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It was an historic day: CTC extended the Turtle Release program to Cayman Brac for the first time by sending a team over to release eight turtles. Ever since Christopher Columbus called Cayman Brac and Little Cayman “Las Tortugas” (meaning The Turtles because of all the turtles he could see there) the sister islands’ name has been associated with turtles, so it was only fitting that the Centre should be releasing turtles from there.
Local residents were invited to take part in the release, by helping the eight turtles to the waters’ edge, and then to the open sea where they will be able to join the 32,000-plus turtles already released by the Centre. The released turtles are part of the Centre’s ‘Head Starting Programme,’ which involves growing the tiny hatchling turtles to a size where they are able to remain safe from all but the fiercest predators.
CTC’s Managing Director, Tim Adam said: “Cayman Brac and turtles go back a long way. When Christopher Columbus first saw Cayman Brac and Little Cayman he officially named them “Las Tortugas” – the Spanish words meaning ‘The Turtles,’ because of the abundance of turtles in the sea all around them. Today, turtles are recognised as such an important part of our Islands’ history that they appear on our bank notes and on our flag, and on the tails of Cayman Airways planes.
“These turtles will join the over 31,000 others that the Cayman Turtle Centre and its predecessors has released into Cayman Islands’ waters since it successfully pioneered breeding them in captivity nearly fifty years ago. Dive industry professionals are telling us that, little by little, they are seeing many more turtles swimming in our waters.
“Conservation has always been at the heart of all we do. The turtle nest surveys undertaken annually by the Department of the Environment have revealed that there had been more than a sevenfold increase in the numbers of green sea turtle nests around Grand Cayman when we compare the five-year average ending 2004, to the five-year average ending 2017. More recently, the UK-funded Darwin Plus Initiative, has shown that that a minimum of 50 percent of the genetic material of nesting turtles in Cayman is attributable to those released from this one-of-kind facility.”