Editorial for July 30: Turn out the lights

It’s turtle nesting season again in
the Cayman Islands and that means we humans need to do all we can to see that
pregnant turtles successfully lay their eggs.

We also need to do all we can to
ensure that the hatchlings find their way out of the nest and into the sea.

For starters, if you see a turtle
nest, contact the Department of Environment at 949-8469. If you see someone
disturbing sea turtles or their eggs, call 911 or Crime Stoppers at 800-TIPS.

To help the hatchlings find their
way to the sea where hopefully they will thrive and grow, get rid of obstacles
on the beach such as chairs, toys and trash.

And by all means, turn off your
lights at night.

Lights shining on a beach disorient
baby turtles and instead of making their way to the sea, they get turned around
and head in the wrong direction, often running into walls and onto the road.

It’s important that female turtles
be allowed to lay their eggs and that those eggs hatch and the babies allowed
into the sea. One turtle can lay 100-130 eggs at a time and can lay many times
during the season. The odds of survival for the hatchlings aren’t great –
they’re easy prey for birds and large fish. And who knows how many of them
actually survive in the wild?

We have a long history with the
turtle in the Cayman Islands and proudly display an image of one on our coat of
arms.

For those who still like to consume
tasty turtle meat, they can do so by going to the Turtle Farm at Boatswain’s
Beach and buying the delicacy. It’s wrong and illegal to kill turtles in the
wild for consumption.

A mature turtle killed is one less
animal to produce offspring. Future generations will not see turtles in the
wild at all unless we do all we can now to ensure safe nesting and the safety
of baby turtles.

We hope the person(s) who poached
the 300-pound turtle in West Bay last week is found and prosecuted to the
fullest extent of the law. If you have any information about this poaching,
please notify the authorities.

Luckily she was found before being
slaughtered and successfully laid her eggs.

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