Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Hol Chan Marine Reserve begins monitoring seasonal sea turtle nesting sites

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The sea turtle monitoring program at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve has begun and will continue until November. They anticipate egg clutches will appear on the beach this time of the year, as last year, the first turtle nest of the season was discovered on April 18, 2023. Due to that factor, the Hol Chan Marine Reserve team is now actively monitoring the island’s northern beaches weekly to search for turtle nests or any activity. They have also started removing debris and cleaning up by picking up garbage and driftwood that could obstruct the turtles’ path in known nesting areas.
Last year, by August 2023, the Hol Chan team had discovered 67 turtle nests, of which 36 successfully hatched. Data collected around the nesting areas, such as Robles and Rocky Point, suggested that last year’s nesting season yielded an estimated 1481 new turtles that made their way to the Caribbean Sea. Of these, 1299 were from the Loggerhead, 35 were Hawksbills, and 78 were Green turtles.
The Hol Chan Marine Reserve management has provided some tips to safeguard baby turtles, specifically for islanders living in northern Ambergris Caye. To co-exist with these sea creatures, the Hol Chan team suggests keeping beachfront areas near properties dark and turning off lights unnecessarily for human safety after sundown. They suggest using long-wavelength amber shielded LED lamps to prevent visibility from the beach. They also recommend avoiding using flashlights when taking pictures, as this can cause turtles to become disoriented and crawl away from the sea. Another suggestion is to remove beach furniture, boats, toys, or rubbish from the beach at the end of the day, as these can become obstacles for sea turtles.
The Hol Chan Marine biologists emphasize that sea turtles are ecologically essential and significant to the Belizean tourism industry. They stressed that they should not disturb anything residents suspect is a turtle nest and instead report all suspected nests or sea turtle crawls to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve office at 226-2247. The Hol Chan Marine staff will do another clean-up next week and involve some community members to assist. For more information or updates, please visit https://www.holchanmarinereserve.org/.

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