Governor joins turtle patrol

| 09/09/2008

(CNS): According to the Department of Environment there are a mere 30 nesting turtles in the Cayman Islands today compared to the millions cited in historical accounts. During the nesting season (May to October) the DoE conducts beach surveillance of these endangered species to identify where turtles lay their eggs. Adult turtles breed in Cayman’s waters and nest on the beaches. After the breeding and once the nesting season is over they migrate to forage overseas.

Governor Stuart Jack recently joined Research Officer Joni Kirkconnell and a group of DoE interns on one of their weekly surveillance trips to Cayman’s beaches in search of the nests. As the group fanned out along a Seven Mile Beach stretch with the Governor and Kirkconnell walking the stretch from Boggy Sand Road in West Bay to Heritage Club, he said that there was a need for unity in the effort to protect the globally endangered sea turtle and noted that turtles are an importantpart of Cayman’s bio-diversity.

Kirkconnell explained to the governor what that the DoE does during the beach surveillance. "When nests are found we process, mark and monitor them to protect them from poachers and prevent damage from any recreational activity on the beach,” she said. The Governor also said he was very concerned about the recent incidents where nesting turtles had been slaughtered.

It is illegal to harm turtles or their eggs and carries a maximum fine of CI $500,000 and one year imprisonment. There are however, still several incidences of poaching every year and recently turtles were being stolen from the turtle farm in Boatswain beach. The meat is valued at a premium as despite its status as an endangered species the meat is still commonly consumed in the Cayman Islands.


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