Turtle Report

Turtle report 2011 released:
May shows
in nesting season

Biologist Kirah Foreman from Hol Chan Marine
Reserve has officially released the 2011 turtle monitoring report to coincide
with the commencement of the 2012 turtle nesting season in Belize. The report
concentrates on nesting sites on Ambergris Caye that is specific to specie
nesting on the island’s beaches. The two species that have been documented as
being specific to nesting on Ambergris Caye is the loggerhead (Chleonia Caretta)
and the green turtle (Chleonia Mydas). The report indicates that since
monitoring started in 2009 the number of nest recorded has increased by 23 % in
2010 and remained stable with an increase of one nest in 2011.
The beach
monitoring was conducted from June to November in 2011 with the assistance of
the staffs at Hol Chan and the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserves. Nesting efforts
were concentrated in two main beach on northern Ambergris Caye which are Robles
and Rocky Point beaches. However a very strange but not uncommon activity
occurred in 2011. A total of four nests were confirmed in the Habanero beach
area. Such occurrence strengthen the scientific theory that female turtles are
known to return to nest on the beach that they were hatched on. Foreman
explained that most of Ambergris Caye was a major nesting site but due to rapid
coastal development, it has forced turtles to small beach areas. This has
negatively impacted and added pressure to the already dwindling turtle
According to the report a total of 43 nests were observed during
the entire nesting season in 2011. Of those, 34 were found on Robles beach in an
area that stretches up to 1,192 meters. Along Rocky Point nesting beach, 178
meters long, five nest were found and four in Habanero area. The hatching and
emergence success of turtles has increase since 2010 and according to the report
hatching success is 56.8% while emergence success stands at 48.3%. “The average
clutch since has decreased overall but looking at the specie, loggerhead laid an
average of 93.1eggs per clutch and green turtles 118.86 per clutch. Even though
there was one more nest than 2010, the total number of eggs laid through the
season went from 3,461 in 2010 to 2,496 in 2011,” the report cites.
for 2012, the turtle nesting season looks positive,” said Foreman having started
earlier than normally expected. However it appears that two of the nests have
signs of human pouching. Under the Laws of Belize, it is illegal to be in
possession of turtle carcasses or eggs since turtles are considered endangered.
But even as turtles land on northern Ambergris beaches to find the right nesting
areas, the increase in human activities on the island’s northern beaches is
becoming a growing concern. Resort and golf cart lights at night along the
beach, as well as humans and pets (dogs) on the beach can scare away turtles
from nesting. In addition, heavy traffic such as those of all- terrain vehicles
and golf carts utilizing the beaches compact sand and break eggs, affecting
catching and emergence of young turtles.
In Belize nesting season for turtles
run from mid May to late November. During the nesting and hatching season,
residents are advised to be extremely careful and mindful of the endangered
turtles and to refrain from tampering with turtles or and the turtle nests.
Residents are being asked to report any citing of turtles on the beaches to the
Hol Chan Marine Reserve at 226-2247 or 2262420. During the nesting season park
rangers along with law enforcement agencies will conduct regular patrols and
turtle monitoring along the beaches to collect data that are used to measure and
analyze turtle populations in Belize. This is the fourth consecutive year that
such monitoring and data collection has been conducted in San Pedro. It is
estimated that only one in every 1,000 turtle hatchlings survive to sexual
San Pedro Sun