Turtles go digital

Students now have access to digital sea turtles, thanks to the support of CIBC Bank and Trust Company (Cayman) Limited.

With the help of funding from CIBC, the Department of Environment has been able to purchase an interactive DVD, The Journey of the Loggerhead, for every school in the Cayman Islands, stated a press release.

The interactive DVD, produced by Environmental Media, immerses viewers in the life history and conservation of sea turtles, focusing on the loggerhead turtle.

‘When CIBC Human Resources Manager, Andrea E. Stephens, contacted the Department and said that they wanted to support one of our projects the interactive DVD was an obvious choice,’ noted DOE Research Officer Joni Solomon.

Schools in the Cayman Islands are required to teach students about sea turtles and often call on the Department of Environment for assistance. While the Department is always willing to help schools with educational presentations, limited staffing makes it difficult to reach every school, she said.

Ms Solomon and Janice Blumenthal, DOE sea turtle programme coordinators, were introduced to the DVD at a recent overseas Sea Turtle Symposium. The interactive DVD offers the wealth of first-hand knowledge that a DOE staff member brings, with the convenience of being in every school all the time.

The interactive DVD provides photographs from the Cayman Islands and other locations, and contains extensive interviews with scientists, information on satellite tracking, and a 30-minute documentary about sea turtles and the people who are devoting their lives to their protection and conservation.

Because it is interactive, teachers and students viewing the DVD on their computers can access websites shown on the DVD immediately.

‘After speaking with Ms Solomon . . . about the DVD, CIBC was eager to get this resource into our schools’ commented Ms Stephens. ‘CIBC strongly believes in protecting the future of our islands by making sound decisions today. What better way to ensure that the future of a creature so entwined with Caymanian history and culture is protected than investing in the education of our children to protect them.’

The interactive DVD covers several aspects of sea turtle research and conservation that the Department of Environment is currently working on, including satellite tracking and nesting beach monitoring.

During the local nesting season from May to October loggerhead turtles are one of the two species of sea turtle that still actively nest on Cayman’s beaches. Nesting numbers are significantly lower today than in the past. Once considered a major Caribbean rookery for sea turtles the Cayman Islands now hosts less than 20 individuals of each species during the nesting season.

Worldwide, all seven species of sea turtle are considered endangered. Changes in habitats and overfishing are driving sea turtles to the verge of extinction, the release noted.

‘Thanks to CIBC we’ve given Cayman’s teachers a valuable weapon to arm their students in protecting our precious sea turtles,’ said Ms Solomon.

For more information on sea turtle projects conducted by the Department of Environment contact the DOE at 949-8469.