People driving ATV’s or Four Wheelers on Guana Bay Beach Major Threat to Sea Turtles
The Department of Public Works from the VROMI Ministry and Windward Roads assisted the St. Maarten Nature Foundation in the placement of boulders along Guana Bay Beach in order to block access to vehicles from driving on the beach.
The St. Maarten Nature Foundation recently carried out a wide scale assesment of the threats to St. Maarten’s Native Sea Turtle population which mostly nests at Guana Bay Beach. Over the last two months there have been various activities that have been occuring on Guana Bay which has caused the Nature Foundation to express grave concern on the safety of one of the island’s most important sea turtle nesting beaches. People driving vehicles on the beach, especially quads or ‘four wheelers’ as they are known, was one of the most serious negative activities affecting nesting sea turtles.
Each year between March and November, female sea turtles return to lay their eggs on the island. There are three sea turtles which nest on St. Maarten beaches: the Hawksbill Sea Turtle, the Green Sea Turtle and the largest sea turtle species, the Leatherback. Guana Bay Beach is the most important nesting site, with in 2012 42% of all sea turtles having nested on just that one particular beach.
"We would like to express our thanks and gratitude to Mr. Claudius Buncamper of the Public Works Department, Mr. Jos De Nijs of Windward Roads and the Guana Bay Property Owners Association for the help in keeping vehicles off of the beach," read a Nature Foundation statement. Windward roads placed some thirty large scale boulders along the beach and Guana Bay Resident Jerry Speetjens planted coconut palms in between the boulders further restricting access and beautifying the project.
The Nature Foundation stated that female leatherback sea turtles have already lain two nests on Simpson Bay Beach and that staff and volunteers patrol regularly on Guana Bay Beach to look for Leatherback nests which are expected any time now.
The St. Maarten Nature Foundation actively manages the sea turtle population on St. Maarten, particularly during the nesting season. The Foundation conducts various activities with regards to sea turtle nesting including beach surveys, nest excavations, tagging activities and nest success research. This research is done through beach patrols by staff, volunteer checks and dedicated research activities conducted on a daily basis during nesting season.
The Foundation urges the community to call its offices on 5444267 if they notice sea turtles nesting or if they notice illegal activities on any of the island’s beaches.