Cops lend hand in protecting turtles

| 16/06/2020 | 17 Comments
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service

(CNS): Unable to call on their usual army of some 70 volunteers because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Environment has enlisted the help of the RCIPS to monitor turtle nesting sites this season, which began at the beginning of last month. Some exemptions were granted for DoE staff to monitor beaches but crews from the RCIPS Air Operations Unit have also been keeping an eye out for the telltale signs of turtle nesting during their helicopter patrols.

“In the first two weeks our crews identified in excess of fifteen turtle nests on beaches that had no foot traffic, a rare sight,” said AOU Executive Officer Steve Fitzgerald. “This allowed our colleagues in the Department of Environment to target their resources to the protection of these sites and start monitoring.”

Once the sites were identified, the RCIPS ATV beach patrols have been kept an eye for the nests. Fitzgerald said they found sites across the whole island, including some locations where turtles may not have been seen for a long time.

“The most spectacular find was one in Smith Cove, where the distinctive tracks led into the middle of the beach,” he said.

“It appears that the lack of human activity on beaches may have affected nest distribution, allowing turtles to nest in areas where there is typically too much disturbance,” said Dr Janice Blumenthal, the DoE’s turtle expert. “This was a unique opportunity to monitor turtle nesting during lockdown.” 

Information on the locations of specific nests is used by the DoE to protect nesting turtles, turtle nests, and hatchling turtles from threats during each nesting season. These threats include poaching of nesting females and eggs, operation of vehicles and heavy equipment on nesting beaches, beach bonfires and artificial lighting.

“In addition to being a monitoring programme that is entering its third decade, our sea turtle conservation programme is essential for the conservation of endangered Cayman Islands sea turtle nesting populations,” Dr Blumenthal noted. “We are very grateful to the RCIPS for assisting with the continuation of these efforts.”

Meanwhile, last week community police officers joined forces with the Department of Agriculture to tackle a swarm of bees on Shedden Road in George Town. This was not the first one this season, as local bees appear to be on the move.

“Over the past week we’ve had a few reports of incidents involving bees,” said Inspector Courtney Myles, head of Community Policing. “There were two instances on Crewe Road where we were able to work with the DoA to contact bee keepers to come out and relocate the bees safely.”

Tiffany Chisholm of the Department of Agriculture explained that bee swarms are more common in the summer months. “Generally these swarms have left a hive and are searching for an area to establish a new one,” she said.

“They will pose no threat unless attacked or threatened, and can safely be observed from a distance. However, if the swarm remains in one location for more than two to three days or is in a heavily trafficked area, members of the public are advised to contact a bee keeper to facilitate safe removal and relocation of the bees.”

Alternatively, members of the public can also contact the Department of Agriculture or their local community police officer or community safety officer for assistance.

With nature being given a chance at resurgence all over the world as a result of COVID-19, the breeding season for least terns nesting on Sand Cay has begun early. There are around 400 individual birds on the Cay but there have been some concerns that people have been spotted there with dogs.

The DoE has now installed signs to protect these seabirds, asking people to stay off the Cay for the next three critical months as this rare bird works on the next generation. While the department will undertake an annual survey of this nesting colony, current survey results show a total of 117 nests, or around 234 adult breeding birds.

The Cay also supports at least 12 bridled terns but only one egg was found from this species, the DoE said.


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Category: Land Habitat, Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (17)

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  1. Green Foot Print says:

    Reduce Human foot print ie population and save our environment?? Simply solution Cayman and all these issues will simply vanish from our shores!

  2. No Vote 4 the Cutthroat says:

    Saving our nesting areas is simple stop this overdevelopment juggernaut and population expansionist menace and the RCIPS would not have to be used to assist the DOE in policing nesting sites. Prevention of the problem Cayman rather than trying fix it after,
    .Stop voting for cut throat politicians Cayman!

  3. Anonymous says:

    It’s suspicious that the police have so much free manpower and time, to rescue other islands, police the stingrays, and turtle eggs, while we continue to pay colossal overtime hours, with no visibility on where the money goes, and still no reliable community deployment, or traffic enforcement, and precious few JMU/coast guard victories. Queue the french champagne-fueled police fete at the Ritz Carlton on our dime. I appreciate that turtle eggs need to be safeguarded, but is using a “trained uniformed officer” to sit on the nest like a hen, the best use of our resources?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Like most of the RCIPS and 9-1-1 dispatch, our community officer is very narrowly attuned to Cayman’s legal library and selective about the types of law-breakage they are willing to respond to. Ergo, not much help.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Oh great just look at the crime rates go up now. You can’t make this stuff up!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thanks RCIPS! There are allot of moaners and whines but the majority of us appreciate all the work you’ve been doing!

  7. Anonymous says:

    How do I find out who my community police officer is? I’m a voting senior but have never been checked on during this pandemic & I never received my free mask.

    CNS: I just had a look at the RCIPS website and could not find any contact details for individual community police officers or even a list of them. On this page you can find the phone number and email for Insp Courtney Myles, who heads the Community Policing Department.

    • Anonymous says:

      Trust your family checked on you. They should be making sure you have what you need.

      • Anonymous says:

        My family checked on me. Not sure about this person.
        The masks should have been distributed to the elderly & at risk portion of the community. Seniors on the voting list should have been your starting point. I’m also a voting senior and still waiting on my free mask.

    • Anonymous says:

      Check here: https://www.rcips.ky/community/

      CNS: Thanks. In my opinion the RCIPS website is a mess. I hope it didn’t cost much.

      • Anonymous says:

        It seems the SMB South Beat 9 is now covered only by Auxilliary Constable Calasia Burke (from PC Jonathan Kern), whenever her shifts run. 4 days on, 4 days off. Did Kern go back to the UK on a BA Flight or is he still here? Police sergeant Leslie Laing-Hall now covers 4 beats, and PS Cornelius Pompey is covering Beat 9. Hard to keep track. It doesn’t feel like there is much of a presence, even with the West Bay Police HQ moved to Regatta Office park (and no official acknowledgment of that movement on site). What are the other 400 officers doing day to day, other than sitting on turtle nests?

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