Clean up crew at Gales Point Manatee beach
This past weekend, a joint enterprise between the Mary Mount College of Maryland; ITVET Tour-guide Course, headed by Luz Hunter, The Gales Point Youth Group, headed by Kevin Andrewin, and other volunteers and concerned Belizean citizens travelled to Gales Point Manatee to make preparations for the upcoming turtle nesting season.
Gales Point, a small village is very significant to turtle nesting. The beach of the peninsula is a breathing ground for thousands of little crawlers 7 months of the year.
The group embarked on a two-day turtle nesting clean-up campaign where as many as 50 individuals participated in the effort to clean up the beach area.
Spearheaded by Luz Hunter, the day began at 7:00 a.m., and by 2:00 p.m., on Sunday, a very important task had been accomplished. 25% of the debris on the beach peninsula had been removed and bagged. Because of the sheer amount of garbage on the beach, only that could have been collected.
The participants were motivated by the love they have for turtles and ensuring that their habitat is a safe and friendly one.
Turtle nesting periods are between the months of April and November. They include the loggerhead, leather back and the green turtles.
According to researchers, turtles that make their way to the nesting sites depend significantly on their breathing environment to be next to perfect or they leave, in the hope to return for that perfect opportunity to lay their eggs. It is for this reason that the main goal behind the clean-up effort was to ensure an appropriate nesting environment for the turtles. The removal of debris which could have entrapped the turtles was one such way of making the nesting environment appropriate.
An unclean nesting environment for the turtles is not the only challenge they face, as the nesting grounds also attract human poachers as well as other wildlife, which feed on both the turtles as well as the eggs laid.
According to lead group coordinator of the ITVET Tour Guide course, Luz Hunter, the 25% cleaning of the beach is the start of a four-month session which is scheduled to occur once a month for the next few months leading up to November, when the nesting activities decrease.
These migrating reptiles are known to live for up to 150 years; however, they mature at the age of 25. Amazingly, they reproduce 3 to 4 times a year, laying between 100 to 150 eggs at a time. The survival rate, however, is only one tenths of the eggs laid.
Researchers have been intrigued by the turtle's reproduction cycles and in order to better keep track of them; some have been tagged with tracking devices which is attached to their shells to assist scientists better track their migratory patterns during their nesting season. The research is conducted to determine what causes turtles to return their same nesting grounds every time.
So, if you have never been active and aware of how you can help, then think on these two questions. Are you turtle friendly? Have you helped saved a turtle lately?
The turtle clean-up crew is waiting for you. If you want to join our next effort, contact Luz Hunter at cell phone number 635-6012. Make a difference and be a part of the next beach clean-up which is scheduled for August 24, tentatively in Gales Point.