Imagine taking an evening stroll on the beach and you’re stopped in your tracks by a 200-300lbs leatherback. She digs a hole and begins laying her eggs all whilst you stand there in awe and amazement. Upon completion she covers the hole makes her markings and heads back into the dark of the night. With excitement you try to find someone on the beach to tell and you call everyone you know to tell about this awesome moment you just experienced.
Antigua & Barbuda has a fairly healthy population of adult resident turtles and is the home to four species of sea turtle: Hawskbill, Green, Leatherback and Loggerhead. They are all endangered species and during the months of March to November they nest on our beaches.
Your first call should be to the EAG’s Antigua Sea Turtle Conservation Project (268) 720-6955, Mykl Fuller and her team will monitor the nest and check the beach for more nests. The EAG in conjunction with the Jumby Bay Hawksbill Project and WIDECAST work together to conserve, manage and educate the public on sea turtle conservation and protection in Antigua & Barbuda.
Here are a few guidelines to follow if you happen upon a turtle nesting:
- Limit noise as you don’t wish to disorient the turtle
- DO NOT shine lights directly on females and hatchlings
- Give the turtle adequate space before and after as she is laying her eggs
- DO NOT touch or remove any of the eggs
- ONLY take photos from behind the turtle during her laying
- DO NOT stand or ride on the back of the turtles as this can cause spinal injuries
- DO NOT leave any litter on the beach as females and hatchlings may get trapped
It is now 8 weeks since the nesting and you’re back to see “your hatchlings” yes you’ve been telling everyone who would listen about “your babies”. Since the nesting you’ve been visiting the site regularly ensuring that the eggs are safe and calling the EAG for reports. You’ve been googling and youtubing videos to learn as much as you can.
You sit patiently and anxiously await for your babies to peek out of the sand. The sand starts moving from the tremors of the eggs cracking and you become overwhelmed at the sight of these beautiful creatures as they peek their heads out of the sand and begin the waddling towards the big ole ocean. You silently cheered them on as they head towards the ocean and let out a muffled scream of joy as they make it to the surf and start swimming.
Whilst staying at the Trade Winds Hotel you can always join the EAG or the Jumby Bay Hawksbill Project on their Turtle Watching tours for an unbelievable experience . Over the pass few weeks there are been many sightings of nesting and just yesterday a nest on Dickenson Bay hatched. If you would like to “donate” to the Anitgua Sea Turtle Conservation Project click here to do so via WIDECAST.
Have you ever seen a turtle lay its eggs or hatchlings journey to the sea? Tell us about it!
Hatchlings from an April 9th, 2012 nest.
(Photo credit: Save Antigua’s Sea Turtles Facebook Group)