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Tourists and locals came out to observe the release of turtles in the sea
Cayman Turtle Centre celebrated World Sea Turtle Day by releasing six two-year-old green turtles into the wild, at Governors Beach on Saturday 15 June. A crowd of spectators gathered on the beach as the names of the turtle escorts, were read out, and they came forward, one by one, to be with “their” turtle as it was taken down to the waters’ edge. The turtle escorts were selected from the entries submitted through a social media competition organised by the Centre. This release is one of the few public releases each year that we undertake, in addition to the tens of private releases and other turtle release programmes every year. The public was invited to observe and learn about turtles.
“I’m excited, I’m looking forward to it, so much,” said John, a young child who was one of the winners in the turtle escort social media competition.
“At Cayman Turtle Centre we conserve green sea turtles. All these turtles that you’ll see were captive-bred at Cayman Turtle Centre. The turtles were incubated in our hatchery ….60 to 80 days then they finally climbed their way up the sand, and emerged as tiny little hatchlings. We have taken care of them for about two years, and now it is time for them to go into the water,” said the Centre’s Education Programmes Officer, Shona McGill. “We call this ‘Head Starting,’ so as the name implies, we give the turtles a head start; so the only thing that can really hurt a turtle at this age is a large shark, or a tuna or humans, directly and indirectly,” she explained.
Our Education Programmes Officer, Shona McGill addressing the public
The other thing that can hurt a turtle, even a large one, is a piece of plastic such as a plastic bag, that the turtle sees floating in the water and might mistake for a jellyfish, one of the things a turtle likes to eat, although its diet is almost exclusively vegetarian. Plastic can kill a turtle, because the turtle will not be able to digest it and it will block up the turtle’s digestive system, Shona further told the crowd.
The Reading Family escort their turtle “Shelly” to the sea
Shona explained that a recent six-year study has shown that 9 out of 10 nesting turtles in Cayman are related to turtles which have been released from the Turtle Centre. “So that means what we are doing today has a really big impact on the Green Sea Turtle population,” she said. Shona added that the turtles are all tagged, and so it is possible to trace them, at some date in the future, if the turtles are found.
Released green turtle swimming into the sea
2018 Miss World Cayman Islands, Kelsie Woodman-Bodden had volunteered to help release the last turtle of the day, along with the contestant’s for this year’s contest. “I think we are all very excited at being able to release this turtles. Turtles are very important, not just for the environment but also for our culture, and I think it is very important to make sure our turtle population remains the same and increases,” she said.
2018 Miss World Cayman Islands, Kelsie Woodman-Bodden and the contestant’s for the 2019 contest with their turtle, which they named “Purpose”
Our Managing Director, Tim Adam said: “We enjoy doing this, because we want people to fall in love with the turtles. We hope people will heed our messages about plastic items being dangerous to turtles, and will not litter our beaches. We look forward to these turtles coming back in twenty-plus years, to mate, to nest, and to maintain the circle of life of turtles around Cayman.”
Our CEO, Tim Adam and Renee Howell, Chief Marketing & Merchandising Officer (in the white shirts) with Michael Ridley and another representative from Project Turtle Beach (in the blue shirts)