Hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) are a Critically Endangered marine turtle species with a significant nesting population in Barbados. They face numerous threats including, but not limited to, poaching, fisheries, loss of nesting beaches and, notably, invasive predators. Under the regional GEF-funded project “Preventing Costs of Invasive Alien Species in Barbados and the OECS Countries“, a mongoose and rat control pilot project was carried out at Bath Beach. The intent of this project was to reduce the impacts that these invasive species have on sea turtle nests there. You can read more about the Bath Beach project here. In short, the project aimed to quantify the rate of turtle nest predation before and after mongoose and rat control to explore the feasibility of and establish best practices in on-the-ground invasive species management for biodiversity conservation in Barbados.
We are pleased to announce that the recently completed Bath Beach project was successful in its objective to reduce the negative impacts of turtle nest predation. The study found that mongooses were responsible for all recorded nest predation cases at Bath, though rodents were uncommon in the area. Through the tireless efforts of this project, the turtle nest predation rate at Bath plummeted from nearly 40% in 2021 to less than 10% in 2022. This represents a 75% reduction in the rate of nest predation by mongooses between just two years!
The Biodiversity Conservation and Management Section would like to thank the partners that made this project possible. Thanks are extended to the Global Environment Facility, the United Nations Environment Programme, the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International, the Barbados Sea Turtle Project, the Sanitation Service Authority, the National Conservation Commission, the Bath community and Mosaic Eco Consult.
The success of this project shows that management practices represent a significant and reproducible means of conservation of native and endemic biodiversity and ecosystems threatened by invasive alien species. The collective efforts of our communities, private and public sectors, and NGOs can have a real and measurable positive impact to preserve our natural world for the benefit of generations to come.