18 May 2023
On Wednesday, 10 May 2023, ENRP’s Marine and Fisheries Conservation Section, and the St Helena National Trust responded after being advised by members of the public that a green turtle once again attempted to nest on Rupert’s Beach.
After assessment, it was found that this nesting attempt was successful. As such, 144 eggs were carefully moved to an artificial nest incubation chamber, which had been pre-prepared in an effort to give the baby turtles a fighting chance for survival. The chamber has been built at the beachside against the wall, above the high tide line, and the public is therefore requested not to disturb it.
This is a globally accepted and tested method of moving the eggs of endangered sea turtles when their original nest site is at risk, and is an activity which St Helena has successfully undertaken before.
Usually, turtles strive to nest well above the high tide line to ensure that their nest is free from saltwater flooding. Unfortunately, this is not possible at any site on Rupert’s Beach. Even during calm seas, high tides will reach the nest and flood it. Turtle eggs are highly absorbent. If the nest is flooded, salt water will enter the egg and slowly that salt will dehydrate the embryo, eventually killing it.
Most turtle nests hatch after 45 to 70 days. The ideal temperature for an incubating nest is between 27 and 31 degrees Celsius. Successful turtle nests depend on a suitable nesting site and incubation temperature. The ambient temperature in St Helena will decrease over the next two months. This will decrease the chances of successful hatching of these nests, as the drop in temperature extends the optimal gestation period, slowing the growth rate of the turtle’s development and strength.
For the next three months, the incubation chamber will be monitored. If a dip in the sand above the nest is noticed, it is a sign that the eggs have begun hatching. From this point, the nest will be monitored daily. If these turtles hatch they will be retrieved from the incubation chamber and released into the ocean.
We would like to remind the public that green turtles and their eggs are protected under the Environmental Protection Ordinance, 2016. It is therefore an offence to disturb the incubation chamber and anyone found doing so could be prosecuted.
If you would like further information on this, or to report a potential turtle nesting attempt in the future, please contact the Marine and Fisheries Conservation Section by telephone on 25966 or via email through firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Marine and Fisheries Conservation Section and the St Helena National Trust would like to thank the public in advance for their support in this matter.
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