The Turtle Monitoring Network is currently keeping an eye on turtle nests. The entire process of turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs, those eggs hatching, and the baby turtles heading back out to sea is important to Belize's ecosystem and marine life. But if conditions are not up to the animals' standard, fewer and fewer nests can be found. And that's why TIDE is assisting by monitoring the nests at the Port Honduras Marine Reserve. The terrestrial manager at TIDE explained more.
2021 there was a notable increase in turtle nesting sites over the previous 2 years. It is estimated that hawksbill turtles take 20 years to reach sexual maturity and begin reproducing. Nesting season begins in April and ends by November. The hawksbill sea turtle lives near coral reefs, where it feeds primarily on sea sponges, algae, sea urchins, mollusks, shrimp and squid.
The TIDE Rangers at the Paynes Creek National Park have been spearheading this initiative by checking the beaches of Punta Ycacao regularly.
Most persons know that HCMR responds to sea turtle strandings in Ambergris Caye. What is less known is that we also offer technical support and sometimes even logistical support when there is a stranded sea turtle anywhere in the country (mainly in coastal areas, but there was that one time when a sea turtle was found along the roadside in San Ignacio, but that's a story for another day).
Over the past two days, HCMR Technical Supervisor has been in communication with a young conservationist Monique Vernon in Placencia guiding her as she assisted with the care of a hatchling turtle that washed ashore tired and was found very weak. The little hatchling was a Hawksbill Turtle, that Monique affectionally called "Ocean". Ocean was very fortunate to have crossed paths with her. She immediately sought assistance and was directed to HCMR for help on what to do. After we received detailed photos, videos, and a full description of its condition, it was decided along with the Fisheries Department - Belize to leave it in her care and observe it overnight for any change in its condition.
After a few hours of rest, Ocean started swimming around and even enjoyed a few bites of crushed snails. It was observed and update reports sent to HCMR for 48hrs to ensure it was well enough to be released. Today, after two days of rest, Ocean was successfully released to continue her/his journey.
Thank you, Monique Vernon, for taking care of Ocean and assisting both HCMR and the Fisheries Department - Belize with its care.
HCMR has been involved in sea turtle stranding and rehabilitation since 2008 and has assisted with many successful release stories of both hatchlings and adult turtles.
Reminder, it is illegal for a person to keep sea turtles in their possession whether alive or dead, any sea turtle stranding should be reported to the nearest Fisheries Department Office.