DH | Nature Foundation asks public for support to win conservation grant

Green sea turtle on St. Maarten’s Man of War Shoal Marine Park | Leslie Hickerson

PHILIPSBURG–The St. Maarten Nature Foundation is asking persons to vote for the organisation for this year’s Summer Sea Turtle Sustainability Grant. The winner will be chosen by public vote and will receive US $5,000 to support sea turtle research and conservations efforts.

The grant is made possible by the Turtle Island Restoration Network and SEE Turtles to support sea turtle research and conservation projects. “By voting for the Nature Foundation to receive this grant you will be supporting the effort to protect these animals locally,” said the foundation in a press release on Monday.

Voting opened on May 4, and will last until June 1. To vote, persons can visit the website

www.seaturtles.org/vote. The Nature Foundation can be selected among a list of eligible organisations.

The Nature Foundation has been managing and monitoring sea turtle nesting activities in St. Maarten since 1997, collecting data on leatherback, hawksbill, green and loggerhead sea turtles on land and in the waters surrounding the Dutch side.

The foundation said it “conducts various activities with regard to nesting, including beach surveys, nest excavations, tagging activities and nest-success research, as well as capture-and-release programmes for data collection.”

“By monitoring sea turtles, the Nature Foundation is better able to protect these creatures by enforcing existing rules and regulations and educating the public,” said the foundation.

Sea turtles are protected by international laws and treaties, as well as local laws.

“However, they still face great threats, namely plastic pollution, poor water quality, loss of nesting grounds and boat strikes.

“Some turtles mistake plastic bags or debris for food. When eaten, plastic can cause blockages and even make turtles unnaturally buoyant, meaning that the turtle may starve to death and becomes more prone to boat strikes.

“Poor water quality can lead to tumour growth or skin disease on turtles. Nesting grounds are often lost to beachside construction and development. Driving on beaches, strong artificial lighting and umbrellas piercing the sand disturb those areas that can be nested.

“Boats driving through bays and lagoon areas at high speed have caused several sea turtle strikes where the shell is cracked and the turtle dies due to the impact,” said the foundation.

According to the Nature Foundation, there were five fatal strikes reported in St. Maarten in 2019. There have been three such reports so far in 2020.

In addition to local threats, sea turtle numbers are declining worldwide. The foundation said only one per cent of sea turtles survive to sexual maturity.

Nature Foundation personnel have received specialised training in sea turtle conservation, including relocating turtle nests threatened by human activities or natural events such as storm surge.

Suspected sea turtle nests and tracks can be reported on the foundation’s Facebook page or by sending an e-mail to

[email protected]

Bron: Daily Herald

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  1. You’ve got my vote

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