Turtles in danger of extinction

They’re cute.

They’re loveable.

And they’re in danger.

The Observer on Sunday is talking
about baby turtles.

The Cayman Islands has had a bumper
crop of turtle births this year.

But that also means that poachers
are on the lookout for large turtles coming on our shores to lay their eggs in
the sand.

Last month a 300-pounder was
rescued from a shrub area. She had been bound and trussed by poachers who
caught her as she was coming out of the water to lay her eggs.

We hope the offenders are caught
and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Thankfully she was freed, returned
to the sea in fright, but then made it back to shore to lay her eggs. The nest
is being watched by folk from the Department of Environment.

Unfortunately another came ashore
to lay her eggs, but became disoriented, followed a row of beach chairs and
wound up in a pool. That turtle was also rescued with DoE help.

The problems that turtles ready to
lay their eggs and their eventual hatchlings have are all created by man.

We’re leaving too much stuff on the
beach that interferes with the turtles.

We’re leaving on harsh lights that
disorient nesting turtles and their hatchlings.

We’re even causing problems when we
try to coax the baby turtles back into the sea during daylight hours.

A group of tourists recently
thought they were helping hatchlings into the sea and watched in horror as the
babies were gobbled up by frigate birds hovering overhead.

There are things we can do to help
the plight of the turtle.

For starters, if you have lights on
the beach, turn them off at night, especially if you know of a turtle nest in
your vicinity.

If you see hatchlings trying to get
into the water during the day, put them in a bucket or cooler of sand and cover
the top with a blanket or towel. They’ll be safe until nightfall when the
babies can be sent into the sea.

Those who abuse turtles and are
caught face a maximum fine of $500,00 and a year in prison.

Unfortunately most people don’t
receive the maximum sentence.

The Observer on Sunday would like
to appeal to the judicial system to take advantage of the maximums set forth in
the Marine Conservation Law and send a firm message to potential turtle worry
makers.

We have to ensure that the turtles
coming to our shores to nest are protected, as well as their babies. If not, we
are robbing future generations of the animals our Islands are known for.

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