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Front Cover 1
Front Cover 2
Title Page 1
Title Page 2
Table of Contents
List of maps and figures
II. Status and distribution of sea turtles in Barbados
III. Stresses on sea turtles in Barbados
IV. Solutions to stresses on sea turtles in Barbados
V. Literature cited
Maps and figures
Appendix 1. Expansion of the sea turtle project in Barbados
Caribbean Environment Programme
UNEP United Nations Environment Programme
Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan
Julia A. Horrocks
Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Recovery Team
Department of Biology, University of the West Indies
and Bellairs Research Institute, Barbados
Karen Lind Eckert, Editor
Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network
CEP Technical Report No. 12
Sea turtle stocks are declining throughout most of the Wider Caribbean region; in some
areas the trends are dramatic and are likely to be irreversible during our lifetimes. According to
the IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre's Red Data Book, persistent over-exploitation,
especially of adult females on the nesting beach, and the widespread collection of eggs are
largely responsible for the Endangered status of five sea turtle species occurring in the region
and the Vulnerable status of a sixth. In addition to direct harvest, sea turtles are accidentally
captured in active or abandoned fishing gear, resulting in death to tens of thousands of turtles
annually. Coral reef and sea grass degradation, oil spills, chemical waste, persistent plastic and
other marine debris, high density coastal development, and an increase in ocean-based tourism
have dam-aged or eliminated nesting beaches and feeding grounds. Population declines are
complicated by the fact that causal factors are not always entirely indigenous. Because sea
turtles are among the most migratory of all Caribbean fauna, what appears as a decline in a local
population may be a direct consequence of the activities of peoples many hundreds of kilometers
distant. Thus, while local conservation is crucial, action is also called for at the regional level.
In order to adequately protect migratory sea turtles and achieve the objectives of CEP's
Regional Programme for Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW), The Strategyfor the
Development of the Caribbean Environment Programme (1990-1995) calls for "the development
of specific management plans for economically and ecologically important species", making
particular reference to endangered, threatened, or vulnerable species of sea turtle. This is
consistent with Article 10 of the Cartagena Convention (1983), which states that Contracting
Parties shall "individually or jointly take all appropriate measures to protect ... the habitat of
depleted, threatened or endangered species in the Convention area." Article 10 of the 1991 Pro-
tocol to the Cartagena Convention concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW
Protocol) specifies that Parties "carry out recovery, management, planning and other measures to
effect the survival of [endangered or threatened] species" and regulate or prohibit activities
having "adverse effects on such species or their habitats". Article 11 of the SPAW Protocol de-
clares that each Party "shall ensure total protection and recovery to the species of fauna listed in
Annex II". All six species of Caribbean-occurring sea turtles were included in Annex II in 1991.
This CEP Technical Report is the second in a series of Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plans
prepared by the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Recovery Team and Conservation Network
(WIDECAST), an organization comprised of a regional team of sea turtle experts, local Country
Co-ordinators, and an extensive network of interested citizens. The objective of the recovery
action plan series is to assist Caribbean governments in the discharge of their obligations under
the SPAW Protocol, and to promote a regional capability to implement scientifically sound sea
turtle conservation programs by developing a technical understanding of sea turtle biology and
management among local individuals and institutions. Each recovery action plan summarizes
the known distribution of sea turtles, discusses major causes of mortality, evaluates the
effectiveness of existing conservation laws, and priorities implementing measures for stock
recovery. WIDECAST was founded in 1981 by Monitor International, in response to a
recommendation by the IUCN/CCA Meeting of Non-Governmental Caribbean Organizations on
Living Re-sources Conservation for Sustainable Development in the Wider Caribbean (Santo
Domingo, 26-29 August 1981) that a "Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan should
be prepared ... consistent with the Action Plan for the Caribbean Environment Programme."
WIDECAST is an autonomous NGO, partially supported by the CEP.
CEP Technical Report No. 12
The Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan for Barbados has benefited from the experience,
advice and support of many people. In particular, I would like to thank Dr. Wayne Hunte and
Dr. H. Oxenford (Bellairs Research Institute), Mr. Stephen Willoughby and Mr. P. McConney
(Fisheries Division), Mr. Ken Atherley (Coastal Conservation Project Unit); Ms. Yvonne St. Hill
(Environmental Consultancy Services); and the members of the Biodiversity Group
(Environmental Unit; Ministry of Labour, Consumer Affairs and the Environment) for valuable
input into earlier drafts. The assistance of the following persons in gathering data is gratefully
acknowledged: members of the Barbados Environmental Association, employees of the National
Conservation Commission, Ms. Lotus Vermeer, Ms. Purnima Govindarajulu and Ms. Honor
Wiltshire (Bellairs Research Institute), and Mr. William Bertalan. Finally, I would like to thank
the WIDECAST regional Sea Turtle Recovery Team 1, most especially Dr. Karen Eckert, for
their friendship and for giving this Recovery Action Plan the benefit of their extensive
knowledge of sea turtle biology and conservation. The Recovery Action Plan is dedicated to the
many Barbadians who want to ensure that sea turtles remain around Barbados to enrich the lives
of future generations.
1 The WIDECAST regional Recovery Team provided impetus for this document and critiqued
earlier drafts. These persons are the following: Lic. Ana Cecilia Chaves (Costa Rica), Dr. Karen
Eckert (USA), Jacques Fretey (France), John Fuller (Antigua), Molly Gaskin (Trinidad), Dr.
Julia Horrocks (Barbados), Maria Teresa Koberg (Costa Rica), Dr. Peter Pritchard (USA), Dr.
James Richardson (USA), and Dr. Georgita Ruiz (Mexico). The IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle
Specialist Group (Dr. Karen Bjorndal, Chair) also provided useful comments on an earlier draft.
Major financial support for the international WIDECAST project has come from Monitor
International, The Chelonia Institute, the UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme, and the U.
S. National Marine Fisheries Service.
Barbados Sea Turtles ..
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Table of Contents iii
List ofMaps and Figures vi
Abstract (English, Spanish, French) vii
I. INTRODUCTION 1
II. STATUS & DISTRIBUTION OF SEA TURTLES IN BARBADOS 2
2.1 Caretta caretta, Loggerhead Sea Turtle 2
2.2 Chelonia mydas, Green Sea Turtle 3
2.3 Dermochelys coriacea, Leatherback Sea Turtle 3
2.4 Eretmochelys imbricata, Hawksbill Sea Turtle 4
2.5 Lepidochelys kempii, Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle 5
2.6 Lepidochelys olivacea, Olive Ridley Sea Turtle 5
III. STRESSES ON SEA TURTLES IN BARBADOS 6
3.1 Destruction or Modification of Habitat 6
3.2 Disease or Predation 7
3.3 Over-utilization 8
3.4 Inadequate Regulatory Mechanisms 9
3.5 Other Natural or Man-made Factors 9
IV. SOLUTIONS TO STRESSES ON SEA TURTLES IN BARBADOS 10
4.1 Manage and Protect Habitat 10
4.11 Identify essential habitat 10
4.111 Survey foraging areas 10
4.112 Survey nesting habitat 11
4.12 Develop area-specific management plans 13
4.121 Involve local coastal zone authorities 14
4.122 Develop regulatory guidelines 14
4.123 Provide for enforcement of guidelines 15
4.124 Develop educational materials 15
4.13 Prevent or mitigate degradation of nesting beaches 15
4.131 Sand mining 15
4.132 Lights 15
4.133 Beach stabilization structures 16
4.134 Beach cleaning equipment and vehicular use of beaches 17
4.135 Beach rebuilding projects 17
CEP Technical Report No. 12
4.14 Prevent or mitigate degradation of marine habitat 18
4.141 Dynamiting reefs 18
4.142 Bleaching reefs (by man) 19
4.143 Industrial discharges 19
4.144 At-sea dumping of garbage 19
4.145 Oil exploration, production, refining, transport 20
4.146 Agricultural runoff and sewage 20
4.147 Others 21
4.2 Manage and Protect all Life Stages 22
4.21 Review existing local laws and regulations 22
4.22 Evaluate the effectiveness of law enforcement 23
4.23 Propose new regulations where needed 24
4.231 Eggs 24
4.232 Immature turtles 25
4.233 Nesting females 25
4.234 Unprotected species 26
4.24 Augment existing law enforcement efforts 26
4.25 Make fines commensurate with product value 26
4.26 Investigate alternative livelihoods 26
4.27 Determine incidental catch and promote the use of TEDs 27
4.28 Supplement reduced populations using management techniques 27
4.29 Monitor stocks 27
4.291 Nests 27
4.292 Hatchlings 28
4.293 Immature and adult turtles 29
4.3 Encourage and Support International Legislation 29
4.31 CITES 29
4.32 Regional cooperation 30
4.33 Subregional sea turtle management 31
4.4 Develop Public Education 32
4.41 Residents 32
4.42 Fishermen 32
4.43 Tourists 32
4.44 Non-consumptive uses of sea turtles to generate revenue 33
4.5 Increase Information Exchange 33
4.51 Marine Turtle Newsletter 33
4.52 Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium (WATS) 33
4.53 WIDECAST 34
4.54 IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group 35
4.55 Workshops on research and management 35
4.56 Exchange of information among local groups 35
Barbados Sea Turtles ..
4.6 Summary Sectorial Recommendations 35
4.61 Government organizations 35
4.611 Coastal Conservation Project Unit 35
4.612 Town Planning Department 36
4.613 National Conservation Commission 37
4.614 Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries 37
4.615 Ministry of Trade, Industry and Commerce 38
4.616 Royal Barbados Police Force and the Coast Guard 38
4.62 Non-government organizations 38
4.621 Architects and landscape architects 38
4.622 Bellairs Research Institute 39
4.623 Barbados Environmental Association 40
4.624 Barbados Wildlife Reserve 40
V. LITERATURE CITED 41
APPENDIX I: EXPANSION OF THE SEA TURTLE PROJECT IN BARBADOS
Monitoring of nesting activity
Tagging of post-nesting females
Movement of nests endangered by a significant threat
Monitoring of hatching events
Strandings and the care of sick/debilitated turtles
Sea turtle database
Increasing environmental awareness
Proposed Activities 56
Results and Outputs 57
CEP Technical Report No. 12
LIST OF MAPS AND FIGURES
Barbados is the most easterly island in the Lesser Antilles.
Locations of sea grass and offshore bank coral reefs around Barbados.
Locations of potential nesting beaches and actual nests for the leather-
back sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) in Barbados, 1984-1991.
Locations of hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) nests re-
ported by the public in 1990 (stars) and 1991 (dots) in Barbados.
The Barbados Marine Reserve includes 2.2 km along the west coast
and extends 1000 m offshore.
Four species of sea turtle are reported from Barbados. These species
are, in decreasing order of abundance, the hawksbill (Eretmochelys
imbricata), the green turtle (Chelonia mydas), the loggerhead (Caretta
caretta), and the leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea).
The number of hawksbill sea turtle nests laid per month in Barbados,
as reported by the general public, 1987-1991.
The number of hawksbill sea turtle nests laid per month in Barbados,
as reported by the general public, 1989-1991.
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
Barbados is the most easterly island in the Lesser Antilles. Four species of sea turtle are
recorded from the waters of Barbados: the hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), leatherback
(Dermochelys coriacea), green turtle (Chelonia mydas), and, rarely, the loggerhead (Caretta
caretta). The primary nesting species is the hawksbill; leatherbacks nest only occasionally.
Hawksbills nest in all months except February and March, but there is a marked peak in nesting
between June and August. Leatherbacks are seasonal visitors, arriving to nest between April and
June. Sea turtle nesting activity has been monitored over the past five years. The data suggest
that not many more than 50 hawksbills and fewer than two leatherbacks nest each year. Juvenile
green turtles are commonly seen feeding in nearshore sea grass and algal beds, particularly off
the east coast. In contrast, hawksbills feed on coral reef-associated sponges. Subadult and adult
loggerheads are sometimes captured in deep water; foraging has not been observed. Estimates of
population size for non-nesting sea turtles (green turtles, hawksbills, loggerheads) around
Barbados are not available. It is generally acknowledged by fishermen that sea turtles are less
common today than in previous years. The primary stresses on sea turtles in Barbados are
exploitation, nesting habitat deterioration, and, to a lesser extent, foraging habitat deterioration.
Hawksbill turtles are taken during nesting or in nets at sea for meat, eggs and shell. The
shell is either fashioned into products sold locally or it is exported to Japan. Since Barbados is
not yet a member of CITES, importation and exportation of shell is permitted with the
appropriate documentation, although new policy requires that the Chief Fisheries Officer give his
per-mission for export. Discussions on Barbados' accession to CITES are in progress. In
addition to the harvest of hawksbills, juvenile green turtles are caught in nets set a few hundred
yards from shore on the east coast, and adult greens and loggerheads are speared
opportunistically by pelagic fishermen whilst they wait for gill nets to fill. The meat (rarely the
shell) from green turtles and loggerheads is used; leatherbacks are not killed, only the eggs are
taken. National legislation prohibits at all times the take of sea turtles or their eggs on the beach
or within 100 yd (90 m) of shore, and the capture of turtles weighing less than 30 lbs (13.6 kg).
The penalties are inadequate, however, and do not serve as an effective deterrent. Enforcement
of legislation is problematic because of the lack of seriousness with which the offense is viewed,
the difficulty of proving that a turtle was taken illegally, and because of manpower constraints
within the enforcement agencies. Very few people depend on turtle exploitation for a living and
redrafted legislation banning the harvest of all sizes and species of sea turtles, as well as the use
of entangling nets, is presently being considered by Cabinet. If a national ban on harvest comes
into effect, there will be even greater reason to accede to CITES in order to control the
importation of shell.
Hawksbills prefer to nest on the west and south coasts of Barbados, often in beach
vegetation. These same beaches have been altered, primarily by development for tourism.
Buildings and walls constructed close to the high water mark, and the positioning of gabions and
boulders on beaches to protect beach-front properties has reduced the amount of beach suitable
for nesting. The loss of stabilizing vegetation which has accompanied extensive beach-front
development is also implicated in beach loss. Ornamental and security lights deter females from
CEP Technical Report No. 12
emerging to lay eggs and cause hatchling disorientation and mortality. In 1990, hatchlings from
83% of monitored nests were disoriented by lighting. Heavy pedestrian use of beaches leads to
compaction of the sand over nests, increasing mortality among eggs and hatchlings. The patchy
spatial distribution of hawksbill nesting makes it difficult to identify and protect specific nesting
areas. However, an estimated 15 different hawksbills nested on 1.5 km of the southwestern coast
between 1989 and 1991, suggesting that this is an area within which any future development
should be carefully managed. On other beaches, measures can be taken to reduce the impacts of
development on turtle nesting; e.g., lighting problems can be minimized by keeping lights low to
the ground, shielding them from shining directly onto the beach, and using low sodium vapor
lamps in preference to full-spectrum white lights. Fortunately, the few leatherback nests
recorded each year are made on the largely undeveloped high energy east and southeast coasts.
Nesting habitat for leatherbacks appears unstressed at the present time.
In addition to the deterioration of nesting habitat, feeding grounds have also been
affected. Hawksbills, ranging in size from small juveniles to adults, are known to forage on
reef-associated sponges on the fringing and bank coral reefs around Barbados. Juvenile green
turtles forage within sea grass and algal beds. Coral reefs and sea grass meadows are important
to the survival of sea turtles in Barbados, yet coral cover and diversity on west and south coast
fringing reefs has deteriorated over the past 30 years. Likewise, sea grass beds have diminished
in size. Both types of habitats are impacted by land-based sources of pollution; e.g., sewage,
household chemicals, agrochemicals, and sediment. Careless fishing practices, indiscriminate
anchoring, and illegal fishing practices such as dynamiting, further contribute to the degradation
of these habitats. One area of the west coast has been designated as a marine reserve, where
fishing and boat use are restricted and where turtle harvest is illegal. Efforts to identify sources
of pollution and implement measures to protect nearshore habitats along the entire west and
south coasts are ongoing as part of a national coastal conservation project. Important sea turtle
foraging habitats will benefit from these measures.
A project for improving the institutional effectiveness of coastal zone management in
Barbados has recently been conducted. Enforcement of legislation pertaining to the coastal zone
is one of the areas under review, and all aspects of coastal zone law enforcement may ultimately
become the responsibility of one agency specifically trained in environmental legislation and its
enforcement. Increasing environmental awareness among the public through educational materi-
als and activities will assist enforcement agencies. The WIDECAST Sea Turtle Recovery Action
Plan for Barbados strongly supports ongoing efforts at improving sea turtle conservation
legislation, enhancing the effectiveness of law enforcement and coastal zone management, and
allocating financial and personnel resources more efficiently by consolidating coastal zone
responsibilities. The Plan also supports ongoing field research and public awareness campaigns
and proposes several activities to enhance and expand sea turtle conservation in Barbados. In
concert with national efforts, and recognizing that sea turtles are highly migratory (meaning that
Barbados may share its sea turtles, particularly its hawksbills, with neighboring islands), a
tagging programme that includes at least St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, and
Barbados is suggested. The full recovery of shared populations will require regional cooperation.
The Government of Barbados is encouraged to support multinational efforts aimed at the conser-
vation and recovery of depleted marine species, such as sea turtles, by ratifying the Cartagena
Convention Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW Protocol).
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
La isla de Barbados es la mas oriental de las Antillas Menores. En sus aguas, se
encuentran cuatro species de tortuga: la carey (Eretmochelys imbricata), la barriguda
(Dermochelys coriacea), la tortuga verde (Chelonia mydas), y muy infrecuentemente, la tortuga
de mar (Caretta caretta). La especie que mas anida es la carey; la tortuga barriguda s6lo anida de
vez en cuando. La tortuga carey anida todos los meses con la excepci6n de febrero y marzo pero
el anidamiento llega al tope entire junio y agosto. La barriguda es visitante estacional. Viene a
anidar entire abril y junio. El anidamiento de la tortuga marina ha sido vigilado durante los
ultimos cinco ahos. Segun los datos, poco mas de 50 tortugas carey y menos de dos barrigudas
anidan cada afio. A menudo se ven tortugas verdes j6venes alimentandose de la yerba marina
cerca del litoral y lechos de algas, sobre todo afuera de la costa oriental. En contrast, las carey
se alimentan de esponjas asociadas con los arrecifes coralinos. Las tortugas de mar maduras y
quasimaduras son capturadas de vez en cuando en las aguas profundas; no se ha notado forraje.
No hay calculos del tamafio de la poblaci6n de tortugas marinas alrededor de Barbados que no
anidan (la tortuga verde, la barriguda, la tortuga de mar). Los pescadores por lo general
reconocen que las tortugas marinas son menos frecuentes hoy que anteriormente. Las presiones
primaries que experimentan las tortugas marinas en Barbados son la explotaci6n, el deterioro del
habitat donde anidan y a menor grado el deterioro del habitat de forraje.
Las tortugas carey son capturadas durante el anidamiento o pescadas del mar con redes
por la came, los huevos o el caparazon el cual o se elabora para la fabricacion de products que
se venden localmente o se export al Jap6n. Dado que Barbados aun no es miembro de CITES,
se le permit la importaci6n y exportaci6n del caparaz6n con el unico requisite de que tenga la
documentaci6n apropiada, aunque la nueva political require que el Oficial encargado de la Pesca
otorgue permiso para la exportaci6n. Las discusiones con respect a la adhesion de Barbados a
CITES estan encaminadas. Aparte de la cosecha de las tortugas carey, las tortugas verdes
j6venes estan atrapadas en redes colocadas unas cientas de yards costa afuera del litoral oriental
y las tortugas verdes y las tortugas de mar adults son pescadas con arp6n por pescadores
pelagicos oportunistas mientras esperan que se llenen las redes rastreras verticales. La care
(rara vez el caparaz6n) de las tortugas verdes y las tortugas barriguda son utilizadas; las tortugas
de mar no son matadas, s6lo se les quita los huevos. La legislaci6n national prohibe de modo
perenne la capturaci6n de las tortugas marinas o sus huevos de la playa o dentro de un limited de
100 yards (90 m) de litoral y la capturaci6n de tortugas que pesan menos de 30 libras (13.6
Kilos). Sin embargo, las multas son inadecuadas y no sirven de freno afectivo. La ejecuci6n de
la legislaci6n es problematica a causa de la falta de seriedad con que ven el delito, la dificultad
de probar que una tortuga fue capturada de forma illegal y las limitaciones de recursos humans
dentro de las agencies que ejecutan la legislaci6n. Hay pocas personas que ganan la vida de la
explotaci6n de tortugas y el Gabinete esta en el process de estudiar la legislaci6n remodelada
que prohibe la cosecha de todo tamafio y especie de tortuga marina asicomo el uso de redes
rastreras verticales. Al aprobarse una ley national prohibiendo la cosecha, habra aun mas raz6n
para integrarse a CITES para poder controlar la importaci6n de caparazones.
La tortuga carey prefiere anidar en las costas occidentales y meridionales de Barbados, a
menudo entire la vegetaci6n de la playa. Estas mismas playas han sufrido cambios, primordial-
CEP Technical Report No. 12
mente debidos al desarrollo turistico. La construcci6n de edificios y paredes pr6ximos a la linea
de la marca alta y la colocaci6n de garriones y piedras grandes sobre las playas para proteger las
propiedades con playa han reducido la extension de playa que se presta id6neamente para el
anidamiento. La perdida de playa tambien incluye la perdida de vegetaci6n minima de
sustentaci6n que ha acompafiado el desarrollo extensive de propiedades con playa. Las luces
decorativas y de seguridad sirven de freno a las hembras que no salen a poner huevos y tambien
conduce a la desorientaci6n y la mortalidad de las recien nacidas. En 1990, las recien nacidas
del 83% de nidos observados fueron desorientadas por las luces. El constant paseo de personas
result en la compactaci6n de la arena sobre los nidos, y el aumento de la mortalidad de huevos y
recien nacidas. La configuraci6n irregular del anidamiento de la tortuga carey dificulta la
identificaci6n y protecci6n de areas especificas de anidamiento. Sin embargo, alrededor de 15
tortugas carey anidaron sobre una extension de 1.5 km de la costa sudoccidental entire 1989 y
1991, lo cual indica que esta es una area donde habra que vigilar todo tipo de desarrollo future.
En las otras playas, se pueden introducir medidas para reducir el impact del desarrollo sobre el
anidamiento de la tortuga, por ejemplo, el problema de las luces se puede minimizar al
mantenerlas bajas, juntas al suelo sin iluminar las playas directamente y utilizando lamparas de
vapor de bajo volumen de sodio. Afortunadamente, los pocos nidos de tortugas barrigudas que
se registran cada afio se encuentran en las costas por mayor parte no desarrolladas y altas en
energia del lado oriental y sudeste de la isla. Por el moment, el habitat donde anidan de las
tortugas barrigudas parece no ser presionado.
Aparte del deterioro del habitat de anidamiento, los terrenos de forraje tambien han sido
afectados. La carey, j6ven y adulta se alimentan de esponjas de los arrecifes coralinos que se
encuentran en las bordes y las orillas de la isla. Las j6venes tortugas verdes forrajean entire la
yerba marina y los lechos de algas. Los arrecifes coralinos y los prados de yerba marina son
importantes para la sobrevivencia de las tortugas marinas de Barbados a pesar de que la
cobertura coralina y la diversidad de los arrecifes costeros al oeste y al sur de la isla se han
deteriorado durante los ultimos 30 afios. Asimismo, los lechos de yerba marina se han achicado.
Ambos tipos de habitat son afectados por fuentes terrestres de contaminaci6n, por ejemplo, el
alcantarillado, los products quimicos domesticos, las agroquimicas y la sedimentaci6n. Las
practices irresponsables pesqueras, el anclaje indiscriminado y actividades ilicitas pesqueras, por
ejemplo, el uso de dinamita, contribuyen aun mas a la degradaci6n de estos habitats. Una area de
la costa occidental ha sido designada como reserve marina, donde la pesca y el uso de barcos
estan controlados y donde la cosecha de tortugas es illegal. Los esfuerzos para identificar las
fuentes de contaminaci6n y aplicar medidas para proteger los habitats litorales a lo largo de las
costas occidentales y meridionales son continues y forman parte de un proyecto national de
conservaci6n costera. Los habitats importantes de forraje de tortugas marinas se beneficiaran de
Recientemente, se ha llevado a cabo un proyecto para la mejora de la eficacia
institutional en cuanto al manejo de la zona costera de Barbados. La aplicaci6n de legislaci6n
relative a la zona costera es una de las areas bajo revision y todos los aspects de la aplicaci6n de
legislaci6n relative a la zona costera en ultima instancia devendra la responsabilidad de una
agencia especificamente adiestrada en la legislaci6n ambiental y su aplicaci6n. Mayor
concientizaci6n ambiental entire el public por medio de materials y actividades educacionales
ayudara las agencies en la tarea de aplicaci6n. El Plan de Acci6n de WIDECAST para la recup-
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
eraci6n de las Tortugas Marinas de Barbados apoya rotundamente los esfuerzos encaminados a
la mejora de la legislaci6n relative a la conservaci6n de la tortuga marina, la de la eficacia de la
aplicaci6n de la ley y el manejo de la zona costera asicomo la distribuci6n mas efectiva de los
recursos financieros y de personal por medio de la consolidaci6n de las responsabilidades por la
zona costera. El Plan tambien apoya la investigaci6n encaminada en el campo y las campafias de
concientizaci6n del public y propone varias actividades para mejorar y expandir la conservaci6n
de la tortuga marina en Barbados. Junto con los esfuerzos nacionales y en reconocimiento del
hecho de que las tortugas marinas son altamente migratorias (que significa que Barbados pueda
compartir sus tortugas marinas, en particular la carey con las islas vecinas), un program
compartido que incluya por lo menos a Santa Lucia, San Vicente y las Grenadinas, Granada y
Barbados ha sido recomendado. La recuperaci6n de las poblaciones compartidas requerira la
cooperaci6n regional o por lo menos subregional. Al Gobiemo de Barbados se le anima apoyar
los esfuerzos multinacionales dirigidos a la conservaci6n y recuperaci6n de las species marinas
decimadas tales como la tortuga marina, por medio de la ratificaci6n del Protocolo relative al
Convenio de Cartagena del PNUMA tocante las Areas y Fauna y Flora Silvestres Especialmente
Protegidas en la Regi6n del Gran Caribe.
CEP Technical Report No. 12
L'ile situee le plus a l'est des petites Antilles est la Barbade. Quatre especes de tortues de
mer ont ete observees dans les eaux entourant la Barbade: la tortue a ecaille, (Eretmochelys
imbricata), la tortue a cuir (Dermochelys coriacea), la tortue verte (Chelonia mydas), et une
espece plus rare, le caouan (Caretta caretta). Ce sont les tortues a ecaille qui ont la fecondite la
plus elevee. Les tortues a cuir ne niched qu'occasionnellement. Les tortues a ecaille nichent
pendant toute l'annee sauf en fevrier et en mars mais leur period de pointe s'etend du mois de
juin jusqu'au mois d'aoft. Les tortues a cuir sont des visiteurs saisonniers qui arrivent
uniquement pour nicher entire avril et juin. Les pratiques de nichage ont ete observees pendant
les cinq dernieres annees. Les informations recueillies montrent que pas plus de cinquante
tortues a ecaille et moins de dux tortues a cuir nichent tous les ans. D'ordinaire, les jeunes
tortues vertes se nourissent d'herges marines situees dans les zones c6tieres et aussi dans lles
chmaps d'algues qui se trouvent le plus souvent pres de la c6te est. Par contre les tortues a
ecaille se nourissent d'eponges associees aux ris de coraux. Les couans les plus jeunes et les
vrais adults sont souvent pris dans les eaux profondes mais aucune surveillance n'a ete
effectuee en ce qui concern leurs habitudes d'alimentation. Les estimations relatives aux
populations de tortues de mer, telles que les tortues vertes, les tortues a ecaille et le couans, qui
ne nichent jamais dans les eaux de la Barbade ne sont pas disponible. Les pecheurs pensent
generalement que les populations de tortues de mer diminuent aujourd'hui par rapport aux annees
passees. A la Barbade, les pressions que subissent les tortues de mer proviennent de
l'exploitation, de la deterioration des habitats de nichage et, dans une moindre measure, de la
diminution des habitats d'alimentation.
On attrappe les tortues a ecaille pendant les periods de nichage ou bien dans la mer a
l'aide de filets pour utiliser leur chair, leurs oeufs et leurs ecailles. L'ecaille ser a fabriquer des
articles vendues sur place ou bien elle est expotee au Japon. Puisque la Barbade ne fait pas encore
parties de CITES, l'importation et exportation des ecailles accompagnees des documents
appropries sont encore legales bien qu'une decision recent exige un permis d'exportation delire
par le Chief Officier de la PNche. Des negotiations sont en course en ce qui concern l'adhesion
de la Barbade au CITES. Outre la peche des tortues a ecaille on attrappe les jeunes tortues vertes
a l'aide de filets places a quelques centaines de yards de la c6te orientale; et les tortues vertes
adults et les couans sont captures par les pecheurs pelagiques qui se servent de lances pendant
qu'ils attendent que leurs filets a ailette se remplissent. Concernant les tortues vertes et les
couans, c'est plut6t la chair (et rarement l'ecaille) qu'utilise la population. On ne tue pas les
tortues a cuir; on utilise uniquement leurs oeufs. La legislation antionale interdit definitivement
et strictement d'attrapper sur les plages les tortues de mer et leurs oeufs, et les prises ne doivent
plus se faire a l'interieur des 90 metres (100 yards) de la c6te. La legislation interdit aussi la
prise des tortues qui present moins de 13, 6 kg (30 lbs). Cependant les amendes sont toujours
insufficantes et par consequent n'agissent pas comme une arme preventive efficace. La mise en
vigueur de la legislation cree des problems preventive efficace. La mise en vigueur de la
legislation cree des problems preventive efficace. La mise en vigueur de la legislation cree des
problems du fait que le delit n'est pas pris au serieux et qu'il est difficile de prover qu'une tortue
a ete attrappee illegalement, et aussi en raison des contraintes de personnel au sein des
organismes de contr6le. Tres peu de personnel vivent de l'exploitation des tortues de mer et
done le Cabinet etudie actuellement la revision d'un legislation interdisant les prises de tortues
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
de mer de toute taille et de toute espece ainsi que l'emploi de filets enchevetres. Si l'interiction
des prises a l'echelon national etait mise en vigueur, il constituerait une raison de plus en faveur
d'une adhesion rapide au CITES afin de contr6ler l'importation d'ecailles.
Les tortues a ecaille preferent nicher sur les c6tes ouest et sud de la Barbade et souvent
dans la vegetation du littoral. Ces plages a alimentation ont ete alterees et ceci, a la suite surtout
du developpement du tourism. Les edifices et les murs qui ont ete construits pres de la marque
des eaux profondes, et les grosses pierres et les gabions qui ont ete mis sur les plages pour
proteger les residences ont beaucoup reduit la superficie des zones de nichage. La perte de
vegetation stabilisatrice qui a accompagne le developpement intensif des plages entraine aussi la
diminution de ces superficies. L'eclairage ornamental et celui de security empechent les femelles
de sortir pour pondre leurs oeufs et causent la mort et la disorientation en matiere de nichage.
En 1990 les nouveux-nes sortis de 83% de nids surveilles etaient desorientes par l'eclairage. Une
forte presence de promeneurs entraine une certain densitee de sable sur les nids et ceci donne
lieu a une mortality elevee, ce qui accroit la mortality des oeufs et des nouveaux-nes. Le peu
d'espace consacre au nichage des tortues a ecaille rend difficiles l'identification et la protection
des zones specifiques de nichage. Cependant entire 1989 et 1991 environ 15 tortues a ecaille
differentes auraient niche sur un space de 1,5 km sur la c6te sud-ouest et ceci indique que c'est
la une zone a l'interieur de laquelle tout developpement sur les champs de nichage des tortues;
par example, les problems d'eclairage peuvent 6tre minimises, si on install des lumi-eres
basses, c'est a dire, a fleur de terre, pour les empecher d'eclairer directement les plages, et en se
servant de lampes a vapeur et a faible contenu de soude plut6t que de lampes blanches a lumieres
forte. Heureusement, un petit nombre de nids des tortues a cuir observes chaque annee se
trouvent sur les c6tes isolees de l'est et du sud-est bien eclairees. En fait, il n'y a aucune preuve
de pression a l'interieur des habitats de nichage don't se servent les tortues a cuir.
Outre la deterioration des habitats de nichage, les champs d'alimentation ont aussi ete
atteints. On sait que les tortues a ecaille qui varient en grandeur jusqu'd l'age adulte se nourissent
d'eponges associees aux ris de coraux ou avoisinant les terrasses sous-marines autour de la
Barbade. Les tortues vertes se nourissent d'herbes et d'algues marines. A la Barbade les ris de
coraux et les champs d'herbes marines jouent un r6le important pour la survive des tortues de mer;
et pourtant la superficie et la variety de coraux sur les ris des c6tes ouest et sud se sont beaucoup
deteriorees pendant les trente dernieres annees. Egalement les champs d'herbes marines se sont
rapetisees. Les deux types d'habitats se trouvent fortement atteints par la pollution don't l'origine
se trouve a l'interieur de la Barbade tel que les egouts, les products chimiques managers, les
products agro-chimiques et les sediments. Par ailleurs, les pratiques de peche negligentes, le
mouillage sans discrimination et les activities de peche negligentes, le mouillage sans
discrimination et les activities de peche illegales telles que le dynamitage accentuent la
degradation de ces habitats. Une zone de la c6te ouest a ete designee comme reserve marine et a
l'interieur de celle-ci, la peche et l'utilisation des bateaux sont controlees et la prise des tortues est
illegal. On pursuit des initiatives visant a identifier les sources de pollution et a mettre en
application les measures propices a la protection des habitats tout le long des c6tes ouest et sud
dans le cadre d'un project national de conservation des zones c6tieres. Les grands habitats
d'alimentation des tortues de mer benificieront de pareilles measures.
CEP Technical Report No. 12
On a recemment entrepris un project afin d'ameliorer l'efficacite institutionelle de la
gestion des zone c6tieres de la Barbade. La mise en vigueur de la legislation en matiere de zone
c6tiere est un des domaines considers et il est probable que tous les aspects relatifs a la mise en
application de la loi regissant les zones c6tieres relevent de la competence d'une agence
specialisee en matiere d'environnement et d'execution. Une connaissance plus approfondie de la
part du public concernant l'environnement grace a un programme de sensibilisation aidera les
agencies d'execution. Le project appele "WIDECAST Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan" pour la
Barbade appuie fortement les programmes en course visant a ameliorer la conservation des tortues
de mer en augmentant l'efficacite de la loi et celle de la gestion des zones c6tieres et en
consacrant des resources financieres et humaines de facon plus efficace grace a la consolidation
des competences en ce qui concern les zones c6tieres. En outre, le project apporte son appui aux
recherches sur le champ deji effectuees et aux programmes de sensibilisation et il propose la
mise en place de plusieurs programmes de sensibilisation et il propose la mise en place de
plusieurs activities ayant pour bfit d'ameliorer et d'accroitre la conservation de la tortue de mer a
la Barbade. Parallelement aux initiatives prises a l'echelon national et en reconnaissant que les
tortues de mer sont de grands animaux migratoires (c'est a dire que la Barbade partagerait ses
tortues, et surtout ses tortues a ecaille avec les miles voisines) on propose de mettre en place un
programme continue a la Barbade avec la participation des miles suivantes: Ste. Lucie, St. Vincent,
les Grenadines et la Grenade. Un tel programme qui impliquera la participation de populations
diverse peut 6tre entrepris dans le cadre de la cooperation regional, ou sous-regionale. On
recommande au gouvernement de la Barbade de s'efforcer d'appuyer les initiatives multi-laterales
qui visent a conserver et a recuperer les especes marines en voie de disparition, telles que les
tortues de mer et ceci, en ratifiant le Protocole de la Convention de Cartagene conclue par la
PNUE et relative aux zones speciales protegees et a la flore et la faune de la region des Caraibes.
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
Barbados (59035'W, 1310'N) is the most easterly island in the Lesser Antilles (Map 1).
Historical evidence suggests that turtles may never have been particularly common around
Barbados. Turtle bones, dating back to about 1000 AD, have been found at only one of five
Amerindian sites excavated in the country. By contrast, the bones of turtles are commonly found
at Amerindian sites of a similar period in Antigua, as well as in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Ligon (1673), in an account of the society, economy, and natural history of Barbados recorded
during a stay between 1647 and 1650, mentions an abundance of green turtles (Chelonia mydas)
in the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean. A lover of turtle meat, he was disappointed that green
turtles were so few around Barbados, and moreover that those present were neither "fat nor
kindly". Perhaps the green turtles he encountered were immature, or perhaps he was misidenti-
fying hawksbills as immature green turtles.
Fresh green turtle meat was widely eaten in the Caribbean, and calipee especially was
considered a delicacy in the Leeward Islands, at the time Ligon was writing. Yet the only turtle
meat that was available in Barbados was pickled turtle meat imported from the Leeward islands.
Ligon (1673) postulated that the lack of green turtles reflected the fact that there were no sandy
beaches for turtles to nest on in Barbados. This is somewhat surprising, since one of the primary
attractions of Barbados as a present day tourist destination is its white sandy beaches. Nearly
two centuries later, Schomburgk (1848) included three species of sea turtle in the vertebrate
fauna of Barbados: the hawksbill, green, and loggerhead sea turtles, archaically known as Caretta
imbricata, Caretta esculenta, and Caretta cephalo, respectively. He made no mention of the
distribution or abundance of these species, nor whether they nested on the island.
Today, hawksbills and an occasional leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) are the only
species of sea turtle known to nest in Barbados. Hawksbills, loggerheads, and green turtles are
all harvested (additional detail is provided in section 3.3). Hawksbills are primarily caught with
the use of nets set between the outer edges of fringing reefs and the bank reef (1000 m offshore)
off the west and south coasts. Juvenile green turtles are caught in similar nets set a few hundred
yards from shore on the east coast. Adult greens and loggerheads are speared opportunistically
by offshore pelagic fishermen whilst they wait for gill nets to fill. The meat, eggs, and shells of
hawksbills are used, as well as (but more rarely) the meat and shells of green turtles, the meat of
loggerheads, and the eggs of leatherbacks -- despite the fact that egg harvest is illegal at all times
(section 4.21). Turtle shell articles such as jewelry and combs are on sale in numerous
tourist-orientated shops. Although present legislation prohibits the possession of any turtle under
30 lbs (13.6 kg), preserved and mounted juvenile hawksbills (generally <30 cm carapace length
and thus clearly under the 30 lbs limit) can be bought from a few wayside vendors.
Sea turtles of all species can be legally caught at a distance greater than 100 yd (90 m)
offshore, providing that they are over 30 lbs in weight (section 4.21). Fishermen set nets for
turtles during the hawksbill's breeding season (May-October), which is said to coincide with the
dropping of manchineel tree (Hippomane mancinella) berries. Since fishing practices have
developed to reflect the availability of resources, the seasonality of fishing may suggest that
there are insufficient numbers of adult turtles around Barbados to make fishing for them
profitable outside of the breeding season. Alternatively, adult turtles may be present all year but
CEP Technical Report No. 12
may be harder to catch because they are not approaching and departing from nesting beaches, nor
are they mating at the water's surface. Thus, during the season when pelagic fish such as flying
fish (Hirundichthys affinis) and dolphin fish (Coryphaena hippurus) become abundant, fishermen
concentrate on this more profitable fishery rather than on sea turtles.
Very few fishermen, if any, are dependent on the turtle fishery for their primary
livelihood. No reliable records of turtle landings at fish markets have ever been kept, again
suggesting that the turtle fishery was never considered important. At the present time, the
majority of turtles are probably captured illegally whilst laying eggs on the beach. Certainly a
high proportion of hawksbills observed nesting by the public is killed annually (15-22%, section
2.4). Consistent with a lack of economic dependence of Barbadians on sea turtles, there is a
general lack of superstitions or traditions associated with sea turtles when compared to other
islands in the region. This lack of dependence, combined with the high literacy rate in Barbados,
may make conservation of sea turtles in Barbados relatively easier than in some other parts of the
II. STATUS AND DISTRIBUTION OF SEA TURTLES IN BARBADOS
2.1 Caretta caretta, Loggerhead Sea Turtle
There are no indigenous common names applied to this species and the preferred name is
loggerhead. The loggerhead turtle is recognized by its large head, thick, somewhat tapered
carapace (=shell), brown and gold or reddish-brown colouration, and characteristically heavy
encrustation of invertebrate epifauna (especially barnacles). There are typically five pairs of
lateral scutes on the carapace (Figure 1). The large head and strong jaws, for which the species
was named, are necessary adaptations to a diet of mollusks and hard-shelled crabs; tunicates,
fishes, and plants are also eaten (Dodd, 1988). Adults attain a straight-line carapace length of
120 cm (nuchal notch to posterior tip) and weigh up to 200 kg (Pritchard et al., 1983).
The species has a wide oceanic distribution. In the Atlantic Ocean individuals have been
sighted as far north as Newfoundland (Squires, 1954) and northern Europe (Brongersma, 1972)
and as far south as Argentina (Frazier, 1984). Nesting grounds are often located in temperate
latitudes, with the greatest numbers of nesting females recorded on the Atlantic coast of Florida
(USA) and on the shores of Masirah Island, Oman. Nesting is also reported from various islands
of the Greater and Lesser Antilles (although firm records are not always available), the
Caribbean coasts of Mexico and Central America, and the Atlantic coast of South America from
Venezuela to Brazil, as summarized by Dodd (1988).
Loggerheads are not known to nest in Barbados, but juveniles (one weighed 32 kg) and
adults or near-adults (one measured 83 cm straight carapace length) are occasionally caught
opportunistically offshore by pelagic fishermen. These turtles are usually speared by the
fishermen as they wait for their gill nets to fill (see section I). The meat is eaten whenever
available. Foraging grounds have not been identified. Neither spatial nor temporal patterns of
distribution are known. Population estimates are not available. The species is considerably rarer
than either the green turtle or the hawksbill.
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
2.2 Chelonia mydas, Green Sea Turtle
Local common names for this species include green turtle and green-back. Green turtles
are recognized by a single pair of scales on the forehead between the eyes and a round, blunt
beak serrated for clipping sea grasses. The carapace is smooth and the plates (=scutes) do not
overlap one another (in contrast to the hawksbill turtle, see section 2.4). The carapace is
characterized by four pairs of lateral scutes (Figure 1) and is generally free of barnacles. Adults
attain weights of 230 kg and generally measure 95-120 cm straight-line carapace length (nuchal
notch to posterior tip) (Pritchard et al., 1983). Individuals of varying sizes are present in the
waters surrounding Barbados throughout the year.
Green turtles are herbivorous and in the Caribbean they feed primarily on the sea grass
Thalassia testudinum (Bjorndal, 1982). Field studies indicate that individual turtles maintain
feeding "scars" by returning to the same area of sea grass meadow to forage everyday (Bjomdal,
1980; Ogden et al., 1980, 1983). These scars, or grazing plots, are maintained by regular
cropping for several months and the more digestible newer growth (higher in protein, lower in
lignin) is preferred (Bjorndal, 1980). When the cropped grasses show signs of stress (blade
thinning, increased inter-nodal distance), the turtle generally abandons the scar and moves on to
form another. Sea grasses are relatively rare in Barbados. The best developed foraging areas are
found on the south coast and in protected bays on the east coast (section 4.111) (Map 2).
There are no documented incidents of green turtles nesting in Barbados, although a single
hatchling was found in 1990 on land at a site far from the sea. Where it came from and how it
got there are unknown. Adults are occasionally caught opportunistically offshore (usually
speared), but they are rarely seen in coastal waters. In contrast, juveniles (5-18 kg in weight) are
relatively common in coastal waters, especially on the east coast. Some fishermen take them
opportunistically and more rarely set nets for them, although those they catch are often below the
30 lbs (13.6 kg) legal size limit (see section 4.21). Green turtles are long-lived and require 25-35
years to reach sexual maturity in the Caribbean (Frazer and Ladner, 1986). Age structure of the
populations) feeding in the waters of Barbados has not been studied.
2.3 Dermochelvs coriacea, Leatherback Sea Turtle
Leatherbacks are the largest of all the sea turtles (nesting females often weigh 300-500
kg) and they have the most extensive geographic range of any turtle. Aside from their great size,
leatherbacks are easily distinguished because they lack a bony shell. The smooth, black skin is
spotted with white. The carapace is strongly tapered, measures 130-165 cm in length
(straight-line, nuchal notch to posterior tip), and is raised into seven prominent ridges (Figure 1).
Powerful front flippers extend nearly the length of the body. Adults, at least adult females, are
excellent divers, having been recorded at depths exceeding 1000 meters in Caribbean waters
(Eckert et al., 1989). Leatherbacks feed predominately on jellyfish and other soft-bodied prey
(Den Hartog and Van Nierop, 1984; Davenport and Balazs, 1991). Based on offshore studies of
diving by gravid (=egg-bearing) females nesting in St. Croix, Eckert et al. (1989) proposed that
inter-nesting dive behaviour may reflect nocturnal feeding on vertically migrating zooplankton,
chiefly siphonophore and salp colonies.
CEP Technical Report No. 12
Yalimapo-Les Hattes, French Guiana, is the largest nesting colony in the Western
Atlantic and supports an estimated 14,700-15,300 females (Fretey and Girondot, 1989). In
contrast, most Caribbean populations, particularly those associated with islands, are small (<150
females). This is the case in Barbados, where only a few nestings occur each year between April
and June on the remote and high energy Atlantic beaches of the east and southeast coasts (Map
3). Eight nests were reported between 1984-1987 (Horrocks and Willoughby, 1987). Based on
data collected elsewhere in the region, we assume that individual females return on 2-3+ year
intervals and deposit an average of 5-6 clutches/yr, each clutch averaging 80-90 yolked eggs (a
variable number of smaller yolkless eggs are also laid). Nests are made on 9-10 day intervals.
The evidence currently available from tag returns and strandings in the western Atlantic
suggests that adults engage in routine migrations between temperate and tropical waters,
presumably to optimize both foraging and nesting opportunities. This appears to be the case in
Barbados, where the leatherback is not resident but occurs only during the egg-laying season.
Leatherbacks are not fished or killed whilst nesting; they are considered rather unusual and not
very edible. Only the eggs are taken (illegally, see section 4.21). Fishermen have towed large
leatherbacks back to Barbados to show people before returning them to the water, and
newspapers have published photographs of large nesting females. In a very unusual occurrence,
an adult female (149 cm curved carapace length, 109 cm curved width) washed ashore headless
and limbless in early December 1991, apparently butchered at sea. Young juveniles occasionally
strand on the east coast (Horrocks, 1987).
2.4 Eretmochelys imbricata, Hawksbill Sea Turtle
The hawksbill is distinguished by a narrow, pointed beak with which it pries sponges and
other soft-bodied organisms from the reef. The carapace is often posteriorly serrated and
carapace scutes overlap, like shingles on a roof (Figure 1). Adults rarely exceed 80 kg and a
carapace length of about 90 cm (straight-line, nuchal notch to posterior tip). Bright mottled
colouration (brown, orange, gold) is common. Hawksbills have proven difficult animals to study
and very little is known about Caribbean populations in general. Gravid females often nest on
isolated beaches, including those flanked by exposed coral and rock, and routinely retreat into
supralittoral vegetation such as the sea grape tree (Coccoloba uvifera) prior to egg-laying. As a
result, there may be little evidence of the nest aside from a faint asymmetrical crawl (about 0.7 m
wide) leading to and from the ocean.
An island-wide survey by the Barbados Environmental Association in 1987, as well as
reports by the public up to the present, have shown that hawksbills nest primarily on the more
sheltered, more steeply sloping west and south coast beaches (Horrocks and Scott, 1991) (Map
4). An area of relatively concentrated nesting occurs on 1.5 km of the south coast where 5-7
females nest per annum. There are records of hawksbills nesting during all months of the year,
with the exception of February; peak nesting occurs during June-August (Figures 2, 3). Nest
counts indicate that, on average, fewer than 50 females nest in Barbados each year (see sections
4.112, 4.291). Mean clutch size is 139 eggs (n=81 nests), which falls within the range reported
for other Caribbean populations (120-200 eggs: Witzell, 1983; Corliss et al., 1989). At Pasture
Bay, Antigua, inter-nesting intervals average 14-15 days (Corliss et al., 1989); preliminary data
from Barbados indicate likewise.
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
Hawksbills are "spongivores" feeding on reef-associated sponges in the Caribbean
region. Sponges contributed 95.3% of the total dry mass of all food items in digestive tract
samples from 61 animals from seven Caribbean countries (Meylan, 1988). Specific feeding
areas have not been identified in Barbados, but foraging is assumed to be more or less coincident
with the distribution of coral reefs around the island (section 4.111). All size classes 23 cm
straightline carapace length and larger are seen in Barbados' nearshore waters. The turtle fishery
concentrates its efforts within the nesting season (May-October). At this time, entangling nets
(20-30 cm mesh) typically 2.5-3.5 m deep and 20-150 m long are set close to shore where
females are likely to be approaching and leaving beaches. Nets set within 100 yds of shore are
illegal, but enforcement is problematic (sections 4.21, 4.22).
The illegal killing of nesting hawksbills remains a problem, primarily because the penalty
(Bds. $100) is insufficient and enforcement of the present legislation is difficult. In 1987, 22%
of nestings reported by the general public resulted in the female being slaughtered. In addition,
poaching of eggs occurred in approximately 15.2% of all reported nestings. In 1991, Bellairs
Research Institute received information on nesting by a total of fewer than 50 different turtles,
and eight of these animals (>16%) were slaughtered. The habit of nesting on the highly
developed west and south coast beaches has meant that hawksbills are also adversely affected by
coastal development and beach erosion (see section 3.1). Jewelry and other items made from
hawksbill shell are widely available in tourist-oriented shops and there is some export of shell to
Japan (section 3.3).
2.5 Lepidochelvs kempii, Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle
There are no records of Kemp's ridleys foraging or nesting in Barbados, nor would the
species be expected to occur. With the exception of a single recapture from Caribbean
Nicaragua of a "head-started" individual (Manzella et al., 1991), which may have displayed
altered behavior due to having been held captive during its first year (Woody, 1991), Kemp's
ridleys are confined to the Gulf of Mexico and temperate northern Atlantic. Unarguably the
most endangered sea turtle in the world, the total adult population is thought to number no more
than 900 females and an unknown number of males (Ross et al., 1989). Some 42,000 females
were observed nesting in a single day at the primary rookery at Rancho Nuevo in 1947, whereas
200-400 females nest annually today (Richard Byles, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, pers.
comm.). The species nests almost exclusively in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico.
2.6 Lepidochelys olivacea, Olive Ridley Sea Turtle
There are no records of olive ridleys foraging or nesting in Barbados. However,
occasional individuals may be expected in view of the occurrence of this species in Trinidad and
Suriname. In the Western Atlantic, significant levels of nesting appear to occur only in
Suriname, primarily at Eilanti Beach (Schulz, 1975). Olive ridleys nesting in Suriname have
declined considerably in recent years, dropping from about 3,000 nests per year in the late 1960's
to fewer than 500 nests per year today (Fretey, 1990). Diffuse nesting occurs in northwestern
Guyana and in French Guiana (Reichart, 1989).
CEP Technical Report No. 12
III. STRESSES ON SEA TURTLES IN BARBADOS
3.1 Destruction or Modification of Habitat
Beaches on the west and south coasts of Barbados are composed of coralline particles
derived from the reefs offshore and are subject to seasonal erosion and accretion. Erosion
generally occurs between January and March and accretion between April and September on
west coast beaches; and erosion between March and September and accretion between October
and February on south coast beaches. West coast beaches have diminished in size (presently
they are about 15 m wide) at an average of 0.3 m/yr over the period 1954 to 1982. If this rate of
erosion continues, some of these beaches may disappear by the year 2000. The south coast
beaches, with a few notably bad exceptions, have remained fairly stable over this same period.
Their stability may be due in part to the construction of groynes for sand entrapment. The east
coast beaches have remained the most stable over this time period. The sand on these beaches is
primarily siliceous and is derived from land-based sources, but they, too, are subject to erosion
during the time when wave energy is at its highest on this coast (June-September). The erosion
of beaches has serious implications for the future of tourism, and hence the economy of
Barbados, apart from the effect on turtles nesting in Barbados.
The loss of beaches has been attributed in part to natural phenomena such as the rising
sea-level, but a more immediate correlation with disappearing beaches is the extensive beach-
front development and accompanying loss of stabilizing beach vegetation that has occurred over
the past few decades. Seawalls and boulders are often used to protect sea-front properties.
These structures may aggravate beach erosion by deflecting wave energy abruptly downwards,
thereby increasing the scouring effect of waves. The construction of hotels and houses continues
on the few remaining undeveloped beach front areas on the west and south coasts. Hotels
modify nesting areas more seriously than private houses. Ornamental and security lighting,
removal of beach vegetation, and heavy pedestrian use of beaches may discourage turtles from
nesting, as well as increase hatchling mortality and aggravate erosion. Specific measures
designed to mitigate the degradation of nesting beaches are discussed in sections 4.13 and 4.6.
As noted above, the lighting of beaches adjacent to houses and hotels may deter females
from nesting (see also section 4.132). Moreover, several nesting females have been found on
their backs in storm drains or wedged between boulders that have been placed to fortify the
beach. There are now very few undeveloped beach front areas along the west and south coasts
where females can emerge and nest in darkness. When nesting does occur adjacent to hotels and
houses, hatchlings are invariably attracted to lights, and often not found until the next day or
later. Mortality among disorientated hatchlings is high, and those that are found alive are often
too exhausted to be released. Of 27 nests monitored in 1987-88, 14 (55.6%) were affected by
beach lights at hatching, with up to 100% of hatchlings in affected nests orienting inland instead
of toward the sea (section 4.132). In 1990, hatchlings from 83% of 35 monitored nests were
disoriented by lighting. The problem may be worsening due to a generalized increase in security
The health of the west and south coast fringing reefs in terms of coral cover and diversity
and fish abundance and diversity is generally acknowledged to have deteriorated over the past 30
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
years. In order to quantify and monitor the status of these reefs, an extensive data base has
recently been obtained (section 4.11). Reef deterioration is likely to be attributable to poor
nearshore water quality, over-fishing, poor fishing practises (e.g., careless deposition of traps and
pots, illegal dynamiting for fish), and anchor damage. Since hawksbills appear to depend on
sponges and other reef-associated invertebrates for food in the Caribbean, this species is likely to
be adversely affected by the deterioration of coral reefs. In addition, it is the opinion of
knowledgeable residents that sea grass beds, which provide important food for the herbivorous
green turtle, have diminished in size over the past two decades. Degradation of sea grass beds
may be attributable to increased inputs of sediment resulting in clouding of the water and a
reduction in rates of photosynthesis, and increased inputs of herbicides and pesticides via land
run-off (section 4.146).
Nesting and feeding areas on the less developed east coast are not affected as severely as
those on the south and west coasts. Habitat stresses on leatherbacks, which nest primarily on the
east coast and forage in the open ocean, are therefore minimised.
3.2 Disease or Predation
There are few data available to assess whether sea turtles are seriously stressed by disease
or non-human predators in Barbados. In 1980-81, 5-10 juvenile green turtles were caught off the
east coast with tumors over their eyes and on their flippers, indicative of a disease known as
green turtle fibropapilloma. In 1990, 19 of 21 green turtles (weight range 5-18 kg) caught by
two east coast fishermen were afflicted by this disease. The extent to which these tumors affect
the survival of sea turtles in Barbados is not known, but to date the disease has been found only
in green turtles caught on a small rocky outcrop surrounded by sea grasses off Barclays Park.
Green turtles caught at other east coast sites 6-8 km away from this area were not affected
(Gamache and Horrocks, 1991). Green turtle fibropapilloma has been documented extensively
in Florida (Ehrhart, 1991) and has more recently been found in Curacao (Jacobson, 1990),
Venezuela (Guada et al., 1991), and Belize (Karen Eckert, WIDECAST, pers. comm.). The
cause of this debilitating and often fatal disease is unknown.
In addition to disease, depredation is a factor impacting on sea turtle populations. During
the incubation period, eggs attacked by insects in the nest can be subsequently infected with
fungi and bacteria. Vertebrate predators, such as mongooses, are rarely seen on beaches, but on
two occasions at one location mongooses were seen carrying eggs from nests. Both of these
nests had been previously exposed, by poachers in one case and wave action in the other case.
Dogs also sometimes consume turtle eggs (Horrocks and Willoughby, 1987). After hatching,
ghost crabs (Ocypode quadrata) prey on hatchlings as they crawl across the beach and fishes
consume the small turtles once they enter the sea. Since most nesting occurs on the west and
south coasts where nearshore water quality and over-fishing have affected the abundance and
size of potential predators, reef-associated predation of hatchlings may be less serious than that
in the vicinity of healthier reefs elsewhere in the Caribbean. Two young juvenile leatherbacks
(20-30 cm straight-line carapace length) have been found stranded in east coast rock pools since
1984. Each had a recently bitten-off front flipper, suggesting shark attack (Horrocks, 1987). An
adult female with her right front flipper severed off in a manner again suggestive of shark attack
stranded on the same beach (Cattlewash Beach) in February 1989 (Horrocks, 1989).
CEP Technical Report No. 12
Dr. Wayne Hunte of the Bellairs Research Institute reported to the Western Atlantic
Turtle Symposium (Hunte, 1984) that, since fishery catch statistics began to be compiled in the
early 1960's, there had been no specific record-keeping for sea turtles. Turtles were included
under "any other deep water species" on Fishery Division's Recording Forms, suggesting that
their harvest was never a very large enterprise. It is not possible to ascertain what portion of
turtles landed were brought to landing sites, nor what portion of those were recorded; however,
landing data are likely to represent an acceptable subsample of the catch as a whole. Three
points are noteworthy: (1) there was a continuous decline in turtle catch between 1963 (nearly
1300 lbs/landing site) and 1974 (<100 lbs/landing site), whereafter the catch leveled off until
1982 (the last year for which data were presented by Hunte) at 200 lbs/landing site, (2) during
the 1950's the mean number of turtles caught per fishermen per month was in the order of 35,
whereas at the time of Hunte's (1984) writing this had declined to two turtles, and (3) the average
size of turtles caught may also have declined.
Sea turtles are turned whilst nesting, or captured at sea using entangling nets (20-30 cm
mesh) typically 2.5-3.5 m deep and 20-150 m long. Nets are set both at the surface and at the
bottom. Sometimes turtles are speared. Turtle fishing is conducted by only a few fishermen, and
only as a supplement to their other fishing activities (Hunte, 1984). Today, as was true a decade
ago, it is generally acknowledged by fishermen that turtles are less common than in previous
years. The fishery continues to target adult females, and the removal of this age/sex class is
likely to affect the viability of remaining populations most severely. A high percentage of
hawksbills observed nesting by the public is killed annually (16-22%, section 2.4). The female is
either killed prior to laying and the eggs are removed and sold, or the eggs are taken from the
nest. Some turtle poachers will take the female but leave the eggs. This is viewed as a
conservation measure to ensure that there will continue to be sufficient turtles in the future, but
the fact is that harvesting adult turtles, regardless of whether or not the eggs are left behind, is
extremely detrimental to sea turtle populations (see section 4.233).
There are several market points around the island for the handling and sale of turtle meat,
eggs and shell. Because the sale of sea turtle is increasingly covert, the exact number of turtles
sold each year is not known. Approximately half of a turtle's weight is considered to be meat,
which sells at an average of Bds. $2.80 (US $1.40) per lb. An adult turtle also yields a-bout 6-8
lbs of shell which sells at Bds. $15.00 per lb. Eggs sell at Bds. $2.00 per lb. An average adult
hawksbill weighs approximately 160 lbs (average weight of breeding female; Olson, 1985). A
turtle of this size is therefore worth Bds. $224.00 in meat and Bds. $105.00 in shell, making a
total of Bds. $329.00 (Horrocks and Willoughby, 1987). Meat and eggs are sold and consumed
domestically, as is some of the shell. Turtle shell (also known as 'tortoiseshell') articles are
widely available in tourist-orientated shops. Until recently, when department stores were
reminded of the laws protecting small turtles, whole stuffed juveniles were also offered for sale
(Horrocks and Willoughby, 1987). Harvest is continuing, but restaurants have responded to
ongoing public awareness campaigns and have voluntarily removed turtle meat from their menus
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
Persons wishing to export turtle shells or shell products from Barbados require documen-
tation from the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Commerce (Barbados Export Promotion
Corporation) and from the Ministry of Labour, Consumer Affairs and the Environment (Price
Control Division). Permission from the Chief Fisheries Officer is also required. Present policy
does not permit the exportation of turtle shells that originate in Barbados. Japanese Customs
data indicate that 1,930 kg of "bekko" (hawksbill shell scutes) was imported from Barbados
between 1970-1986 (Milliken and Tokunaga, 1987), and that a further 529 kg was imported in
1990 (Canin, 1991). It is unlikely that the population of hawksbills around Barbados could
supply this amount of bekko and the data suggest that Barbados, a non-party to CITES
[Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species], has been named as the port of
export even though the shell did not actually originate from Barbados. This practice is not
uncommon among dealers trying to evade CITES restrictions (Canin, 1991).
The lateral and vertebral scutes from the carapaces of two adult hawksbills caught in
Barbados (82 cm and 95.5 cm curved carapace length) yielded an average of 1.4 kg bekko (J.
Horrocks, unpubl. data). This agrees with the calculated average yield of 1.34 kg bekko per
hawksbill imported into Japan from the Caribbean region (Milliken and Tokunaga, 1987). Based
on the Japanese Customs statistics cited above and the average yield of bekko per hawksbill, we
can estimate that 1,440 turtles were killed between 1970 and 1986, and nearly 400 more in 1990,
in order to supply the bekko exported (or allegedly exported) from Barbados to Japan.
3.4 Inadequate Regulatory Mechanisms
It is illegal to take turtle eggs, to catch or attempt to catch turtles on the beach or within
100 yd (90 m) of the shore, or to buy, sell or possess any turtle of weight less than 30 lbs (13.6
kg) (section 4.21). If found guilty, offenders are punishable by confiscation of the turtle, eggs,
and/or fishing gear and by a fine of Bds. $100 (US $50). The present legislation offers little
deterrent since an "average" female is worth between Bds. $200-300 in meat alone (section 3.3).
Confiscation of gear, such as boats, is a more serious deterrent, but since catching a female on
the beach requires no gear that can be confiscated, the fine of Bds. $100 is totally insufficient to
deter the widespread poaching of nesting females. Recognizing that present legislation is
inadequate, new regulations are proposed in section 4.23. Improving local enforcement efforts is
discussed in sections 4.22 and 4.616.
3.5 Other Natural or Man-made Factors
Four additional sources of mortality should be mentioned. First, the illegal practice of
dynamiting coral reefs for fish (section 4.141) kills an unknown number of turtles each year.
Second, there are increasing reports of turtles being struck by speed boats and jet skis in the
waters off the west and south coasts. Third, compaction of sand over nests, caused by heavy
pedestrian beach use, prevents the emergence of hatchlings, and has caused up to 100% mortality
in some nests (Horrocks and Scott, 1991). Fourth, nest flooding by salt and freshwater is a
serious threat to the successful hatching of eggs in some areas (Horrocks and Willoughby, 1987).
All sea turtle embryos require oxygen during their development and will drown if submerged in
water for an extended period of time.
CEP Technical Report No. 12
IV. SOLUTIONS TO STRESSES ON SEA TURTLES IN BARBADOS
4.1 Manage and Protect Habitat
The protection of important foraging and nesting habitats is crucial to the survival of sea
turtles in Barbados. As is true for many territories in the Caribbean, the decline in sea turtle
stocks in Barbados has coincided with a decline in nearshore fishery resources in general,
including lobster, conch, and sea eggs, and chronic deterioration of marine and coastal
environments. Nearshore fisheries are both easily accessible, and so the first to be overexploited,
and are the most vulnerable to land-based sources of pollution (see sections 4.143, 4.146, 4.147).
Where the pollution of nearshore waters negatively impacts on coral reef health, the
effectiveness of reefs as dissipators of wave energy is diminished and beach erosion can follow.
Therefore, nearshore habitat deterioration will ultimately affect more than just the livelihoods of
fishermen. The island's economy is heavily dependent upon tourism, and the management and
protection of natural resources is beginning to receive high priority (sections 4.611, 4.612). Sea
turtles are fortunate in that they should also benefit from most management and protection plans
designed to mitigate the many threats posed by pollution and general neglect of the marine
4.11 Identify essential habitat
In Barbados, coral reefs and sea grass beds are utilized by sea turtles for foraging and
sandy beaches are utilized for nesting. Primary habitats are poorly known, although some survey
work has been undertaken. There are no marine or terrestrial parks or reserves designated for the
protection of sea turtles. However, turtles and other marine life are protected from pollution and
harvest within the confines of the Barbados Marine Reserve, which extends 2.2 km along the
west coast and 1000 m offshore (Map 5).
4.111 Survey foraging areas
Limited resources dictate that the management and conservation of sea turtles focus first
on those habitats most critical to their survival in Barbados; further study is sorely needed in
order to identify these areas. The Coastal Conservation Study (1984) mapped the locations of
sea grass beds and coral reefs around the west and south beaches of Barbados (Map 2). These
areas all represent potential foraging habitats for green and hawksbill sea turtles. Loggerheads,
which are rare in Barbados, would be expected to forage on crustaceans and mollusks in reef,
rock and other hard bottom areas. Leatherbacks have not been observed to feed in the waters of
Barbados, and apparently remain in deep waters between nestings. This species would be
expected to consume jellyfish and related animals either at the surface or in the water column.
Foraging has been cited as an impetus for deep diving by gravid females in the U. S. Virgin
Islands (Eckert et al., 1989).
Sea grasses are much less extensive around Barbados than around most other Caribbean
islands and their role in the coastal ecosystem of Barbados has not been studied. The largest
grass bed areas are on the south coast from Oistins to Bridgetown, and there are smaller beds in
protected bays on the east coast. Along the western coast, sea grasses are very sparse. Knowled-
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
geable residents report that sea grass beds have diminished in size over the past two decades.
Increased inputs of sediment, resulting in clouding of the water and a reduction in rates of
photosynthesis, and increased inputs of herbicides and pesticides via land runoff are implicated
in sea grass decline. Sea grass beds and coral reefs are both important to green turtles, for whom
they provide food and shelter, respectively. The relative scarcity of green turtles as compared to
hawksbills may perhaps be explained by the lack of sea grass around Barbados.
Barbados is a coral island dotted by fringing reefs and a more or less continuous bank
reef approximately 1 km offshore along the western and southern coasts (Map 2). A principal
component of the diet of hawksbill turtles is reef-encrusting sponge; thus, for hawksbills, reefs
are used not only for shelter but also for food. Over the past twenty years the health of fringing
reefs has declined, due primarily to poor nearshore water quality (see also sections 4.143, 4.146,
4.147). Bellairs Research Institute, under contract from the Coastal Conservation Project Unit of
the Ministry of Labour, Consumer Affairs and the Environment, conducted the first quantitative
benthic survey of the fringing and bank reefs on the south and west coasts of the island
(Oxenford et al., 1989). The survey provided baseline data on the present state of the reefs and
will allow any future changes in reef health to be quantitatively assessed. The survey also
quantified fish abundance and diversity, and coverage of hard coral, soft coral and algae.
Preliminary nearshore surveys (line transects) at water depths of 3-15 m along a northern
section of the west coast of Barbados were conducted by Bellairs Research Institute in
July-August 1991 as part of their sea turtle conservation activities. Juvenile turtles (greens and
hawksbills combined) were encountered at a rate of about 0.4 per km. No adults were observed.
The only information available to date on foraging habitat used by sea turtles is qualitative,
consisting of occasional sightings from the cliffs along the northeast coast and reports from
SCUBA dive operators visiting the same areas repeatedly. A comprehensive long-term survey is
needed in which dive operators, marine research scientists, and fishermen should all be
encouraged to participate. The dive operators have already expressed a willingness to take part
in small-scale surveying of nearshore foraging habitats. This cooperation will be very useful in
assessing the relative importance of various coastal habitats.
4.112 Survey nesting habitat
The Coastal Conservation Project Unit (CCPU) is an agency within the Ministry of
Labour, Consumer Affairs and the Environment. It was established in 1983 to advise on coastal
erosion matters. Its routine activities include monitoring of beaches around the island and the
review of applications made to the Town Planning Department (Ministry of Housing and Lands)
for any proposed coastal development. The CCPU surveys 38 beaches at 3-month intervals, 20
at 2-week intervals, and 17 annually. The resulting profiles allow changes that have taken place
over the past five years to be quantified, and strategies for subsequent beach stabilization
measures to be developed. These data are also very useful for the long-term monitoring of sea
turtle nesting habitat.
The first comprehensive attempt to survey beaches for sea turtle nesting activity was
made in 1987 in preparation for WATS II, the Second Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium
(Horrocks and Willoughby, 1987). It was estimated that from June to August (peak nesting
period) there were about 44 km of suitable nesting beaches around Barbados; where a suitable
CEP Technical Report No. 12
beach was defined as one for which some sand remains exposed at even the highest tides. This
figure exaggerates the number of beaches actually used by turtles for nesting, since it does not
take into account the presence of housing developments nor the amount of vegetation on the
beaches. However, because hawksbills do sometimes nest on highly public beaches, all beaches
that were suitable as defined above were included in the assessment of the total amount of
potential nesting beach available. On the west and south coasts, changes in beach width can be
dramatic between nesting and hatching, although most nesting activity has ceased by the time the
largest swells arrive.
Information on nesting activity in 1987 was collected by two methods. First, as part of a
national information campaign, the public was asked to call a telephone number provided for the
purpose of reporting observations (night or day) of turtle nesting or hatching activity. Second,
volunteers from the Barbados Environmental Association conducted a series of early morning
beach surveys during the peak breeding season (June-August) (section 4.291). Reports of
hawksbill nesting came from most beaches along the west and south coasts of Barbados, as well
as some sheltered east coast beaches (Map 4). Data combined from nesting reports and beach
patrols indicated that 120-362 hawksbill nestings occurred (Horrocks et al., 1987; see also
section 4.291). Gravid hawksbills in Antigua deposit up to six clutches of eggs per season
(Corliss et al., 1989), but the modal (most common) number is five clutches (Jim Richardson,
University of Georgia, pers. comm.). Based on an average of five nests per female, an estimated
24-72 hawksbills nested in Barbados in 1987.
Public awareness and participation in the monitoring of sea turtle nesting activity has
increased substantially since 1987. In 1989, 1990, and 1991, the number of hawksbill nests
reported by residents was 71, 60, and 91, respectively (Figure 3). Analysis of the timing and
placement of these nests suggests that 37, 25, and 47 females nested in Barbados in 1989, 1990,
and 1991, respectively (see also section 4.291). In addition to valuable input from residents, 1.5
km of beach on the south coast from the Barbados Hilton east to Ocean View, where it was
claimed that turtles nested in high numbers, was surveyed each morning throughout three
consecutive nesting seasons (1989-1991) by a volunteer as part of the sea turtle conservation
activities of Bellairs Research Institute. The results of this survey indicated there were 5-7
hawksbills nesting annually on this stretch of beach. Assuming a remigration interval similar to
Antigua (Corliss et al. 1990), an estimated total of only 15 individual females nested on this
beach over the entire three year period. Although these numbers are small, in the context of the
estimated size of the Barbados population, this area warrants protective measures.
It is important for beach surveys to continue in order to further define essential habitat in
Barbados, to monitor trends in nesting numbers, and to minimize threats to nesting turtles and
their eggs. Systematic surveys should be initiated at beaches where hawksbills are known to nest
and where the illegal killing of turtles is reported to occur; e.g., Long Beach on the south coast, a
strip of beach between Heywoods and Six Mens on the northwest coast, and Bath on the east
coast. Early morning surveys could be conducted by volunteers, but this would require
collaboration between several organizations, including Bellairs Research Institute, Barbados
Environmental Association, Barbados National Trust, the secondary schools, etc. Bellairs
Research Institute (Lead Organisation for WIDECAST in Barbados) or Barbados Environmental
Association could co-ordinate activities and provide training for volunteers. Alternatively, inter-
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
ested persons could be employed to monitor specific beaches throughout the nesting season.
Night surveys are preferred in order to deter poaching and to permit the systematic tagging of
Persons employed to monitor beaches at night and tag post-nesting turtles will require
specific technical training. Hawksbills can be very easily deterred from nesting by activity on
the beach, and it is vital that survey activities of preferred nesting beaches do not result in these
habitats being avoided by turtles. Training sessions could be conducted by Bellairs Research
Institute staff. [N.B. An introductory training course in sea turtle biology and management is
available from the Caribbean Conservation Corporation, see section 4.55.] The important
Hilton-to-Ocean View stretch of south coast beach described above is already monitored in the
early morning, but nocturnal surveys would enable tagging to be initiated. Night surveys would
require the assistance and support of enforcement agencies.
4.12 Develop area-specific management plans
Presently, there are no specific management plans for sea turtles in Barbados. Although
there are provisions in current legislation for establishing marine reserves and protected beach
areas, the patchy spatial distribution of hawksbill nesting and the infrequency with which
leatherbacks nest make it difficult to identify and protect the nesting areas of either species.
However, the 1.5 km stretch of south coast beach described in section 4.112 (Barbados Hilton
east to Ocean View) appears to warrant special consideration; a specific management plan is
recommended. This beach is developed for most of its length, but buildings are set back and the
beach remains relatively wide and dark compared to most other south coast beaches. The recent
finding that a minimum of 15 hawksbills nested at this site during three consecutive years
(1989-1991) makes this area important to protect from any future development that will
negatively impact on sea turtle nesting. Hotels adjacent to the beach have already been
cooperative in monitoring nesting activity and attempting to minimize disorientation of
hatchlings from known nests by reducing the amount of light shining in the area of nests.
A disadvantage of designating particular areas for the protection of hawksbills is that this
may be seen as an adequate measure of protection and result in the relaxation of regulations
elsewhere on the island. In some cases, however, such as the site described above, specific
protection is encouraged. In addition, it is likely to become necessary for a beach or section of
beach to be reserved for nest reburial, perhaps through the Marine Areas (Preservation and
Enhancement) Cap 392, 1976 legislation (see section 4.21). Ultimately, the most appropriate
strategy for protecting nesting and feeding areas may lie in a coastal zone management plan
applicable to the whole coast of Barbados. Atherley (1987) suggests an outline for compre-
hensive Coastal Zone Management legislation that would plug legal loopholes and give the
responsibility for enforcement to one independent agency with skills in coastal zone manage-
ment. A project for improving the institutional effectiveness of coastal zone management in
Barbados was conducted in 1991 through the Coastal Conservation Project Unit. The challenge
will be to integrate all the separate agencies into unified enforcement and policy implementation.
Coastal zone management legislation is especially important for the management of the (as yet)
largely undeveloped east coast.
CEP Technical Report No. 12
4.121 Involve local coastal zone authorities
The Coastal Conservation Project Unit (CCPU) is the agency responsible for research and
monitoring of the coastal zone (including beaches and reefs) and acts as an advisory body to the
Town Planning Department, the Minister of Housing and Lands, and the Ministry of Labour,
Consumer Affairs and the Environment. The CCPU has been advised of the ways in which
coastal development affects sea turtles. They have already contributed useful ideas in
discussions about how conflicts between the needs of sea turtles and the economic and social
development needs of Barbados might be resolved. For instance, they have suggested that
endangered nests be relocated to safer beaches or to beach hatcheries, and that beach vegetation
receive similar protection to that given to trees over a certain size under the Trees (Preservation)
At present the coastal zone is managed and legislation is enforced by several different
agencies. The National Conservation Commission (NCC) is responsible for the maintenance of
beaches, and also acts as an advisory body to the Minister of Housing and Lands for decisions
pertaining to the construction of beach recreational facilities, and prevention of beach erosion.
NCC personnel include rangers, wardens, life guards and beach cleaners. Rangers and wardens
have powers to arrest persons committing certain offences under the National Conservation Cap.
393. Beginning in 1991, NCC personnel have been incorporated into the programme (sponsored
by Bellairs Research Institute and the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and
Fisheries) that is presently monitoring sea turtle nesting activity (see also section 4.291).
Agency-specific measures recommended in the area of sea turtle conservation are discussed in
4.122 Develop regulatory guidelines
The following actions are of fundamental importance to the sustained protection of sea
turtle nesting and foraging areas: (1) amend and/or rewrite existing coastal zone laws pending
suggestions arising from the institutional strengthening project, increase penalties to act as a
more serious deterrent, and strengthen enforcement efforts.
In addition to these general improvements, more specific regulations will be needed to
protect particularly important foraging or nesting areas. When areas are defined as especially
critical to remaining sea turtle populations, regulatory guidelines will be essential in order to
establish a framework within which appropriate land use and development (commercial, residen-
tial, recreational) can occur. For instance, development proximal to important nesting beaches
should be required to design beach front lighting in such a way as to preclude or minimize the
disorientation of hatchlings or nesting adults (section 4.132). Construction of solid jetties and
beach walls, and activities such as sand mining (section 4.131) and dredging should be regulated
in such a way as not to result in the erosion of nesting beach habitat. Similarly, boaters should
be prevented from indiscriminate anchoring in reef or sea grass habitats (section 4.147) and from
discarding refuse at sea (section 4.144). These are, in many cases, common sense measures
which will not only defend important habitat for the benefit of endangered and declining sea
turtle populations, but also ensure that sensitive areas are properly safeguarded for future
generations of Barbadians.
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
4.123 Provide for enforcement of guidelines
Enforcement is the responsibility of the Royal Barbados Police Force, the Barbados
Coast Guard, and to a lesser extent the National Conservation Commission (NCC). These
agencies have recently been sensitized to the legislation pertaining to sea turtles. Enforcement of
legislation protecting turtles and their nesting and feeding habitats should be shared between the
police, Coast Guard and, ultimately, trained coastal zone rangers. The National Conservation
Commission already employs personnel with limited powers of arrest for offences committed on
beaches; e.g., selling goods or services on a beach without an appropriate license. Training NCC
personnel to assist the Barbados Police Force to enforce legislation protecting nesting turtles and
their eggs would be very valuable.
4.124 Develop educational materials
Since no specific area or zone for official protection has been designated to date, it is
desirable that citizens throughout the country continue to be made aware of efforts to conserve
turtles and be told what they can do to assist these efforts. A number of pamphlets, books,
posters and car stickers are already in circulation in Barbados, and these are supplemented by
radio and television broadcasts throughout the sea turtle breeding season (section 4.41). In the
past, the Barbados Environmental Association has surveyed the beaches of the whole island once
a month during the breeding season. They are planning to repeat these surveys and to encourage
the public to participate. The Association is seeking funding to produce posters targeting tourists
at the airport and sea port, advising them against buying turtle products (section 4.43). They are
also planning to make a wildlife documentary of Barbados that will include a section on sea
4.13 Prevent or mitigate degradation of nesting beaches
4.131 Sand mining
The chronic removal of sand from nesting beaches accelerates erosion and degrades or
destroys beach vegetation either by removal or by salt water inundation. In severe cases, saline
ponds are formed in unsightly pits left by mining operations. With the loss of sandy beaches, the
coast's potential to support recreation, wildlife (e.g., sea turtles), tourism, and commercial
development is reduced. It is presently illegal to remove sand from the foreshore of Barbados,
and specific areas adjoining the foreshore have been identified for protection against sand mining
(section 4.21). Recently, however, the illegal removal of sand from beaches (e.g., Long Beach,
which is reported to be an important hawksbill nesting area) has been observed. It is the
recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that the law banning the removal of sand from
beaches be enforced diligently.
Beach front lighting is a serious cause of mortality among hawksbill hatchlings, and may
also be a deterrent to nesting females. Sea turtle hatchlings orient to the sea using light; that is,
using the brightness of the open seaward horizon as their primary cue. As many as 100% of the
CEP Technical Report No. 12
hatchlings emerging from nests exposed to beach front lighting have been found orienting away
from the sea and toward the artificial light source (section 3.1). While there are presently no
official regulations with regard to the lighting of beach front properties, several means to
mitigate the problems caused by badly placed lights have been employed. These include the
sending of a form letter to all hotels and restaurants along the west and south coasts early in the
hawksbill breeding season. The letter asks that unnecessary lights be turned off, and that lights
which cannot be turned off for security and safety reasons be checked each morning at dawn for
disorientated hatchlings. This letter has produced very encouraging results. Bellairs Research
Institute staff collect disoriented hatchlings for release at a suitable beach the following night.
Another approach has been to talk directly with architects and their clients about lighting
plans for new developments along the coast (see section 4.621). When alerted to the problems
caused by beach illumination, developers have proved to be quite willing to cooperate even in
the absence of legal requirements to do so. Lighting problems can be minimized by keeping
lights low to the ground, shielding them from shining directly on the beach (this is accomplished
using structural shields or attractive hedges of vegetation), and using low sodium vapor lamps
which emit light in the range of 590 nm, which is known to be far less attractive to hatchlings
than full-spectrum white lights (Raymond, 1984; Witherington, 1990). Although it would be
beneficial, it is very unlikely that any lighting restrictions will be legislated in the foreseeable
future. Thus, voluntary compliance with lighting alternatives and restrictions is seen as crucial to
the reproductive success of sea turtles in Barbados.
4.133 Beach stabilization structures
Beach erosion is a serious problem on the west and south coasts of the island (section
3.1). Many properties built before legislation governing set-back limits were enforced have
erected beach walls, or revetments such as rock-filled wire baskets (gabions) or boulders to
minimize loss of their land to the sea. For much of the coastline, turtles are unable to climb very
far above the normal high water mark due to these coastal protection structures. The annual loss
in beach width of 0.3 m along the west coast means that there is likely to be an increasing need
for coastal protection and armouring in the near future. This will decrease the amount of suitable
nesting habitat left available to hawksbills if the structural solutions to coastal erosion outlined
above (e.g., the placement of boulders) are implemented. Some hotels have also erected groynes
in attempts to increase the width of their beaches. These groynes have altered sand movements
along extensive stretches of the coast and have sometimes resulted in the complete loss of
adjacent beaches at certain times of the year. On some beaches, sea turtle nesting may also have
been adversely affected (see also section 4.135).
The conservation of beaches in Barbados, because of their social and economic
importance as recreational areas, has recently been, and will continue to be, given high priority
by Government. The Coastal Conservation Project Unit (an agency within the Ministry of
Labour, Consumer Affairs and the Environment) has implemented remedial measures suggested
by the Coastal Conservation Study (1984), including the removal of some private, destructive
groynes and the erection of a few reconstructive groynes. It is the recommendation of this
Recovery Action Plan that the use of set-backs (prohibiting the construction of buildings seaward
of the primary dune line or zone of permanent woody vegetation) and native vegetation (to retain
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
and stabilize beach sands) be considered favorable alternatives to armouring the beach. It is
presently illegal to construct any building within 100 ft (30 m) of the high water mark (section
4.134 Beach cleaning equipment and vehicular use of beaches
Mechanized beach cleaning equipment can puncture or crush incubating sea turtle eggs
and its use should be avoided. Rakes which reach deep into the sand and compaction resulting
from tractors and trucks all diminish the hatching success of eggs incubating on the affected
beach. Fortunately, mechanical cleaning of beaches in Barbados is rare, although it does occur
adjacent to Sandy Lane Hotel and on the main Barbados Hilton beach, among others. The
positions of any nests made on these beaches are reported to Bellairs Research Institute and nests
are marked so that beach cleaning machinery does not run over them. The sandy beaches in
front of most hotels are hand-raked by hotel personnel in the early morning. On some other
beaches, cleaning is done by employees of the National Conservation Commission. All beaches
in Barbados are public.
In recent years there has been increasing use of cars and jeeps on beaches. Driving
vehicles on the beach compacts the sand, damages beach vegetation, and can cause or exacerbate
coastal erosion. Erosion exposes eggs in situ to wave action and reduces the amount of beach
available for sea turtles to nest on. Compaction adversely affects sea turtles by crushing eggs
and killing hatchlings. After breaking free from their eggs, full-term hatchlings work together
with their siblings to reach the surface of the beach and then remain just below the sand until
nightfall. When the sun sets and the beach cools, they are cued by the change in temperature to
emerge fully and crawl to the sea. If vehicles run over the unseen hatchlings waiting below the
surface, they can be fatally crushed. In addition, tyre ruts left in the sand can trap hatchlings and
prevent them from reaching the sea (Hosier et al., 1981). Vehicles can also strike and kill
hatchlings crawling to the sea, or frighten females away from nesting.
4.135 Beach rebuilding projects
Beach rebuilding projects are generally closely related to beach stabilization efforts in
Barbados (see section 4.133). Beach rebuilding projects typically involve the redistribution and
trapping of sand from existing beaches, and herein lies the problem. The existence of hotels
more or less continuously along the south coast means that trying to rebuild beaches at one hotel
may affect adjacent beaches and hotels. Solving such beach erosion problems has been the
responsibility of the Coastal Conservation Project Unit (CCPU). For instance, the CCPU
advised that the length of an already existing groyne at Sandhurst on the south coast be reduced
after complaints had been made that the groyne was starving a beach on its down drift side. The
CCPU also advised that a second breakwater be constructed off the Barbados Beach Village on
the west coast, after the hotel became concerned about erosion. This caused considerable
reaction from local residents who were worried about the erosion that had been caused in
1982-1983 by a poorly designed groyne that had been erected privately by the same hotel. The
same beach that was affected in 1982-1983 is well known for hawksbill nesting activity. So far,
there have been no adverse effects on this beach from the new breakwater.
CEP Technical Report No. 12
As an alternative to the use of impermeable structures, the CCPU has been carrying out
the re-vegetation (primarily using native "sea grape", Coccoloba uvifera) of selected beaches.
The use of vegetation such as sea grape for beach stabilization will have an additional benefit for
nesting hawksbills, since they often prefer to nest amidst vegetation (Mortimer, 1982). Adequate
protection of supralittoral vegetation cover on beaches may require additional legislation (section
4.23). Another alternative which has been used to promote the accretion of beach sand is
synthetic seaweed. Synthetic seaweed was installed at Rockley Beach on the south coast on an
experimental basis in 1985. After some initial success and noticeable sand build up, the seaweed
fronds started to sink under the weight of enmeshed sand and beach erosion resumed. There are
no immediate plans to install any more synthetic seaweed in Barbados unless the weighting
problem is resolved.
The reconstruction of beaches elsewhere in the region is sometimes accomplished by
dumping sand dredged from offshore onto a beach or former beach. This causes several
problems for sea turtles, aside from the danger that heavy equipment on the beach and/or in
adjacent waters can obstruct or preclude nesting and the new over-burden can smother
incubating eggs. The most serious concern is that physical and organic characteristics of
offshore sediments generally lead to compaction on the beach. This is well documented in
Florida (USA) and was recently observed in Belize when a "renourishment" effort on Caye
Chapel resulted in a hard compacted sand beach unusable to sea turtles for nesting (Smith et al.,
1992). If this expensive method of reconstruction occurs in Barbados, the new sand should
reflect the original material (e.g., organic content, grain size) and rebuilding should not occur
during the nesting season.
4.14 Prevent or mitigate degradation of marine habitat
4.141 Dynamiting reefs
Dynamiting for fish is illegal (section 4.21), but occurs quite regularly on both fringing
and bank reefs on the west, south and southeast coasts. Dynamiting is an extremely destructive
form of fishing. Many fish killed by dynamiting do not float to the surface and therefore are not
collected. Moreover, the destruction wrought on slow-growing coral reef environments reduces
the fish carrying capacity of the system. Localized reef blasting has been conducted to improve
fishing boat navigation channels at several points along the east coast (Tent Bay, Foul Bay,
Skeete's Bay and Conset Bay). The long term effects of these actions are not fully known, but it
appears that the exposed coral and coral rubble created by the blast are very susceptible to
erosion, the navigation channels are already quite undercut, and the beaches parallel to reef cut
channels may be more prone to erosion.
Because healthy coral reef ecosystems are vital to sustainable fisheries and tourism (both
economically important industries in Barbados), as well as to endangered sea turtles, it is the
recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that laws prohibiting the use of explosives for the
purpose of fish extraction be rigorously enforced. In addition, blasting to improve access for
marine vessels should be closely regulated, if not prohibited, and ongoing studies to evaluate the
long-term effects of past blasting should be conducted. Penalties for fishing with explosives
should be severe and include heavy fines, in addition to the confiscation of vessels and other
equipment in use at the time of violation.
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
4.142 Bleaching reefs (by man)
It is illegal to use bleach or other chemicals for the purpose of fishing in Barbados
(section 4.21) and this practice is not known to occur. However, many houses and hotels on the
west and south coasts have swimming pools with filter backwashes discharging into the coastal
zone. Chlorine is extremely toxic to corals, and local deleterious effects on coral reefs have been
documented. As part of the Coastal Conservation Project Phase II, the sources of near-shore
pollutants, including chlorine from swimming pools, industrial and agricultural pollutants and
sewage are being identified. Because healthy coral reef ecosystems are crucially important to
sustainable fisheries and tourism (both economically important industries in Barbados), as well
as to sea turtles (providing them with food and shelter), it is the recommendation of this
Recovery Action Plan that deleterious discharges of chlorine into the sea be illegal at all times
and under all circumstances. Penalties should be stiff enough to serve as a deterrent to the use or
discharge of chlorine and other toxic chemicals in the marine environment.
4.143 Industrial discharges
Toxic effluents from the rum refinery and heated effluents from the power station pose
serious pollution problems in the area where they are released (Brighton), with decreasing effect
on reef quality with distance from the source (Tomascik and Sander, 1985). The rum refinery
effluent contains yeast, methanol, higher alcohols, aldehydes, ketones and esters and has a high
BOD [biological oxygen demand] loading (Coastal Conservation Project, 1984). The Coastal
Conservation Project (1984) advised that a long term solution may be to link these sources of
nearshore pollution to planned sewage systems. However, sewage systems are not generally
designed to handle these chemicals and another method of disposal may be more effective.
Solutions are sorely needed in this regard, and field studies are necessary to ascertain the extent
to which effluents of other types are degrading the marine environment of Barbados.
4.144 At-sea dumping of garbage
The discharge of sewage, oil, garbage, plastic, toxic materials, discarded fishing gear,
styrofoam and a myriad of other materials into the ocean is a serious regional and global problem
(e.g., O'Hara et al., 1986; CEE, 1987; Laist, 1987). The beaches of the east and southeast coasts
of Barbados are most affected by garbage, sometimes dumped from boats at sea and sometimes
derived from land-based sources. Fishing boats, yachts, cruise-liners, and military vessels dump
their refuse at sea; sometimes the country of origin can be identified by examining the refuse.
The discharge of garbage into the sea is a particular problem for sea turtles; both ingestion of and
entanglement in persistent debris can be fatal to sea turtles.
The Barbados Environmental Association monitors the amount and types of garbage
found on beaches during sea turtle nesting beach surveys and clean-ups, and supplies this
information to the Center for Marine Conservation, an organization in Washington D. C. that is
analyzing the occurrence of marine debris on a regional and global scale. Bellairs Research
Institute has recently started monthly monitoring of garbage on two beaches as part of the marine
debris monitoring programme of IOCARIBE/CEPPOL. Legislation prohibiting pollution of
territorial waters already exists (section 4.21), but more effective enforcement is needed.
CEP Technical Report No. 12
4.145 Oil exploration, production, refining, transport
The National Petroleum Corporation of Barbados, through Exploration Consultants Ltd.
(U. K.), as well as private companies who have bought exploratory concessions from the
Government of Barbados, have conducted preliminary oil exploration off Barbados over the past
few years. The results of seismic soundings and preliminary drilling suggest that there are large
reserves of petroleum (crude oil) within 30 km of the west coast of Barbados. The water there is
at least 1 km deep; thus, production from this reserve will be expensive. However, if oil prices
rise sufficiently, it is expected that large-scale drilling will take place. Sea turtles are potentially
very vulnerable to oil spills. Studies suggest that the turtles have a limited ability to avoid oil
slicks. Physiological experiments indicate that the respiration, skin, some aspects of blood
chemistry and composition, and salt gland function of 15-18 month old loggerheads are seriously
affected by crude oil (Vargo et al., 1986). In both experimental and stranded oil-fouled turtles,
Vargo et al. (1986) observed oil clinging to the nares (=nostrils) and eyes and in the upper
portion of the esophagus; oil was also found in the feces.
Beach tar deposits have been monitored at selected sites around the island as part of the
CARIPOL programme, the marine pollution research and monitoring programme of IOCARIBE
[Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission's Regional Sub-commission for the Caribbean
and Adjacent Regions]. Owing to the current direction, east coast beaches are susceptible to any
current-bourne pollutants. Most of the tar ball deposits on these beaches are thought to be
derived from oil tankers washing out their holds between cargoes. Barbados is in a vulnerable
position in that it lies in the path of tankers passing to the north and south of the island en route
for Trinidad, South America, and the Gulf of Mexico. An additional source of beach tar may be
derived from natural sea floor oil seeps off the east coast of the island.
Relatively small amounts of high grade oil are pumped from land-based wells to the
southeast of Barbados. More refined hydrocarbons such as gasoline, diesel, and kerosene are
pumped ashore from tankers moored off Oistins on the south coast and off Brighton on the west
coast. Legislation exists to protect against fouling of territorial waters and beaches by oil (section
4.21). Nonetheless, every precaution should be taken to protect Barbados from the degradation
and expense of a spill or accident. The vast expense of cleaning up oil spills could probably be
met only through international cooperative agreements and sharing of costs, as encouraged by
the Protocol to the Cartagena Convention [Convention on the Protection and Development of the
Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region] concerning Oil Spills. Barbados ratified
the Cartagena Convention and the Oil Spill Protocol in May 1985 (section 4.32).
4.146 Agricultural runoff and sewage
Run-off and soil erosion are serious problems in Barbados. Most agricultural land is still
under sugar cane cultivation and field peripheries are lined with low hedges of khus khus grass
(Vetiveria zizanioides). The khus khus serves to keep top soil on the field following cane
harvest. With the increasing mechanization of cane harvest, khus khus hedges are being
removed for vehicle access and soil erosion and run-off are worsening. Attempts to diversify
agriculture away from cane cultivation and into vegetable production are underway. However,
since vegetables cannot compete with weeds as well as the taller sugar cane can, farmers resort
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
to large amounts of herbicides. The relative bareness of the soil under vegetable cultivation
compared to that under cane cultivation means that more soil is eroded by wind and rain. In
addition, the soil is heavily fertilized (nitrates and phosphates) to allow several vegetable crops
to be grown on each field per season. The increasingly heavy use of herbicides, pesticides, and
fertilizers increases the pollutant composition of run-off Changing agricultural practises may
also cause an increase in the suspended particulate matter (SPM) load, as well as the amount of
nitrates and phosphates in coastal marine waters.
SPM stresses marine organisms in a number of ways, such as by decreasing light
penetration and reducing the growth rate of corals, by physically smothering corals, and by
impairing fish respiration. Sediment-covered surfaces restrict larval settlement, and large
quantities of SPM settling and decomposing on a reef cause an increase in bacterial activity. In
small quantities, nitrates and phosphates are important nutrients needed for the metabolic
processes of living organisms. In excessive quantities, however, they cause phytoplankton
blooms blocking light and decreasing the rate of coral growth. Sewage is another source of
SPM, and of inorganic nutrients as well. With the exception of one major sewage treatment
system in Bridgetown, sewage is disposed into septic tanks or pits. These are either
'soak-aways', or the contents are piped a short distance offshore and released. A sewage
treatment system will be constructed to serve the needs of the south coast in the near future, and
one is also planned for the west coast. One option is that lightly treated sewage will be deposited
offshore beyond the bank reef and in-to currents which will carry the sewage away from the
island. Such a system is preferable to heavy chemical treatment and deposition closer to shore.
Some of the chemicals used in sewage treatment (e.g., chlorine) may be more lethal to corals
than the sewage itself, and treatment to remove nitrates and phosphates is too costly.
The effects of pesticides and herbicides on nearshore marine communities in Barbados
are unknown, but east coast fishermen partially attribute the decline in sea eggs (Tripnuestes
ventricosus) to the effects of pesticides on nearshore sea grass communities. Attempts to
investigate this problem quantitatively are currently underway. Since a variety of nearshore
marine communities, most notably sea grass beds and coral reefs, are essential for the survival of
depleted sea turtle stocks in Barbados, this information will also be useful in implementing a
national recovery strategy for sea turtles.
Careless anchoring of boats on coral reefs and the dragging of anchors and anchor chains
causes an unquantified amount of damage, particularly to coral reefs situated off the west coast.
Mooring facilities are greatly needed, particularly on the west coast, to accommodate visitation
to coral reef areas. The Barbados Marine Reserve is protected by legislation (section 4.21) that
prohibits damaging anchoring and fishing practices within a small designated area of the west
coast nearshore waters. Elsewhere, inexpensive and effective mooring technologies, such as
those designed by Halas (1985), should be installed in Barbados as soon as possible. Land has
recently been reclaimed and the sea floor dredged for the construction of fish markets at Oistins
and in Bridgetown. The effects of these constructions on current movements are unknown, but a
short-term effect has been a substantial lowering of the clarity of water in the area. Hotels and
houses on the west and south coasts often dispose of kitchen waste water through short drainage
CEP Technical Report No. 12
pipes that discharge directly onto nearshore reefs. Kitchen waste water contains high
concentrations of phosphates which are known to be detrimental to corals. Phosphate-free
detergents are now sold in supermarkets and their use should be encouraged.
4.2 Manage and Protect all Life Stages
4.21 Review existing local laws and regulations
The Fisheries Regulation Act was passed in 1904 to consolidate the Acts of the island
relating to Fisheries under one piece of legislation. The Fisheries Regulation Act presently
encompasses turtle preservation, sea egg preservation, whaling, and the destruction of fish by
explosives and poisons. The Turtle Preservation section of the Act (1904) makes it unlawful (1)
to take or capture, or attempt to take or capture, any turtle or turtle eggs on the beach or within
one hundred yards of the shore; (2) to set or attempt to set any net or seine or other instrument
for the purpose of taking, capturing or fishing for turtles within one hundred yards of the shore;
(3) to buy, sell or expose for sale any turtle of weight less than 30 lbs (13.6 kg). No sea turtle
species is specifically named in the Act, and so it can be used to protect all species. Any person
caught in the process of contravening the above restrictions is liable to a fine of Bds. $100 (US
$50) and to the seizure of any turtles caught and any gear used, including boats. Proposed
changes to the Act to provide for more effective conservation of sea turtle resources are
summarized in section 4.23.
In 1981, a Designation of Restricted Areas Order designated the first restricted area,
known as the Barbados Marine Reserve. The Marine Areas (Preservation and Enhancement)
(Barbados Marine Reserve) Regulations 1981 protect marine life within the Reserve from
pollution and harvest. The Reserve extends 2.2 km along the west coast and 1000 m offshore
(Map 5). It is illegal to fish for turtles of any size within this area. However, the Reserve has not
been demarcated with buoys and so prosecution of persons breaking the law within the Reserve
is unlikely to be successful. There are also many laws and statutory instruments in existence to
assist in the protection of the beaches and territorial waters of Barbados. These have been
compiled into one document, with accompanying suggestions as to how their effectiveness may
be improved (Atherley, 1987; see also section 4.22). Legislation that is most important from the
perspective of preserving sea turtle nesting and feeding grounds is described briefly below.
The National Conservation Commission Cap 393, 1982, confers responsibility for beach
maintenance to the Commission. In this legislation the beach is defined as land adjoining the
foreshore for 33 m landwards. The Town and Country Planning Act Cap 240, 1968, includes
provisions guiding the development of land. Supplementing this Act, a Statutory Instrument
(No. 75, 1972) advises that no gate, fence or wall should be erected closer than 30 ft (9 m) from
high water mark and that no building development should take place closer than 100 ft (30 m) to
the high water mark. The Beach Protection Act Cap 389, 1980, prohibits the removal of beach
sediment from the foreshore with boat or vehicle, and protects certain named areas adjoining the
foreshore. The Land Acquisition Act Cap 228, 1980, authorizes the acquisition of land for
public purposes, such as for public access to beaches.
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
Water quality and reef health
The Marine Areas (Preservation and Enhancement) Cap 392, 1976, makes provisions for
the assignment of certain areas as protected marine reserves. The Barbados Territorial Waters
Act, Cap 386, 1979, defines the limit of territorial waters around Barbados as 12 nautical miles.
It prohibits the unlicensed extraction of living and non-living resources by foreign ships, and
prohibits pollution likely to damage the marine environment and its resources. The Health
Services Act Cap 144, 1969, prohibits the disposal of any filth or offensive matter into a
watercourse or onto a beach. The Oil in Navigable Waters Act Cap 394, 1927, prohibits the
fouling of territorial waters from vessels, land-based activities or apparatus used to transfer oil
from or to any vessel or place. The Petroleum Winning Operations Act Cap 281, 1951, prohibits
the searching for oil on Barbados or within the territorial waters of Barbados without a license or
lease. Licensees are to take all practicable precautions to prevent pollution of coastal waters by
oil, mud or any other fluid which might contaminate the shoreline of Barbados. The Barbados
Water Authority Act Cap 274A, 1980, gives to the Barbados Water Authority the power to
regulate sewage disposal and to determine standards of water quality for waste effluents.
The Marine Boundaries and Jurisdiction Act Cap 387, 1979, identifies marine
conservation officers to be police, Fisheries and Coast Guard personnel, and the Defense Force.
The responsibility for the enforcement of laws relating to Fisheries, territorial waters, beach
mining, etc., is given to the Barbados Coast Guard in The Defense Act Cap 159, 1979.
4.22 Evaluate the effectiveness of law enforcement
This is an area where there is potential for considerable improvement and suggestions are
offered in section 4.616. In general, environmental laws are not well publicized and/or not well
respected by the public. This situation is aggravated by the large size of the area of coastal water
that has to be patrolled by the Coast Guard, making it difficult for them to be effective law
enforcers. With regard to the turtle preservation section of the Fisheries Regulation Act,
effective enforcement has been lacking. The slaughter of turtles is generally considered a petty
offense, and this is reflected in the small penalty for offenders (Bds. $100). As part of the sea
turtle conservation activities of Bellairs Research Institute and the Fisheries Division, the public
has been encouraged every year to call in and report all nestings. Callers reporting poaching
incidents are advised to call the police immediately. The Royal Barbados Police Force are
willing to assist, but can rarely reach the beach in time to catch the poachers.
An additional problem with enforcement of the present turtle legislation is that it may be
difficult to obtain a successful prosecution since poachers must actually be caught in the act of
taking a nesting female, or an animal within 100 yds (92 m) of shore. Usually poachers can
argue that the turtle was merely being dragged ashore from a boat, having been caught legally
offshore. The police are not equipped with boats and so have to depend on the Coast Guard to
check how far offshore nets are set. No prosecutions have ever been made for violating
legislation protecting turtles. The fact that the slaughter of turtles on land is illegal would be
emphasized if perpetrators were successfully convicted. Increasing environmental awareness a-
CEP Technical Report No. 12
mong the judiciary may assist the efforts of the Royal Barbados Police Force to enforce
environmental legislation. The Fisheries Division, recognizing that the turtle preservation
section of the Fisheries Legislation Act is presently both inadequate to deter poaching and
difficult to enforce, is advising prohibition of sea turtle harvesting within the jurisdiction of
Barbados. This proposal is strongly supported by this Recovery Action Plan.
Atherley (1987) identifies problems with the legislation pertaining to the coastal zone as
it presently stands and makes suggestions for improvement. A primary problem is that in the
absence of local statutes governing specifically identified sensitive areas, such as seriously
eroding beaches, Common Law gives owners the right to defend their seaward boundaries and to
claim naturally accreted land as part of their own property. Accretion at one site as a result of
groynes and sea defenses usually means erosion of property elsewhere. Present legislation
contained in the Town Planning Act makes it illegal to erect such structures without permission
from a central advisory body. However, terms such as "foreshore" and "high water mark" need
to be clearly defined and standardized from one law to the next in order for the legislation to be
4.23 Propose new regulations where needed
It is the recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that the present legislation
protecting juvenile and adult sea turtles, as well as sea turtle eggs, should be expanded to a
moratorium with large fines for violators. The present penalties are wholly inadequate. The
fisheries legislation has been re-drafted and is presently being considered by Cabinet. The
proposed legislation will give full protection to all species of sea turtles and their eggs and
prohibit the use of trammel or entangling nets in Barbados waters. Penalties will be increased
substantially over current levels. It is also important for Barbados to accede to CITES in order to
reinforce planned improvements to national legislation with international trade restrictions on sea
turtles and their products. Accession to CITES will restrict the import and export of turtle meat
and products into and out of Barbados (see section 4.31).
Although current regulations are theoretically sufficient to protect sea turtle eggs (harvest
is illegal at all times), the penalty is inadequate to serve as a deterrent. As part of holistic turtle
preservation legislation, there must be an increase in the penalty incurred for egg poaching.
Eggs need protection from beach erosion. In this context, existing coastal zone
legislation concerning beachfront development must be enforced. Many contemporary
development practices serve to exacerbate erosion and promote beach loss (section 3.1). Trees
with a circumference of >1 m measured 1 m from the ground are protected in the Trees
(Preservation) Act 1981, but additional legislation to protect beach vegetation such as sea grape
and crab grass from clearance is necessary. The removal of beach vegetation accelerates erosion
and can precipitate the loss of sea turtle nests.
Eggs need protection from beach compaction. This can be achieved through temporarily
fencing off nests, digging up nests at the end of incubation to release hatchlings, or carefully
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
collecting threatened eggs within 12 hours of being laid and reburying them on quiet beaches. It
is the recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that vehicular use of beaches be carefully
controlled and vehicles be prevented from driving on beaches above the high tide mark. It is also
recommended that new coastal developments be required to install lighting that minimizes beach
illumination in order to reduce hatchling disorientation and mortality (section 4.132).
4.232 Immature turtles
Present legislation protects immature turtles under 30 lbs (13.6 kg) in weight;
nevertheless, until recently there was a relatively thriving business in preserving and selling
juvenile hawksbills smaller than 30 lbs, apparently in ignorance of legislation protecting these
small animals. Informing businesses of the legislation resulted in the removal of preserved
turtles from display and presumably a decline in this form of exploitation. New legislation that
will result in the protection of all size classes of sea turtles (all species) is currently under
consideration by Cabinet, and it is the recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that the
proposed legislation be adopted and implemented as soon as possible.
If there is to be a prolonged period prior to the implementation of a ban on sea turtle
harvest, then interim regulations should be considered. The recommendation of this Recovery
Action Plan is that the first choice for interim regulations be a temporary moratorium on sea
turtle harvest, to remain in effect until a complete ban can be implemented. In the event that a
temporary moratorium is not practicable, then the second choice for interim regulations should
be to restrict the harvest to juvenile green and loggerhead sea turtles, and further confine the take
to turtles with a curved carapace length less than 24 inches (60 cm). The harvest of olive ridley,
hawksbill, and leatherback turtles of any size should be forbidden. Olive ridleys and hawksbills
are seriously depleted in the Western Atlantic and no amount of harvest can be justified; as for
leatherbacks, only breeding adults are likely to be encountered.
Turtles are long-lived and may require decades to reach sexual maturity; thus, older
turtles are progressively more valuable to their populations. Any continued harvest can be
assumed harmful to already depleted sea turtle stocks. The harvest of large juveniles and
breeding adults, in particular, will only accelerate population decline and eventual extinction.
4.233 Nesting females
It is estimated that fewer than 1% of the hatchlings that reach the sea will survive to
adulthood. Therefore, nesting females (the producers of eggs) are extremely valuable to the
maintenance and growth of population size. Frazer (1983) calculated that the reproductive value
(or the relative worth) of a loggerhead sea turtle just reaching reproductive age was
approximately 500 times that of an egg. Adult sea turtles represent decades of selective survival.
Sexual maturity is reached at about 20-40 years of age in the Caribbean, depending on the
species. Because mature adults are so difficult for a population to replace, they should receive
the most stringent protection.
Although already protected under existing legislation whilst on, on the way to and on the
way back from the nesting beach, it is necessary for penalties to be increased (section 4.25) and
CEP Technical Report No. 12
for the legislation to be revised to protect adults and near-adults (>24 in [60 cm] shell length) in
all areas. Measures to protect habitat and nests are very important, but the protection of large
juveniles (nearing breeding age) and adults must have priority. Regardless of the expense and
care taken to protect habitat, eggs, and juvenile life stages, declining populations are not likely to
recover if the larger size classes are not fully protected. It is inevitable that we will lose our sea
turtles in Barbados if we continue to harvest egg-laying females.
4.234 Unprotected species
Species are not named in current turtle legislation, but the emphasis is on the protection
of nesting females and therefore primarily hawksbills. As presently written, the legislation offers
no protection to non-nesting sea turtles of any species >30 lbs in weight. All five sea turtle
species actually or potentially occurring in the waters of Barbados (see section II) should be
named specifically in revised legislation and included in the proposed moratorium.
4.24 Augment existing law enforcement efforts
At present, the general public (from fishermen to tour operators to hoteliers) is effectively
augmenting law enforcement efforts by reporting the poaching of nesting females. The police
are being called upon with increasing frequency to deal with incidents of turtle poaching.
Unfortunately, these incidents are of low priority to an already over-extended police force, and
the Coast Guard is primarily concerned with law-breaking at sea. The suggestion that all aspects
of coastal zone law enforcement be the responsibility of one agency rather than several
(Atherley, 1987) is fully supported by this Recovery Action Plan. It will be necessary for these
personnel to receive specific training in environmental legislation and its enforcement.
4.25 Make fines commensurate with product value
The present fine of Bds. $100 and forfeiture of gear is insufficient to deter violators.
Most sea turtles are caught on the beach, meaning that there is no gear to forfeit. Not only does
the market value of a turtle (on average, Bds. $200-300) substantially exceed the fine, but the
size of the fine is itself a reflection of the lack of seriousness with which the offense is viewed.
It is the recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that the penalty for violation of the
proposed sea turtle legislation be set at a minimum of Bds. $1,000 (US $500).
4.26 Investigate alternative livelihoods
It is unlikely that alternative livelihoods for turtle fishermen will need to be considered in
Barbados. Turtle fishing is conducted by only a few persons, and then only as a supplement to
other fishing activities. Similarly, encountering a nesting turtle is simply a fortuitous bonus that
supplements primary employment. Craftsmen who use turtle products utilize other natural
resources, such as coral and shells, as well. It seems likely that restrictions on the use of local
coral for jewelry-making will also be necessary soon, so local craftsmen will be forced to look
for alternative materials (e.g., seeds and wood).
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
4.27 Determine incidental catch and promote the use of TEDs
There is no local or foreign shrimping around Barbados. Commercial trawling does not
therefore pose a threat to sea turtles locally and there is no reason to promote the use of a
trawl-inserted Turtle Excluder Device (TED). There are presently about six local long-liners
(swordfish and other oceanic fish) in operation, but foreign long-liners also fish illegally in
Barbados' territorial waters. The amount of sea turtle mortality associated with long-lining is
unknown and should be investigated. The capture of leatherback turtles by long-lines has been
documented elsewhere in the Caribbean, such as in the British Virgin Islands (Cambers and
4.28 Supplement reduced populations using management techniques
There are few data as yet to enable the specific costs and benefits of management options
to be evaluated. In general, however, the protection of important nesting and feeding grounds in
conjunction with a ban on harvest should provide a basis for sustained sea turtle recovery in
Barbados. Some specific management practices (e.g., moving nests threatened by the sea or in
danger of being poached, collecting and releasing hatchlings disoriented by beach lighting) are
already in use. Should other efforts be deemed desirable, methodology should follow that
described in the Manual of Sea Turtle Research and Conservation Techniques (Pritchard et al.,
1983). WIDECAST personnel are available to provide advice and assistance in the design and
implementation of specific management techniques. The protection of habitat can also constitute
an important management decision. Solutions to several common habitat threats are provided
under subheadings in sections 4.13 and 4.14. An example of important habitat is the Barbados
Hilton to Ocean View stretch of beach, which is the most important nesting site on the south
coast (section 4.112); a specific turtle management plan is recommended for this site.
4.29 Monitor stocks
The first quantitative estimate of nesting frequency in Barbados was made in 1987. The
heavy pedestrian use of most beaches combined with the relative faintness of hawksbill tracks
made aerial survey techniques inappropriate for west coast and south coast beaches, so members
of the Barbados Environmental Association (BEA) divided themselves into eight groups and
walked around the whole island on three separate occasions (June, July, August). The divisions
were such that the groups could walk their designated route between 0530-0730 hrs, prior to
human activity on beaches. All nests and false crawls were recorded by each group, as was the
position of the nest, evidence of poaching, and any potential threats such as lights, nearby storm
drains, etc. Any nests that were considered to be threatened by erosion, freshwater flooding or
building development were relocated as soon as possible (<2 days) by staff from Bellairs
Research Institute using techniques recommended by Pritchard et al. (1983). Careful movement
of eggs results in hatching success equivalent to eggs in naturally incubated nests.
Between one and three nests were recorded during each of the three 1987 surveys. These
figures were extrapolated to represent the entire three month period, giving an estimate of 90-270
nestings for the peak hawksbill nesting period. Over the same time period, the public reported
CEP Technical Report No. 12
39 nesting activities, indicating that residents were observing 14-43% (39/90 39/270) of the
actual nesting activity. Using public reports for each month, and adjusting each by a factor of
14-43%, the total number of nestings for each month was estimated and, from this, the total
number per year. The estimated number of hawksbill nests in 1987 ranged between 120-362.
Public involvement in monitoring has increased markedly since 1987, with residents reporting
71, 60, and 91 nests in 1989, 1990, and 1991, respectively. Close examination of the dates (eggs
laid fewer than 12 days apart are unlikely to have been laid by the same female) and locations of
these nests suggests that a minimum of 37 individuals nested in 1989, 25 in 1990, and 47 in
1991. Based on five nests per female (per breeding season), an estimated 120-230 nests may
have been made annually between 1989-1991; if so, the public reported roughly one-third of
In addition to valuable monitoring efforts on the part of the general public, an intensive
survey was carried out on 1.5 km of the south coast during 1989-1991 (see also section 4.112).
The number of nests deposited on this beach per year was calculated based on daily early
morning beach censuses. This information was supplemented by reports from hotel nightstaff.
The data indicate that five to seven hawksbills successfully nested on this stretch of beach each
year. Assuming a 2-3 year nesting remigration interval (Antigua: Corliss et al., 1990), an
estimated 15 different females nested over the three year period. The site does, therefore, seem a
good candidate for an intensive tagging study to determine the exact number of nesting females,
as well as their nest site fidelity, nest fate, and inter-nesting and re-migration intervals (section
4.293). Long-term study of this "index beach" is considered vital to any successful effort to
evaluate trends in sea turtle nesting activity in Barbados.
Based on stock monitoring efforts to date, as described above, it is unlikely that the
annual nesting population of hawksbill sea turtles exceeds 50 individuals. The importance of the
national volunteer effort is clear, and continued participation will be encouraged. In addition, a
comprehensive multi-year, island-wide survey should be undertaken as soon as possible in order
to further define essential habitat, monitor trends in nesting numbers and hatch success, identify
significant threats to nesting and hatching sea turtles, and refine estimates of the proportion of
nesting activity actually reported by the public each year (see also section 4.112).
Data on nesting (natural and relocated) and hatching activities are compiled at Bellairs
Research Institute. The fates of most nests are monitored; nest contents are examined after an
incubation period of 60-65 days. This allows an estimate to be made of hatching success in
different months and on different coasts (see Horrocks and Scott, 1991) and gives an indication
of causes of mortality within the nest. If resources become available, a more in-depth study of
the susceptibility of embryos at different ages to various mortality factors in the nest would be
useful. Bellairs Research Institute is alerted to any episodes of hatchling disorientation by
artificial lighting and records the probable cause of mortality in the case of disoriented
hatchlings; e.g., crab depredation, dehydration. A sub-sample of living disoriented hatchlings
from each nest are measured (SCL and CW) before releasing them.
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
4.293 Immature and adult turtles
Monitoring populations of juvenile turtles and non-nesting adults is difficult, yet some
estimation of relative abundance over time is necessary in order to evaluate the success of
conservation measures. Dive operators have expressed interest in collaborating with the tagging
and monitoring of turtles seen regularly at their dive sites. Such cooperation is welcome and is
encouraged. To date, Bellairs Research Institute has tagged 13 adult hawksbills, 40 juvenile
hawksbills, 15 juvenile green turtles, and two juvenile loggerheads. Adults are tagged with
Titanium tags marked "Bellairs, Barbados, Reward". Sub-adults are tagged with monel tags
inscribed with a University of Florida, Gainesville, address; tags were supplied by Dr. Karen A.
Bjorndal, Director of the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research.
One tagged adult female hawksbill re-nested two years after she had been tagged, and
within a few hundred metres of the original nest spot. Several tags have been returned from
turtles netted or speared by Barbados fishermen. One loggerhead tagged and released in
Barbados was recaptured two years later in southwest France and was later released unharmed.
This animal was one of two flown to Barbados after they stranded on a beach in Cornwall, U.K.
No leatherbacks have been tagged.
Knowledge of immature and adult turtle offshore behaviour and habitat use could be
furthered by the initiation of ultra-sonic or VHF-radio tracking of tagged animals. Ultra-sonic
tags are self-identifying, transmitting unique aural codes that can be heard on the same frequency
and thus allowing several animals to be tracked simultaneously. Ultra-sonic tags were used with
success to track the inter-nesting movements of hawksbills nesting on Buck Island off the north
coast of St. Croix, U. S. Virgin Islands, in 1991. In the same study, even greater success was
realized using VHF radio transmitters (Scott Eckert, Hubbs-Sea World Research Inst., pers.
comm.). A programme using either or both of these techniques is recommended for Barbados.
4.3 Encourage and Support International Legislation
If the harvest of all sea turtles is prohibited by national legislation (as is currently under
consideration, see section 4.23), persons catching turtles or offering turtle products for sale can
be prosecuted. In support of these improvements in national legislation, it will be important to
terminate all international sea turtle shell and product trade. The problems created by trade are
illustrated by the fact that while there was a ban on sea egg (Tripnuestes ventricosus) harvest in
Barbados, some supermarkets continued to import sea egg products from Grenada, making it
difficult to enforce the ban. One way to coordinate trade restrictions on sea turtle products is for
Barbados to join the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna
and Flora (CITES), a powerful and effective global trade treaty that has been ratified by 112
countries (WWF, 1992). Discussion is ongoing between the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and
Fisheries, the Ministry of Trade and Commerce, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on acceding
to this Convention. It is the recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that Barbados make
accession to CITES a high priority. Japanese Customs statistics indicate that nearly 2,000
hawksbill turtles have been killed for export from Barbados to Japan since 1970 (section 3.3).
CEP Technical Report No. 12
4.32 Regional cooperation
It is likely that hawksbill turtles move freely among the islands of the Lesser Antilles (as
is known to occur in other sea turtle species), and collaborative conservation efforts by several
different countries will be required to safeguard depleted populations. This may prove to be
difficult since some other countries, such as St. Vincent and the Grenadines, rely relatively
heavily on sea turtle exploitation. Nonetheless, the cooperation of neighboring states is impor-
tant to the success of any sea turtle protection measures instituted in Barbados. One mechanism
for co-operation on a regional scale is the Convention for the Protection and Development of the
Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region (the "Cartagena Convention"). The
Cartagena Convention is coupled with an Action Plan, known as the Action Plan for the Carib-
bean Environment Programme (APCEP). The First Intergovernmental Meeting on APCEP was
convened by UNEP in cooperation with the Economic Commission for Latin America in Monte-
go Bay, Jamaica, in 1981. The representatives of Governments from 22 States in the region,
including Barbados, adopted APCEP at this meeting and established the Caribbean Trust Fund to
support common costs and activities associated with the implementation of the Action Plan.
In March, 1983, a Conference of Plenipotentiaries met in Cartagena, Colombia, to
negotiate what would become known as the Cartagena Convention. Representatives from 16
States participated. The Conference adopted both the Convention and a Protocol concerning co-
operation in combating oil spills in the region. The Convention describes the responsibilities of
Contracting Parties to "prevent, reduce and control" pollution from a variety of sources (i.e., at-
sea dumping of waste, pollution from ships, land-based and airborne sources, and from sea-bed
activities). Article 10 is of special interest to sea turtles in that it addresses the responsibilities of
Contracting Parties to "individually or jointly, take all appropriate measures to protect and
preserve rare or fragile ecosystems, as well as the habitat of depleted, threatened or endangered
species, in the Convention area." Barbados ratified the Cartagena Convention on 28 May 1985.
In January 1990, a Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW)
to the Cartagena Convention was adopted by a Conference of Plenipotentiaries, providing a
mechanism whereby species of wild fauna and flora could be protected on a regional scale. The
landmark Protocol grants explicit protection to species listed in three categories, or annexes.
Annex I includes species of flora exempt from all forms of destruction or disturbance. Annex II
ensures total protection and recovery to listed species of fauna, with minor exceptions.
Specifically, Annex II listing prohibits (a) the taking, possession or killing (including, to the
extent possible, the incidental taking, possession or killing) or commercial trade in such species,
their eggs, parts or products, and (b) to the extent possible, the disturbance of such species,
particularly during periods of breeding, incubation, estivation or migration, as well as other
periods of biological stress. Annex III denotes species in need of "protection and recovery", but
subject to a regulated harvest.
On 11 June 1991, Plenipotentiaries again met in Kingston, Jamaica, to formally adopt the
Annexes. The Conference voted unanimously to include all six species of sea turtle inhabiting
the Wider Caribbean (these are: Caretta caretta, Chelonia mydas, Eretmochelys imbricata,
Dermochelys coriacea, Lepidochelys kempii, L. olivacea) in Annex II (UNEP, 1991; Eckert,
1991). The unanimous vote on this issue is a clear statement on the part of Caribbean govern-
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
ments that the protection of regionally depleted species, including sea turtles, is a priority.
Barbados played an important role in the adoption of the new SPAW Protocol and its Annexes,
having attended both the January 1990 and June 1991 Conferences, but Government has not yet
ratified the Protocol. It is the recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that Barbados ratify
the SPAW Protocol with its Annexes at the earliest possible opportunity.
4.33 Subregional sea turtle management
To establish whether nearby countries share with Barbados a common stock of sea
turtles, especially hawksbill and green turtles, will require a cooperative effort amongst nations
to tag juvenile and adult turtles. The extensive travels of adult green turtles are especially well
known in the Wider Caribbean, in part because of many years of tagging at a large nesting
colony in Tortuguero, Costa Rica (e.g., Carr et al., 1978; Meylan, 1982). It is also known that
juvenile green turtles move from one "developmental habitat" to another, and may travel
thousands of kilometres during the decades) of adolescence. Thus it is clear that no one nation
can effectively manage or conserve green sea turtles. Green turtles, especially adults, are
comparatively rare in Barbados. Nesting has never been documented.
Less is known of the movements of hawksbills, but long-distance tag returns are reported
from the Wider Caribbean. For example, Nietschmann (1981) reported hawksbills tagged in
Nicaragua and recaptured in Jamaica and Panama. Carr and Stancyk (1975) reported hawksbills
tagged in Costa Rica and recaptured in the Miskito Cays of Nicaragua. On 20 July 1990, a
juvenile hawksbill (74 cm SCL) tagged six months before at the Biological Reserve of Atol das
Rocas in Brazil, was captured and killed in Dakar, Senegal. The distance traveled was at least
2,300 miles (Marcovaldi and Filippini, 1991). Relatively recent tagging projects implemented in
Antigua, the U. S. Virgin Islands, and Caribbean Mexico will undoubtedly provide additional
data in the future, as, hopefully, will tag returns from turtles tagged here in Barbados.
A joint hawksbill tagging programme involving at least Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Vincent
and the Grenadines, and Grenada would contribute greatly to our understanding of the stock
structure of hawksbills in the Wider Caribbean, and strengthen conservation efforts in the area.
WIDECAST promotes such cooperative, international approaches to sea turtle conservation, and
would offer technical support to such a project. Cooperative tagging projects are a priority in
Appendix I, "Expansion of the Sea Turtle Project in Barbados". It is also the recommendation of
this Recovery Action Plan that Barbados participate in regional efforts to define sea turtle stocks
using mtDNA or other proven genetic analysis techniques.
With regard to the few seasonally occurring leatherbacks, it is certain that they travel
widely amongst nations. There are several records of leatherbacks tagged on Caribbean beaches
found later in New England (e.g., Pritchard, 1973, 1976; Lambie, 1983; Boulon et al., 1988), and
studies of the rate and composition of barnacle colonization on Caribbean-nesting females
corroborate the notion that these turtles embark from temperate latitudes on their way to tropical
nesting beaches (Eckert and Eckert, 1988). Gravid individuals can be expected to return to
Barbados at intervals of 2-5 years to repeat the nesting procedure, and in the process will pass
through the waters of many nations. Barbados cannot protect its leatherbacks without the
support of all Caribbean nations.
CEP Technical Report No. 12
4.4 Develop Public Education
An information campaign jointly sponsored by Bellairs Research Institute and the
Fisheries Division (Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries) is directed at residents. Turtle
meat has long been a local delicacy, but turtle shell products are not popular locally. The few
restaurants that were still serving turtle meat have responded to the information campaign and
have removed turtle dishes from their menus. The Fisheries Division has produced a poster and
a short television programme (1 minute), and has erected signs at beaches to inform people about
existing legislation. Furthermore, personnel from the Fisheries Division and Bellairs Research
Institute give talks to schools and Government departments involved in management of the
coastal zone; e.g., the National Conservation Commission.
Bellairs Research Institute responds to all public reports with visits, and encourages the
public to become involved in conservation activities. Bellairs personnel have also participated in
radio interviews about sea turtles. Prior to the onset of the breeding season, a letter is sent to all
hotels and restaurants advising them of the legislation and about problems hatchlings may have
with beach illumination. In addition, the Barbados Environmental Association (BEA) has
produced a poster on their turtle monitoring activities that was exhibited during National
Environment Week, and a colourful leaflet providing information on sea turtles that is of interest
to Barbadians and tourists. The BEA is seeking funding to make a 30-minute documentary on
the environment of Barbados that will include footage on turtles. Several years ago a
comprehensive full-colour booklet entitled "The Marine Turtles of Barbados" (Horrocks and
Baulu, 1986) was produced by the Barbados Primate Research Center and Wildlife Reserve.
It is widely known and intuitively obvious that enforcement is impractical, if not
impossible, in the absence of public knowledge of and support for the law(s) being enforced.
This is especially true for user groups such as fishermen. The Fisheries Division has close and
constructive ties with the fishing community, is already actively involved in turtle conservation,
and has played a major role in advising fishermen about existing sea turtle legislation. Copies of
the BEA leaflet (section 4.41) are available at the Fisheries Division and in some fish markets.
Since most turtle shell products are bought by tourists, it is important for tourists to be
advised about the endangered status of sea turtles. Signs specifically targeted at tourists need to
be placed at the airport and sea port, and the role that tourists can play in sea turtle conservation
through refusing to buy goods should be clearly outlined. Tourists should also be made aware
that if the country they are returning to is a signatory of CITES, they can be prosecuted for
importing turtle shell products. More than 100 countries have ratified CITES, including the
USA, Mexico, and virtually all Central American, South American, and western European
countries. Information contained in a BEA leaflet (described above) is also relevant to tourists.
These leaflets are placed in hotels and restaurants at the beginning of the breeding season.
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
4.44 Non-consumptive uses of sea turtles to generate revenue
There is one small "turtle pool" in operation containing six turtles. The turtle display is
aimed primarily at the entertainment and/or education of tourists. Providing that the turtles are
heavier than 30 lbs (13.6 kg), it is not unlawful under the current legislation to keep them in
captivity. If recently proposed legislation comes into effect, however, it will become illegal to
hold sea turtles in captivity. An exemption for a few small captive sea turtles (<30 lbs), properly
maintained, could be considered for educational purposes. Clear sign-boards or other materials
should accompany any sea turtle display so that the public is made more aware of the local and
global plight of sea turtle species. Displays should be designed with the well-being of the
animals receiving foremost consideration.
It is possible that persons presently illegally harvesting sea turtles on the beach could
become involved in revenue-generating non-consumptive use of sea turtles. Specifically, owners
and managers of hotels along the south and west coasts are increasingly aware of the interest
generated by turtles for visitors ('eco-tourism'). Visitors may be prepared to pay for the services
of local 'guides' (perhaps ex-poachers) to supervise Turtle Walks on the beach for hotel guests
during nesting and hatching seasons. A successful hawksbill sea turtle conservation and research
project sponsored by Jumby Bay Resort in Antigua includes turtle watching carefully supervised
by on-site field biologists. This programme has been extremely effective at attracting hotel
guests and in conserving the turtles. Of course, a programme such as this can also discourage
sea turtles from coming ashore; thus, visitors to the beach at night should be properly guided and
should be briefed beforehand about "sea turtle etiquette" (minimal noise and movement, no lights
or camera flashes, etc.).
4.5 Increase Information Exchange
4.51 Marine Turtle Newsletter
The Marine Turtle Newsletter (MTN) is presently received by Bellairs Research Institute,
the Barbados Primate Research Center, the Ministry of Employment, Labour Relations and
Community Development, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, and the Caribbean
Conservation Association headquarters in Barbados. The newsletter is distributed to readers in
more than 100 nations and territories and is a good way to stay informed about sea turtle biology
and conservation around the world. The newsletter is free and is published quarterly in English
and Spanish. It can be requested from: Editors, Marine Turtle Newsletter, Hubbs-Sea World
Research Institute, 1700 South Shores Road, San Diego, California 92109 USA.
4.52 Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium (WATS)
Barbados participated in both Western Atlantic Turtle Symposia (WATS I, Costa Rica,
1983; WATS II, Puerto Rico, 1987) and plans to continue to participate in this important
regional data base. The WATS Manual of Sea Turtle Research and Conservation Techniques
(Pritchard et al., 1983) is used by the nesting beach monitoring programme in Barbados and
updated information presented at WATS II is available to the Fisheries Division, the Town Plan-
ning Unit, the Coastal Conservation Project Unit, and the Barbados Environmental Association.
CEP Technical Report No. 12
The Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Recovery Team and Conservation Network, known as
WIDECAST, consists of a regional team of sea turtle experts which works closely with
in-country coordinators, who in turn enlist the support and participation of citizens in and out of
government who have an interest in sea turtle conservation. The primary project outputs are Sea
Turtle Recovery Action Plans (STRAPs) for each of 39 government regions, including Barbados,
in the Wider Caribbean. Each STRAP is tailored specifically to local circumstances and
provides the following information:
1. The status and distribution of nesting and feeding sea turtles.
2. The major causes of mortality to sea turtles.
3. The effectiveness of existing national and international laws protecting sea
4. The present and historical role of sea turtles in local culture and economy.
5. Local, national and multi-lateral implementing measures for scientifically
sound sea turtle conservation.
The short-term objectives of WIDECAST are to provide Wider Caribbean governments
with updated information on the status of sea turtles in the region, to provide specific
recommendations for the management and recovery of endangered, threatened, and vulnerable
sea turtle stocks, and to assist Wider Caribbean governments in the discharge of their obligations
under the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) in the Wider
Caribbean Region (see section 4.32). The longer-term objectives are to promote a regional
capability to implement scientifically sound sea turtle conservation programmes. Specifically, to
develop and support a technical understanding of sea turtle biology and management among
local individuals and organizations by:
1. Implementing WIDECAST through resident Country Coordinators.
2. Utilizing local network participants to collect information and draft, under
the supervision of regional sea turtle experts, locally appropriate sea turtle
3. Providing or assisting in the development of educational materials (slides,
brochures, posters, pamphlets).
4. Sponsoring or supporting local or sub-regional workshops on sea turtle
biology and management.
5. Assisting governments and non-government groups with the implementation
of effective management and conservation projects for sea turtles.
Beyond supporting the local and national efforts of governments and non-governmental
organizations, WIDECAST works to integrate these efforts into a collective regional response to
a common problem, the disappearance of sea turtles. WIDECAST is supported by the UNEP
Caribbean Environment Programme, as well as by governmental and non-governmental agencies
and groups. The Country Coordinator in Barbados, also a member of the WIDECAST regional
Recovery Team, is Dr. Julia Horrocks of the Department of Biology, University of the West
Indies and Bellairs Research Institute. Bellairs Research Institute is the Lead Organization for
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
WIDECAST in Barbados. The WIDECAST-Barbados network consists of biologists, civil
servants from several different Ministries and agencies, and members of the Barbados Environ-
mental Association (BEA). WIDECAST-Barbados and the BEA support an ongoing programme
to survey sea turtle nesting beaches, foster public awareness of the plight of sea turtles, and
encourage revised legislation to more effectively promote the recovery of local sea turtle stocks.
4.54 IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group
Sea turtle conservation activities in Barbados have received support and encouragement
from Dr. Karen Bjorndal, Chair of the IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group (MTSG). In
addition, an active WIDECAST network has already been identified in Barbados and consists of
biologists and civil servants, most of whom are members of the Barbados Environmental
Association and one of whom (Julia Horrocks) is also a member of the IUCN/SSC MTSG.
4.55 Workshops on research and management
Traveling scholarships or fellowships for individuals involved in turtle conservation
efforts to join established field conservation projects, such as those at Tortuguero (Costa Rica),
Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge (U. S. Virgin Islands), or Jumby Bay (Antigua) for short
periods would be extremely valuable. The Caribbean Conservation Corporation offers annual
training courses at Tortuguero (write: CCC, P. O. Box 2866, Gainesville, FL 32602 USA).
Workshops for sub-regional groups (e.g., small islands with extensive turtle subsistence
problems to overcome, or small islands with extensive tourist-associated problems to overcome)
where practical, inexpensive solutions to problems could be discussed would also be useful.
Members of the BEA are provided information and a slide show by Julia Horrocks (WIDECAST
Team Member) on sea turtle biology and techniques before they begin to survey beaches.
4.56 Exchange of information among local groups
There is already considerable dialogue between governmental and non-governmental
agencies and individuals with environmental concerns in Barbados; many of these working
relationships have been previously elaborated in the text of this document. In terms of turtle
conservation, this has proved an extremely constructive approach and is encouraged to continue.
4.6 Summary Sectorial Recommendations
4.61 Government organizations
4.611 Coastal Conservation Project Unit (CCPU)
The Coastal Conservation Project Unit (CCPU) is the advisory agency to the Minister of
Labour, Consumer Affairs and the Environment, and to the Town Planning Department (TPD) of
the Ministry of Housing and Lands. In order to minimize coastal deterioration (poor near-shore
water quality, reef death, beach erosion), the CCPU monitors environmental changes in the
coastal zone and makes recommendations on the suitability of applications received by the TPD
for construction planned within the zone. The CCPU has been sensitized to the general issues of
CEP Technical Report No. 12
sea turtle conservation. The major role of the CCPU in terms of sea turtle recovery lies in
continuing to monitor the beach and nearshore environment, and in making recommendations on
how these areas can best be conserved. The objectives of the second phase of the Coastal
Conservation Project are to identify major sources of environmental stress on the coastal zone
and to suggest methods of mitigation. An institutional strengthening project will review existing
laws pertaining to the coastal zone and the present infrastructure for coastal zone management.
Information on sea turtle nesting activity at specific locations should be made available
to the CCPU upon request to Bellairs Research Institute, and passed to the Town Planning
Department as part of the recommendations of the CCPU.
Wherever possible, vegetation should be used in preference to boulder placement for
beach stabilization at turtle nesting beaches. Furthermore, the use of vegetation should be
recommended in preference to physical structures in order to delineate seaward boundaries of
properties adjacent to beaches.
4.612 Town Planning Department (TPD)
The Town Planning Department (TPD) has the responsibility of ensuring that the land
resources of Barbados are used efficiently for the wide range of demands made upon them.
Since Barbados is densely populated and also supports a large tourist industry, pressure to build
along the coastal zone is particularly intense. However, it is extremely important that the TPD
take into consideration the long term effects of development on the environment. It was partly
for this advisory function that the CCPU was established in 1983. The TPD takes the advice of
the CCPU into account when deciding whether to grant planning permission for construction in
the coastal zone. Nonetheless, at his discretion, the Minister of Housing and Lands can over-ride
a decision of the TPD, such as when the economic advantages to Barbados of developing a
particular site appear to outweigh potential environmental degradation.
The TPD should take into consideration the level of sea turtle nesting activity at sites
where planning permission is being sought, particularly in regard to the positioning of seaward
boundary walls and fences. If the CCPU has recommended the use of beach vegetation in place
of a seaward boundary wall, this should become a condition of planning permission.
The TPD should advise architects, landscape architects and developers when the
property they are designing/developing is adjacent to a sea turtle nesting beach.
The TPD should consider restricting the types of lights permitted on all new
developments adjacent to beaches along the west, south and east coasts. There is recent evidence
that low pressure sodium (LPS) lighting, emitting light in the range of 590 nm, is less attractive
to sea turtle hatchlings that full spectrum white light (Witherington, 1990).
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
The TPD should grant permission to establish a protected beach hatchery if it becomes
necessary (perhaps at Folkestone Park, St. James). A hatchery would allow threatened sea turtle
nests to be relocated and their progress and hatching success to be closely monitored.
4.613 National Conservation Commission (NCC)
The National Conservation Commission (NCC) has an important role to play in the
recovery plan for sea turtles in Barbados, both indirectly and directly. Employees of the
Commission include beach park rangers and wardens, life guards, beach cleaners and a park
naturalist (Folkestone Park and Marine Museum). Many of these personnel are working on
beaches from early morning, and therefore have the potential to contribute greatly to the
monitoring of sea turtle nesting and hatching activity. NCC employees are also engaged in
"de-bushing" in efforts to beautify and enhance the safety of wastelands.
De-bushing of areas within the coastal zone should be kept to a minimum in order to
reduce soil erosion and the consequent deterioration of nearshore water quality resulting from an
influx of sediment-loaded run-off.
Beach cleaning should be restricted to the raking of dead plant material and garbage,
rather than the removal of living beach vegetation. It may be useful to legally protect beach
vegetation, perhaps under the National Conservation Commission Act. Burning of beach
garbage at numerous points along the East Coast road, followed by the burial of ashes and
non-combustible items, is the method presently used for disposal of raked material. A small
number of sites for the burning of garbage should be designated, and a method devised to
transport garbage to these sites. Widespread burning of garbage on the beach is unsightly,
causes pollution of the sand, kills embryos developing in eggs buried beneath the sand, and may
deter turtles from using affected stretches of beach for nesting.
The participation of the NCC in turtle monitoring activities should be formalized. The
ways in which the NCC staff can assist in turtle monitoring activities could be incorporated into
a short series of talks and slide shows aimed at increasing the awareness of NCC employees
about the beach environment. This series could be presented by the Bellairs Research Institute.
4.614 Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries
The Fisheries Division, a unit within the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, has
as one of its functions to monitor public compliance with the Fisheries Regulation Act of 1904.
The Fisheries Division is aware that the present legislation protecting sea turtles (see section 4.21
for details) is insufficient.
The Fisheries Division should pursue a permanent alteration to the Fisheries Regulation
Act, giving full protection to sea turtles of all size classes and species, and prohibiting the use of
CEP Technical Report No. 12
nets that capture sea turtles. Fines and other penalties (such as the confiscation of equipment and
catch) should be strict enough to act as effective deterrents.
If permanent alteration of the Act is not likely to be legislated within the next 1-2 years,
the Fisheries Division should consider a temporary moratorium on all sea turtle harvesting under
the existing legislation. If a temporary moratorium is not possible, then interim full protection
should be given at least to the larger size classes (see section 4.232).
4.615 Ministry of Trade, Industry and Commerce
A review of the process whereby permits are issued to persons involved in the trade of
turtle shell and turtle products between Barbados and other countries is very desirable.
It is strongly recommended that Barbados become signatory to the Convention of
International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Although trade into and out of Barbados is
not substantial at present, there is growing evidence to suggest that dealers from some countries,
including Japan, wishing to buy large quantities of turtle shell are using non-signatory countries
as ports of export from the Caribbean region. By joining CITES, Barbados could protect itself
against this type of exploitation.
4.616 Royal Barbados Police Force and the Coast Guard
The Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) is a Division within the Ministry of Justice and
Public Safety, and the Coast Guard forms part of the Barbados Defense Force (Defense and
Security Division). To date, there have been no successful prosecutions of persons contravening
legislation protecting turtles. The serious consequences of the illegal slaughter of turtles would
be emphasized if perpetrators were successfully convicted.
Enforcement of environmental legislation including the Fisheries Regulation Act and
other legislation to prevent pollution and destruction of coral reefs, could be improved by
increased linkages between these agencies.
Increased awareness and cooperation could be fostered through a series of talks pre-
sented to the RBPF and the Coast Guard jointly. These talks on environmental legislation could
be given by representatives from Bellairs Research Institute, the Environmental Unit of the Min-
istry of Labour, Consumer Affairs and the Environment, the Fisheries Division, and a lawyer.
4.62 Non-government organizations
4.621 Architects and landscape architects
There are about 30 architects and landscape architects conducting business in Barbados.
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
Architects and landscape architects are encouraged to seek advice from Bellairs
Research Institute on ways to develop an area in such a way as to minimize disturbance to sea
turtles. These professionals should familiarize themselves with environmentally sensitive
development practices on land that is adjacent to beaches.
If development is taking place on a known nesting beach, this should be discussed with
clients. Hotels may want to make sea turtle nesting a feature for their visitors. "Turtle watching"
programmes should be implemented with care, however, in order not to discourage egg-bearing
turtles from coming ashore.
Vegetation boundaries delineating property should be advocated to clients, rather than
the construction of solid structures. The construction of beach walls within 30 feet (9 m) of the
mean high water mark is illegal. Hedges or other vegetation are also recommended as attractive,
natural shields to minimize the amount of light shining on a nesting beach.
Shielded, low intensity, low elevation lights that minimize hatchling disorientation
should be advocated to clients, and/or the installation of timers that switch beach lights off
during peak hatching periods (July-October, 1900-2400 hrs). Full-spectrum lights, especially
high intensity lights (e.g., mercury vapor lamps), should be consistently discouraged. No lights
should be placed between potential nesting sites and the sea. In the absence of legislation,
architects can strongly influence the choice of beach lighting made by their clients.
4.622 Bellairs Research Institute (BRI)
Bellairs Research Institute (BRI) conducts multi-disciplinary research and teaching
programmes on tropical issues. Ongoing research includes pure science programmes in marine
and behavioral ecology, applied projects on fisheries biology and pollution effects on coral
reefs, and environmental assessment and monitoring. BRI is the Lead Organization for
WIDECAST in Barbados.
BRI should continue to act as a clearing house for information provided by the general
public on sea turtle nesting activity in Barbados.
BRI should continue to tag turtles and to provide facilities for holding limited numbers
of turtles for conservation and education purposes.
BRI should take a more active role as an advisory body to the various organizations
referred to in section 4.6.
BRI should continue to collaborate with the Barbados Environmental Association on
activities designed to promote awareness about the need for sea turtle conservation.
CEP Technical Report No. 12
BRI should continue to provide technical support and training for beach surveys.
The BRI should establish and monitor a beach hatchery if it becomes necessary.
The BRI should undertake projects to obtain further information on foraging and
nesting habitats around Barbados, and to determine whether Barbados shares common sea turtle
stocks with other islands.
4.623 Barbados Environmental Association (BEA)
The Barbados Environmental Association (BEA) has played an important role in the
conservation of sea turtles by providing volunteers to survey all the beaches in Barbados for
nesting activity over the last two years. The BEA has also been very active in the distribution of
public awareness materials concerning sea turtles and other aspects of the environment.
The BEA should repeat their monitoring of all beaches in Barbados annually during the
nesting season. This is essential in order to obtain quantitative data on temporal and spatial
differences in nesting frequency island-wide.
The BEA should start a new beach monitoring programme in collaboration with Bellairs
Research Institute, whereby members of the BEA are encouraged to monitor nearby beaches on a
The BEA should continue to make Sea Turtle leaflets and their poster display on the
Turtle Walks available to hotels, schools, and exhibitions.
4.624 Barbados Wildlife Reserve
The Barbados Wildlife Reserve restored and now operates a sea turtle "holding pool" at
Sam Lord's Castle Hotel. The pool contains six turtles (juvenile hawksbills and green turtles and
an adult loggerhead turtle).
The Turtle Pool should contain young juvenile sea turtles only. Young turtles are easier
to feed and care for, and are relatively less valuable to wild populations than adults and
near-adults. Adults currently held captive should be tagged and released back into the sea.
Water quality and temperature in the Pool should be routinely monitored.
Consideration should be given to planting trees to create shade so that water temperature is
maintained at approximately 27-28C even when the water level is low. More rock outcrops
suitable for turtles to take refuge under are recommended.
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
The pool could be made into a more educationally valuable display by placing increased
emphasis on the conservation of endangered sea turtles. This educational effort would
complement the existing booklet on sea turtles produced by the Barbados Wildlife Reserve,
which places heavy emphasis on conservation (Horrocks and Baulu, 1986).
Sam Lord's Castle might consider making the display more accessible to school children
by offering a limited number of free "open days" during the year. Open days could feature short
talks on sea turtles by members of the BEA or Bellairs Research Institute.
V. LITERATURE CITED
Atherley, K. 1987. Review of coastal related legislation in Barbados. Coastal Conservation
Project Unit Report. March, 1987.
Bjorndal, K. A. 1980. Nutrition and grazing behavior of the green turtle, Chelonia mydas.
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Bjorndal, K. A. 1982. The consequences of herbivory for the life history pattern of the Caribbean
green turtle, Chelonia mydas, p. 111-116. In: Biology and Conservation of Sea Turtles (K.
A. Bjorndal, Editor). Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D. C.
Boulon, R. H., K. L. Eckert, and S. A. Eckert. 1988. Dermochelys coriacea (leatherback sea
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Brongersma, L. D. 1972. European Atlantic turtles. Zool. Verh. (Leiden) No. 121.
Cambers, G. and H. Lima. 1990. Leatherback turtles disappearing from the BVI. Marine Turtle
Canin, J. 1991. International trade aspects of the Japanese hawksbill shell ('bekko') industry.
Marine Turtle Newsletter 54:17-21.
Carr, A. and S. Stancyk. 1975. Observations on the ecology and survival outlook of the
hawksbill turtle. Biol. Cons. 8:161-172.
Carr, A., M. Carr, and A. B. Meylan. 1978. The ecology and migrations of sea turtles, 7. The
west Caribbean green turtle colony. Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 162(1):1-46.
CEE. 1987. Plastics in the ocean: more than a litter problem. Center for Environmental
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Coastal Conservation Study. 1984. Diagnostic Survey Report, Vol. 1. Ministry of Housing and
Lands, Government of Barbados/Proctor and Redfern, Toronto.
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Corliss, L. A., J. I. Richardson, C. Ryder, and R. Bell. 1989. The hawksbills of Jumby Bay,
Antigua, West Indies, p.33-35. In: Proceedings of the Ninth Annual Workshop on Sea
Turtle Conservation and Biology (S. A. Eckert, K. L. Eckert, and T. H. Richardson,
Compilers). NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-SEFC-232. U. S. Dept. Commerce.
Corliss, L. A., J. I. Richardson, A. L. Bass, R. Bell, and T. Richardson. 1990. Remigration and
hatch success of the Jumby Bay hawksbills, Antigua, W.I., p.225-227. In: Proceedings of
the Tenth Annual Workshop on Sea Turtle Conservation and Biology (T. H. Richardson,
J. I. Richardson, and M. Donnelly, Compilers). NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-SEFC-278.
U. S. Dept. Commerce.
Davenport, J. and G. H. Balazs. 1991. 'Fiery bodies' -- are pyrosomas an important component of
the diet of leatherback turtles? Brit. Herp. Soc. Bull. 31:33-38.
Den Hartog, J. C. and M. M. van Nierop. 1984. A study of the gut contents of six leathery turtles,
Dermochelys coriacea (Linnaeus) (Reptilia: Testudines: Dermochelyidae) from British
waters and from the Netherlands. Zool. Verh. 209(1984):1-36.
Dodd, C. K., Jr. 1988. Synopsis of the biological data on the loggerhead sea turtle, Caretta
caretta (Linnaeus 1758). U. S. Fish Wildl. Serv., Biological Report 88(14): 1-110.
Eckert, K. L. 1991. Caribbean nations vote to protect sea turtles. Marine Turtle Newsletter 54:
Eckert, K. L. and S. A. Eckert. 1988. Pre-reproductive movements of leatherback sea turtles
(Dermochelys coriacea) nesting in the Caribbean. Copeia 1988:400-406.
Eckert, S. A., K. L. Eckert, P. Ponganis, and G. L. Kooyman. 1989. Diving and foraging
behavior of leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea). Can. J. Zool. 67:2834-2840.
ECNAMP. 1980. Survey of Conservation Priorities in the Lesser Antilles: Barbados Preliminary
Data Atlas. Eastern Caribbean Natural Area Management Program.
Ehrhart, L. M. 1991. Fibropapillomas in green turtles of the Indian River Lagoon, Florida:
distribution over time and area, p.59-61. In: Research Plan for Marine Turtle Fibropap-
illoma (G. Balazs and S. Pooley, Editors). NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-SWFSC-156. U.
S. Dept. Commerce.
Frazer, N. B. 1983. Demography and life history evolution of the Atlantic Loggerhead sea turtle,
Caretta caretta. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Georgia, USA.
Frazer, N. B. and R. C. Ladner. 1986. A growth curve for green sea turtles, Chelonia mydas, in
the U. S. Virgin Islands. Copeia 1986:798-802.
Frazier, J. 1984. Las tortugas marinas en el Oceano Atlantico Sur Occidental. Asoc. Herpetol.
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
Fretey, J. 1990 (Draft). WIDECAST Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan for Suriname. Prepared
under the auspices of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Recovery Team, with support from
the UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme.
Fretey, J. and M. Girondot. 1989. L'activite de ponte de la tortue luth, Dermochelys coriacea
(Vandelli 1761), pendant la saison 1988 en Guyane Francaise. Rev. Ecol. (Terre Vie)
Gamache, N. and J. A. Horrocks. 1991. Fibropapilloma disease in green turtles, Chelonia mydas
around Barbados, West Indies. Paper presented at the Eleventh Annual Workshop on Sea
Turtle Conservation and Biology, February 1991, Jekyll Island, Georgia.
Guada, H. J., P. J. Vemet, M. Santana, A. Santana, and E. Marin de Aguilar. 1991.
Fibropapillomas in green turtle captured off Peninsula de Paraguana, Falcon State,
Venezuela. Marine Turtle Newsletter 52:24.
Halas, J. C. 1985. A unique mooring system for reef management in the Key Largo National
Marine Sanctuary, p.237-242. In: Proc. Fifth International Coral Reef Congress (C.
Gabrie and B. Salvat, Editors). Volume 4. Antenne Museum-Ephe, Moorea, French
Horrocks, J. A. 1987. Leatherbacks in Barbados. Marine Turtle Newsletter 41:7.
Horrocks, J. A. 1989. Leatherback injured off Barbados, West Indies. Marine Turtle Newsletter
Horrocks, J. A. and Baulu, B. 1986. The Marine Turtles of Barbados. Letchworth Press, Ltd.,
Bridgetown, Barbados. 28 p.
Horrocks, J. A. and N. Scott. 1991. Nest site location and nest success in the hawksbill turtle
Eretmochelys imbricata in Barbados, West Indies. Mar. Ecol. Progr. Series 69:1-8.
Horrocks, J. A. and S. Willoughby. 1987. The National Report for the Country of Barbados to
the Second Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium, Puerto Rico, October 1987. (Unpubl.)
Horrocks, J. A., H. A. Oxenford, and S. A. Willoughby. 1987. Reproduction, mortality and
conservation of the hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) in Barbados. Paper
presented at the Proc. Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute, Curacao, November, 1987.
Hosier, P. E., M. Kochhar, and V. Thayer. 1981. Off-road vehicles and pedestrian track effects
on the sea-approach of hatchling loggerhead turtles. Environ. Conserv. 8:158-161.
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Symposium, Costa Rica, July 1983, p.36-40. In: Proceedings of the Western Atlantic
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CEP Technical Report No. 12
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Washington D. C.
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TRAFFIC (JAPAN) for the Center for Environmental Education, Washington D. C.
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Barbados Sea Turtles ..
700 650 600
Puerto Rico Tortola
r Virgin Gorda
SSt. Jon e / Anguilla
St. Toas 4 St. Martin
St. Croix St. Eustatius
NvI00 a & Antigua
v Mare Galante
CARIBBEAN SEA onica
St. Vincent Bareaos
Aruba The Grenaldnes
1 C Orac g Srl Carrfacou J
SOUTH AMERICA Tobago
I I I 1 1 rI
0 50 100 150 200 250 300
Map 1. Barbados is the most easterly island in the Lesser Antilles [source: ECNAMP, 1980].
CEP Technical Report No. 12
Map 2. Locations of sea grass and offshore bank coral reefs around Barbados, West Indies.
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
Map 3. Locations of potential nesting beaches and actual nests for the leatherback sea turtle
(Dermochelys coriacea) in Barbados, West Indies, 1984-1991.
CEP Technical Report No. 12
Map 4. Locations of hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) nests reported by the public
in 1990 (stars) and 1991 (dots) in Barbados.
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
16. PARKS AND
0 1 2 3 4 5
Map 5. The Barbados Marine Reserve includes 2.2 km along the west coast and extends 1000 m
offshore. The Marine Areas (Preservation and Enhancement) (Barbados Marine Reserve)
Regulations 1981 protect marine life within the Reserve from pollution and harvest. It is illegal
to fish for turtles of any size within this area. Map source: modified from ECNAMP, 1980.
CEP Technical Report No. 12
Green turtle (Chelonia mydas)
olive brown shell, often streaked; underside pale
yellow; plates on the shell do not overlap one
another; I pair of large scales between the eyes;
adults 95-125 cm shell length; to 230 kg; rounded.
slighil serratedjaw; feeds on sea grasses
Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
oval shell mottled brown, orange, yellow; plates
on the shell overlap one another and are pointed
postenorly; 2 pair of scales between the eyes;
adults 70-95 cm shell length, to 85 kg; pointed
face and jaw; feeds in coral reefs
- .-- ---
Loggerhead turtle (Carena caretta)
color is red-brown to brown; head wide; plates
on the shell do not overlap one another; oval shell
is often encrusted with barnacles; adults 90-120
cm shell length; to 200 kg; feeds on mollusks and
other invertebrates; very rare
Leatherback turtle Dermuchelvs coriacea)
lacks bony shell; leathery 'shell" is strongly
tapered and is raised into 7 prominent ridges;
black with white or pale spots; adults 140-175
cm "shell length'; 250-500 kg; summer visitor;
deep water, jell, rfih eater; rare
Figure 1. Four species of sea turtle are reported from Barbados. These species are, in decreasing
order of abundance, the hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), the green turtle (Chelonia mydas),
the loggerhead (Caretta caretta), and the leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea).
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
NUMBER OF NESTS
J F M
A M J J A S O N D
Figure 2. The number of hawksbill sea turtle nests laid per month in Barbados, West Indies, as
reported by the general public, 1987-1991. It has been estimated that these data represent
approximately 30% of the actual number of nests laid during this period.
CEP Technical Report No. 12
NUMBER OF NESTS
10 l Iii
S, ;:i-- .
J. ; M J
0' '.: I
SF.M..A M .
J F M A M J
O N D
Figure 3. The number of hawksbill sea turtle nests laid per month in Barbados, West Indies, as
reported by the general public, 1989-1991. Based on the dates and locations of these nests (some
are repeat nestings by the same turtles), the average annual nesting population is not likely to
exceed 50 females.
Barbados Sea Turtles ...
EXPANSION OF THE SEA TURTLE PROJECT IN BARBADOS
Sea turtle conservation activities have been underway in Barbados since 1987. The
activities have to date been implemented and sponsored by Bellairs Research Institute (BRI), and
the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. The Barbados
Environmental Association (BEA) has organised beach surveys and produced posters and
leaflets on sea turtle conservation. Most of the activities are conducted by volunteers trained at
Bellairs Research Institute. An outline of current activities follows:
Monitoring of nesting activity: Reports of nesting by the public and National Conser-
vation Commission beach staff (rangers, life guards) are made to BRI and/or the Fisheries Divi-
sion. Reports are followed up with site visits by BRI staff to confirm nesting activity. The most
important stretch of nesting beach on the south coast (Hilton to Ocean View) is surveyed for
nesting activity each day by a trained volunteer (private citizen).
Tagging of post-nesting females: When public reports are made to BRI whilst nesting is
still in progress, BRI staff go to the beach immediately. Nesting animals are measured and
tagged before they leave the beach. Titanium tags (Stockbrands Company, Australia) marked
with a number and the wording "Bellairs, Barbados, Reward" are used. Tagging training was
originally received at the Caribbean Conservation Corporation's field station at Tortuguero,
Costa Rica. Three BRI staff are currently trained to tag turtles.
Movement of nests endangered by a significant threat: Nests threatened by predation,
beach erosion, storms or compaction are moved to safer locations on the same beach or, rarely,
to styrofoam containers for laboratory hatching.
Monitoring of hatching events: All nests are re-visited by BRI staff 65-70 days after
nesting. Nests are excavated and nest contents examined to assess hatch success and possible
causes of embryo and hatchling mortality. Nests made on brightly-lit beaches are re-visited 57
days after nesting and persons working/living in the immediate area are asked to dim lights and/
or look for disoriented hatchlings. Where disorientation is inevitable and will lead to high
mortality (e.g., nests made too close to brightly-lit highways), the nest is excavated and brought
to the laboratory for hatching. Hatchlings are then returned to the same beach (or nearby beach,
if lighting cannot be switched off) for release. Disoriented hatchlings collected by the
public/NCC wardens during the day following hatching are collected by BRI staff and released
the same night from the natal beach or as near as possible to it. Exhausted or injured animals are
treated (see below).
Strandings and the care of sick/debilitated sea turtles: Strandings of dead or injured sea
turtles are reported to BRI or the Fisheries Division. BRI or Fisheries staff collect the animal
CEP Technical Report No. 12
and take it to BRI. Dead animals are identified to species, measured, and examined for possible
cause of death. Stomach contents and tissue samples are preserved. Injured animals hawksbillss
and green turtles) are usually those that have partially drowned in nets, but human-induced
injuries have also included embedded fish hooks, spear and bullet wounds, and injuries caused
by dynamite blasts and boat propellers. Several leatherbacks have stranded alive with missing
limbs caused by predators, presumably sharks. BRI staff and two veterinary surgeons treat sick
and injured animals. BRI has several seawater tanks suitable for rehabilitation.
Sea turtle data-base: Data derived from the monitoring of sea turtle nesting activity
(e.g., numbers and locations of nests, numbers of poached nests, numbers of disoriented
hatchlings, data from nests excavated after hatchling emergence) and data derived from sea turtle
strandings are compiled and maintained at BRI. Fisheries Division (and other interested
agencies) are provided with data upon request.
Increasing environmental awareness: The frequent visits by BRI staff to beaches result in
lengthy discussions and exchange of information with the person who made the report and other
onlookers. Staff carry copies of the Barbados Environmental Association's leaflet with them and
distribute this information to interested persons. Many people who report a nest also look out for
the nest's safety (from poachers, storms, etc.) during the incubation period, and inform BRI of
any potential problems. BRI and Fisheries personnel give talks on sea turtle biology and
conservation to schools and Government departments, and provide information on sea turtles to
the media. BRI library offers resource material for use by school teachers and students. Other
public service activities, such as requesting beachfront properties to turn off or to redirect lights
away from nesting beaches, are ongoing.
In this section we have outlined six projects that specifically address issues identified in
the Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan (STRAP) for Barbados as priorities for implementation. A
draft budget for these activities is presented in a later section.
1. Produce a video (1/2 hr duration) for reproduction on television to increase public
awareness of contemporary stresses and threats faced by sea turtles around Barba-
dos and the need for sea turtle conservation (see STRAP sections III, 4.124, 4.4).
Responsible agency/group: Barbados Environmental Association and Bellairs
2. Obtain a cellular phone, provide mileage allowance, and employ a research
assistant to enhance response capability of personnel to reach beaches where tur-
tles nest at night. This will reduce depredation of females, increase the number of
females tagged, and enhance ongoing activities (see STRAP sections 4.233,
4.293, 4.33 inter alia). Responsible agency/group: Bellairs Research Institute.
3. Initiate daily surveys of at least two additional important nesting beaches through-
out the annual breeding season to increase our knowledge of the distribution and
abundance of sea turtle nesting and nest fate, including quantifying depredation,
Barbados Sea Turtles ..
poaching, nest site erosion, hatch success, hatchling disorientation, etc. (see
STRAP sections 4.112, 4.291). Responsible agency/group: Bellairs Research In-
stitute and Barbados Environmental Association.
4. Initiate a systematic survey of nearshore marine habitats used or potentially used
by sea turtles and increase the number of non-nesting turtles tagged annually in
order to define important feeding and refuge areas, quantify species diversity,
monitor population trends, and increase our knowledge of the threats to important
foraging and refugia habitats (see STRAP sections 4.111, 4.293). Responsible
agency/group: Bellairs Research Institute and SCUBA dive operators/shops.
5. Initiate a project to track juvenile green and hawksbill turtles using ultra-sonic tel-
emetry in order to investigate the offshore behaviour, movements, residency, and
habitat utilisation of juvenile sea turtles (see STRAP sections 4.11, 4.293).
Responsible agency/group: Bellairs Research Institute.
6. Support/initiate tagging programmes on neighboring islands to investigate
whether Barbados shares sea turtle stocks in common with other countries (see
STRAP sections 4.32, 4.34). Responsible agency/group: Bellairs Research Insti-
tute and the Fisheries Division.
RESULTS AND OUTPUTS
1. Increased knowledge of the most important sea turtle foraging and nesting habi-
tats. This knowledge will enable the development of area-specific management
plans, the designation of protected areas, and the identification of zones where
beachfront lighting and other restrictions may be necessary for the conservation of
endangered sea turtles.
2. Increased awareness of the status of sea turtles among the citizenry and tourists in
Barbados. An increase in public awareness and knowledge will augment ongoing
and planned monitoring programmes, foster support for conservation initiatives,
and will assist relevant agencies in enforcing protective legislation.
3. Increased understanding of the population size and reproductive dynamics of
hawksbills nesting in Barbados. The data collected will enable us to estimate the
number of individual hawksbills nesting per annum, as well as their re-nesting
(intra-annual) and re-migration (inter-annual) intervals.
4. Increased understanding of the local and international movements of sea turtles.
This information will provide a basis from which to determine the extent to which
Barbados shares its sea turtles with neighboring nations, and thus the extent to
which cooperative measures will be needed to ensure the success of local efforts
to enhance the survival of sea turtles in Barbados.
CEP Technical Report No. 12
Funds to support and expand the monitoring programme and information campaign in
Barbados are needed. At present, the monitoring is done on a voluntary basis and Bellairs
Research Institute (BRI) contributes towards costs such as are incurred through transport, the
operation of sea water pumps, etc. BRI and the Fisheries Division (Ministry of Agriculture,
Food and Fisheries) share the costs associated with the information campaign. The table below
summarizes the funding needed to implement the six activities proposed above.
ITEM COST (US $) TOTAL (US $)
Direction, camera work
and equipment rental
10 days @ 200.00/d
15 days @ 10.00/d
10 days @ 30.00/d
D = Donor contribution
B = BRI contribution
Telephone operating costs
Turtle tagging equipment
30 days over 6 mo @ 50.00/d
6 months @ 100.00/mo
2250 km @ 0.50c/km
6 months @ 750.00/mo
6 months @ 300.00/mo
Barbados Sea Turtles ..
COST (US $)
ACTIVITY 2 (cont'd)
TOTAL (US $)
2 sites, 2 persons/site
10 days over 3 mo @ 50.00/d
10 days @ 10.00/day
3 months @ 750.00/mo/person
3 months @ 300.00/mo/site
Programme co-ordinator 15 days @ 50.00/d
Office space 15 days @ 10.00/d
Helicopter 600.00/hr for 8 hr
Camera equipment rental
Film and developing
Ground truth, turtle surveys, tagging:
Boat/boatman, W coast 50.00 day for 30 d
Boat/boatman, S & E coasts 100.00 day for 30 d
SCUBA divers (2) 40.00/dive/person for 60 d
SCUBA tank fills 120 @ 4.00/fill
CEP Technical Report No. 12
COST (US $)
ACTIVITY 4 (cont'd)
TOTAL (US $)
Standard receiver USR-4D
Tracking tags CHP-87
Directional hydrophone DH-2
Lithium cell batteries
Electrical potting resin kits
Freight charges (10%)
Duty charges (20%)
SCUBA divers (2)
Boat and boatman
SCUBA tank fills
10 @ 240.00/tag
10 @ 9.00/battery
10 @ 20.00/kit
40.00/dive/person for 60 d
60 trips @ 25.00/trip
120 @ 4.00/fill
Barbados return ticket to St. Lucia,
Grenada, and St. Vincent
3 days in St. Lucia
6 days in Grenada
6 days in St. Vincent
Barbados Sea Turtles ..
ITEM COST (US $) TOTAL (US $)
ACTIVITY 6 (cont'd)
Tagging equipment 1000.00D
Technical adviser 15 days (@ 50.00/d 750.00B