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Cayman Turtle Conservation and Education Centre will be celebrating World Sea Turtle Day (June 16th) by releasing a total of 10 yearling turtles into the sea. Five of them will be released on June 16th and another five two days later on June 18th.
“It is a great way to celebrate this special day. The young turtles being released are known as ‘head-started,’ sea turtles, because they have been given a ‘head-start,’ in life, by being hatched and raised in the safe, protected environment of the Centre, and released at a size that gives them a better chance of survival.” Dr. Walter Mustin, Cayman Turtle Centre’s Chief Research and Conservation Officer explained.
Head-starting is a scientifically proven way of boosting this endangered species’ wild populations because, at around one-year-old, the Green sea turtle has already grown a considerable amount and can already outswim most predators. In the wild, it is estimated that about one in a thousand hatchlings, or baby sea turtles, make their way from the nest-site to the beach survive into adulthood. Recent data on the incidence of plastics ingestion by wild turtles of all sizes suggests that survival is likely fewer than I in one thousand.
The Centre has been releasing turtles consistently year after year and to-date has released more than 32,000 Green of its captive-bred sea turtles into the wild. Independent research (such as a scientific study recently published by the University of Barcelona) has shown that these conservation efforts have paid off spectacularly and that these releases are responsible for bringing back this endangered species from the brink of extinction in and around Cayman. These turtle releases have been shown to be the cause of a greater-than tenfold increase in the number of nesting Green sea turtles around Grand Cayman’s shores over the last 20 years. In addition, nine out of every ten of the breeding turtles in the wild around Cayman have shown through DNA that they are genetically related to the breeder turtles at the Centre.
This year, even with the necessary precautions surrounding COVID-19, Cayman Turtle Conservation and Education Centre’s Animal Care Team is still hard at work. The popular World Sea Turtle Day releases will be live-streamed on Facebook for all to see.
Cayman Turtle Conservation and Education Centre’s Animal Care Team has been caring for 11,000 + animals since the Centre closed to the public in Mid-March due to COVID-19 restrictions. Members of the public are invited to get involved by sponsoring and naming one of the turtles that will be released. Details of this opportunity can be found on the dedicated website at www.caymanturtles.ky. You can adopt, donate, and sponsor a turtle online to help support the Centre and their conservation efforts.
Cayman Turtle Centre’s CEO, Mr. Tim Adam, said “World Sea Turtle Day is a notable occasion for us as a nation and it is also a great opportunity to come together and show the world that we are unified in our efforts to conserve the wild green sea turtle population. Releases such as these are only one of our multifaceted approaches in ensuring that these magnificent animals not only survive but thrive. By educating residents and more than a quarter-of-a-million visitors every year about how important an ecological keystone species these turtles are, and by showing them ways they can help support turtle conservation, we are ensuring that future generations of informed supporters will continue to value and protect not only turtles but their ocean habitat and other wildlife and natural ecosystems the world over.”
“That education is integrated into what we impart to visitors and to the local students we meet, not only at the Centre but also at our various turtle tourism outreach events which we hope will be able to resume again soon. Education has the additional effect of helping to protect a wide range of creatures that inhabit the oceans, and we believe that turtle-tourism also can have far-reaching positive economic impacts for our Islands, as well as direct beneficial effects for the turtle population. In addition, our ongoing scientific research adds significant contributions to the body of knowledge about marine turtles and is shared globally, informing policymaking and wildlife conservation work here and around the world.” he continued.
“We are proud that the Cayman Turtle Conservation and Education Centre leads the Cayman Islands in conservation and education of these vital aspects of our natural environment. Likewise, we are proud that these beautiful Islands continue to shine as a conservation and wildlife beacon throughout the region and around the world.”