Today’s Editorial May 22: Protect nesting turtles

How disheartening to learn that the first spotted turtle nest of the 2006 season was run over by a careless person driving his or her vehicle on the beach.

Department of Environment Research Officer called the incident a mindless and careless act.

We agree.

Not only can the weight of vehicles crush sea turtle eggs and emerging hatchlings, but the ruts left in the sand from the vehicle tires make it difficult for hatchlings to find their way to sea.

Vehicles driving on the beach can also scare nesting sea turtles, causing them to abandon nesting.

No one – absolutely no one – in the Cayman Islands can rightly claim not to know that the sea turtle is a highly endangered creature.

If you don’t know, then shame on you; you haven’t done enough to educate yourself about this country.

The Green Sea Turtle is a symbol that has become inseparable from the Cayman Islands.

It is on our coat of arms, it adorns the tail of Cayman Airways aircraft and the Department of Tourism uses it as a customer friendly logo in its promotions.

When Christopher Columbus discovered these islands more than 500 years ago, turtles were in plentiful supply.

For many years the turtle was a staple food in the Cayman Islands.

But over-catching, poaching, development and a general disregard for the native animals has led to their near extinction.

We as humans were put on the Earth to be good stewards of all flora and fauna.

Each time a turtle nest is destroyed, it reduces the chance of the species’ survival.

Future generations will not see turtles in the wild at all unless the few remaining animals still living and-or nesting here are allowed to live and breed.

Nesting season began 1 May and continues through October.

While we should all keep an eye out for turtle nests and do what we can to protect them year-round, it is most important that we pay keen attention during this season.

If you find a turtle nest, do what you can to protect it and call the Department of Environment immediately at 949-8469 or 926-6147 in Grand Cayman and 926-0136 in Little Cayman and Cayman Brac.

There are many things the public can do to help protect and preserve nesting turtles.

Reduce beach lighting; remove beach chairs and equipment at night; reduce night-time noise and activities along the beach; eliminate driving on the beach; and remember that sea turtles and their eggs are protected under the Marine Conservation Law and violators face steep fines and imprisonment.

Turtles once helped Caymanians survive. It is now our turn to ensure turtles’ survival.