Turtle nesting season is in the books for 2016, and the Department of Environment is calling it a near-record year.
Once again, more than 400 nests were recorded across all three islands, but poaching and other threats keep the heat on our population of nesting females.
It’s a mad dash, these tiny turtle hatchlings begin life with a scurry from shore to sea.
“The estimation is that one in a thousand reach adulthood,” said DOE research intern Lucy Collyer.
Those who beat the long odds return decades later to complete the circle of life, she said, and this year’s numbers give her encouragement.
“This year we’ve seen fantastic numbers of returning turtles coming back, we’ve seen a lot of new turtles that we haven’t seen before,” said Ms. Collyer.
This year, Grand Cayman recorded 306, over on Cayman Brac 36 nests were logged, and Little Cayman’s nesting number reached the mid-80’s, including two hawksbill nests.
Ms. Collyer told Cayman 27 that number may grow. Some of this year’s turtles are apparently on ‘Island time.’
“We have got the odd female coming up now, she laid a couple of nights ago, so we are still getting the odd nesting, but we would say we are more or less finished for this year,” said Ms. Collyer.
While nesting trends continue a positive trajectory, poaching still threatens the vulnerable nesting females.
“There have been at least two confirmed poachings and one attempt,” said Ms. Collyer. “It was one where we’ve been able to actually rescue the turtle and we have released him back into the wild.”
Ms. Collyer said some volunteers have gone to great lengths to protecting nesting turtles from poachers, even standing watch by a turtle’s nesting site overnight while she lays her clutch.