“Barbados hosts the largest nesting population of Critically Endangered hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) in the insular Caribbean (Beggs et al 2007). Most hawksbills nest along the west and south coasts of Barbados, with one major nesting beach (1.12km) on a reef-protected section of the east coast, at Bath.
Sea turtles return to the nest on the beach that they themselves hatched on and a study has shown that females that nest on Bath beach are genetically distinct from those that nest on the south and west coasts of the island (Browne et al 2010). Their tendency to nest where they were born means that, should the Bath nesting population be diminished, there can be no recovery as a result of movement of females to Bath from the south and west coasts. Females that nest on Bath beach come from foraging grounds in the northern and western Caribbean. One nesting female satellite tracked from Bath beach lives in the Jaragua National Park in Dominican Republic (J. Horrocks, pers. comm.).”
Now this is where you can play your role in preserving this species of turtle and ensuring you help the population to thrive along the way.
Did you know many of these nesting sites are raided by “Invasive Species” that roam the park and coastline at Bath beach? Particularly the mongoose and rats? Once a mongoose has started to remove the eggs, they then become vulnerable to another invasive predator, rats. Rats do not dig down into nests themselves, but they can detect when hatchlings are within inches of the sand surface and ready to emerge (either by smell or by sensing movement) and they will bite hatchlings on the head and pull them out of the nest as soon as the hatchlings break the surface (Gronwald et al.2019).
There is no worse a feeling than to see a nest ravaged by these invaders and prohibiting the chance of new hatchlings actually making it from the sand, back into the water to begin their journey. If you are a lover of nature and wildlife you literally feel gutted at this visual display of destruction!
Simple as it may seem, all we need to do is work together with the efforts of entities like the Ministry of Environment and it’s Biodiversity Section to do a few simple things:
- Place our litter in the trash cans provided! Leaving garbage knocking around harbors rodents which, once they are living in the surrounding areas, are more prone to seek out and ravage the precious turtle nest that are in close proximity to the park.
- Remember to call the Turtle Hotline and report sightings of trapped, or distressed turtles, so they can do their part in assisting the species in a safe way.
- If you realize garbage skips or bins haven’t been collected in a few days, call the Sanitation Department and prompt a collection to reduce feeding opportunities for the Mongoose and Rats.
- When you are walking on the beach and see plastic, old fishing line or bottles lying around, you can do your part by removing it and properly disposing of these items by placing them in the skip or garbage bins so you do your part in preserving this majestic species!
The above are of course only a few tips in how we can play our part in preserving the natural habitats and by extension, the species! However, knowledge is power, so stay tuned to this website and tell a friend to check us out, because the more aware we are on these issues, the more hands we have on deck to fight them one by one!