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Swimming with Turtles

Swimming with Turtles

Barbados is the most easterly island located in the Caribbean archipelago, and due to its location four species of sea turtles can be seen moseying about its blue waters: the Hawksbill, the Green, the Leatherback, and (much less frequently) the Loggerhead turtles.

The most common, and some may argue the most beautiful, sea turtle species to frequent Barbados is the Hawksbill turtle. The area around Needham’s Point is considered the most heavily populated Hawksbill nesting site in the entire Eastern Caribbean, and it was estimated that there were over 200 nests. Taking into consideration that a female turtle may nest more than once during the season, and her nest can have up to 150 eggs, one can form a rough idea of just how many turtles start their life on this stretch of Barbados beach.

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Barbados is one of the few lucky destinations that can pretty much guarantee these “diver escorts” during snorkel or dive tours. This is due to the extensive coral reefs, and more specifically, reefs with sponge (the Hawksbill’s favourite food) along the south coasts.

Green turtles are also common in Barbados’ cool West Coast waters, and are internationally recognized as endangered species. It was generally believed that the Greens only mated and fed here before taking off to nest on the shores of other Caribbean islands and countries. 2005 saw its first documented case that the Green turtles also nest in Barbados as well.

Both the Leatherback and Loggerhead sea turtles can be seen every so often, but Leatherbacks usually limits its nesting to the East Coast of the island.

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To help promote the preservation of sea turtles in Barbados, the Barbados Sea Turtle Project was created in 1987. The Barbados Sea Turtle Project also depends on the cooperation of both locals and visitors to monitor nesting and hatching activity during the months of June to October.

What can we do to help?

• Avoid any harsh lighting on the beach as this can confuse baby turtles headed to the sea.

• Do not disturb nesting females.

• Report all sightings and hatchlings to the Sea Turtle Hotline at the BSTP, or inform the hotel’s Front Desk.

• Do not chase or ride the turtles.

• Do not overfeed or feed the turtles inappropriately.

• Keep our waters clean – turtles can easily mistake plastics and garbage for food.

• Drive boats carefully around areas known for harbouring turtles.

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