Sea turtle nesting season beginsPOSTED: 04/9/14 12:54 AM
SIMPSON BAY – The St. Maarten Nature Foundation would like to remind the community that sea turtle nesting season is once again here. “We are urging the limiting of beach bonfires and artificial lighting on nesting beaches,” the foundation said in a press release yesterday. Each year between March and November, female sea turtles return to lay their eggs on the major nesting beaches of Simpson Bay, Guana Bay, and Gibbs Bay. There are three sea turtle species which nest on St. Maarten’s beaches, including the green sea turtle and the largest sea turtle species, the leatherback.
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 we should do all that we can to protect their nesting areas,” the foundation said.
Sea turtle population numbers have plummeted to dangerously low numbers throughout the past century due to human impacts, bringing many species close to extinction, and causing them to be listed as critically endangered. In order to reverse this trend, all sea turtle species are now protected by international laws and treaties as well as local laws. Based on article 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 also 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.
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 which can seriously reduce the
survival rate of sea-turtles.
The Nature Foundation also asks that people 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 544 4267 or
email the foundation at