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Cayman Turtle Centre: Island Wildlife Encounter was pleased to be able to release six turtles at Turtle Nest Inn & Condos, at Bodden Town. It was a great location for the release, organized by Cayman Turtle Centre crew member Jerris Miller and his team. Guests and other visitors to the beach lined up to take photos on either side of a specially prepared area, which had been carefully raked smooth for the turtles’ passage to the sea. Mr. Miller told onlookers the significance of releasing turtles belonging to the Centre’s Head Starting programme, which protects the tiny turtles hatched within the Centre, providing a safe environment for them until they are big enough to fend for themselves. The six turtles released were about two years old, and would be able to outswim nearly every predator in the sea. In the wild, Mr. Miller said, hatchlings have only a one-in-a-thousand chance of reaching adulthood. But these turtles have more like a 60% chance of reaching the age where they will be able to come back to the beach and lay their eggs, in 20 or 25 years’ time. Mr. Miller also asked everyone to join in the Centre’s conservation efforts, by picking up any plastic items from the beach, as sometimes the turtles mistake these for jellyfish, and cause the turtle to die from starvation once they lodge in their intestines.
Marleine, the proprietor of the Turtle Nest Inn & Condos, has always been interested in turtles, hence the name she gave to the development 20 years ago, after seeing all the seaweed, called turtle grass, along the beach. Since that time she has been lucky enough to have spotted some nests along the beach, so that, together with her guests, she was very excited at the prospect of hosting the release of the turtles.
“We actually had three nests and it was really a moving experience when Mr. Jerris (Miller) called us and proposed that he release the turtle it was such a meaningful event for us because we like the turtles to be back on the island and be part of this process. This is a beautiful place for snorkelling so guests would be really excited if they see turtles in the wild again. It gives our guests a connection with nature and a connection with the turtles, and many guests are happy that the island is preserving their wildlife and when guests come here they are actually looking for that. When they see the effort that the island is putting into it, it is one of the reasons that they want to come back, because they like the fact that the island has an awareness of protecting their wildlife. We love the turtles. I dive a little bit and see the turtles and want to become one! And my guests, especially the children, were pleased to release the turtles and really care about it. This is real tourism, rather than trying to make something artificial,” she said.