Nature Foundation records Moderately Successful Sea Turtle Nesting Season Thanks community for widely supporting endangered sea turtles on St. Maarten

The St. Maarten Nature Foundation has recorded a moderately successful Sea Turtle Nesting Season for the 2014 period. From May to August three species of Sea Turtles come to lay their eggs on local beaches, one of the few places on earth were this actually occurs.

“This year we have had a total of 9 nests, with a total of 710 confirmed hatchlings of all three species (Hawksbill, Leatherback and Green) so far. Our first recorded nest that was laid from a leatherback sea turtle on Guana Bay beach mid-May and our last nest was laid on Gibbs Bay on October 11th  from a Hawksbill Sea Turtle,” commented Soraya De La Fuente of the Nature Foundation Sea Turtle Program..

The Nature Foundation also commended various agencies and individuals in the community and from abroad in helping the organization broaden out its sea turtle management program. “This year more than other years we have received a lot of support from the community with regards to the sea turtle work that we are doing. We received great help from the Fire Department in controlling the amount of beach bonfires which are lit on the beaches that are very harmful to turtles. Similarly many beachside businesses and restaurant voluntarily shaded their beach lights off during nesting season. Also a few security guards from the Westin Hotel took excellent care of the Sea Turtle Nest which hatched on the beach in front of the hotel. They made sure that the hatchlings made it safe to the ocean.”

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, capture, pick-up, have animals that belong to a protected animal species, to directly or indirectly disturb their environment resulting in a physical threat or damage to the fauna or to commit other acts which result in disturbance of the animal. It is also forbidden to upset an animal belonging to a protected species, to disturb damage or destroy its nest, lair, or breeding place, as well as to take the nest of such an animal. Also, it is forbidden to pick-up or to destroy the eggs of animals belonging to a protected species.