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It was another “wow!” moment, as Cayman Turtle Centre crew joined with staff from the Marriott hotel for another public turtle release. Despite quite serious erosion of the beach sand, following in the wake of the region’s tropical storms, there was still enough beach to set aside for the six yearly turtles which arrived, carried straight from the Turtle Centre where they were hatched and raised, and taken onto the beach in large black plastic tubs. People love watching the turtles being released, and of course, for the lucky children who get to hold them and take them to the water’s edge, it is a magical memory which will last a lifetime.
Present was CTC crew member Jerris Miller, who spoke to the many fascinated onlookers about the growing evidence of CTC’s success in its conservation efforts, in the form of DNA tests which have proved that a large percentage of the released turtles are returning home to the Cayman Islands to lay their eggs. One study in particular showed that 54 % of the nesting population in waters around the Cayman Islands has DNA that can be traced back to the breeding program at Cayman Turtle Centre.
The six released turtles will join more than 31,000 turtles that have been released by the Centre since releases began in 1979. The released turtles are part of the Centre’s Head Start program, which means that they are typically between 12 and 18 months old and so will effectively enjoy a ‘head start’ in the wild, because turtles of this age have already grown to a stage in life where they can ‘fend for themselves,’ having been protected during the earliest and most vulnerable stages of their life.
Mr Miller thanked the Marriott hotel for the opportunity to partner with them in such releases, because they are such a good way of informing people about the ongoing conservation work of the Turtle Centre, as well as about the wonderful life of the Green Sea Turtles.