Sint Eustatius – This week Sint Eustatius National Parks (STENAPA) staff spotted again tyre tracks on Zeelandia Beach indicating an obvious attempt at sand mining. It is illegal to drive on this beach, because it is one of the key sea turtle nesting sites on Statia. The pressure from the tyres can crush any eggs buried beneath the sand. And mining sand can harm the hatchlings even more. Apart from that, these activities can prevent the female sea turtles coming ashore to nest.
“Sea turtles are one of the unique selling points of the island and they attract divers from all around the world to come to Statia and give an income to so many people working in tourism and restaurants”, says Clarisse Buma, director of STENAPA. “While diving you can see the sea turtles quite often: hawksbill and green turtles and sometimes a leatherback”. These animals are all critically endangered, which is the last phase before they are extinct. “It is therefore extremely important to leave the beach untouched and pristine for the turtles to lay their nests there”, says Buma. “And there are alternatives. If you need sand, buy it from the local company that imports sand and with that you support local entrepreneurship. That’s good for the sea turtles and good for the local economy”.
STENAPA patrol the beach twice a day. The organization will intensify their operations and close off the beach with additional measures to make sure no cars can enter again”, says Buma.