According to Hol Chan, the nesting beaches of Ambergris are mostly threatened by expanding tourism development. “The entire Ambergris Caye was historically known as a nesting site, however, even in the past, the nesting was concentrated in the north due to the close proximity of the reef to the beach. The increase in tourism development moving further north has resulted in the increase of vehicular traffic along the beaches (even at Robles), improperly placed beach lighting, seawalls, and docks,” said Forman Castillo.
Sea turtles rely on specific beaches for nesting, and are particularly vulnerable to habitat alteration. Hol Chan said that there has been no mitigation measures enforced during the nesting season to reduce these negative impacts. Thus, people’s actions on the beach can determine whether our loggerhead, hawksbill, and green sea turtles nest successfully.
Residents/visitors are advised to: safeguard nesting females and their hatchlings for the duration of the season; properly dispose of the debris abandoned on the beach; refrain from making sand castles or leaving behind any objects that may hinder the turtle’s access to and from the ocean; and to not illuminate areas near the beach. Artificial light from beachfront homes, streetlights and even flashlights can attract the hatchlings away from the safety of the water and lead them to their deaths.
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