SPTC teams up with Hol Chan to protect turtle nesting areas in north Ambergris Caye

Sunday, August 29th, 2021

The 2021 turtle nesting season is underway in northern Ambergris Caye. Every year, environmental groups like the Hol Chan Marine Reserve (HCMR) educate the public on proper conservation methods to protect the few nesting sites on that part of the island. The challenge is the vehicular traffic on and around these areas and garbage left behind by visitors. With the support of the San Pedro Town Council, HCMR is looking to enforce strict measures to ensure less disturbance in the vicinity.

Hol Chan invited Mayor Gualberto ‘Wally’ Nuñez to one of these areas where he witnessed first-hand the impact of human activity on these critical turtle nesting grounds. The constant golf cart traffic over the turtle nests and the amount of garbage left behind over the weekends are tolling young hatchlings. Mayor Nuñez said that he saw the need to help the baby turtles by digging up a nest. The surface of the nest becomes compacted by vehicular traffic. The turtle eggs were extracted from the nest as it would be impossible for the hatchlings to emerge from the cemented sand. Nuñez said they are planning to install barriers in the area to prevent vehicular traffic. He asked people to cooperate and report to Hol Chan or the San Pedro Town Council anyone removing the barricades.

In the past, island residents have conducted beach clean-ups in the area, raised awareness about the turtles, and even assisted in placing signage to alert people of the nesting areas. These, however, are continually disregarded, and people remain littering the area. According to a resident, they had placed an enormous log to block the way leading to an area with many turtle nests, but it was removed.

The measures are not to discourage people visiting these remote areas of the island, but anyone driving up there to enjoy a family day needs to leave the site clean, and if they see a turtle nest, not to disturb it. It is illegal and can lead to a fine and imprisonment if found disturbing the site or the turtles.

Robles Point is one of the few remaining turtle nesting grounds in Ambergris Caye. The nesting season usually begins in May through November. According to records from HCMR, the main nesters are Loggerhead and Green turtles. Hawksbill turtles make rare visits. These turtles are endangered and protected in Belize.


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