Editorial for August 10: Volunteering to help the turtles

If there’s any bored teenagers or
idle adults out there, the Department of Environment wants you.

Actually, the DoE wants anyone with
the time to help scour Cayman’s beaches in search of telltale signs of a turtle

With the numbers of the endangered
wild green sea turtles and the loggerhead turtles dwindling, it’s important the
Department of Environment know where turtle nests are so it can track them and
help keep the eggs – and the turtle that laid them – safe.

Unfortunately, poachers sometimes
also look for the nests, knowing that the egg layer is likely to return to area
to lay more in the near future. It’s better, then, if the DoE finds the nest
first so it can cover over the turtle tracks and signs of the egg chamber.

The Department of Environment has a
group of volunteers, some of whom search for turtle nests and some of whom hide
the signs of the nests found.

Looking for the turtle nests starts
early in the morning, right after sunrise. The hiding of the nests follows and
can take a while, depending on how many nests are found.

The task is a way residents can
help try to preserve Cayman’s endangered wild turtles while getting in some
healthy exercise at the same time. Think of it as eco-fitness.

Beyond that, volunteering for this
job is also a way of learning about turtles, which are a very important aspect
of Cayman’s history and culture. Once plentiful here, over-slaughtering and
over-development have caused the numbers of turtles to drop significantly.
However, about 40 turtles have laid eggs in Cayman this year, the most since
the DoE started its monitoring programme in 1998. That’s the good news.

The bad news is there are still
residents here who don’t accept that they aren’t allowed to kill wild sea
turtles anymore. These poachers are not worried about the possibility of
Cayman’s turtles becoming extinct.  This
is why we encourage anyone with some time to spare to help the DoE in its
efforts to preserve Cayman’s turtles.