The St. Kitts and Nevis Leeward Times spotlights the work of the Nevis Turtle Group:
Nevis Turtle Group which was formed in 2003 is a non governmental organisation with a core-membership of about 10 persons and some 20 volunteers involved in the conservation method. The group was initially started by Pemberton in 2001 when he was frequently seen patrolling the beach. “I would go on beach patrol duties to see which beaches have the most sea turtle nesting activities. The main beaches I visited and we are still visiting as a group are Lovers beach (Sea Haven) to the west of the airport; we also monitor the beaches from Cades Bay to Cotton Ground which have the largest number of sea turtle nesting. The third beach we also visit is Jacks Bay between Cliff Dwellers and Galipot south of Ms. Jones Cuisine,” he outlined.
Pemberton explained further that the group monitors these beaches 3 nights a week and 2 to 3 mornings per week depending on the number of volunteers available. Pemberton who holds a Masters Degree in Resource Management from UWI Barbados also did some training in sea turtle monitoring and having been involved in the fishing industry as a fisherman has also been exposed to how people exploit turtles for their meat, eggs and shells. Another problem the group faces in poaching (stealing of the nesting sea turtle and their eggs), “some men think it’s an aphrodisiac.” “Coming to the realisation that sea turtles are critically endangered I decided to do something to help this species survive. Four of us started the group in 2003, Rene Walters, Angela Walters, Charles Paris and I. We started the night beach patrol in 2003; we tag them with modified animal ear tags,” he disclosed.
As of 2011 a total of nine turtles have been tagged. Three turtles were tagged in 2011 (Coral, Paradise and Jewel) when the [Four Seasons] Resort came back on board and of the nine turtles tagged four are reported to still be transmitting. “Ginger which was tagged in 2007 is still transmitting; this is a record breaking incident because the tracking devices last for more than one or two years,” Pemberton explained. The tracking devices are used to monitor the turtles, foraging activity and migration root after nesting on “our” beaches. From the signal transmission, they have also been able to report that two of the nine turtles reached as far as the Coast of Nicaragua, “Mango and Calypso swam west of Nevis and ended up off the Coast of Nicaragua.”
In order to ensure that this species are not totally extinct and to also ensure that the work of the group didn’t go to waste, Pemberton said that they have been informing the general public through the media about sea turtle conservation and its importance. He warned that decline in the population of turtles can lead to a decline of reef fish which persons consume on a daily basis. “They are keystone species.”
[Photo: via leewardstimes.com]