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The Cayman Turtle Centre spent World Turtle Day, May 23rd, much the same as they do every other day of the year, working tirelessly to save sea turtles through conservation and educational efforts. World Sea Turtle Day is June 16th and The Centre will celebrate with a special Turtle Release on Governor’s Beach that same weekend. The Centre’s turtle tourism is world renowned and provides exceptional opportunities for residents and visitors alike. All visitors are able to learn about sea turtles as well as other wildlife in a unique environment that is home to scientific research, conservation, education and distinctive tourism features.
Dr. Walter Mustin, Cayman Turtle Centre’s Chief Research and Conservation Officer explains, “This year’s turtle nesting season is off to a good start. To date we have collected over 12,000 eggs. Our breeding beach at the Centre has seen nesting nearly every night for the last 6 weeks and as many as eight separate nests in one night.” He furthers, “This is an exciting time for the Centre, especially given that the Species Conservation Plan for Green Sea Turtle that the Centre put together was endorsed by government.” Mr. Tim Adam, the CEO of the Cayman Turtle Centre expounds on the plan further, “The Species Conservation Plan presented to Caucus and later presented to Cabinet, was endorsed by the Government. Cabinet issued a direction last August to the National Conservation Council to proceed with the steps necessary to adopt and subsequently bring this Plan into force. This support given by Cabinet of the plan to be adopted under the National Conservation Law makes this a dynamic time for us, and for ongoing beneficial outcomes for our country’s green turtle population.”
Mr. Adam continues, “World Sea Turtle Day is a notable occasion for us, as a nation and leader in conservation of keystone marine creatures, to finally come together and show the world that our government leadership and agencies across the board are unified in our beliefs and our efforts. The Cayman Islands has a unique set of resources at its disposal for the conservation of marine turtles because our country’s capabilities for this rest on several important pillars. One of the pillars is preserving the habitat for the turtles including suitable nesting beaches. Another one is augmenting the wild population of sea turtles: in the Cayman Islands we have the world’s only captive breeding facility for marine turtles now well beyond its second generation, and releases of captive-bred turtles contributed some 90% of Cayman’s present nesting population of green turtles. Another pillar is reducing and eliminating incentives to take turtles from the wild. A fourth pillar is enforcement of the legislation to ensure that poaching is not tolerated. A fifth pillar is educating generations of residents and visitors about the importance of having turtles in the marine environment and what they can do to help conserve turtles. That education is integrated into what we impart to visitors and to the local students we meet, at our Centre and at our various turtle tourism outreach events, and it has the additional beneficial effect of helping to protect a wide range of creatures that inhabit the oceans. A sixth pillar is closely aligned with the educational component, and that is ecotourism, especially what is known as turtle tourism, which can have far-reaching positive economic impacts. Last but not least, the seventh important pillar I would mention is our ongoing scientific research, which adds significant contributions to the body of knowledge about marine turtles that informs policymaking and wildlife conservation work here and around the world. Adopting this Species Conservation Plan will provide a solid foundation for these pillars to work well together.”
Renee Howell, Chief Marketing and Merchandising Officer states, “For me, this is an extremely significant time for turtle conservation. It is an amazing opportunity for the Cayman Islands to adopt this carefully written Green Sea Turtle Species Conservation Plan and join the ranks of other nations with a well laid out and robust strategy for this important species. It is our understanding that the National Conservation Council, under the directive order given by Cabinet, will be proceeding with the administrative steps involved in putting the Green Sea Turtle Species Plan out for public review. It is our hope to see this on their next Agenda, especially with World Sea Turtle Day being in June.” In addition to earlier comments, Mr. Adam explained, “Once this species conservation plan that we presented is adopted under the National Conservation Law, it will clearly signify that what we are doing at Cayman Turtle Centre is integrated into a very robust, well thought out, well supported, well documented national plan under the authority of the Cayman Islands Government. The Plan will then be fully empowered and in effect it becomes law. This is vital to support, sustain and extend our relationships with industry and research partner entities both locally and overseas.”
The Turtle Centre intends for its Green Sea Turtle Species Conservation Plan to be followed by plans for the Hawksbill and Loggerhead marine turtle species. These plans will be tailored to the specific and unique requirements of each species. Dr. Walter Mustin furthers, “With the approval and adoption of these plans, Cayman Turtle Conservation and Education Centre will be able to assist with the conservation and educational efforts of all three turtle species that are found in the Cayman Islands.”
To see the turtle release on Saturday June 15th come out to Governor’s Beach at 10am, and celebrate World Sea Turtle Day with the Cayman Turtle Centre!
Headstarted turtles being released into the wild by Cayman Turtle Centre.
About Cayman Turtle Centre: Island Wildlife Encounter: Cayman Turtle Centre is a conservation, education and scientific study organisation and one of the largest tourist attractions in the Cayman Islands. Its mission and work encompass a multifaceted approach to the conservation of sea turtles and other indigenous animals. Through an extensive and proven captive breeding, rearing and release programme, the Centre’s focus is on green sea turtles but also includes other at-risk species such as the Cayman Parrot. The aim is to sustain and increase the wild population of marine turtles which is furthered by sustainable harvesting of captive-reared turtles to support indigenous culinary traditions utilising turtles, thereby removing the stimulus to take turtles from the wild. The organisation advances the results through the release of captive-bred turtles into the wild, by collaborative scientific studies, and by integrating conservation education.