March 2016 – North Island, Seychelles is delighted to report two consecutive record-breaking seasons for sea turtle nesting on the Island’s beaches, with emergences of 216 Endangered green turtles and 205 Critically Endangered hawksbill turtles recorded in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
“Thanks to our onsite environmental team intensifying its efforts to record turtle nesting behaviour, we are extremely proud to report these remarkable results, which clearly demonstrate the importance of North Island to these species. Both statistics are new records for the Island, where turtle activity has been carefully monitored since 1998”, said Conservation Coordinator Tarryn Retief.
An ‘emergence’ is recorded when a female turtle comes ashore to make a nesting attempt. The number of individual turtles involved is likely to be much fewer, as each female lays between three and five clutches of eggs in a season, and may also make unsuccessful emergences where no eggs are laid. Therefore, the North Island environmental team estimates that these emergence figures translate to approximately 35 green turtles and 30 hawksbills.
“While some of the growth in numbers is due to more regular monitoring patrols, we are seeing a long-term trend of increased nesting activity by both species on North Island and in Seychelles as a whole, which reflects the many decades of conservation taking place in the region. The nesting females are able to return to the beaches as the turtles are now being protected and not harvested for food or their shells”, Retief added.
Re-sightings of tagged turtles in 2014 and 2015 were also high, with a total of 28 individual turtle re-sightings recorded over the two-year period. These included two hawksbill turtles that were tagged back in 2004, one of which has been seen nesting on North Island’s beaches every year since she was tagged.
Restoring and maintaining a pristine beach ecosystem on North Island is just one element in the conservation of these ancient species. Even after making the hazardous journey down the beach to the waters of the Indian Ocean, the turtle hatchlings face many dangers before they mature and can breed. For the males, this brief dash across the sand will be the only time in their lives that they are ever ashore, while the females which survive will eventually return to nest on the very same beaches they hatched on – some 30 to 40 years later.
Adult turtles and hatchlings alike must contend with abandoned fishing nets and other human debris when at sea, which adds further impetus to North Island’s commitment to ensure the turtles it protects are tagged and recorded for ongoing conservation research and assistance.
Record numbers of turtle nesting on North Island’s beaches contribute to species conservation