Sea Turtle Nests at Divi Little Bay: Species threatened by human behaviour

The St. Maarten Nature Foundation responded over the weekend to an urgent call from staff and management at Divi Little Bay Resort concerning a Sea Turtle on the beach exhibiting "strange" behaviour. 

Upon arrival at the resort a large Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) was noticed moving along the beach. It was soon determined that the turtle was a nesting female and was looking for a suitable place deposit her eggs. After several attempts the turtle was unable to lay her eggs due to the large amount of debris and rocks on the beach deposited by the passing of Tropical Storm Isaac. The Nature Foundation staff had to assist the Sea Turtle by removing rocks and other debris from the sand so that it was able to nest. After approximately four hours the Sea Turtle was able to lay her eggs successfully.

Sea turtle population numbers have plummeted to dangerously low numbers throughout the past century due to human impacts, bringing many species close to extinction and causing them to be listed as critically endangered. In order to reverse this trend, all sea turtle species are now protected by international laws and treaties as well as local laws. Based on ARTICLE 16 and 17 of the Nature Conservation Ordinance St. Maarten it is illegal to kill, wound, and capture or pick-up sea turtles. It is also illegal to directly or indirectly disturb their environment resulting in a physical threat or damage or to commit other acts which result in disturbance of the animal. It is also forbidden to disturb damage or destroy sea turtle nests, lairs, or breeding places. Also, it is forbidden to pick-up or to destroy the eggs of any species of sea turtles.

The St. Maarten Nature Foundation actively manages the sea turtle population on St. Maarten, particularly during the nesting season which includes beach surveys, nest excavations, tagging activities, and nest success research.

Earlier this week Nature Foundation staff returned to Divi Little Bay to monitor the nest. Staff and Management of Divi Little Bay assist the Nature Foundation through providing material for protecting the nest and assisting with clearing the beach of debris.

Sea Turtle Season lasts until November. To report nesting activity or illegal activity, please call the Sea Turtle Hotline 9229 or call the Nature Foundation office at 5444267 or email the Foundation at in**@na******************.org.