29 March 2023
On Tuesday, 21 March 2023, the Marine Conservation and Fisheries Section was advised by members of the public that a turtle was attempting to nest on Rupert’s Beach. The Section responded and assessed the site.
This nesting attempt was deemed a false crawl. This means that the turtle came up and did a trial run for the real thing. What it also means is that in the coming weeks she (and others) will mostly likely come back again and try to nest. The Beach will now be regularly monitored.
This is of course a very exciting time for the Island. Unfortunately, however, St Helena’s beaches have declined in sand and size making the nesting habitat no longer an ideal location for turtle nesting, especially Rupert’s. Sandy Bay, providing the sea does not get to rough during high tides, is a better location.
Usually turtles strive to nest well above the high tide line to ensure that their nest is free from salt water flooding. Unfortunately, this is not possible at Rupert’s. Even during calm seas, high tides will reach the nest and flood it. Turtles eggs are highly absorbent, if the nest is flooded, salt water will enter the egg and slowly the salt will dehydrate the embryo eventually killing it. In an effort to give the baby turtles a fighting chance for survival, the teams of the SHG Marine Conservation and Fisheries Section and the Saint Helena National Trust (SHNT) have constructed an artificial nest chamber in readiness for future attempts. If we get the report early enough the teams will be able to excavate the nest and carefully relocate the eggs following a predefined protocol.
In light of these recent sightings and our expectations from this first report, we are mindful that members of the public and families might be eager to see the turtles in action. We therefore kindly would like remind the public of the following key guidelines that they should followed to ensure the turtles are respected during this process.
If anyone sees a turtle making a nesting attempt either at Rupert’s Beach and/or Sandy Bay Beach, or sees tracks in the sand; please be mindful of the below advice, try to keep your distance and please do not hesitate to contact the SHG or the SHNT Marine teams immediately via Elizabeth on tel: 25966 or 61909 or Kenickie on tel: 22569 or 61257.
- Please do not approach the turtle head on. If she is making her way onto the beach, a direct approach could startle her, and she will abandon her nesting attempt and make a U-turn back to the water
- Only approach the turtle after she has finished laying her eggs. You can tell she is laying by her being very still for an extended period of time, (not digging, flicking up sand), rocking gently back and forth as her eggs fall into the nest and she is facing upwards
- Avoid any sudden movements, approach slowly from behind her head and avoid casting any large shadows
- Do not touch or ride these turtles. This could cause significant distress in the animal and even lead to death
- Do not take any flash photography at any time. Please keep white lights turned off e.g. car lights, torches. Bright white lights can startle and disorientate the female, which can lead to her abandoning her nesting attempt
- Only use red torch light if absolutely needed
- Please keep noise to a minimum
- Please keep pets away from the Beach area when females are making these nesting attempts.
Your cooperation and understanding is appreciated.
#StHelena #Turtles #sthelenaMPA #smallislandBIGFUTURE
29 March 2023