Some lucky members of the public will get the chance to release a turtle during the Cayman Turtle Farm/Boatswain’s Beach 27th annual turtle release which takes place on Friday, 16 November.
Members of the public are being invited to join in this historic event and play a part in the long term conservation efforts of the Cayman Turtle Farm by entering the draw to release a green sea turtle. The turtle release will take place at Safehaven in the North Sound (in front of the Links Golf Course).
The turtle release will showcase 20 turtles of approximately one year of age, each fitted with a metal tag engraved with an identification number and the address of the farm.
The farm’s release programme, known to biologists as ‘headstarting’, has placed over 31,000 green sea turtles into the wild since 1980.
‘Historically the Cayman Islands boasted one of the largest green sea turtle populations in the Caribbean and possibly the world. Indeed there were so many turtles that upon discovery of the Islands in 1503 Christopher Columbus named them ‘Las Tortugas’.
‘However from as early as the 17th Century this natural resource had become commercially extinct and by 1900, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature had deemed this population to be extinct in the Cayman Islands,’ the press release notes.
Today, according to the Department of Environment data, there are less than 30 adult female green sea turtles nesting in the Cayman Islands each year. To this end, one objective of the headstarting programme is to provide the replenishment of the local reproductive population of green sea turtles.
‘Analysis of data collected from tag returns of released turtles has demonstrated some success,’ said the press release.
Tag returns, from between one month to 19 years after release, have come from Belize, Cayman, Cuba, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and U.S.A., with released turtles following similar migratory pathways as those born in the wild.
The release continues, ‘Some farm released turtles have even come back to nest in the Cayman Islands as adults, with reproductive data showing clutch size, incubation duration and hatch success to be comparable to those of wild turtles.
‘Growth rates in recaptured animals released from the farm have been shown to be similar to wild caught animals of the same species in the region. This data demonstrates that released animals are adapting readily to their new environment and are adopting behavioral characteristics that allow them to survive in the wild and potentially to reproduce and contribute to the long-term enhancement of wild stocks.’
The event will begin at 5pm with the turtle release occurring promptly at 5:15pm.
To enter to win a chance to release a turtle sign up at the Boatswain’s Beach Box Office located in the Reception Building before 4pm on Thursday, 8 November. The raffle will take place on Friday, 9 November and all recipients will contacted on that day.