Curaçao Sea Turtle Conservation

curacao_meeting_Secretary EnvironmentWILLEMSTAD — Curaçao has taken another step forward in the protection of some of the island’s most charismatic and threatened species – sea turtles. On February 18 and 19 the Secretary pro tempore of the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles (IAC), accompanied by the Dutch delegate to the IAC, of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, and the director of Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire met with the Curaçao Ministry of Health, Environment and Nature, officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as CARMABI and Uniek Curaçao, to start the development of a monitoring program to asses the number of nesting and in-water sea turtles of Curaçao. This information will then be used to determine if sea turtles are in- or decreasing in number on Curaçao.

Last year brought increased protection for sea turtles on Curaçao with the establishment of four new Ramsar sites in February and the banning of destructive gillnet practices, which will go into effect in May 2014, after a five year exoneration period. It will still take strict enforcement of rules and regulations to control persistent illegal gillnetting.

The recent discussions with the IAC Secretary have led to a collaborative agreement to monitor Shete Boka’s beaches throughout the sea turtle nesting season (May – December) and monitor sea turtles at one of the key feeding areas on Curaçao – Boka Ascencion. The data collected will not only track Curaçao’s sea turtle nesting trends, but will contribute to a regional dataset that monitors Caribbean population trends.

Sea turtles are long-lived species that reach sexual maturity after 20 – 30 years of age and migrate great distances at different stages of their lives.  These unique life history features necessitate international cooperation and long-term monitoring programs to best understand and safeguard these endangered species.

Once amazingly abundant, Caribbean sea turtles have seen rapid decline since the time of European expansion in the Americas. Scientists estimate that in the 1600’s, over 90 million Green Turtles swam the Caribbean seas. Today the number is estimated at 300,000. Hawksbills have plunged 99.7% from 11 million to 30,000. Both Green Turtles and Hawksbills nest on Curaçao.

Today, fishing gear entanglement, illegal harvesting, coastal development, marine pollution and climate change are still putting serious pressure on sea turtle populations, which remain threatened with extinction not only in the Caribbean, but across the globe.

To learn more about or get involved with Curaçao sea turtle conservation contact the Ministry of Health, Environment and Nature, CARMABI or Uniek Curaçao.


Related posts:
Sharing Sea Turtle Knowledge on St. Maarten
A Decade of Sea Turtle Monitoring On Klein Bonaire

5 Responses to Curaçao Sea Turtle Conservation

  1. Linda Lou says:

    I am really glad to hear that Curacao has taken steps to further protect sea turtles. We have an oceanfront vacation rental villa at Coral Estate, and when we are there we see sea turtles daily. It are amazing creatures, and they are a lot of fun to watch!

    To us it looks like their number is increasing because we see more of them every year, but it could of course be that they just moved to a more quiet area.

  2. Thanks for the comment Linda and for appreciating Curaçao’s sea turtles!

    They indeed may be moving to a quieter location nearby, however, when nesting, sea turtles do not stray far from the beach where they themselves hatched. This is why coastal development of nesting habitat can be such a problem.

    Your increase in numbers could also be due to the fact that sea turtles are long-lived and slow to sexually mature, which creates large fluctuations in year-to-year nesting numbers. Be sure to contact CARMABI or Uniek Curaçao if you’d like to know more about or get involved in sea turtle monitoring!

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Yoselle Margaritha

Yoselle Margaritha works for STINAPA Bonaire as a ranger.

 

 

Nathaniel Miller

nat_millerNat worked for the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) from July 2010 until November 2014. For the last 18 months he was Assistant Director and running not only projects but undertaking much of DCNA’s social media outreach and on line fundraising intiatives.

Nat’s work included planning and implementing DCNA’s regional projects and organising workshops, trainings and staff exchanges.

Nat grew up in the streams, forests and fields of the Midwest United States and always had a passion for wildlife. Now he is a dedicated conservationist experienced in strategic planning, conservation finance, public policy, communicating conservation, landscape ecology and biodiversity monitoring. Nat received a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Miami University and a master’s degree in International Environmental Policy from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Prior to working for DCNA Nat served as the Protected Area Manager for the Golden Stream Corridor Preserve and Bladen Nature Reserve in southern Belize with Ya’axché Conservation Trust.