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Leatherback makes daytime nesting at Maracas

Friday, March 18, 2016
Earlier this week a leatherback turtle it made its way to shore at Maracas. Yesterday a video circulated on social media depicting scores of people crowding around it. While it is not a common occurrence, turtle nesting during the day has been known to happen.

In fact, just last year on July 21, a nesting similar to the one last Sunday at Maracas was seen along the same beach around 2 pm.

Last Sunday a leatherback turtle it made its way to the shore of Maracas Bay. It was seen along beach around 2 pm. While it is not a common occurrence, turtle nesting during the day has been known to happen.

Posted by T&T Guardian on Friday, March 18, 2016

Kathryn Audroing, Research Manager at the National Sea Turtle Conservation Project said this happens when the turtle is younger and less experienced in nesting behaviour or in isolated areas where threats are minimal.

However, she said: “to conserve energy and as a precaution against predation, turtles would ordinarily come ashore in the cooler, darker hours of the night. But daytime nesting events do happen.”

Though nesting can begin as early as January, we are currently in the early part of the leatherback nesting season which runs from March to August.

It peaks in May and June.

While Maracas is not as prolific a nesting site as Grande Riviere or even neighbouring Marianne Beach in Blanchisseuse, sea turtles, including leatherbacks, come ashore there and at nearby beaches as well annually.

Audroing said the turtles are not always successful at nesting on every occasion for varied reasons which include human interference and poaching. 

She recommended that even though daytime sea turtle nesting is not common, in event of such a happening, “people present should keep in mind that prehistoric animals are endangered and must not let their curiosity hinder the turtle from safely nesting and returning to sea. All five species of sea turtles which nest and inhabit our waters are legally protected as Environmentally Sensitive Species under the EM Act.”

The Research Manager outlined a number of tips people should follow:

• give the animal good clearance of at least 30 feet and try not to stand directly in the path in which they are moving;

• flash photography and bright lights, loud noises and excessive motion will affect the turtle and often deter them from nesting;

• do not attempt to touch the nesting turtle, eggs or hatchlings or obstruct their path. Allow them to make their own journey from the beach to the sea; 

• follow the instructions of trained guides, Forestry Division personnel (including Honorary Game Wardens), trained life guards, sea turtle conservation NGO members who are all trained to ensure the safety of visitors and the turtles. 

The public is advised to alert the Forestry Division in Trinidad and Department of Natural Resources and the Environment in Tobago or any nearby police station for assistance in the event of a similar event.

Audroing suggested that the information can also be forwarded to Turtle Village Trust at [email protected], or via Facebook on their page Turtle Village Trust.

The Turtle Village Trust is a partnership of 21 community-based conservation organisations across T&T that monitor and record scientific data on sea turtles.

The group partners with the Las Cuevas Eco-Friendly Association and the Blanchisseuse Environment and Community Organisation and will respond to issues related to turtles in the Maracas environs.


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