PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — As a part of the management of the endangered Sea Turtle population during the 2015 nesting and breeding season, the Sint Maarten Nature Foundation has started to give presentations to various hotels and beach concession areas around the island, starting at Divi Little Bay. Information was given on the importance of protecting the species, what to do in case a sea turtle nest hatches or a turtle is seen on the beach, how to control lighting on the beach and who to contact in the case a turtle is seen.
The first presentation was given to the night staff of Divi Little Bay and the staff of Aquamania Watersports; “hotel staff are one of the most important allies we have on Sint Maarten in assisting us in ensuring that these endangered creatures nest and hatch successfully and we would like to thank Divi Resorts for being the first to receive this presentation from us,” commented Nature Foundation Manager Tadzio Bervoets.
Sea turtles have existed for well over 180 million years, even before the dinosaurs. St. Maarten is one of the few places in the region that has a nesting population of sea turtles, so all should be done to protect their nesting areas. Sea turtle population numbers have plummeted to dangerously low numbers throughout the past century due to human impacts, bringing many species close to extinction. In order to reverse this trend, all sea turtle species are now protected by international laws and treaties as well as local laws.
The St. Maarten Nature Foundation actively manages the sea turtle population on St. Maarten, particularly during the nesting season. The Foundation conducts various activities with regards to nesting females including beach surveys, nest excavations, tagging activities, and nest success research. The Foundation also relies heavily on volunteers to assist it in its Sea Turtle activities and welcomes any volunteers who would be interested in working with sea turtles.
Beach communities in particular are in the best position to help ensure that females nest safely, that nests are left undisturbed and that hatchlings make it safely to the sea. This year the Nature Foundation also urges restaurants and beach bars along the major nesting beaches to refrain or limit the use of beach bonfires and artificial lighting that can seriously reduce the survival rate of sea turtles. The Nature Foundation asks that people also do not drive on the nesting beaches and that they walk their dog on a leash. To report nesting activity or illegal activity, please call the Sea Turtle Hotline 9229 or call the Nature Foundation office at 5444267 or email the Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Nature Foundation Manager Tadzio Bervoets giving first Hotel Presentation to staff of Divi Little Bay Resorts