St. Eustatius Sea Turtle Conservation Programme - Annual Report 2004
The Sea Turtle Conservation Programme is managed by St Eustatius National Parks Foundation (STENAPA), which is the main environmental non- governmental organization on St Eustatius (also known as Statia).
Recent records of turtle nesting activities on St Eustatius date from June 1997 with the discovery of a nest by Jaap Begeman. Until this date, it was believed that leatherback turtles no longer nested on St Eustatius.
Since 2001, there have been confirmed nesting of three species of marine turtles: the Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata). It is possible that the Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) is nesting on St Eustatius, and there was an unconfirmed sighting in 2004.
STENAPA has four permanent staff and is able to carry on with projects such as the sea turtle conservation thanks to two international volunteer programs: the STENAPA Internship programme and Working Abroad programme started in 2001 and 2003 respectively.
The St Eustatius Sea Turtle Conservation Programme is part of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network and follows its monitoring and tagging protocols.
In order to participate in the programme, volunteers follow a theoretical and practical training at STENAPA.
In the latter half of 2004, monitoring extended to six beaches with regular day and night patrols.
- Two Green sea turtles were flipper tagged, 22 Green turtles nesting events were recorded, of which three were observed (with two successful lays) and 13 dry runs recorded.
- Four Leatherback turtles were flipper tagged and two were pit tagged. 16 Leatherback nesting events were recorded, eight of these events were observed, (with seven successful lays), two dry runs were recorded in total.
A total of six Green turtle nests and seven Leatherback nests were inventoried:
- STENAPA personnel recorded that it takes between 44 and 51 days for a Green turtle nest to emerge, and noted that it takes 50-57 days for Leatherback nests left in situ to emerge, and 64-66 days for relocated nests to emerge
In 2004, the sea turtle conservation programme reached the local and international communities. Three methods of publicizing the programme were used: STENAPA newsletters, STENAPA radio show and press releases.
Achievements for 2004 includes:
- Continuation of beach clean up;
- Beach mapping;
- Police participation to enforce laws in regards to sea turtles protection (e.g: sand mining and beach parties);
- Additional staff training (e.g: WIDECAST AGM and Sea turtle Symposium 2005);
- Increased volunteer supervision; and
- Monitoring of six nesting beaches thanks to the purchase of a dedicated vehicle for the programme.