Did you know that only 1 in a 1,000 turtles make it to adulthood (15-25 yrs)?
Sea turtles were once abundant in Jamaican waters, however there has been a significant decline in the sea turtle population due to predators, particularly humans, who have contributed to their extinction. Four species – the green turtle, hawksbill, leatherback, and loggerhead – once occurred regularly in Jamaica. Today, hawksbills have taken the place of the green turtle as the most abundant species and are more frequently encountered. The other species are extremely rare.
The conservation of our island’s sea turtle population has been boosted by the efforts of retired English teacher, Melvyn Tennant, who started the Oracabessa Bay Turtle Project in St. Mary. Upon coming to Jamaica in 2003, the educator had no previous knowledge about the reptiles, however after discovering them in front of his property on the Gibraltar Beach in Oracabessa, St Mary, he set out on a mission to monitor and protect the endangered species.
In 2012, Tennant and his team released more than 16,000 hatchlings into the ocean, 2013 an estimated 14, 600 hatchlings were released, so far this year 9,400 hatchlings have already been released however the extraordinary team expects to release another 10,600 hatchlings making the total for this year a whopping 20,000 hatchlings.
According to Tennant approx. 2,000 tourists who visit the legendary Island Outpost Goldeneye and the elegant Jamaica Inn resorts now watch the phenomenal turtle releasing on the island’s north and east coasts, between St Ann, St Mary, and Portland. The hatching season is busiest in September, October, and November.
Check out this Hospitality Jamaica feature for additional information on this English retiree who has dedicated the rest of his life to saving these reptiles.
Click the link to view Jamaica’s first national sea turtle survey – Jamaica Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan
You might also be interested – Melvyn Tennant at TEDxJamaica (Youtube)
Sources: Sunsetbeachturtles.org, University of Florida Digital Collections, Hospitality Jamaica.