2005 was a very successful year for Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire as we built upon the accomplishments of 2004. In all the program areas, staff and volunteers worked hard to move us forward in pursuit of our mission: to ensure the protection and recovery of Bonaire’s sea turtle population throughout their range.
On the research front, we observed sea turtle nesting in 2005 at lower levels than during 2004, with a total of 61 nests recorded for all the beaches of Bonaire and Klein Bonaire. The in-water surveys on the turtle foraging grounds yielded a total of 105 turtles handled, of which 21 were recaptures from 2003 and 2004. Satellite tracking of breeding turtles was again a success, with four turtles fitted with transmitters: three on hawksbills and one on a loggerhead turtle, all at Klein Bonaire. We successfully followed all tracked turtles during their long-distance migrations to their foraging grounds. We generated daily maps and gave relevant information via our newsletter to the public, creating awareness about the situation of the sea turtles around the globe.
In the area of education and public awareness, our year long education and outreach campaign that started in 2004 and done in collaboration with the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance, STINAPA Bonaire, and Coral Resource Management was completed. The very successful and well-received campaign focused on sea turtles and provided a year of constant attention through the distribution of newsletters, posters, flyers, buttons, school and community presentations, beach clean-ups and press releases. Our regularly scheduled ‘Sea Turtles of Bonaire’ slide presentation continued to draw the interested public. During the year, we generated a record number of press releases in our effort to bring attention to sea turtle conservation and alert the public to vital issues.
This last year we were able to take a step forward in the organizational arena. Our staff team grew with the addition of Dr. Robert van Dam as our Scientist Coordinator, Eric van der Keuken as our financial advisor and accountant, and a part-time field assistant. Volunteer support and assistance was significantly increased with the addition of three new island residents contributing their time and talents in a consistent fashion. We were also contacted by scores of people offering to assist on an ad-hoc basis.
Our website and electronic newsletters became important and very effective tools for us to share information about the endangered sea turtles and inform about our continuing efforts to protect these animals.