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Cayman Turtle Centre was proud to be part of a tradition that began more than half a century ago when the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Queens Baton Relay visited the Cayman Islands.
Every four years, since 1958, a new Queen’s Baton is made for the Commonwealth Games, and is circulated to Commonwealth countries and territories around the Globe prior to the reaching the host country, where the Games are officially opened only after a message from the Queen, contained within the baton is read out. Officials from the Queens Baton Relay mixed with Turtle Centre staff and children who had been invited to the event.
Queens Baton Media Liaison Keri Algar, spoke to some students from West Bay Primary School which has been twinned with Canterbury College, on Australia’s Gold Coast, for the duration of the games. She showed them the baton and then let them take turns in holding it.
“This baton is actually carrying a message from the Queen of England. She placed a message here, and it’s been travelling for more than a year all around the world in 70 different nations and territories including the Cayman Islands,” Ms. Algar said.
“For such an important job, we really needed a really special baton. The baton itself represents our past, our present, and our future. The back of the baton is made from the wood of a macadamia tree, which has really important indigenous significance to the people of the Gold Coast because a long time ago, they used to plant the macadamia tree to mark their journey as they travelled across Australia.
“The middle section is made from stainless steel and it’s shiny like a mirror and it shows us where we are right now,” she said, showing the fascinated children the edge of the baton and their faces reflected back in it, along with its long list of countries and territories written on the side, including the Cayman Islands.
“This Queen’s Baton started its journey on the 13th of March from Buckingham Palace, and from there it travelled through 18 different nations in Africa, and from there, all of the nations and territories in the Caribbean Commonwealth– 15 in total, of which the Cayman Islands is the last one. From here it travels on to the Bahamas which starts the Americas sector of the journey. In all this Queen’s Baton is going to travel for 388 days, and it will cover 230,000 KM across the globe,” Ms Algar added.
Ms. Algar went on to explain just why it was so fitting that the baton should travel to Cayman Turtle Centre: “Sustainability is a really important part of the Queen’s Baton Relay as it is for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and it is very fitting that the Queen’s Baton should in fact come through this Centre which is a conservation centre. I understand that there has been 35,000 turtles released through this centre,” she said, “and we get the sense that sustainability of marine life and the oceans is important in the Cayman Islands as it is for us in Australia – with so many of the Commonwealth Nations and territories surrounded by ocean we feel that this is a very appropriate place for the Queen’s Baton to visit, and we are thrilled to have so many children participate to share the message of peace and hope.”
Cayman Turtle Centre Managing Director, Tim Adam said: “CTC is the only place in the world that successfully breeds sea turtles in captivity and has done so for decades. Many of the Commonwealth countries are either surrounded by sea water, or have borders on sea water, and those tropical or temperate waters are home to sea turtles of various species. In a very real and tangible way the seas connect the Commonwealth countries together, and sea turtles are an enduring, charismatic icon of the amazing wildlife that inhabits those seas. The material used in the Queen’s Baton incorporates plastics recovered from the sea, symbolizing action to reduce a pollutant that is one of the main risk factors to sea turtles. So for this particular Queen’s Baton there are very strong connections to what Cayman Turtle Centre does and what it stands for. We are delighted the Baton made a stop at our centre, and that the Baton could also be present at our turtle release in honour of its visit to our island.”