from ‘rescuers’

| 23/09/2019 | 15 Comments
Cayman News Service
Turtle hatchlings heading to the sea

(CNS): Misguided rescuers put a batch of baby turtles at risk when they disturbed a nest and encouraged the hatchlings to head towards the sea in broad daylight. The Department of Environment said a video that circulated on social media earlier this month showing people in the Cayman Islands digging up the nest in what they appeared to believe was a rescue effort may have killed most, or even all, of them.

“By digging in turtle nests before they naturally hatch, baby turtles can be removed before they are ready to go to the ocean,” said DoE marine research officer, Dr Janice Blumenthal. “It takes several days for their bodies to straighten and strengthen after coming out of their eggs and they may be released at times when they are less likely to survive. Releasing hatchlings in the daylight hours makes them much more visible and therefore vulnerable to predators on land, air and sea,” she explained.

The DoE turtle team said this was the third nest disturbance this month alone, adding to the challenges that this endangered species already faces during breeding season.

Hatchlings that reach the surface of the sand during the day will typically wait for the sand to cool, signaling to them the safety and cover of the night. Sometimes a few hatchlings are visible at the surface of the sand in daylight, but it is safer for those hatchlings and the 80 to 100 baby turtles below them to wait until nightfall to make their journey to the sea.

DoE scientists and licensed volunteers excavate turtle nests after hatching and, from time to time, they find a few live hatchlings inside the nests. But it is important to note that nests are only dug up after the natural hatching has already occurred. Under no circumstances does the DoE encourage
releasing baby turtles in daylight because it gives them virtually no chance of survival.

Councillor for the Environment, MLA Eugene Ebanks, in a very rare public comment about environmental issues, said, “I know that locals and visitors alike all feel a great affinity for our wild turtles. They are a national
treasure, part of our important heritage, and a tourist attraction in their own right for many years. But these turtles have been nesting in Cayman
successfully from before people were here, and the best thing we can do for them is leave any nest or nesting turtle undisturbed.”

Environment Minister Dwayne Seymour said he wanted to encourage members of the public to support sea turtle conservation, but in the right way. “We don’t want anyone to inadvertently put these animals at further risk,” he added.

Anyone concerned about turtle nests should call the DoE turtle hotline at 938-NEST (938-6378)

Anyone seen interfering with a nest, nesting turtles or hatchlings should be reported to the DoE Conservation Officers at 916-4271 or 911.

For more information on DoE sea turtle conservation programme contact DoE Public Education and Outreach Officer Brent Fuller at 244-5984 or 922-5514 or or visit the DoE website.

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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (15)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Baby turtle is a lot like veal. Very tasty. Tasty indeed.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wow. MLA Eugene Ebanks made a comment on something.

  3. Anonymous says:

    If we didnt eat them them would be no Turtle Farm and therefore less in the wild you fool

    • Anonymous says:

      the turtle farm is also a research center and recovery program. that would be the need for it. You eating them has little to do with it at this point. the selling of the meat certainly doesn’t keep it profitable as it looses millions a year.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes but it stoops poaching turtles in the wild

        • Anonymous says:

          No it doesn’t. Some people would still rather poach & get their turtles for nothing as they believe it’s their right by heritage

        • Anonymous says:

          Not really. It reduces, it doesn’t stop it. Which is tragic. The poachers don’t see further than their own noses.

          • Anonymous says:

            Yes because most of them are trying to get money to put white powder into their noses. Poaching is usually directly related to cocaine usage around here. Hitters be hustling anything they can find and people keep buying it saying well we can’t let good turtlemeat waste. Sad cycle.

  4. Ron Ebanks says:

    Yah things has really changed the turtles can’t even find the water by it self today.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Is anything ever done right on this rock? Seems like fumes from the Dump have altered everyone’s brain?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Stop touching the wildlife! Leave turtles alone! Don’t touch starfish! How fricking hard is that to understand??

    Turtles have been around way longer than us humans and figured out how to live without stupid people meddling. Just leave them be!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed. We have this whole group of volunteer do good expats on the Brac who are misinformed (by a paid expat) and constantly interfere with the hatchlings. Leave them be.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah. look how many videos on youtube with idiots visitors handling star fish and turtles. With whose permission?

  7. Anonymous says:

    “adding to the challenges that this endangered species already faces…” But let’s eat ’em cause it’s our culture.


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