The Nature Foundations would like to inform all stakeholders and beach users about the upcoming start of the 2019 sea turtle nesting season on St Maarten. These precious sea creatures come ashore during the nesting season which runs from April through November each year. The Nature Foundation actively manages and monitors the sea turtle nesting activities on St. Maarten since 1997, and also protects their habitat and nesting and foraging grounds in sea grass beds and on nesting beaches. Endangered Leatherbacks, Hawksbills and Green Sea turtles come ashore during the nesting season, the Foundation conducts various monitor activities with regard to nesting, including beach surveys, nest excavations, tagging activities, and nest success research.
“As the sea turtle nesting season is starting on the first of April, we would like to ask all residents and visitors to be vigilant and report any suspicion of sea turtle nests on our beaches to the Nature Foundation. Please also minimize beach lighting, keep beaches and waterways free of trash, stay alert when boating, avoid beach fires during the nesting season, be careful of where you place beach umbrellas and do not disturb nesting females. Please also, do not drive or park your car on any beach, as this will cause sea turtle eggs to die. Sea turtles are critically endangered and sea turtle nesting activity dropped dramatically the last decades in St Maarten and the Wider Caribbean” stated Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern Projects Coordinator of the Nature Foundation.
The Nature Foundation is the designated focal point for Sea Turtle Conservation according to the Inter American Sea Turtle Convention, the SPAW Protocol on Endangered Species and Country Representative for the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Network and has received specialized training in Sea Turtle conservation, including in relocating turtle nests that are in danger due to human activities or natural events such as storm surge.
Sea turtle population numbers have plummeted to dangerously low numbers throughout the past century due to human impact, bringing many species close to extinction and causing them to be listed as critically endangered. “We also would like to remind the public that based on Articles 16 and 17 of the Nature Conservation Ordinance St. Maarten it is illegal to kill, wound, capture or pick up sea turtles. It is also illegal to directly or indirectly disturb their environment resulting in a physical threat or damage, or to commit other acts which result in disturbance of the animal. It is forbidden to disturb, damage or destroy sea turtle nests, lairs or breeding places. Also, it is forbidden to pick up or to destroy the eggs of any species of sea turtle” explained Nature Foundation’s Manager Tadzio Bervoets.
Restaurants and beach bars along our beaches are also asked to refrain or limit the use of beach bonfires and artificial lighting which can seriously reduce the survival rate of sea turtles. Beach visitors are asked to not drive on St Maarten beaches and walk dogs on a leash as any beach could have a sea turtle nest. The Nature Foundation can be reached via Facebook; Nature Foundation St. Maarten or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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