Connect with us
background

News

Caribbean Conservation in Action: Tagging Turtles in the BVI

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

Published

on

For centuries, the Japanese artisans have used hawksbill turtle shells to make a variety of trinkets such as eyewear, combs and cigar boxes. By the 1800’s, a fad had spread to the America’s and Europe to obtain hawksbill shells and green turtle soup had become a delicacy around the world. It wasn’t until the late 1970s when the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the body that regulates cross-border trade in wildlife banned the international commercial trade of sea turtles and in 1978, the United States banned the intentional killing of all sea turtles under the Endangered Species Act.

However, In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Japan tried to lift restrictions under CITES to reopen the trade of hawksbill turtle shells with Cuba. Because sea turtles are a regionally shared resource due to their highly migratory range over an individual’s lifetime, many Caribbean countries became concerned that Japan and Cuba’s proposal would undermine some of the long-standing conservation efforts that had already been implemented. This prompted the United Kingdom to launch the Turtles of the UK Overseas Territories (TCOT) project in 2001 to address critical gaps in the knowledge of marine turtle populations found in all their Caribbean territories (Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman, Montserrat and Turks & Caicos Islands).

Although the BVI was already monitoring nesting leatherback sea turtles, this 3-year UK-funded project brought a new dimension to turtle monitoring to the BVI and other UK Territories. In-water turtle tagging of foraging populations commenced which identified healthy populations of juvenile to sub-adult (teenage) green and hawksbill turtles in the BVI. Through genetic sampling of those turtles tagged, green turtles were identified as coming from as far away as Ascension Island, Venezuela and Costa Rica with hawksbills coming from Brazil, Barbados, and Cuba. Subsequently, some of the tagged turtles have migrated from the BVI on to their adult foraging grounds and travelled as far as Nicaragua, Bonaire and Guadeloupe.

Although the TCOT project ended many years ago, in-water turtle tagging of foraging populations continued over the years. Now, with an extensive baseline of information and a growing need for changes in local sea turtle management, the BVI was awarded a Darwin Plus grant worth over US$300k from the UK’s Overseas Territories Environment & Climate Fund in June 2020. This newly implemented STEEL Project (Sustainable turtles, environments, economies & livelihoods) is aimed to ramp up tagging efforts to better understand changes in the status of BVI turtles based on nearly 20 years of data collected. Additionally, foraging turtle habitats will be assessed on how to build resiliency in areas that were impacted by the 2017 hurricane events. An educational programme to provide the community with a better local understanding of turtle conservation will be implemented and, using the MCS Community Voice Method (CVM) of engagement, the project will engage BVI communities to develop new legislation recommendations and a conservation action plan to safeguard BVI’s turtle populations for future generations.

The STEEL Project is being led by the Marine Conservation Society UK alongside local organisation, the Association of Reef Keepers (ARK) and partnerships with the BVI Government’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration. Additionally, local dive and tour operators such as Sail Caribbean Divers are participating in the project by providing boats and assisting local turtle scientists in capturing, tagging and releasing of sea turtles.

For more information see www.bviark.org

Nick and Caroline (Frogfish Photography) are a married couple of conservation driven underwater photo-journalists and authors. Both have honours degrees from Manchester University, in Environmental Biology and Biology respectively, with Nick being a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a former high school science teacher with a DipEd in Teaching Studies. Caroline has an MSc in Animal Behaviour specializing in Caribbean Ecology. They are multiple award-winning photographers and along with 4 published books, feature regularly in the diving, wildlife and international press They are the Underwater Photography and Deputy Editors at Scubaverse and Dive Travel Adventures. Winners of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Photo-journalist of the Year for a feature on Shark Diving in The Bahamas, and they have been placed in every year they have entered. Nick and Caroline regularly use their free time to visit schools, both in the UK and on their travels, to discuss the important issues of marine conservation, sharks and plastic pollution. They are ambassadors for Sharks4Kids and founders of SeaStraw. They are Dive Ambassadors for The Islands of The Bahamas and they are supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit www.frogfishphotography.com

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

News

Blue Marine Foundation launches new partnership with Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance

Caribbean DTA Team

Published

on

Ocean charity makes initial grant of $90,000 to marine parks on six Dutch Caribbean islands. Award will fund projects including coral protection, and training youth marine rangers.

Ocean conservation charity Blue Marine Foundation has announced it is awarding $90,000 in funding to support marine conservation in the Dutch Caribbean. A range of projects run by protected area management organisations on six islands will each receive a grant of $15,000. The funding is the first step in a longer-term partnership to support the islands and help secure sustainable financing through the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) Trust fund.

To improve ocean governance, Blue Marine uses a combination of top-down intervention and bottom-up project delivery to help local communities at the front line of conservation. It will work together with the DCNA to help marine-park organisations protect the unique and threatened biodiversity of the Dutch Caribbean.

The new partnership is an important development in the successful management of marine conservation parks in the Dutch Caribbean. The UK-based charity has established a small-grants fund to provide rapid access to support for critical conservation projects run by marine parks.

The individual projects and their local partners are:

Unique ecosystems on the islands are vulnerable to threats such as feral livestock causing sedimentation on reefs, and invasive species, including lionfish and coral diseases. They are also at risk from overfishing, climate change, coastal development, erosion and the build-up of harmful algae caused by waste water.

The islands of the Dutch Caribbean are also home to important “blue carbon” habitats – ocean ecosystems such as seagrasses, mangroves and other marine plants that suck up and lock away carbon from the earth’s atmosphere. Seagrass is so efficient at this it can capture and store carbon dioxide up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests.  The management and protection of these blue carbon habitats is vital in the fight against climate change.

Current marine conservation measures in the islands include a 25,390 square km mammal and shark sanctuary- Yarari sanctuary- across the Exclusive Economic Zone of Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius. All six islands have inshore Marine Protected Areas ranging in size from 10 to 60 sq km.

Blue Marine’s Senior Project Manager Jude Brown commented: “Having recently visited two of the islands, I witnessed first-hand how special this region is. Diving the waters off Saba I saw huge Tarpon swimming amongst shoals of blue tang, and hawksbill turtles feeding on the seagrass beds. I also witnessed the challenges these islands are facing from coral disease to issues with coastal development. It is an exciting opportunity to work in the Dutch Caribbean, bringing expertise and funding from Blue Marine to join with the wealth of knowledge already on the islands, to work together to protect the important marine life arounds these islands.”

Tadzio Bervoets, Director of the DNCA commented: “The Dutch Caribbean consists of the Windward Islands of St. Maarten, Saba, and St. Eustatius and the Leeward Islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. The nature of the Dutch Caribbean contains the richest biodiversity in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The diverse ecosystems are a magnet for tourism and at the same time the most important source of income for residents of the Dutch Caribbean. Nature on the islands is unique and important but it is also fragile. The coming week we will be in The Netherlands to present a Climate Action Plan for the Dutch Caribbean to emphasize the urgent need for a climate smart future for our islands.”


Photo: Coral reefs in the Dutch Caribbean- Photo credit: Naturepics: Y.+T. Kühnast- all rights reserved

Continue Reading

News

Dominica’s Secret Bay unveils new amenities

Caribbean DTA Team

Published

on

Secret Bay, Dominica’s exclusive six-star, all-villa, Relais & Châteaux rainforest resort and residences, has unveiled a first look at three new amenities inspired by biophilic design – Mouben Welcome House, Gwiyavye’ Lap Pool & Bar and Zing Zing Lounge. The architecturally stunning amenities are the first undertakings being introduced as part of the 10-year-old, award-winning resorts’ multi-year, master plan. This evolution – spread over 40+ acres of coastal land – allows for an array of new amenities, more private villas, and the introduction of a for-sale residence program, all while lowering the resort’s overall density and granting guests the utmost in the luxury of time and space.

The new amenities being unveiled at this time include:

Mouben Welcome House – Mouben Welcome House is both an architectural feat and the new resort hub where guests jumpstart their transformative journey. Modern in design and organic by nature, the structure features a porte-cochere for seamless entry and a fleet of electric vehicles to transport guests to their villas, as well as effortless access to Secret Bay’s beachfront, and the forthcoming funicular and Bwa Denn: Food, Art & Brewery. The Welcome House features the new Adventure Concierge Desk, where guests can arrange an array of life-altering island experiences—a service that is also available in-villa. Secret Bay will continue to have a “no front desk” concept, allowing guests to check in and out directly from their villa.

Gwiyavye’ Lap Pool & Bar – While each villa has its personal plunge pool, the Gwiyavye’ Pool & Bar serves as an elevated oasis for all guests to enjoy. The relaxing oceanfront destination features an in-nature lap pool for guests to use at their own leisure, a cantilevered deck with lounge chairs to soak up the warm Dominican sunshine and a spacious, full-service bar handcrafted with Guyanese Greenheart wood. Enveloped in lush rainforest landscape, the space offers spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea amid an orchard of guava trees.

Zing Zing Lounge – An extension of Secret Bay’s existing gourmet Zing Zing restaurant, the Zing Zing Lounge is a more casual offering that serves up specialty curated cocktails by expert mixologists paired with authentic Dominican bites. The Bar & Lounge is open daily from 5pm to 10pm.

“Secret Bay is continually evolving to meet the needs of our guests and stand out as a superior resort experience,” said Dinesh Kissoon, General Manager of Secret Bay. “We’re thrilled to bring these new experiences to Secret Bay and continue to raise the bar for excellent hospitality.”

In addition to these three new amenities, the masterplan of intimate amenities also includes a funicular, an art barn and a microbrewery, all slated for completion in early 2023.

Tucked away on the unspoilt “Nature Island” — one of the Caribbean’s most sparsely populated, environmentally conscious and culturally rich countries — Secret Bay has been praised for its ability to effortlessly capture the luxury of time and space along with its artful fusion of high design, local craftsmanship, commitment to sustainable development through numerous green and eco-friendly initiatives and its reputation for authentic guest experiences custom-curated to personal preference. 

Part of Secret Bay’s elevated experience is delivered in the form of its culinary offerings, including a “no-menu” concept at the innovative Zing Zing restaurant. Similarly, the Gommier Spa, a three-walled, treetop retreat designed especially for couples, focuses on local and sustainably sourced products for treatments. Other amenities include dedicated villa hosts, on-call concierge, chefs and guides and two secluded beaches.

Nightly rates at Secret Bay start at $897 USD. Secret Bay is located in Portsmouth, Dominica and can be reached at (+1) 767.445.4444 or info@secretbay.dm or online at http://secretbay.dm/.

The Residences at Secret Bay provide vacation home buyers with the rare opportunity to own a residential-style villa managed and marketed by one of the world’s most acclaimed sustainable luxury all-villa boutique resorts. Pricing for The Residences at Secret Bay starts at $1,490,000 USD for whole ownership or $208,000 USD per share for citizenship investors. For more information, visit www.secretbay.dm/residences. For a consultation, please email residences@secretbay.dm.

www.secretbay.dm

Continue Reading

E-Newsletter Sign up!

Trending