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Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Marty Offline OP
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Sea turtles have become a major attraction to Belize's tourism industry and are considered keystone species in a marine environment. This is because they perform critical ecological functions in the ecosystem such as: helping to keep the population of their prey balanced; for instance, Hawksbill turtles help the reef by eating sponges that compete with corals for space. Furthermore, Green turtles grazing on seagrass help to keep the seagrass beds healthy, even the nutrients left behind by their eggs or hatchlings that did not survive, provide an important source for coastal vegetation. Because of the great importance sea turtles play in the marine ecosystem, Hol Chan Marine Reserve has been spearheading the Ambergris Caye Marine Turtle Program for over 18 years. Through this program the research and monitoring team have been visiting northern Ambergris Caye weekly during the Sea turtle nesting season which runs approximately late April to end of November. The Program involves collecting data on the number of nests that are laid each year, hatchling success rate, as well as mortality. Since the inception of the program, a total of 955 nests have been recorded.

Throughout the years we have also been assisting the Belize Fisheries Department with sea turtle strandings, rehabilitation and release of sea turtles back into the natural environment. Unfortunately, at times some strandings are retrieved dead due to either boat collision or shark attacks and their carcass are then disposed of after a thorough inspection or in some cases a necropsy would be conducted to determine cause of death. The best way the carcass is disposed of is by burying them in the ground, the nutrients then also become a source for the vegetation around. Over the past decade we have been utilizing an isolated area on the western portion of Ambergris Caye. Recently, there was an alarm about possible poaching of sea turtles because of the carcasses being discovered due to possible development of the area. We would like to inform the public that this incident is not connected to any poaching but rather the discovery of the remains of these magnificent species that sadly we were unable to save.

We thank the public for their continued support towards our conservation efforts and remind everyone to please refrain from driving on the beaches of northern Ambergris Caye, as these are very important sea turtle nesting sites and the season is currently active. We also remind the general public that all species of sea turtles are protected, no person should interfere with any turtle nest, it is illegal to have in possession any sea turtle or its products and no person shall buy, sell, or have in his/her possession any articles made of its shell. If you have any information regarding any violation of the above-mentioned law, kindly contact 614-6439.

Hol Chan Marine Reserve

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Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Marty Offline OP
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It's Turtle Season on Ambergris Caye

Quick note: This is far north Ambergris Caye´┐Żnot a "fun beach drive". In fact, much of the road is now off-the-beach so that turtle nests are protected. Be very very careful! We saw that Hol Chan had marked a nest just north of El Secreto - just across the road. Thankfully they have cordoned it off.

Some quick facts (all pulled from A Guide to the History and Natural History of Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve):

- The turtles that lay their eggs between Robles and Rocky Point (far north Ambergris Caye) are mainly loggerheads and green sea turtles.
- Nesting season begins in late May and extends thru September
- Only one hatchling in 1000 is thought to survive to adulthood
- These females travel hundreds (or thousands) of miles back to the place of their birth to lay their eggs - they generally lay eggs every two to three years (but maybe more)

Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Scoop


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