Thursday, July 25, 2024

Healthy 2021 turtle nesting season; nesting areas still threatened by human activity

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The current turtle nesting season continues to look good as members of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve are reporting hatchlings in the several nests discovered in northern Ambergris Caye. 44 nests have been found so far, a much lower nest count from previous seasons. Around this time of year, nests amounted to the 90s previously. Hol Chan personnel say it does not necessarily mean less turtles are beaching to nest. The research and monitoring team have yet to inspect additional sites, and suspect the number of nests may be higher.

During recent visits to these northern beaches, the Hol Chan team found out that the nesting grounds continue to be threatened by human activity (driving on the beach) and they appeal to the public to be careful when visiting these areas of the island.

They asked people who usually drive all the way to areas like Robles Point to not drive golf carts on nesting beaches that have been clearly identified. The research and monitoring team at Hol Chan visit these northern areas every week to locate the nests, collect data and number of nests and hatchlings, plus unhatched eggs. According to one of the team members, there have been lots of hatchlings over the past weeks.

At times some hatchlings are still alive in the nests, but cannot get out because the sand is compacted after a vehicle has driven over the nest. In these cases, the team uses their training and knowledge to

safely remove and release them in the sea.

The nesting season runs from May to November each year. The majority of the nests are usually located in the Robles Point, Rocky Point area around Basil Jones. The 44 currently reported nests are all in the Robles beach area. The most common species of turtles spotted are the Loggerhead and Green turtles. Sea turtles are considered ecologically important and have great significance to Belize’s tourism industry.

The Hol Chan Marine Reserve asks the public visiting the northern coastline to exercise caution. Do not disturb anything suspected to be a turtle nest. If a nest is found or is believed to be one, or hatchlings are discovered, contact Hol Chan at 226-2247.

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