Sea Turtle Conservation

Baby Sea Turtles heading back to seaNature Foundation has been monitoring sea turtle nests on the islandís beaches since 1999. Over 200 nests have been recorded since then, but the estimation is that many more must have been made. Endangered Leatherbacks, Hawksbills and Green sea turtles come ashore during the nesting season that runs from April through November each year.

To help encourage community participation, Nature Foundation started the Sea Turtle Watch Group, a volunteer programme in which volunteers help with beach monitoring. Annually, we record nest counts, turtle species and hatching success, which are published in every first quarter issue of Foundation News, our electronic newsletter. The information from such investigations aids basic sea turtle conservation in the form of lobbying for legislation to protect nesting habitat and is added to global databases.

These databases monitor the threats to and successes of sea turtle conservation efforts worldwide and help scientists and conservationists to provide better tools for effective natural resource management. We also encourage community participation through presentations and other forms of media. Sea turtle conservation is also a big part of our education programme.

Near future - Signage on the nesting beaches
The informative signs will inform beach goers and beach side residents of the possible presence of nests and what they can do to avoid unintentionally destroying nests. The signs also provide background information on the three sea turtles and information on what people can do to help. This awareness project involves the placing of signs with information on turtle nesting behavior on the various turtle nesting beaches of St. Maarten.

Distant future projects include nesting sea turtle tagging, in-water tagging for juveniles, sea turtle tracking, genetic testing and foraging ground surveys.