Cayman: DoE has recorded its 500th turtle nest of the season
Daphne Ewing Chow
Created : 29 September 2020
Cayman Islands Department of Environment (DoE) has recorded its record-breaking 500th turtle nest of the season.
This is a reflection of the efforts of many volunteers, people, and organisations, who are committed to ensuring that this endangered species will not only survive, but also thrive.
Since 1998, the Department of Environment has been conducting a systematic survey of the beaches of the Cayman Islands to identify signs of turtle nesting. The number of female turtles in the population is still extremely small (each turtle lays multiple nests) so each nest is still important.
In the 1999 season, 23 nests were found on Grand Cayman. With the support of the community, the DoE has seen a phenomenal increase in nests.
By happy coincidence and twist of fate, the 500th nest was located on the stretch of beach that is monitored by turtle volunteer and Department of Environment Director, Ms Gina Ebanks-Petrie. The team celebrated this special event with her and DoE staff member, the ‘Turtle Whisperer’, Mr Paul Chin.
Ms Ebanks-Petrie, who has stewarded the programme’s development since 1999, noted that, “It is a pleasure to watch this programme grow under the guidance of the DoE’s Dr Janice Blumenthal, and with the incredible support of the many turtle interns, turtle volunteers, and the Turtle Volunteer Coordinator, Ms Lorri Lamb. As a community, we are all working together to ensure that turtles have a safe coastal environment to nest, that the hatchlings are not disoriented by artificial lighting and can make it to the sea, and that poachers do not kill returning turtles ready to lay their next nest.”
Currently, one of the primary threats to turtles are the many locations of bright artificial lighting that can lure babies to pools, roads, and certain death. The DoE is currently working with many coastal property owners to replace existing lighting with turtle friendly lighting.