Three newly adopted sea turtles from the Caribbean island of Nevis are being tracked using state-of-the-art satellite telemetry as part of an inspirational public-private partnership between Four Seasons Resort Nevis, the nonprofit Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) and the Nevis Turtle Group (NTG). Two of the turtles are participating in STC’s annual Tour de Turtles - a free, online education program that allows users to follow the oceanic migrations of sea turtles while learning about threats to their survival. These rare marine creatures can be tracked online at www.tourdeturtles.org.
Sharing space with the Queen of England on the Eastern Caribbean currency, sea turtles hold a precious place in Nevis history and culture and are among the island’s most faithful annual visitors. In a mystery only Mother Nature can understand, sea turtles return time and time again to nest on the beaches where they were born decades earlier. In a puzzle that still intrigues scientists, the turtles then often swim thousands of miles away to their feeding grounds in the seas.
“Nevis’s pristine shores and unspoiled environment has attracted residents and travellers to the island for centuries,” says Andrew Humphries, regional vice president and general manager, Four Seasons Resort Nevis. “By collaborating with the Sea Turtle Conservancy and Nevis Turtle Group, Four Seasons is joining the ongoing campaign to preserve the natural resources and fragile ecosystems of this beautiful destination, and beyond.”
Hawksbills are considered “critically endangered” around the world, yet they continue to nest in significant numbers in Nevis. To date, the Resort has contributed more than USD 125,000.00 to the Sea Turtle Conservancy to protect and preserve Caribbean sea turtle populations. Through these efforts, it is hoped that hawksbill sea turtles will remain a treasured part of the island’s culture and return to Nevis beaches for years to come for the enjoyment of future generations.
According to David Godfrey, executive director of the Sea Turtle Conservancy, the STC’s Eastern Caribbean Hawksbill Tracking & Conservation Project, launched in 2006, already has revealed important information about the migratory behaviour of hawksbills. Since its inception, the program has tracked the movements of six adult female hawksbills, named Nevis, Mango, Ginger, Calypso, Hibiscus and Sunshine. In August 2011, three more hi-tech turtles joined the Nevis fleet: Coral, Paradise and Jewel. Each hawksbill was outfitted with a satellite transmitter, which sends signals to orbiting satellites each time the turtles surface to breathe.
STC scientists then download information from the satellites, which includes detailed location data. This information is plotted on digital maps of the Caribbean showing the last known location of the animals. The research is helping scientists to learn where these turtles travel when they leave their nesting beaches. Understanding where and when they migrate helps direct conservation efforts that protect the turtles themselves and their important coastal and marine habitats.
At a local level, Nevis turtles are facing their own threats including the illegal poaching of eggs and harvesting of turtles from the nesting beach for meat and shells. The hawksbill, with its coveted tortoise shell used in the international accessories trade, faces even more risks on the road to survival.
“It is our responsibility as a community to respect the laws of nature, the cycles of life and the laws set forth by our government to not disturb the turtles during the closed nesting season,” says Lemuel Pemberton, Nevis Fisheries Officer and founder of the Nevis Turtle Group. “We must work together to ensure the children in Nevis and everywhere experience the awe of meeting these magnificent, mysterious creatures face to face on land or swimming free.”
As part of their commitment to increasing community awareness stewardship toward sea turtles in Nevis, Four Seasons and the Nevis Turtle Group host an annual turtle summer camp for local kids with educational assistance from the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and the Sea Turtle Conservancy.
Thousands of people around the world log on daily to STC’s website at www.conserveturtles.org to view regularly-updated maps showing the turtles’ latest locations. Information on the Nevis Turtle Group can be accessed at www.nevisturtlegroup.org. Guests of Four Seasons Resort Nevis can join the campaign for awareness by signing up at the Concierge desk for a Nighttime Turtle Watch with the Nevis Turtle Group during nesting season. Younger guests can participate in the complimentary Kids for All Seasons weekly Sea Turtle Discovery Camp for children ages three to nine.
Also in Caribbean today, City.Mobi is celebrating the success of its new guide to Nevis.
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