Mon | Nov 20, 2017

More education needed on turtles, says environmentalist

Published:Monday | October 23, 2017 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas
A young loggerhead turtle crawls through a pile of other loggerhead turtles.

WESTERN BUREAU:

Despite the efforts of environmentalists in Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth, to raise awareness about the local sea turtle population, Christine O'Sullivan, a lecturer in environmental studies at the University of Technology, believes that more education is needed to enhance the protection of the turtles and their nesting grounds.

O'Sullivan told The Gleaner that education campaigns on the importance of sea turtles to the environment must go hand-in-hand with greater enforcement of environmental laws.

"Along with enforcement of the law, we have to have education on why the turtles are important and why it is important to protect them," said O'Sullivan. "In some cases, it is just a matter of people not knowing. You might have grown up eating turtles and you don't know it is illegal."

She added: "Education is extremely important in trying to protect the turtles, and groups like the Treasure Beach Turtle Group are important in that."

In speaking to the efforts of the environmentalists in St Elizabeth, O'Sullivan outlined several hazards to sea turtles' survival to include other animals destroying their nesting grounds.

 

HARASSED BY DOGS, MONGOOSES

 

"This year, Treasure Beach is having problems with stray dogs along the beach. Some of the dogs may be owned by people, but they are not fenced, so they get out on to the beaches, they see the adult turtles, and there have been reports of them either harassing or killing the turtles," said O'Sullivan. "There are also reports every year from all the monitoring groups that mongooses dig up the nests and destroy all of the eggs."

The Treasure Beach Turtle Group, which was created in 2010, conducts daily surveys of local turtle nesting grounds and hosts nightly tours for visitors to that rural township.

There are four species of turtle in Jamaica: the green turtle, the loggerhead turtle, the hawksbill turtle, and the leatherback turtle.

christopher.thomas@gleanerjm.com