Among the many animals of our country that are now considered “Endangered Species” is the loggerhead turtle commonly known as The Sea Turtle. And among the many marine animals like the bonefish, permit, tarpon and nurse sharks that our local population tries to conserve and protect, the Turtle is one of them, and there are obvious reasons for that.
In the past the Sea Turtle had been a popular source of meat which was and still is considered a delicacy, so it was hunted by local Sanpedranos, our Mexican neighbors, fishermen from Sarteneja and other surrounding fishing communities. Fortunately and unfortunately for the animals, the eggs have also been considered a delicacy and poachers have stolen them all along the shoreline of Ambergris Caye, especially in the Rocky Point area on northern Ambergris Caye.
Due to the proximity to the reef Rocky Point Beach has been a popular nesting and breeding area for the Turtles. The third reason for the decline in the turtle population is caused by man again, only this time inadvertently. Building development and large scale operations in the area have been destroying the nesting grounds of the turtles. You see, turtles are not like us humans who love disco lights. They prefer the remoteness and peacefulness of an area for them to build a nest and lay 150 eggs at a time for the warmth of the sun to help in their reproductive process. Civilization has been destroying those grounds at Rocky Point on Ambergris Caye.
A group of San Pedro junior College students from the Conservation of the Reef Class participated in a “Let’s Save the Turtles” project. Armed with attractive and educational signs rakes and garbage bags, they proceeded to Rocky Point to install them on the beach and to clean the beach area as well. And now they wish to ask the cooperation of the public to help conserve the turtles and help them to reproduce.
And here is what we can do to help, says Pamela Zetina and her SPJC team.
- Do not eat turtle meat. It is cheaper to go to the store for some beef.
- Do no poach their nests and drink their eggs. Chicken eggs are cheaper and nicer.
- Do not build high rise projects in their nesting grounds. Keep it low and ecologically friendly.
- If you already live in the area, turn off lights at night during the months of May, June and July- their mating season and nesting time.
- If turtles nest in your property, build a fence for it and protect them. Only you can; they can’t.
And while our manner of helping and cooperation might seem like all negatives, it is important to appreciate that we do it for our own good as well. So hats off to SPJC and remember to give them a helping hand to “Help Save The Turtles” on Ambergris Caye.