Turtle Watching Tips

Dennis Sammy, of Nature Seekers, offers the following tips when visiting nesting sites or when we come across a nesting turtle:

• When a turtle emerges from the sea, there should be absolute silence and all lights off. • A distance of 15 metres should be kept until the nest is prepared. • Observers should approach quietly and with minimum lights when the laying starts. • Observers should walk closer to the water to reduce sand compaction. • Flash photography should only be used when directed by a guide. • Do not ride turtles. • No poaching of turtle eggs

SOS Tobago (http://www.sos-tobago.org/) also shares some useful information via their web site: • Do not litter. Garbage traps hatchlings and prevent them from entering the ocean. Also turtles can mistake plastic bags for food and will choke on them. • Don't drive on the beaches - vehicles can crush entire clutches of eggs. • Control pets, as they can dig up nests. • Do not touch the hatchlings, let them make their way to the sea themselves

If you come across any hatchling or adult turtle in any difficulty, please alert someone from Nature Seekers (668-7337), SOS Tobago (290 3797) or the Wildlife Division (662-5114). Also, please continue to visit the EMA website (www.ema.co.tt) for updates on our visiting turtles and other wildlife.

courtesy of Trinidad Express from an article called:
EMA committed to protecting sea turtle, local wildlife
Friday, June 12th 2009

Respect for sea turtles

Guidelines for observing nesting turtles

While a few beaches host large numbers of turtles, most sandy beaches around TT may have nesting activity – so treat all beaches as if there may be turtles or their nests.

1. Go with an official guide or a patrol group: they have a wealth of information. Co-operate with the patrols who are essential for logging turtle arrivals and preventing any mistreatment of the nesting turtles. Beaches such as Turtle Beach (Tobago), Matura, Fishing Pond, Las Cuevas and Grande Riviere in Trinidad, are patrolled in the turtle-nesting months. Go with them to get an understanding and appreciation of what they do.

2. Avoid using artificial lights – torches, car lights, even flash photography and campfires. The brightest part of the beach is the sea, which is the guiding light for turtles, who cannot see well outside the water, to be able to return to the ocean. Even lights shining on turtles from behind when returning to the sea are a problem, as they will turn towards the light. Therefore, bright lights are disorienting and can result in wasted energy, and tire and even harm turtles, especially hatchlings, who rely on reaching the water quickly for survival.

3. Leave only footprints. Do not leave trash nor alter the beach in anyway, such as digging holes or placing hard structures such as chairs, tables etc. This includes driving on the beach, which compacts the sand over the eggs and causes ruts which are enough to be obstacles to hatchlings.

4. Stay at least ten metres (30 feet) away from turtles and never stand in front of them or block their path. This will intimidate the turtle and is likely to cause the turtle to return to the ocean or expend energy unnecessarily. If you happen to come across hatchlings, do not block their path to the ocean and do not touch them – let them make their own way to the sea.

5. Be quiet! Loud noises also disturb the nesting turtles and cause them to abandon their nests.

6. Seek patrols in the area if you encounter turtles in distress. Call local NGOs: in Tobago, Save Our Seas (SOS) or the Tobago House of Assembly, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment; in Trinidad, Nature Seekers or the Forestry Division, Wildlife Section; and in any of the communities that monitor turtle nesting, the watch groups or patrols.

Be safe on our nesting beaches in this season. Enjoy the opportunity for your once-in-a-lifetime encounter with these creatures whose home is the ocean.

edited from:
Respect for sea turtles
Newsday Reporter, Thursday, April 28th, 2022

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