Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Hotels Join in on Turtle Conservation

This morning I received a call from Terry, the Watersports Manager at Jolly Beach Hotel. Members of the watersports team had discovered a freshly hatched turtle nest on the beach just in front of the hotel. Tiny hatchling tracks near the building led them to two hatchlings wandering the beach and finally the nest site.
This nest happened to made by a Green Turtle, the least common nesting species around Antigua. For many of us this was in fact the first time that we had seen green turtle hatchlings. The eggs and the hatchlings were surprisingly large. Unfortunately the little one below did not make it out of the nest alive. However, the quick efforts of the guys at Jolly Beach ensured that several other stranded turtles did not meet the same fate. Terry recorded all the nest information on our "Beach Observations" datasheet allowing us to inlcude this event in our island wide study of turtle nesting habits.
Having recently participated in our project's training workshops on conservation and research of nesting turtles, we are extrememly proud of the prompt response of the watersports team at Jolly Beach - they did an excellent job in their first "official" turtle mission! It is wonderful that they have been able to put their knowledge to use and become an active part of Antigua's conservation efforts.
Across the island at St. James Club, we received a similar call this weekend reporting a fresh hawksbill turtle nest. Staff had clearly marked the area and everyone was very anxious to enure that the nest would not be harmed despite being deposited in a very busy area just at the doorway of a guest room. Our patrols visited the nest site and we are now all closely monitoring until the hatchlings are due.

Each year, our specially designed workshops for hotels on turtle nesting beaches aim to provide key hotel staff with basic awareness on sea turtle ecology along with best practice guidelines for sea turtle encounters and maintenance of nesting beaches. Staff are also trained in collecting basic information using our simple "Beach Observation" data sheet. Several hotels have recently completed workshops including Jolly Beach, St. James Club, Sandals Antigua Village, Pineapple Beach, Rex Hawksbill Hotel, Rex Halcyon, Hermitage Bay, and Galley Bay. We hope that this will be a start in making beaches around the island a little more turtle-friendly, and the locals and guests a little more welcoming :).