Governor Stuart Jack recently took time out to join the effort to preserve the sea turtle, one of Cayman’s endangered species.
Governor Jack accompanied Department of Environment Research Officer Joni Kirkconnell and a group of DoE interns on one of their weekly surveillance trips to Cayman’s beaches, in search of turtle nests.
The group fanned out along a Seven Mile Beach stretch with the Governor and Mrs. Kirkconnell walking from Boggy Sand Road in West Bay to Heritage Club.
Citing the need for unity in the effort to protect the globally endangered sea turtle Governor Jack noted that turtles are an important part of Cayman’s bio-diversity. He said that recent incidents where nesting turtles were slaughtered were a major concern, both to him and to the DoE.
Mrs. Kirkconnell explained that the DoE conducts beach surveillance during the nesting season (May to October), an exercise that identifies where turtles lay their eggs. ‘When nests are found we process, mark and monitor them to protect them from poachers and prevent damage from any recreational activity on the beach,’ she said.
Adult turtles breed in Cayman’s waters and nest on the beaches. After the breeding and nesting season is over they migrate to forage overseas.
It is illegal to harm turtles or their eggs and carries a maximum fine of CI $500,000 and one year imprisonment. DoE research puts the nesting turtle population in the Cayman Islands to around 30, down from the millions cited in historical accounts.