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Bodden Town Primary getting the opportunity to touch the head started turtle during their private school release near Turtle Nest Inn under the guidance of Geddes Hislop, our Curator, Terrestrial Exhibits & Education Programmes Officer.
One of our recent initiatives enabled school children to release turtles as well as understand the responsibility that each of us has to undertake for the well-being of turtles and other marine creatures.
We had about 20 turtles ready to make their journey into the sea. The refreshing and effective idea to host a turtle naming competition among schools came from our Education Outreach team. The idea was to give the school students, who came up with the best names for our turtles, an opportunity to release them into the sea. Receiving an overwhelming response we ended up with almost 19 best names from 14 schools. It was fantastic seeing such unique and interesting names that the children had come up with. A group of winners was selected who brought along their whole class to watch the turtles’ releases at West Bay Public Beach and off the beach just beside Turtle Nest Inn in Bodden Town. Over the course of 4 months starting in December 2018 and ending in March 2019, 10 schools had the opportunity to release their named turtles.
Bodden Town Primary, Cayman Prep & High School, Cornerstone, First Baptist Christian School, Hope Academy, Sir John A Cumber Primary School, St. Ignatius Catholic School, Triple C, Village Montessori and the Wesleyan Christian Academy all took part in the releases.
Dr. Vandanaa Baboolal, our veterinarian, getting ready to take a head started turtle to the beach.
The children who submitted the winning names, with the assistance of our staff, released the turtles as everyone else witnessed this heart touching and awestruck moment of watching turtles make their way into the sea. Each turtle took its time getting into the water to ‘take its bearings’.
Many students shared their fantastic experience of releasing the turtle as well as watching others release them. In particular, a 13-year old girl, Ashley said, “It was an amazing experience. It was my first time releasing a turtle. Even though I just met the turtle today, I felt like I had a connection with it.”
Students from Cayman Prep and High School giving their turtle a pet as it makes a path to the sea.
A few decades ago, several scientific studies declared that the Green Sea Turtle had become extinct in the waters encircling the Cayman Islands. Today, there are around two hundred nesting sites. It gives us immense pleasure and a feeling of pride to quote a recent genetic study out of the University of Barcelona that nine out of ten Green Sea turtles laying their eggs on Cayman's beaches are related to turtles released by Cayman Turtle Centre.
It was a great experience not only for children who got the opportunity to release the turtles and learn something extraordinary but also for us in making a significant difference in saving a species.