Ministry celebrates leatherback turtles at Maracas beach


A volunteer holds two of the leatherback turtle hatchlings which emerged at the Maracas beach on Thursday morning. – PHOTO COURTESY THE MINISTRY OF TOURISM

Newly hatched leatherback turtles, 53 of them, were welcomed at the Maracas beach facility on Friday morning.

A release from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts said custodians monitored the turtles over the past four weeks and ensured everything was done to ensure the turtles hatched without any disturbance.

The discovery of the hatchlings was made by beach custodians from the Urban Development Corporation of TT (Udecott), the ministry said.

Consideration is being given to creating a nesting zone and a no-plastics zone at the facility “to prevent human activity or disturbance,” it added.

Leatherback turtles are considered an endangered species and TT is home to one of the world’s largest nesting sites for the turtles, the release said. They are protected by law in TT.

“The Maracas beach facility is under the direct responsibility of the ministry which, through the execution of several projects, has improved its management and maintenance of the beach facility and this improvement has had a positive impact on the ecosystem,” the release said.

Tourism, Culture and the Arts minister Randall Mitchell was quoted as saying he was happy that the improved management of the facility and the absence of crowds contributed to the successful hatching for the second year in a row.

“Today’s development was an environmental success that we can all celebrate,” he added.

Part of the ministry’s ongoing maintenance programme at the facility includes “tilling the bay’s sand annually between December and January which results in the beach’s top layer being fluffed.” This improves the quality of sand which makes it easier for turtles to nest, the release said.

“The construction of a high-efficiency wastewater treatment plant has stopped black water and grey water from entering the bay or via streams and rivers while adherence to the Environmental Management Authority’s (EMA) certificate of environmental clearance saw the lighting design of the facility strategically placed away from the shoreline so it does not impact the ecosystem.

“A ‘no-activity’ buffer was also placed between the carpark and the mangrove.”

The ministry said a grease-trap maintenance programme is also done every quarter which prevents grease from entering the wastewater treatment plant, the river and oceanfront waters of the bay.

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