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WIDECAST Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan for Antigua and Barbuda.
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Title: WIDECAST Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan for Antigua and Barbuda.
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Fuller, John E., Karen L. Eckert, and James I. Richardson.
Publisher: UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme
Place of Publication: Kingston, Jamaica
Publication Date: 1992
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Source Institution: Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Network
Holding Location: WIDECAST
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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System ID: CA03599025:00001

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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Title Page
        Title Page 1
        Title Page 2
    Preface
        Page i
    Acknowledgement
        Page ii
    Table of Contents
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
    List of tables and figures
        Page vi
    Abstract
        Page vii
        Page viii
    Resumen
        Page ix
        Page x
    Resume
        Page xi
        Page xii
    I. Introduction
        Page 1
        Page 2
    II. Status and distribution of sea turtles in Antigua/Barbuda
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
    III. Stresses on sea turtles in Antigua/Barbuda
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
    IV. Solutions to stresses on sea turtles in Antigua/Barbuda
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
    V. Literature cited
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
    Tables and figures
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
    Back Cover
        Page 89
        Page 90
Full Text
S U W W WV w


V 4, Caribbean Environment Programme
%L United Nations Environment Programme
UNEP
lie-- I I I II


Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan
for Antigua and Barbuda


Prepared by:


WIDECAST
Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Recovery
Team and Conservation Network


CEP Technical Report No. 16

. 1992











Caribbean Environment Programme


UNEP United Nations Environment Programme


Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan
for Antigua and Barbuda




John E. Fuller 1
Karen L. Eckert 2
James I. Richardson 3

1 Historical, Conservation and Environmental Commission
2 Executive Directo, WIDECAST
3 Scientific Director, Jumby Bay Hawksbill Turtle Project

Karen L. Eckert, Editor




Prepared by:


E WIDECAST
Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network


CEP Technical Report No. 16


1992











PREFACE


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 damaged 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 fourth in a series of Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plans
prepared by the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Recovery Team and Conservation Network (WIDE-
CAST), 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 man-
agement 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. WIDE-
CAST was founded in 1981 by Monitor International, in response to a recommendation by the
IUCN/CCA Meeting of Non-Governmental Caribbean Organizations on Living Resources
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. 16


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This report would not have been possible without the kind assistance and participation of
many people. Fishermen Lucien Barreto, Edward Barreto, Johnny de Souza, and Vernon Joseph
provided valuable insight and data. Historical information and programme support were sup-
plied by the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, especially Dr. Desmond Nicholson (Director) and
Michele Henry (Director of Exhibits), and by Sarah Fuller. The Environmental Awareness
Group (EAG), especially Veronica Michael (Environmental Education Coordinator), has been
very active in sharing the message of sea turtle conservation in the schools and sponsoring sea
turtle surveys in Antigua. The ongoing support of the Fisheries Department, especially Eustace
Royer (Fisheries Officer), is greatly appreciated. We are also grateful for input from Bruce
Horwith (NGO Programme Director, Island Resources Foundation), Martin Fuess (Museum of
Antigua and Barbuda), and the merchants, divers, and knowledgeable residents who shared their
experiences and ideas about sea turtles and sea turtle conservation with us.

The research biologists who have laboured for seven years to collect detailed information
on the hawksbill turtles nesting at Pasture Bay beach (Jumby Bay Resort, Long Island) deserve
special mention -- Lynn Corliss (1986-1989), Keven Holloman (1987), Cheryl Ryder (1987-
1988), Anna Bass (1989-1990), Carla Melucci (1990), Meg Hoyle and Michelle Zacks (1991),
and Wendi Webber and Ximena Prudencio (1992) -- as do the members and staff of the Jumby
Bay Resort for their continuing support of this internationally important research. Special
recognition goes to Paul Richnow and Karen Tate of the Jumby Bay Resort. A note of apprecia-
tion is extended to Janie Easton (Owner, Galley Boutique, Nelson's Dockyard) for donating her
inventory of tortoiseshell jewelry to the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda for a display on
Endangered Caribbean Sea Turtles. Finally, the WIDECAST Sea Turtle Recovery Team1
provided scientific oversight for the Recovery Plan.









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 WIDECAST has come from Monitor International, The Chelonia In-
stitute, the UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme, and the U. S. National Marine Fisheries
Service. Special appreciation is due Milton Kaufmann (President of Monitor International and
Founder of WIDECAST) and Robert Truland (Trustee, The Chelonia Institute) for their unwav-
ering personal commitment to WIDECAST since its inception more than a decade ago.


Page ii






Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ..


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Preface i
Acknowledgements ii
Table of Contents iii
List of Tables and Figures vi
Abstract (English, Spanish, French vii


I. INTRODUCTION 1

II. STATUS & DISTRIBUTION OF SEA TURTLES IN ANTIGUA/BARBUDA 3

2.1 Caretta caretta, Loggerhead Sea Turtle 4
2.2 Chelonia mydas, Green Sea Turtle 5
2.3 Dermochelys coriacea, Leatherback Sea Turtle 7
2.4 Eretmochelys imbricata, Hawksbill Sea Turtle 9
2.5 Lepidochelys kempii, Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle 10
2.6 Lepidochelys olivacea, Olive Ridley Sea Turtle 11

III. STRESSES ON SEA TURTLES IN ANTIGUA/BARBUDA 11

3.1 Destruction or Modification of Habitat 11
3.2 Disease or Predation 15
3.3 Over-utilization 15
3.4 Inadequate Regulatory Mechanisms 20
3.5 Other Natural or Man-made Factors 22

IV. SOLUTIONS TO STRESSES ON SEA TURTLES IN ANTIGUA/BARBUDA 23

4.1 Manage and Protect Habitat 23
4.11 Identify essential habitat 23
4.111 Survey foraging areas 23
4.112 Survey nesting habitat 24
4.12 Develop area-specific management plans 25
4.121 Involve local coastal zone authorities 27
4.122 Develop regulatory guidelines 27
4.123 Provide for enforcement of guidelines 32
4.124 Develop educational materials for each management area 33
4.13 Prevent or mitigate degradation of nesting beaches 33
4.131 Sand mining 33
4.132 Lights 34
4.133 Beach stabilization structures 36
4.134 Beach cleaning equipment 37
4.135 Beach rebuilding projects 37


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


4.14 Prevent or mitigate degradation of marine habitat 38
4.141 Dynamiting reefs 38
4.142 Chemical fishing 38
4.143 Industrial discharges 38
4.144 At-sea dumping of garbage 39
4.145 Oil exploration, production, refining, transport 40
4.146 Agricultural runoff and sewage 41
4.147 Anchoring and dredging 42

4.2 Manage and Protect All Life Stages 43
4.21 Review existing local laws and regulations 43
4.22 Evaluate the effectiveness of law enforcement 45
4.23 Propose new regulations where needed 46
4.231 Eggs 46
4.232 Immature turtles 46
4.233 Nesting females 48
4.234 Unprotected species 48
4.24 Augment existing law enforcement efforts 48
4.25 Make fines commensurate with product value 49
4.26 Investigate alternative livelihoods for turtle fishermen 49
4.27 Determine incidental catch and promote the use of TEDs 50
4.28 Supplement reduced populations using management techniques 50
4.29 Monitor stocks 51
4.291 Nests 52
4.292 Hatchlings 54
4.293 Immature and adult turtles 54

4.3 Encourage and Support International Cooperation 54
4.31 CITES 55
4.32 Regional treaties 56
4.33 Subregional sea turtle management 57

4.4 Develop Public Education 58
4.41 Residents 58
4.42 Fishermen 59
4.43 Tourists 60
4.44 Non-consumptive uses of sea turtles to generate revenue 60

4.5 Increase Information Exchange 60
4.51 Marine Turtle Newsletter 60
4.52 Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium (WATS) 61
4.53 WIDECAST 61
4.54 IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group 62
4.55 Workshops on research and management 62
4.56 Exchange of information among local groups 62


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ..


4.6 Implement a National Sea Turtle Conservation Programme 63
4.61 Rationale 63
4.62 Goals and objectives 64
4.63 Activities 65
4.64 Budget 69

V. LITERATURE CITED 70


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES

TABLE 1 77
The distribution of sea turtle nesting beaches and beach ownership.


TABLE 2 80
Selected reproductive data for hawksbill sea turtles nesting at Pasture Bay,
Jumby Bay Resort, Long Island, 1987-1992.


FIGURE 1 81
The two island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, West Indies.


FIGURE 2 82
An identification guide to sea turtles in Antigua and Barbuda.


FIGURE 3 83
Known or suspected sea turtle nesting beaches in Antigua.


FIGURE 4 84
Known or suspected sea turtle nesting beaches in Barbuda.


FIGURE 5 85
Important coral reef areas of Antigua.


FIGURE 6 86
Important coral reef areas of Barbuda.


FIGURE 7 87
Existing and proposed Antigua parks and protected areas.


FIGURE 8 88
Existing and proposed Barbuda parks and protected areas.


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


ABSTRACT

The history of commercial and subsistence harvest of sea turtles in Antigua and Barbuda
extends to the pre-Columbian era. A warning that turtles, especially nesting assemblages, were
declining has been sounded in literature dating back nearly twenty years. Some beaches which
once supported nesting do not do so today; many others receive only a few nests per year.
Several fishermen indicated that they no longer hunt turtles on the nesting beaches because the
number of arriving females has declined to the point where the effort is rarely rewarded. A
combination of depleted stocks and meager demand has reduced the number of active turtle
fishermen to 2-3 individuals. The number of turtles landed probably did not exceed 30 per year
in the 1990's, down from many hundreds 50 years ago. While direct harvest may be declining,
incidental catch and opportunistic harvest by spearguns appear to be growing. The theft of eggs
tallies in the several thousands per year. Green (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill (Eretmochelys
imbricata) turtles feed in near shore waters; loggerheads (Caretta caretta) are seen occasionally,
especially in offshore waters. The leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) is a seasonal visitor. All
but the loggerhead nest locally. We estimate fewer than 130 females (combined) nest per year.

This Recovery Action Plan summarizes known information on the status and distribution
of sea turtles and offers a wide variety of solutions to contemporary stresses. Enacting a
moratorium on the harvest of sea turtles and their eggs is an essential first step in a national
commitment to the conservation of these endangered species. Such a moratorium should remain
in effect until such time as there is credible scientific evidence that a sustainable harvest is
possible. Essential habitat must also be protected. Before comprehensive habitat management
plans are developed, priority should be given to surveys designed to identify locally important
nesting and foraging grounds. Top priority is recommended for an island-wide survey of
Barbuda and surveys of three potentially very important hawksbill nesting grounds in Antigua --
Sandy Island, Pearn's Bay beach group, and Mill Reef beach. Index Beaches should be
designated to serve as focal areas for long-term research and monitoring. Consideration should
be given to designating the island of Barbuda a Sea Turtle Refuge. Systematic study of marine
habitat use by sea turtles should also be undertaken as soon as possible.

Local authorities and NGOs should initiate studies designed to contribute to habitat
management plans. Management plans should incorporate solutions to problems including sand
mining, sewage and garbage disposal, artificial lighting, armouring (seawalls, groynes), and the
illegal harvest of turtles and their eggs. Effective solutions are described in this Recovery Action
Plan. At sea, dredging, blasting and anchoring should be prohibited in living reef and sea grass
areas. Pollution from industry, agriculture, oil, and indiscriminate waste disposal should be
regulated and closely monitored in order to minimise the potential for coastal habitat degrada-
tion. Sea turtle habitat usage should be taken into account in any management plans developed
for coastal or marine parks. Monitoring of sea turtle nesting activity should be implemented as
part of the Nelson Dockyard National Park's management authority; a Conservation Warden
should be employed. The creation of a separate Division of Conservation Law Enforcement
would enable Government to more effectively enforce a growing number of important
environmental regulations, including pollution, protected species, mining and minerals, fisheries
and marine resources, boater safety, game and hunting, and coastal zone management.


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


Coastal zone authorities and private citizens should be fully involved in the management
of important nesting and foraging habitats. A mandatory 60-day period should be established for
public review and comment on development projects that affect sea turtle and/or other wildlife
habitat. When areas are defined as important to sea turtles, regulatory guidelines should seek to
establish a framework within which appropriate land use and development can occur. The
Jumby Bay Resort is an excellent example of a planned (and successful) co-existence between
development and sea turtle conservation. Copies of approved Jumby Bay Club guidelines to
safeguard the hawksbill nesting beach at Pasture Bay, Long Island, should be shared with other
beach communities. Educational materials to alert residents and tourists to the plight of
endangered sea turtles and regulations in force to protect them should be developed and widely
distributed. A campaign should be undertaken to alert marine users of the threat to fisheries and
turtles from the indiscriminate disposal of waste at sea. Other threats, such as spearguns and
incidental catch, should be quantified and solutions developed. Mooring systems should be
examined and implemented as a way of preventing damage to sea grass and coral reefs.

A five-year national Sea Turtle Conservation Programme is herein proposed. The goals
of the programme are (1) to obtain comprehensive and accurate data on the distribution of turtle
nesting and foraging habitat and (2) to promote the conservation and recovery of remaining sea
turtle stocks. Activities, including habitat and market surveys, management planning, training,
and environmental education, are fully described in the text. In addition to national efforts to
conserve sea turtles, it is essential that Antigua and Barbuda support international initiatives to
conserve these highly migratory reptiles. In this regard, Antigua and Barbuda is encouraged to
ratify CITES, MARPOL, and the SPAW Protocol to the UNEP Cartagena Convention. In
summary, an integrated approach to the continuing decline of sea turtles is needed, including
strong domestic and regional legislation, habitat protection, population monitoring, and enhanced
public awareness. Sea turtles are long-lived; most do not reach sexual maturity before 25-30
years of age. The extinction of local stocks will be guaranteed if we continue to harvest breed-
ing-age adults and the eggs which are expected to produce the breeders of tomorrow. If we do
not act soon to safeguard the turtles of Antigua and Barbuda, these ancient species will quietly
and permanently disappear.


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


RESUME

La historic del aprovechamiento commercial y para la subsistencia, de las tortugas marinas
en Antigua y Barbuda se remonta a la era precolombina. Una advertencia de que las tortugas,
especialmente los grupos que anidan, estaban disminuyendo existe en la literature desde hace
casi veinte ahos. Algunas playas que contenian nidos ya no los tienen hoy; muchas otras reciben
solamente unos pocos nidos por afio. Various pescadores indicaron que ya no cazan tortugas en
las playas de anidaci6n porque el numero de hembras que Ilega ha bajado a tal punto en que el
esfuerzo, raramente vale la pena. Una combinaci6n de reserves agotadas y escasa demand ha
reducido el numero de pescadores de tortugas activos a 2-3 personas. El numero de tortugas que
anidaron es probable que no excediera los 30 por afio durante los afios 90, un numero que se
redujo de various centenares hace 50 afios. Mientras que el aprovechamiento director puede estar
decayendo, la capture indirecta y el aprovechamiento opurtunista mediante harpones, parece
estar en aumento. El robo de huevos se acerca a los various miles por afio. La tortuga Verde del
Atlantico (Chelonia mdas) y la tortuga Carey (Eretmochelys imbricata) se alimentan en las
aguas cercanas a la costa; las tortugas de Mar (Caretta caretta) se ven ocasionalmente, en
particular en aguas de mar abierto. La tortuga Tora (Dermochelys coriacea) es una visitante de
temporada. Todas, con excepci6n de la tortuga de Mar, anidan localmente. Estimamos que
anidan menos de 130 hembras (combinadas) por afio.

Este Plan de Acci6n resume la informaci6n conocida sobre el estado y la distribuci6n de
las tortugas marinas y ofrece una amplia variedad de soluciones a las sobrecargas actuales.
Decretar una moratoria sobre el aprovechamiento de las tortugas y sus huevos es un primer paso
esencial en un compromise national para la conservaci6n de esta especie en peligro. Tal mora-
toria debe permanecer en efecto hasta el moment en que haya una evidencia cientifica verosimil
que haga possible un aprovechamiento sustentable. Los habitats esenciales tambien deben prote-
gerse. Antes de que se desarrollen planes exhaustivos de ordenaci6n, se debe dar prioridad a es-
tudios disefiados para identificar terrenos de importancia local destinados a la anidaci6n y la ali-
mentaci6n. Se recomienda como de alta prioridad un studio integral de Barbuda y studios de
tres terrenos de importancia latente para la anidaci6n en Antigua -- Sandy Island, el grupo de
playas de Pearn's Bay, y la playa de Mill Reef. Se debiera designer un Indice de Playas como
areas focales para la investigaci6n y el monitoreo a largo plazo. Se debiera considerar la
designaci6n de la isla de Barbuda como Refugio de la Tortuga Marina. Tambien deberia
emprenderse un studio sistematico de los habitats marines utilizados por las tortugas, a la
brevedad possible.

Las autoridades locales y las ONGs deben iniciar studios dirigidos a contribuir a los
planes de ordenaci6n de habitats. Los planes de ordenaci6n deberian incorporar soluciones a
problems que comprenden el minado de las arenas, la eliminaci6n de desechos y de aguas
residuales, la iluminacion artificial, las edificaciones de blindaje como espolones y rompeolas, y
el aprovechamiento illegal de las tortugas y sus huevos. Las soluciones efectivas se described en
este Plan de Acci6n. En el mar, el dragado, las explosions y el anclaje deben prohibirse en los
arrecifes vivos y las areas de pastizales marines. La contaminaci6n procedente de la industrial, la
agriculture, el petr6leo, asi como la eliminaci6n indiscriminada de desechos, debe regulars y
vigilarse atentamente con el objetivo de minimizar la posibilidad de degradaci6n de los habitats
costeros. Al desarrollar planes de ordenaci6n de las costas o los parques marines, debe tomarse


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


en cuenta la utilizaci6n de habitats de las tortugas marinas. El monitoreo de la actividad de ani-
daci6n deberia implementarse como parte de la direcci6n de manejo del parque Nelson Dockyard
Park; se debiera emplear a un Guardia de Conservaci6n. La creaci6n de una Divisi6n de
Observancia Forzosa de las Leyes de la Conservaci6n, permitir al Gobierno poner en vigor con
mayor efectividad, un creciente numero de regulaciones ambientales importantes, que abarcan la
contaminaci6n, las species protegidas, las minas y los minerales, las pesquerias y los recursos
marines, la seguridad de los barcos, la recreaci6n y la caza, y el manejo de las areas costeras.

Las autoridades de las zonas costeras y la ciudadanja en general debieran participar
plenamente en el manejo de habitats de anidaci6n y de alimentaci6n importantes. Debe estable-
cerse un period mandatorio de 60 dias para la revision y el comentario public de proyectos de
desarrollo que afectan los habitats de las tortugas marinas y de otras species silvestres. Cuando
se ha definido una area como de importancia para las tortugas marinas, las directrices regulado-
ras debieran apuntar a establecer un marco de trabajo dentro del cual puede ocurrir el desarrollo
y la utilizaci6n apropiada de terrenos. El complejo turistico Jumby Bay Resort es un ejemplo
excelente de una coexistencia planificada (y positive) entire el desarrollo y la conservaci6n de la
tortuga marina. Las directrices aprobadas del Jumby Bay Club para salvaguardar la playa de ani-
daci6n de la tortuga Carey en Pasture Bay, Long Island, deberian compartirse con otras comu-
nidades similares. Los materials educativos para alertar a residents y turistas sobre la defense
de las tortugas marinas en peligro y los reglamentos en vigor que las protejen, deberian
desarrollarse y distribuirse de manera amplia. Deberia emprenderse una campafia para alertar a
los usuarios marines de la amenaza, sobre pesquerias y tortugas, de la eliminaci6n indiscrim-
inada de desechos en el mar. Otras amenazas, tales como harpones y capture incidental, deberian
cuantificarse y desarrollar soluciones. Los sistemas de fondeo deben examinarse e implementarse
como una forma de prevenir el daho de los pastizales marines y los arrecifes de coral.

Se propone aqui un Programa de Conservaci6n de la Tortuga Marina de cinco afios de
duraci6n. Las metas del program son (1) obtener informaci6n exhaustive y precisa sobre la
distribuci6n de habitats de anidaci6n y de alimentaci6n y (2) fomentar la conservaci6n el la recu-
peraci6n de las reserves de tortugas restantes. Las actividades, que comprenden studios de
mercado y de habitat, planificaci6n del manejo, capacitaci6n, y educaci6n ambiental, se hallan
descritas completamente en el texto. Ademas de los esfuerzos nacionales para conservar las tor-
tugas marinas, es fundamental que Antigua y Barbuda apoye iniciativas intemacionales para
conservar estos reptiles altamente migratorios. A este respect, se anima a Antigua y Barbuda a
ratificar CITES, MARPOL, y el Protocolo de SPAW al Convenio de Cartagena de PNUMA. En
resume, se necesita un enfoque integral al descenso continue en el numero de tortugas marinas,
que comprenda una fuerte legislaci6n national y regional, la protecci6n de los habitats, el
monitoreo de la poblaci6n y un aumento en la concientizaci6n public. Las tortugas marinas son
de larga vida; la mayoria no alcanza la madurez sexual antes de los 25-30 afios. Si continuamos
aprovechando las adults en edad reproductora y los huevos, que se convertiran en las
reproductoras del mariana, estara garantizada la extinci6n de las reserves locales. Si no actuamos
pronto para salvaguardar las tortugas de Antigua y Barbuda, esta especie antiquisima desapare-
cer discreta y permanentemente.


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


RESUME

L'histoire de la capture commercial et de subsistence des tortues de mer a Antigua et
Barbuda remote a l'ere precolombienne. Cela fait vingt ans qu'on tire la sonnette d'alarme dans
la literature sur le fait que le nombre de tortues, surtout les groups en nidation, etaient en
diminution. Certaines plages qui accueillaient autrefois des tortues en nidation ne sont plus aptes
a le faire aujourd'hui tandis que beaucoup d'autres ne recoivent que quelques nids par an. Plu-
sieurs pecheurs ont indique qu'ils ne cherchent plus de tortues sur ces plages en raison du declin
dans le nombre de femelles, ce qui rend cette activity presque derisoire. Le nombre de pecheurs
de tortues s'est reduit a 2 ou 3 en raison d'une combinaison de causes: des stocks limits et une
demand reduite. Le nombre de tortues capturees n'a pas depasse 30 au course des annees 90, un
decline par rapport aux milliers prises il y a 50 ans. Malgre la baisse de la recolte directed, les
captures fortuites opportunistes et aux fusils a harpon semblent 6tre en hausse. Le nombre
d'oeufs voles chaque annee s'eleve a plusieurs milliers par an. La tortue verte (Chelonia mydas)
et la tortue cahouanne (Eretmochelys imbricata) s'alimentent dans les eaux c6tieres tandis que la
tortue a ecailles (Caretta caretta) se remarquent de temps en temps, au large des c6tes. La tortue
cuir (Dermochelys coriacea) est plus saisonniere. Toutes ces tortues, a l'exception de la tortue a
ecaille, font leur nid sur le territoire national mais nous estimons que moins de 130 femelles (des
quatre types de tortues) pondent chaque annee.

Le present Plan d'action de sauvegarde resume les informations connues sur la situation
et la repartition des tortues de mer et offre plusieurs solutions aux pressions actuelles. La mise
en place d'un moratoire sur la peche des tortues de mer et la recolte de leurs oeufs est un premier
pas important vers un engagement national a la preservation de ces especes en danger. Ce
moratoire devrait rester en vigueurjusqu' a ce que la preuve scientifique credible de la possibility
d'une recolte durable soit faite. L'habitat essential devrait 6tre egalement protege. Avant l'ela-
boration de plans de gestion complexes des habitats, la priority devrait 6tre accordee a des etudes
visant a identifier les terrains locaux important pour la ponte et l'alimentation. Une priority
absolue doit 6tre donnee a une etude sur tout le territoire de Barbuda ainsi que sur trois plages
d'Antigua qui sont potentiellement importantes pour la ponte de la tortue cahouanne, a savoir,
Sandy Island, le group des plages de La Baie de Pearn ainsi que la plage Mill Reef. Des plages-
temoins devraient 6tre identifiees pour servir de point de depart a la recherche et a la surveillance
a long terme. On devrait penser a faire de l'ile de Barbuda un Refuge pour les Tortues de Mer.
L'etude systematique de l'utilisation des habitats marines par les tortues de mer devrait 6tre
entreprise le plus t6t possible.

Les autorites locales et les ONG devraient entamer des etudes visant a contribuer a
l'elaboration de plans de gestion pour les habitats. Ces plans devraient comprendre des solutions
a des problems, tels que l'exploitation de sable, l'evacuation des eaux usees et des dechets, la
lumiere artificielle, remparts de protection (digues, brise-lames) ainsi que la capture illegal des
tortues et la recolte de leurs oeufs. Des solutions efficaces sont detaillees dans ce Plan d'action
de sauvegarde. Le dragage, le minage et le mouillage devrait 6tre interdits en mer dans des
zones de coraux vivants et de bancs d'algues. La pollution provenant de l'industrie, de
l'agriculture, du petrole et de l'evacuation sans discretion des dechets devrait 6tre reglementee et
surveillee de pres afin de minimiser les risques pour l'habitat c6tier. L'utilisation des habitats de
la tortue de mer devrait 6tre prise en consideration lors de l'elaboration de plans de gestion pour


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


les parcs c6tiers et marines. La surveillance de la ponte de la tortue de mer devrait faire parties du
mandate de gestion du Parc National Nelson Dockyard et l'on devrait embaucher un responsible
de la conservation. La creation d'une section distinct pour la mise en application de la loi sur la
protection de l'Environnement est necessaire pour faire appliquer un nombre croissant de regles
environnementales y compris la pollution, les especes protegees, l'exploita-tion miniere, les
resources halieutiques et marines, la security des canotiers, la chasse et la gestion des zones
c6tieres.

Les responsables de zones c6tieres aussi bien que les citoyens ordinaires devraient parti-
ciper pleinement a la gestion des habitats qui sont important pour la ponte et l'alimentation.
Une period obligatoire de 60 jours devrait 6tre prevue pour passer en revue et pour faire des
commentaires sur les projects de developpement qui touchent aux habitats des tortues et des autres
especes sauvages. Lorsqu'une zone est designee comme important pour la survive des tortues de
mer, des directives devraient 6tre formulees pour creer un cadre pour l'utilisation et le
developpement appropries du terrain. Le complex hotelier de Jumby Bay est un excellent
example de co-existence planifiee (et reussie) entire le developpement economique et la
protection des tortues de mer. Des exemplaires des directives elaborees par le Club de Jumby
Bay, et qui ont ete approuvees pour la sauvegarde de la plage a Pasture Bay, Long Island, utilisee
pour la ponte par la tortue cahouanne, devrait 6tre adoptee par d'autres communautes vivant pres
des plages. Du materiel educatif publicitaire visant a sensibiliser les residents et les tourists a la
situation des tortues de mer en danger ainsi que des reglements pour les proteger devraient 6tre
elabores et diffuses. On devrait egalement lancer une champagne pour sensibiliser les utilisateurs
de la mer au danger qui se pose aux resources halieutiques et aux tortues par l'evacuation
irraisonnee des dechets en mer. D'autres menaces, telles que la peche au harpon et la capture
opportuniste doivent 6tre evaluees et des solutions adoptees. Des systems d'ancrage devraient
6tre studies et mis en place pour eviter d'endommager les bancs d'algues et les recifs coraliens.

Le present document propose un Programme quinquennal pour la Sauvegarde des tortues
de mer. Ce programme a pour objectifs (1) d'obtenir des donnees completes et exactes sur les
repartitions des lieux ou les tortues pondent et s'alimentent et (2) d'encourager la protection et la
sauvegarde des tortues de mer restantes. Le texte present egalement en detail d'autres activities
telles que des etudes d'habitats et de march, la planification de la gestion, la formation et l'edu-
cation a l'environnement. Antigua et Barbuda doivent non seulement deployer des efforts pour
preserver les tortues de mer mais egalement appuyer les initiatives prises au niveau international
visant a proteger ces reptiles tries migrateurs. A cet regard, il est vivement recommande au pays
de ratifier les Protocoles CITES, MARPOL et SPAW a la Convention de Carthagene du PNUE.
En bref, face au nombre decroissant de tortues de mers, une approche integree est necessaire, y
compris une legislation national et regional solide, la protection des habitats, la surveillance
des populations et une plus grande sensibilisation du public. Les tortues de mer ont une espe-
rance de vie tries elevee; la plupart d'entre elles n'atteignent pas la maturity sexuelle avant l'age de
25 a 30 ans. Une chose est certain: la population locale de tortues sera completement epuisee si
nous continuous de capture celles qui sont a l'age de la reproduction et les oeufs qui contiennent
des futures femelles. Si nous n'agissons pas maintenant pour sauvegarder les tortues d'Antigua et
Barbuda, ces anciennes especes disparaitront pour touj ours.


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


I. INTRODUCTION

Sea turtles are an integral part of the West Indies. They were here for countless centuries
before man set foot on these islands. They were nesting on the beaches of what is now the nation
of Antigua and Barbuda (Figure 1) during the time of the Arawaks and Caribs. The Indians were
most appreciative of the sea turtles, which they perceived as a gift from their gods. Few sea
turtle bones survived the millennia buried in kitchen middens in Antigua and Barbuda, but turtle
idols have been found and pottery shards displaying sea turtle motifs are quite common. There is
also evidence that seamen and fishermen wore turtle motif jewelry, presumably to bestow
swimming prowess like the sea turtles (Desmond Nicholson, Museum of Antigua and Barbuda,
pers. comm., 1992). In neighboring St. Eustatius, a decapitated hawksbill sea turtle (dating
from the period 200 BC 400 AD) was excavated at Golden Rock Airport. The turtle was buried
upside-down and identified based on the presence of sponge spicules found in the stomach
(Versteeg and Effert, 1987; Versteeg, 1990). In general, eastern Caribbean kitchen middens
show that early inhabitants depended mostly on reef fishes, but that diet was supplemented by
sea turtles.

Many references to turtles appear in the works of missionaries sent out from Europe to
spread the word of God amongst the newly discovered peoples of the Eastern Caribbean. Father
Breton's French-Carib dictionary (1665) tells us that the Island Caribs used sea turtle oil medi-
cinally. Turtle shell was kararu-ora, and used for making fish hooks. The Indians caught turtles
by spearing them at night with a hard wooden pole tied with a rope. As soon as the shell was
seen glistening in the moonlight, the paddle man was directed and a strike made. One method of
capturing turtles alive was by slipping a noose over the flippers of a mating individual at the
surface (Price, 1966). The Indians loved to watch the female lay her eggs, but afterwards would
overturn and butcher her. Sometimes turtles were kept alive in corrals (tona ita, literally "water
gardens") to be used in trade with the Europeans, in exchange for steel axes, bill hooks, cloth,
beads and the like. From those prehistoric days, and throughout all of the rich chapters of
Caribbean history, the sea turtle was an inseparable part of life in Antigua and Barbuda and
elsewhere.

In the mid-nineteenth century, Lanaghan (1844) wrote that Testudo mydas, archaic for
Chelonia mydas (green sea turtle), frequented the bays of Antigua. "The female is so very pro-
lific, that she sometimes lays 1000 eggs, which are hatched by the sun, in about 25 days [N.B.
modern research has shown that incubation generally lasts 55-70 days]. The merits of this am-
phibious animal are too well known to descant upon. The shell is very hard and strong, and it
will carry as much as 700 or 800 lbs. upon its back. One was captured in these seas a few years
ago which measured six feet across the back, and the shell formed a good boat for a boy to sail
about the harbour in." A footnote reminds the reader that "it was the shell of a turtle which
served that great monarch, Henry IV of France, for a cradle." Lanaghan continued, "Several very
excellent kinds of fish, the produce both of sea and fresh water, and shell-fish, allure the eye of
the epicure; and last, not least, the delicious turtle, which at certain seasons is vended weekly at
9d. sterling per pound! with all its rich green fat, its white and yellow eggs! What would a city
alderman say to this? would not his imagination revel in all the delights of calipash and calipee,
and real turtle soup? not made of beef and calf s head, with a few pieces of turtle floating in it .
.We are very soon to have the steam ships running, or rather galloping, between England and


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


these islands; and I really think it would well repay that very honourable body the "lord mayor,
the sheriffs, and aldermen of London," to take a trip, if it was only to partake of turtle in
perfection, and quaff a glass of Madeira beneath this burning sun."

Having stopped in Antigua to visit friends during the course of his Caribbean voyage in
the 1880's, Paton (1901) wrote of sea turtle cuisine with similar rapture. "In these islands of
iguana, groo-groo worms, edible apes and crapauderies, the foreign diner-out had best take
whatever is set before him, asking no questions, as did I, in thankfulness of heart. There was one
royal dish of which we had all seen many weak imitations and mock suggestions -- we were all
familiar with it, just as the untraveled art amateur knows his old masters from having seen more
or less clever copies and reproductions by various cheap and unsatisfying processes -- a giant
dish of green-turtle fins and fat, with an abundance of delicate morsels all floating in the
wonderful sauce, composing the like of which was never yet -- no, nor never will be -- furnished
forth within a thousand miles of Guildhall. This dish, fit to set before the Lord Mayor, was
served liberally with little ceremony; in fact, with no more pomp and circumstance than would
have attended its coming had it been an Irish stew or a dish of Boston beans. Moreover, I
noticed that our hostess passed it by, saying she preferred mutton. Verily green turtles, like
prophets, are not without honor save in their own country." A century later, the very last words
(circa 1982) of the last town crier in downtown St. John's were ...

"Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! Get your fresh green turtle!
One dollar and fifty a pound.
Number four stall at the public market."

The town crier is now gone. The sea turtle may be next to go, if comprehensive conservation
measures are not taken immediately.

Comparatively few turtles remain in Antigua and Barbuda today, certainly only a fraction
of the numbers in years gone by. Rebel (1974) and Cato et al. (1978) both concluded that local
sea turtle populations were declining steadily. Illegal harvest during the closed season and
ineffective law enforcement were implicated as causal factors. Markets in recent decades have
been both domestic and foreign; export destinations have included other eastern Caribbean
islands and Japan (section 3.3). Catch records have never been kept, but the annual harvest over
the last two decades has sometimes reached several hundred and some estimate several thousand
animals. Turtles have traditionally been netted or taken from the nesting beaches, but increasing-
ly they are speared by fishermen seeking lobster, reef fish and conch. Today the harvest probab-
ly does not exceed 50 turtles. Only 2-3 fishermen depend to any significant extent on income
derived from the harvest. Several thousand eggs are collected each year, a situation which has
no doubt contributed meaningfully to the present endangered status of local populations. Inci-
dental take, particularly on longlines, appears to be a growing problem throughout the eastern
Caribbean, and this is true in Antigua and Barbuda as well.

New threats to sea turtle survival seem to arise daily, the inevitable fallout of technology
and an increasing human population. Nesting beaches are being consumed for development.
Remote reefs and feeding areas are now within easy reach of modem power boats, spear guns,
and SCUBA tanks. Eager tourists, unaware that they are part of the problem, purchase polished


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


carapaces and tortoiseshell jewelry for souvenirs of their visit. Unless action is taken very soon,
the last remaining sea turtles may vanish from Antiguan beaches, much as they did from the
Cayman Islands more than 150 years ago (see King, 1982). The most urgent needs are for the
strengthening of national sea turtle conservation legislation, holistic coastal zone management
planning, comprehensive surveys of important habitat, and enhanced public awareness. Inte-
grated multinational efforts are also needed, for neither sea turtles nor people remain within
national boundaries. Sea turtles nesting on one nation's shores will, at some point, feed or take
refuge in the waters of another nation. A bold coalition of both national and international con-
servationists is needed to rescue the sea turtles from their progressive slide toward extinction.
The WIDECAST project, with local coordinators in more than two dozen nations, is working to
build just such a coalition.

This Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan has several objectives, including (1) define a
national sea turtle conservation agenda with precise recommendations for recovery action, (2)
provide policy-makers and non-government groups with detailed information needed to make
informed decisions regarding the conservation of depleted sea turtle populations, and (3) identify
gaps in the existing knowledge base. This document, prepared by the Antigua and Barbuda Sea
Turtle Conservation Network, is the first and most important step toward a national blueprint for
action on behalf of sea turtles. The network is comprised of private individuals committed to
assisting government with the conservation and recovery of sea turtles in this country. This net-
work is but one of 39 in-country networks which together comprise the Wider Caribbean Sea
Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST); each has prepared its own Recovery Action Plan
for sea turtles. Together, the 39 Plans constitute a significant conservation initiative for Carib-
bean turtles. The WIDECAST approach to endangered species conservation is supported by the
United Nations Environment Programme and by the constituent governments of the Caribbean
Environment Programme.


II. STATUS AND DISTRIBUTION OF SEA TURTLES IN ANTIGUA/BARBUDA

In the Caribbean Sea, five species of sea turtle are recognized as Endangered and a sixth,
the loggerhead turtle, as Vulnerable by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) (Groombridge,
1982). Sea turtles are harvested throughout the region for meat, shell, oil, and skins. They are
accidentally captured in active or abandoned fishing gear, resulting in the deaths of tens of
thousands of turtles each year. Oil spills, chemical waste and persistent plastic debris, as well as
the ongoing degradation of important nesting beaches and feeding grounds, also threaten the
continued existence of Caribbean populations. A recent report concluded that about half the
world's nesting populations of hawksbill sea turtles are known or suspected to be in decline; in
particular, the study found "the entire Western Atlantic-Caribbean region is greatly depleted"
(Groombridge and Luxmoore, 1989).

In Antigua and Barbuda, three species of endangered sea turtle are known to nest: the
hawksbill, the green, and the leatherback. In addition, foraging hawksbills and green turtles of
varying sizes are present year-around. The giant leatherback turtle is a seasonal visitor. Gravid
(=egg-bearing) females arrive in early summer to lay their eggs and presumably return to more
temperate latitudes in June or July after egg-laying has been completed; foraging has not been


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


observed. The loggerhead is not known to nest, but is occasionally caught offshore. Neither the
Kemp's ridley nor the olive ridley has ever been documented, although there are anecdotal ac-
counts of the latter being caught in Barbuda. A general key to the identification of local species
is found in Figure 2. Table 1 and Figures 3 and 4 summarize the distribution of nesting beaches.

2.1 Caretta caretta, Loggerhead Sea Turtle

The common name for this species is mullato in Barbuda; the animal does not appear to
be known to the turtle fishermen of Antigua. The loggerhead is recognized by its large head,
thick, somewhat tapered carapace (=shell), and characteristically heavy encrustation of
invertebrate epifauna (especially barnacles). 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, plants, and a wide variety of invertebrates are also eaten (see Dodd, 1988).
This turtle is also characterized by its colour, being usually reddish brown or even tinted with
orange, and the five pair of lateral scutes (=carapace plates) on either side of the median, as
opposed to four pair in other locally occurring turtles (Figure 2). Adults attain a carapace length
of 120 cm (straight-line, nuchal notch to posterior tip) and weigh up to 200 kg (440 lb) (Pritchard
et al., 1983).

The species has a wide oceanic distribution. In the Atlantic Ocean, loggerheads 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 along the Atlantic
coast of Florida (USA) and Masirah Island (Oman). An estimated 14,150 females nest annually
on the Atlantic coast of Florida (Murphy and Hopkins, 1984; Ehrhart, 1989), where the peak
nesting season extends from mid-May to mid-July. Moderate nesting populations are also found
in Mexico, where Gulf and Caribbean coasts support some 380-400 females per annum (Ehrhart,
1989). Low density nesting is reported from the West Indies (e.g., Bacon, 1981; Dodd, 1988;
Sybesma and Hoetjes, 1992), but the species is not known to nest in Antigua or Barbuda.

Juvenile loggerheads are occasionally observed in both inshore and offshore waters, but
adults have not been seen. Meylan (1983) reported: "Two informants were familiar with the
loggerhead, but its occurrence at Antigua needs confirmation." There have since been several
confirmed sightings in Antigua, particularly east of the island in deep water and most often in
spring and early summer. A large juvenile loggerhead was found off the north side of Green
Island in 1987, tangled in what appeared to be cargo netting and palm thatch. It was still alive,
but butchered upon retrieval. Marks on the neck and flippers suggested rope burs. At about the
same time, another large juvenile was found tangled in a "Japanese net" (heavy green fiber net)
off the east coast of Barbuda. With respect to Barbuda, Meylan (1983) concluded: "Loggerheads
are much less common than green turtles or hawksbills, but are well known to fishermen. Most
are of intermediate size, weighing approximately 18-45 kg." The species appears to be most
common around the northwestern end of Barbuda, this being an area of shallow water with large
numbers of the conch Strombus gigas.

In March 1991, Antiguan longline fisherman Lucien Barreto caught nine juvenile logger-
heads on lines set about 35 miles northeast of Antigua (see also section 3.5). The hooks were cut


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


and the turtles were released. The turtles were caught on longlines placed in deep oceanic water
east of the Antigua/Barbuda continental shelf; baited hooks were set at approximately 200 ft
(61.5 m) in depth. Ocean currents in this area of the Lesser Antilles represent the southwestern
edge of the North Atlantic subtropical gyre, flowing from southeast to northwest as part of a vast
clockwise spiral around the Sargasso Sea. All of the captured turtles were healthy juveniles,
remarkably similar in size, with a carapace length "of about two feet."

Antigua loggerheads are of a size characteristic of most other juvenile loggerheads
encountered on the Continental Shelf of the western North Atlantic. According to the existing
paradigm, hatchlings leave U. S. beaches and are carried passively on the North Atlantic sub-
tropical gyre in Sargassum seaweed rafts to areas of the eastern North Atlantic, including the
Azores. After several years of pelagic existence, the growing juveniles (22-26 inches (56-66 cm)
shell length) return or are returned by currents to the western North Atlantic to become resident
benthic (=bottom) feeders on the Continental Shelf of North America, where they remain for the
rest of their lives. Given that Barreto's loggerheads were apparently feeding normally in deep
oceanic water at depths of several hundred feet and that juvenile loggerheads are rarely observed
in shallow, near-shore Antiguan waters, it follows that Antiguan juveniles probably represent
ordinary North Atlantic loggerheads returning from their pelagic years. They may have been
moving north in March along the Atlantic side of the Lesser Antilles, toward the North American
Continental Shelf, when they were caught on the longline hooks.

2.2 Chelonia mydas, Green Sea Turtle

The green turtle is the second most common species of sea turtle (after the hawksbill)
reported from the waters of Antigua, and the most common species in the waters of Barbuda.
The turtle is referred to as green turtle or green-back. The species is recognized by a round,
blunt beak with serrated cutting edges, a single pair of large prefrontal scales between the eyes,
and four pairs of lateral carapace scutes that do not overlap one another (cf hawksbill, section
2.4) (Figure 2). The shell colour is light to dark brown, sometimes shaded with olive, with
radiating wavy or mottled markings of darker colour or with large blotches of dark brown. The
plastron (=belly plate) is whitish or light yellow (Carr, 1952). The carapace is generally devoid
of barnacles. Adults can attain weights of 230 kg (500 lb) (Pritchard et al., 1983) and generally
measure 95-120 cm in straight carapace length (nuchal notch to posterior tip). A mean size of
100.2 cm (n=2107) is reported from the Caribbean nesting beach at Tortuguero, Costa Rica
(Bjorndal and Carr, 1989).

Meylan (1983) concluded that green turtles and hawksbills were the "principal species"
nesting on Barbuda, but that while "nesting density is probably higher on Barbuda than on any
other island in the Leewards, absolute numbers are still very modest." Green turtles are reported
to nest all along the shore from Billy Point to The River, Barbuda; nesting also occurs on several
east coast beaches. Over the last several years, large green turtles have been caught during
nesting at Rabbit's Beach, Two Feet Bay, Welch's Bay, Palmetto Point beach, Low Bay, and
Cedar Tree Point beach. In Antigua, nesting has been reported on more than 20 beaches (Table
1). The nesting season is not precisely known, but informants contend that it spans August-
October, with a September peak. Neither nest density nor nesting frequency are known. On the
basis of information available from other areas, 2-6 clutches of eggs are probably laid by each fe-


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male (at 12-14 day intervals during the nesting season) every 2-3 years. The number of eggs
deposited per clutch most likely ranges from 125-150. Eggs hatch after about two months of
incubation. An estimated 39 green turtles nested in 1982 (Joseph et al., 1984). Systematic beach
surveys are required to determine more accurately the number of green turtles nesting each year
(section 4.112).

Green turtles are herbivorous in Antigua and Barbuda, as they are throughout the
Caribbean. They feed primarily on the sea grass Thalassia testudinum (Bjorndal, 1982). Recent
studies indicate that individual turtles maintain feeding "scars" by returning to the same area of
sea grass meadow to forage each day (Bjorndal, 1980; Ogden et al., 1980, 1983). The scars are
maintained by regular cropping for several months, and the new growth, rich in nutrients and low
in lignin, is preferred. When the cropped grasses show signs of stress (blade thinning, increased
inter-nodal distance), the turtle abandons the scar and moves on to form another. In Antigua and
Barbuda the green turtle occurs year-around in foraging habitats and is represented by a wide
range of size classes. At the present time there are no data to indicate residency patterns; that is,
it is not known how long juveniles in the various size classes remain in local waters before they
move on through successive developmental habitats which may span several nations in area.

Meylan (1983) reported that the bays on the northern coast of Antigua "provide
particularly good foraging habitat for green turtles, and for this reason most netting is carried out
in this area. Nets are also set at feeding sites on the western and southern coast at Hawksbill
Bay, Pinching Bay, Dark Wood, Urlings, and Mt. Carmel. Green turtles and a smaller number of
hawksbills are captured at all localities." In addition, nets have traditionally been set in North
Sound and Nonsuch Bay, although there are certainly many fewer nets set today than in the past
(see section 3.3). Important foraging areas, based on persistent sightings of green turtles, are
believed to occur in the shallows along the south coast and in the sheltered bays along the east
and west coasts of Antigua. A fisherman recently reported "lots of little green turtles" caught in
a gill net set for fish in Hanson's Bay on the west coast; they were released unharmed. Adults
are sometimes seen in deeper waters, such as one very large individual routinely sighted off the
south coast in about 15 fathoms of water. Foraging is also reported around the uninhabited
island of Redonda, a small (2.6 km2) island politically associated with Antigua and Barbuda.

Green turtles are also common in foraging habitats around Barbuda. Meylan (1983)
reported "a fisherman who sets nets inside the reef at Welch Point catches only green turtles
there. Hawksbills are more common on the reefs near Goat Point and Cedar Tree Point. Imma-
ture green turtles have been caught in mangrove areas inside the entrance to Codrington Lagoon.
The Creek, as the entrance area is called, is a favorite netting location. A juvenile green turtle
estimated to weigh less than a kilogram was reportedly seen resting on top of a net at this
location." In August 1991, a local fisherman caught seven 30-40 lb green turtles in one hour in a
100-ft shark net set across the entrance of The Cove, the lagoon just north of the Creek mouth.
All were released alive. This area is rich in sea grass, constituting a particularly good feeding
area for the small and intermediate sized juveniles that are predictably found there. A "flotilla"
of large green turtles is frequently seen agglomerating near Palmetto Point, Barbuda, in June; this
phenomenon does not occur every year but with some regularity. Additional information is
needed regarding the locations of favoured feeding areas.


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


It is likely that some of the adult green turtles observed in the waters of Antigua and
Barbuda can be considered residents. These are turtles that predictably return to our waters after
migrating to natal beaches in other countries to lay their eggs on multiple-year cycles. In con-
trast, juveniles may be resident for a time but are likely to move through several developmental
habitats throughout the Wider Caribbean during their growth years. Green turtles may forage
over vast distances during the decades prior to sexual maturity, which is estimated at 27-33 years
of age in the U. S. Virgin Islands (Frazer and Ladner, 1986). Tagging and telemetry studies are
necessary in Antigua and Barbuda to determine residency and behaviour patterns.

2.3 Dermochelys coriacea, Leatherback Sea Turtle

The leatherback is referred to in Antigua as coffin back, river turtle or walava, and in
Barbuda as bandora. Leatherbacks are the largest of the sea turtles. Females nesting in the
Caribbean typically weigh 300-500 kg (650-1100 lb). The largest leatherback on record is a
male that stranded on the coast of Wales in 1988 and weighed 916 kg (Morgan, 1989). The
species is easily distinguished from other sea turtles because it lacks a bony shell, having instead
a slightly flexible skin-covered carapace. The smooth, black skin is spotted with pale yellow or
white. The carapace is strongly tapered, measures 130-165 cm in total length (straight-line), and
is raised into seven prominent ridges that streamline the body form (Figure 2). Powerful front
flippers extend nearly the length of the body. Prominent cusps on the upper mandible provide a
cutting and tearing edge for grasping jellyfish prey. Foraging has not been observed during the
nesting or hatching season. Joseph et al. (1984) noted that "jellyfish swarm in July and August",
coinciding with leatherback hatching.

Adult leatherbacks are observed in both inshore and offshore waters; juveniles have never
been reported. Two adults were recently seen (March 1989) at the 100 fathom line due northeast
of Jumby Bay. This observation was unusual in that leatherbacks are generally observed to be
solitary at sea. There are also a few records of fishermen catching the species offshore, mostly
on longlines baited with squid (L. Barreto, pers. comm., 1992). Two Antiguan longliners
(Stanley B, Jenny B) occasionally capture leatherbacks whilst fishing along the 1000 fathom
contour east, north and west of Antigua and Barbuda. They are also sometimes ensnared by
trammel nets, but this is very rare. Meylan (1983) reported: "One caught in a net off Jolly Beach
[Antigua] several years ago was believed to have been approaching to nest." Joseph et al. (1984)
indicated that feeding occurred offshore Antigua from April to October, but there appears to be
no documentation to support this contention, nor is it likely that leatherbacks remain in local
waters in any numbers as late as October. Incidental catch records from the longline industry
would be useful in clarifying the seasonality of leatherbacks in local waters. See section 4.27 for
a discussion of incidental catch.

Leatherbacks are not resident in the waters of Antigua and Barbuda. They are seasonal
visitors, migrating from temperate foraging grounds and arriving asynchronously to nest in the
West Indies between February and July (Eckert and Eckert, 1988). Recent studies deploying
time-depth recorders on gravid females have shown that individuals nesting on St. Croix, U. S.
Virgin Islands, routinely spend the inter-nesting interval diving to an average depth of about 60
m and have attained maximum depths exceeding 1000 m (Eckert et al., 1986, 1989). Since
leatherbacks feed predominantly on jellyfish and other soft-bodied prey (e.g., Den Hartog and


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Van Nierop, 1984), the impetus behind the diving behaviour may be to feed on deep-water
siphonophores in the deep scattering layer; that is, to feed within the strata of plankton that
migrate to the ocean surface at night and descend just below the depth of light penetration during
the day. The diving may also represent thermoregulatory behaviour or predator escape. Killer
whales (Orcinus orca) are known to consume leatherbacks in the Caribbean (Caldwell and
Caldwell, 1969) and large sharks undoubtedly take the turtles on an opportunistic basis.

Leatherback nesting is relatively rare in Antigua and Barbuda. The first known nesting
report dates back to 1955 on Winthrops Bay beach on the north coast of Antigua. More recently,
nesting has been reported at the Mill Reef Beaches, Big Rendezvous Bay, Carlisle Bay, Curtain
Bluff, Morris Bay, Pearn's Point Beaches, the Five Islands Estate Beaches, Dickenson Bay,
Jabberwock Beach (Ely's Bay), and Dutchman Bay (Table 1). The same female was observed
nesting at Jabberwock Beach in 1981, 1984 and 1987, being readily recognizable by a distinct
hole in her left rear flipper. One nesting occurred in mid-day on Morris Beach (June 1985).
Another interesting record is a documented hatch at Bleaky Bay (Barbuda) on 2 November 1989,
which is quite late for leatherback hatchlings. In Barbuda, leatherback nesting has been reported
on Coco Point Beach (photos are available) and the Bleaky Bay Beaches, as well as on selected
beaches from the River to Billy Point and from Pigeon Cliff to Griffin Point (Table 1). Meylan
(1983) reported that "only a few leatherbacks nest on [Barbuda] each year. One that emerged at
The River in 1979 became entrapped by debris and died of exposure."

Nesting is so infrequent that little is known of clutch size or frequency, nest density, or
trends in abundance. In one case, 112 eggs were laid in one nest on a north coast (Antigua)
beach on 7 April 1981 (Meylan, 1983). The nearest concentrated nesting to Antigua is at Sandy
Point National Wildlife Refuge, St. Croix, U. S. Virgin Islands. At this beach, nesting com-
mences in March (rarely February) and continues through July. Each female is tagged so that
her reproductive history can be recorded (this type of intensive research is done with hawksbill
turtles in Antigua; see section 2.4). On Sandy Point, an average of 5-6 clutches are deposited per
female at 10-day intervals during the nesting season. Females generally return to nest every 2-3
years, but individuals occasionally nest in consecutive years and sometimes return after intervals
longer than three years. Clutch size is typically 60-100 yolked eggs; a variable number of small,
yolkless eggs is also deposited. The eggs incubate in the sand at a depth of 60-70 cm for about
two months. The hatchlings break free of their eggs after 50-55 days and emerge from the sand,
generally at dusk, several days later. As is the case with all species of sea turtle, sand tempera-
ture plays a large role in determining hatchling sex. Warmer temperatures produce females,
whereas cooler temperatures produce males.

Leatherbacks have traditionally been killed whilst nesting, and to some extent this still
occurs. In the mid-1970's, a leatherback was killed at Palmetto Point, Barbuda. In October
1984, a weathered nuchal bone was found in the grass far up behind the beach near Turtle Bay
(south coast Antigua). In May 1985, a killing occurred at Big Rendezvous Bay, Antigua. A
nester killed on Carlisle Beach in 1990 was reportedly tagged, but the carcass was burned before
the tag could be retrieved. A leatherback was reportedly caught in a net offshore Parham in late
September 1992 (during the closed season) and killed, but confirmation that the turtle was indeed
a leatherback is not available. Eggs are also collected (section 3.3), despite the fact that this is
illegal at all times of the year (section 4.21).


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


2.4 Eretmochelvs imbricata, Hawksbill Sea Turtle

Hawksbill turtles, known locally as 'oxbills, are distinguished by a narrow, pointed beak
and two pairs of prefrontal scales between the eyes. The carapace is often posteriorly serrated
and the carapace scutes overlap, like shingles on a roof (Figure 2). Adults rarely exceed 80 kg
(175 lb) and a carapace length of about 90 cm (straight line, nuchal notch to posterior tip).
Bright mottled colouration (brown, orange, gold) is common. Despite a wide variety of foods
consumed (see Witzell, 1983), recent studies indicate that hawksbills may specialize on sponges
in the Caribbean, and predominantly on two orders of Demospongea. Ten sponge species
accounted for 79.1% of the dry mass of all sponges identified in the stomachs of hawksbills from
seven Caribbean countries, suggesting a degree of dietary selectivity (Meylan, 1988). For this
reason, healthy coral reef habitats are very important to the survival of hawksbill turtles.

This rare sea turtle is challenging to study. Little is known about Caribbean populations.
Hawksbills are migratory, high-density nesting is rare, and the relatively few tagging
programmes have not been in place long enough to generate a useful number of tag returns (that
is, a sufficient number of recaptures to illustrate post-nesting movement). Principal nesting
beaches in the West Indies are not easily identified, but one of the best known is Pasture Bay
Beach (Jumby Bay Resort) on Long Island, Antigua. It should be noted that the rarely observed
phenomenon of high-density nesting by hawksbills may reflect the rarity of nesting females left
in the Caribbean today, rather than a propensity of the species to avoid high-density nesting as a
behavioral trait. Hawksbills are presently endangered throughout their range (Groombridge,
1982) and both domestic and international markets are implicated in their demise. The largest
(but not the exclusive) market has been Japan. Between 1970 and June 1989, Japan imported
368,318 kg of hawksbill shell (tortoiseshell) from the Wider Caribbean, the equivalent of more
than a quarter million turtles; in 1988, Japan imported from the Wider Caribbean the tortoise-
shell from nearly 12,000 adult hawksbills (Canin, 1989). Japanese imports from Antigua and
Barbuda are summarized in section 4.31.

According to fishermen and other local residents, including the former owner of Jumby
Bay Resort, Mr. Homer Williams, nesting was much more frequent in the past than it is today
(see also section 3.3). We are fortunate that remnant populations have survived in Antigua and
Barbuda. Hawksbills, though relatively few in number, are the most common turtle in the waters
of Antigua and the second most common in Barbuda. Hawksbills are also the most common sea
turtle to nest on Antigua and Barbuda. Nesting occurs throughout most of the year, but the pri-
mary season is from mid-June to mid-November (Corliss et al., 1989). Females routinely retreat
into supralittoral vegetation, such as sea grape trees (Coccoloba uvifera), before egg-laying. To
the untrained eye, there is little evidence of the nest aside from a faint asymmetrical crawl (about
0.7 m wide) leading to and from the sea. Pasture Bay beach has the largest concentration of
nesting hawksbills in Antigua or Barbuda. A tagging programme begun there in 1987 has shown
that this beach supports 20-40 nesters per year (Table 2). The turtles arrive at the nesting ground
asynchronously and most nest 4-6 times at 14-15 day intervals during the nesting season. The
peak of the season varies a little each year by virtue of the fact that the population is so small.
Approximately 18,000 hatchlings are produced from Pasture Bay each year, now that a
conservation programme is in place on this beach.


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In addition to Long Island there is some nesting at Bird Island, as well as on several
beaches in Antigua and Barbuda (see Table 1). Meylan (1983) cited Grape Bay on Guiana
Island and Long Bay near Willikies; she reported that the species used to nest in Dutchman's
Bay, but did so only rarely at the time of her writing. She also reported nesting on several
beaches in the Five Islands Village area, including Galley Bay, Landing Bay, Hawksbill Bay,
Pinchin Bay and Long Bay; of these, Pinchin Bay was believed to be the best, although even
there nesting activity was attributed to only a few individuals per year (Meylan, 1983). In
Barbuda, Meylan (1983) reported that hawksbills are the predominant nesters on a beach that
extends from Span-ish Well Point to Coco Point; the shore from Billy Point to The River also
supports nesting. Joseph et al. (1984) estimated that 76 hawksbills nested on Antigua and
Barbuda in 1982, with fewer than 15 nests laid per annum on surveyed beaches. We now believe
the 1982 estimate to be low, and suspect that perhaps 400-500 nests are laid on Antigua and
Barbuda each year. Dividing this number by five (the average number of nests per female), we
can estimate that 80-100 females nest each year. One-third of this nesting activity occurs at
Pasture Bay on Long Island. Beach surveys are sorely needed to accurately determine the
number of nests laid each year (section 4.112).

Hawksbill foraging and mating areas have not been precisely defined. Joseph et al.
(1984) report foraging in local waters year-around. Neonate hawksbills 2-8 inches (5-20 cm) in
shell length are apparently pelagic, feeding and developing within mats of Sargassum or floating
debris found throughout offshore areas of the Caribbean; these very small hawksbills are not
seen near Antigua or Barbuda after they leave the nesting beach. Small juveniles 8-25 inches
(20-60 cm) in shell length can be observed in relatively shallow coral reef habitats, including
reefs throughout the North Sound area, at virtually all times of the year. John Fuller and other
recreation fishermen observe the larger individuals (adults and subadults with shell lengths >60
cm) in concentration along the 20-100 fathom drop-off of the Antigua/Barbuda continental shelf
at all times of the year. This characteristic bi-distribution of smaller animals in nearshore
shallow water and larger animals in offshore deep water is also reported in the USVI (Ralf
Boulon, USVI Div. Fish Wildl., pers. comm., 1991) and Puerto Rico (Robert van Dam, pers.
comm., 1992). Foraging hawksbills are common around the coral reefs which surround Redonda.
Historically, turtle fishermen from Montserrat netted turtles at Redonda.

It is in the area of the 100 fathom drop-off that mating pairs of hawksbills are usually
observed. Mating has also been observed on the outer edge of the reef near Urlings in May
(Meylan, 1983), as well as in the Elsie Channel in Barbuda. There are no data to indicate
residency patterns; that is, it is not known how long juveniles in the various size classes remain
in a particular habitat before they move on through sequential developmental habitats which may
be distributed among several nations. It is highly doubtful that an individual hawksbill (or any
other sea turtle) lives its entire life, which may span 50-plus years, within the territorial waters of
Antigua and Barbuda.

2.5 Lepidochelvs kempii, Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle

There are no records of Kemp's ridleys in Antigua and Barbuda, nor would the species be
expected to occur. The diminutive Kemp's ridley is gray in colour as an immature and primarily
olive green as an adult (Pritchard et al., 1983). The carapace is round, often as wide as it is long,


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


and carapace scutes do not overlap one another (cf. hawksbill sea turtle, section 2.4). According
to Ross et al. (1989), adults weigh 60-90 lb (27-41 kg) and have a shell length of 23-30 inches
(58-76 cm). The species is carnivorous and eats mostly crabs, but also preys upon other
crustaceans, shellfish, jellyfish, sea urchins, starfish, and fish. 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 world's most endangered sea turtle, the total adult population is
thought to number no more than 900 females and an unknown number of males (Ross et al.,
1989). The species nests almost exclusively in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico.

2.6 Lepidochelys olivacea, Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

There are rare records of this species in the waters of Barbuda where older fishermen re-
call it to be a "wicked and nasty" turtle. It is referred to locally as yellow-head. There are two
sightings in recent memory; both were caught on the south coast of Barbuda in nets about 20
years ago. There is no recent documentation, and there are no data to clarify seasonality, size
classes present, distribution, or abundance. Olive ridleys are similar in appearance to Kemp's
ridleys (section 2.5), having a nearly round carapace (width about 90% of the length) and an
adult colour of olive green or brown dorsally and yellowish white ventrally. The turtle rarely
exceeds 100 lb (45 kg) (Pritchard et al., 1983). Each front flipper bears a single claw, the horny
beak may be finely serrated, and carapace scutes do not overlap one another. The lateral scutes
(those to either side of the median on the shell) are divided into 5-9 pairs, considerably more than
other sea turtles which typically have 4-5 pairs. The only significant nesting colony in the
Western Atlantic is in Suriname, primarily at Eilanti Beach (Schulz, 1975). Olive ridleys nesting
in Suriname have declined considerably in recent years, 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).


III. STRESSES ON SEA TURTLES IN ANTIGUA/BARBUDA

3.1 Destruction or Modification of Habitat

Terrestrial habitat: Hawksbills are the most commonly observed species of sea turtle
nesting on the shores of Antigua and Barbuda; an estimated 80-100 nest each year (section 2.4).
Green turtles and leatherbacks are also known to nest, but in much lower numbers. Since all
beaches taken together represent the combined nesting habitat for the local breeding populations,
it is important that a national coalition of beach owners be developed to work throughout
Antigua for the preservation of nesting habitat. Barbuda beaches are fewer but longer, and they
are primarily government-owned (Table 1). Thus, the protection of Barbuda nesting habitat from
destruction and modification remains largely with Government, the Development Control
Authority, and the Barbuda Council, rather than with private owners.

Construction practices on or near beaches pose the greatest immediate threat to sea turtle
nesting habitat, especially in Antigua. One example is Dickenson Bay which now supports four


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


hotels; nesting used to be common, but now it is rare. Houses and hotels are too often placed on
or just behind the beach, without a sufficient buffer zone. They should be constructed on
limestone, never on sand. Even when so-called "buffer zones" are allowed to remain, the
intervening vegetation is usually cleared for patios, swimming pools, lawn, walkways, and other
structures incompatible with hawksbill nesting requirements. Vegetation is also cleared for the
ocean breeze, aesthetics (view), and/or insect control. Hawksbills prefer to nest within fairly
dense woody vegetation, such as sea grape (Coccoloba) thickets. Thus, a mosaic of natural
vegetation is needed in and around developments to provide suitable hawksbill habitat. A sandy
beach alone is not sufficient, although an occasional green sea turtle or leatherback may nest
there. It is important that buffer zones and setback limits be established and enforced with
regard to development proximal to sandy beaches (section 4.122).

Coincident with coastal construction is a general increase in artificial lighting. Artificial
light is one of the most destructive of man's influences on sea turtle nesting habitat. Lights that
illuminate the beach seriously degrade the quality of nesting habitat. Lights deter some adult
females from nesting; hatchlings are also negatively affected (e.g., Mrosovsky, 1978; Raymond,
1984; Witherington, 1990). As the hatchlings emerge from the nest and head for the sea, they
are drawn irresistibly to the brightest illumination. If the brightest source of light is a landward
development, the hatchlings are led away from the sea and either die in the burning morning sun
or are consumed by predators. On virtually every beach where hawksbills nest in Antigua,
hatchlings have been reported crawling inland toward artificial lights. Fortunately, this problem
can oftentimes be minimized if not eliminated. Security lights and other illumination should take
the form of low-pressure sodium (LPS) vapor lamps and should be situated behind screening
vegetation or structural shades. In some cases, lights can be turned off during critical hours (see
section 4.132).

Sand is a valuable economic commodity and natural resource in Antigua and Barbuda.
The future of successful sea turtle reproduction in Antigua and Barbuda is inextricably tied to
this economic reality, since sand mining can cause irreparable damage to important nesting
beaches. While the mining of sand on beaches is currently banned, except in cases of special
permit, it is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that laws be developed to provide
absolute protection to beaches from sand mining in perpetuity (section 4.131). The ideal
approach to the protection of Antiguan beaches would be to preserve them, by government
decree, as Sea Turtle Refuges. This option, however, appears to be neither politically nor
economically feasible at the present time. Multiple use of beaches compatible with nesting sea
turtles is the most realistic management option. Barbuda is arguably a different story, and we
recommend that the island be declared a Sea Turtle Refuge (see section 4.12).

General pollution is another concern. According to the CCA (1991), the low priority
assigned to pollution issues by the government is symptomatic of a larger related problem, for it
reflects a lack of awareness by the government, business community, and general population -
about the importance of pollution control and the problems and costs associated with poor re-
source management, particularly in critical sectors such as tourism. One public official recently
summed it up succinctly when he told an OECS audience that, "In our small countries of limited
land and freshwater resources, indifference to the quality of solid waste management is a cavalier
attitude and luxury we can ill-afford" (Michael, 1990). Pollution which most affects sea turtles


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


on nesting beaches includes oil and other potentially toxic runoff; glass, metal and other solid
waste that may injure a nesting female or her young; and the disposal of large objects, such as
construction waste, abandoned vehicles, or household appliances that may block a female's
access to desirable nesting sites. Litter and contaminants also wash ashore from dumping or
spills at sea. Virtually all windward beaches, including the important hawksbill nesting beach at
Pasture Bay, are littered with tar balls, some quite large in size.

Other sources of degradation to nesting habitat include the planting of exotic vegetation,
such as sea oats or coconut palm trees. Preliminary data suggest that sand temperatures at the
depth of hawksbill sea turtle nests are significantly elevated under clumps of sea oats when
compared to temperatures in the open beach or under the native sea grape tree (Michelle Zacks
and Meg Hoyle, unpubl. data). Since temperature determines the sex of developing hatchlings,
the introduction of exotic vegetation can have profound conservation implications. In the case of
coconut palms, there is some evidence that their roots have obstructed nesting by hawksbills on
Lord Nelson Beach (Dutchman's Bay). Livestock, such as donkeys and cattle, left unattended on
sandy beaches have the potential to crush incubating eggs; this presents a greater problem in
Barbuda than in Antigua. Further examples of destruction to sea turtle nesting habitat, such as
excessive trash, sand replenishment (beach rebuilding), vehicle driving, and sea walls which are
found in other areas of the Caribbean are not significant in Antigua or Barbuda at the present
time. Vigilance must be maintained should such problems arise in the future. Solutions to
stresses on important terrestrial sea turtle habitat are discussed in section 4.13.

Marine habitat: Pollution-related degradation of marine habitat important for sea turtles
is not a widespread problem. The country lacks heavy industry and oil refineries; sugar process-
ing factories are no longer operating. Selected areas, however, are being degraded at an alarming
rate. The harbour at St. John's is grossly polluted with industrial and municipal effluents. Dis-
charges from the storm sewers and streets of St. John's also contribute to pollution of the
harbour. Fortunately, the affected area is small relative to greater Antigua and pollution leaving
the harbour is swept westward, away from much of Antigua's coastal area which remains fairly
clean. Barbuda's marine pollution problems are comparatively small, partly because of the low
density of people there. This notwithstanding, it has been estimated by the senior author that
about 50% of the living reef along the east coast of the island has died over the past two decades.
"White line disease" and hurricane damage have been implicated (Oxenford, 1991).

Industrial effluent directly or indirectly discharged to the sea is particularly insidious
because some of the most toxic components are invisible to human senses. Associated with
industrial discharge are toxic materials such as heavy metals and persistent chemicals. These
dangerous materials frequently accumulate in the food chain with increasing concentration in the
higher order consumers such as humans. Thus, though they may not be obvious in the marine
environment, their presence is nonetheless harmful. Contaminants are also found in the treated
effluent of industrial and municipal sewage released to the ocean from discharge pipes located
well offshore. Such out-of-sight, out-of-mind disposal practices can be extremely dangerous not
only to sea turtles, but also to other marine organisms and to people who consume these
organisms. The only way to control this problem is to control the quantity and chemical make-
up of the effluent at the source where the effluent is produced. Strong environmental protection
laws are needed and these laws should not be vulnerable to political pressures.


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


The effects of agricultural chemicals should be examined with regard to their effect on
nearshore systems. There is very little control of the use of chemicals in agriculture and runoff
in times of heavy rain is a particular problem. Soil erosion associated with road and home
construction, upland deforestation, and marina construction is also a threat to coral and other sea
life. Sedimentation derived from adjacent development can smother reefs and sea grass beds,
rendering them lifeless and unable to support either sea turtles or commercially important fish or
shellfish. Degradation to the marine environment from sedimentation on the leeward side of
Antigua is now being observed, and a number of lagoons and semi-enclosed bays are viewed as
vulnerable. Central sewage treatment is lacking in Antigua and Barbuda. Most domestic sewage
is handled by individual septic tanks with drain fields to the porous limestone rock. Raw sewage
is discharged from a nonfunctional private plant at McKinnons' swamp. High bacterial levels
have already been documented in some areas. A recent study done by a local secondary school
found very high levels of fecal coliform bacteria in Dickenson Bay. Finally, the potential for
water pollution caused by seepage from the landfill (Union Dump) in Antigua, situated near The
Flashes wetland west of St. John's Harbour, should be assessed.

The continuous flow of ocean currents past the islands is this country's great salvation.
The minor nature of the marine pollution problems of Antigua and Barbuda is more the result of
luck than of foresight. The Fisheries Act and the Dumping at Sea Act have yet to be tested by a
severe environmental crisis. However, this country still has the rare opportunity to avoid the
dreadful consequences of such a crisis by observing where other more industrialized countries
have gone wrong. This opportunity must not be allowed to slip by. Antigua and Barbuda still
have some of the most pristine marine habitat in the Leeward Islands, an environment which
must be kept that way for the health and economic future of all. Vigilance is paramount. Unac-
ceptable levels of degradation are sure to occur in Antigua and Barbuda if pollution and other
threats to marine and coastal habitats are not met with an aggressive plan for maintaining a clean
environment.

In addition to pollution, there has been some physical damage to marine habitats
important to sea turtles. Dredging has been limited in the last 50 years to three major areas and
has heavily modified at least one site, namely Jolly Harbour. The other two areas are St. John's
Harbour, which was redredged in 1990-1992, and the new U. S. naval small boat facility at the
eastern end of Ely Bay at the U. S. Naval Facility. The St. John's dredging has in itself had little
impact on the ecology of the harbour but, as stated above, the harbour has been heavily polluted
for some time. The run-off of sluice from the dredged material has considerably degraded the
Flashes and the neighboring leeward shallows in Five Islands Harbour because it has caused
sedimentation of the coastal area and its environs; this is still occurring. The U. S. Naval
dredging caused some downstream silting, but the damage to coastal reefs and sea grass is
believed to have been minimal. This dredging was the subject of a minor dispute between the
governments of the U. S. and Antigua and Barbuda, especially as it involved the only known
underwater blasting to have occurred since 1978. The Historical, Conservation and Environ-
mental Commission executed an EIA on the project and deemed the dredging and blasting to
have caused little or no permanent substantive damage.

Physical damage to coral reefs as a result of anchoring by yachts and other vessels
appears to be considerably less than in many other areas of the Eastern Caribbean. Several rea-


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


sons for this exist, but the main reason is that most anchoring sites are traditional and have been
used as such for decades. These sites are mainly restricted to sand or mud bottom or to areas of
sea grass. Little or no anchoring has been observed in coral. Similarly, anchor damage to sea
grass appears neither widespread nor severe. Anchoring in coral or sea grass habitat should be
actively discouraged, since these habitats are very important to the survival of sea turtles and to
many species of commercially important fishes and shellfish. In contrast, the large number of
fish pots in use by local fishermen have caused extensive damage to coral reefs in some areas.
Pots are sometimes dropped directly on reefs, resulting in breakage and scarring. Damage of this
type was observed during a SCUBA survey of the North Sound peripheral islands in October
1992 (William Alevizon, OAS consultant, pers. comm., 1992).

3.2 Disease or Predation

A potentially fatal tumor disease known as "fibropapilloma" has been observed in green
sea turtles in local waters. The disease afflicts green turtles in many areas of the Wider Carib-
bean, notably Florida, although it has been observed as far south as Curacao (Jacobson, 1990).
The disease was first noted in Antigua and Barbuda in 1978, and approximately four local cases
(adults and juveniles) have been observed since then (J. Fuller, pers. obsv.). The cause of this
debilitating and often fatal sea turtle disease is unknown. It is important that turtles showing any
sign of tumor-like growths, sometimes resembling large warts, be released immediately. Sick
turtles should under no circumstances be marketed or eaten. WIDECAST has provided the Fish-
eries Office with photographs of afflicted turtles for reference.

In the absence of data to the contrary, natural (non-human) predation of sea turtles of all
sizes is assumed to be normal and within acceptable limits. Knowledge of survivorship must be-
come a high priority objective for future work, or the status and population trends of Antigua and
Barbuda sea turtle populations can never be evaluated. Predation of eggs and hatchlings on the
beach is expected, but has not been fully documented. Mongooses are known to consume turtle
eggs on Guiana Island and Long Bay. Fishermen report that mongooses used to be a significant
predator on hawksbill eggs laid at Windward Bay and Pigeon Point beaches (Veronica Michael,
EAG, pers. comm., 1992). Ants, ghost crabs, and night herons are also a problem on some
beaches. Dogs are potential egg and hatchling predators on both Antigua and Barbuda.

Juvenile and adult turtles are taken by sharks at sea. This is particularly obvious with
hawksbills, which quite commonly are found inside large tiger sharks brought in by local fisher-
men (Joseph et al., 1984; Lucien Barreto, pers. comm., 1992). For example, Nicholas Fuller
caught a 13-foot tiger shark in June 1975 which contained the shell from an adult hawksbill
turtle. More recently, Archie Bailey caught an 800 lb tiger shark in August 1992 which
contained the head of a hawksbill turtle. Lucien Barreto reports watching tiger sharks come into
shallow water and grab hawksbills sleeping in the reef.

3.3 Over-utilization

Over-utilization is sometimes viewed as highly subjective; that is, it depends on the
viewpoint of the observer. This subjectivity must be removed from the equation. Either sea
turtles can maintain their population numbers at a given level when subjected to a certain level of


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fishing pressure, or they cannot. If populations are declining below replacement levels, then
over-utilization is occurring and regulation should be given high priority. While we lack precise
data on historical and modem population levels, we know, based on the accounts of many long
time residents and older fishermen who have watched the numbers of foraging and nesting turtles
decrease over the years that sea turtles have declined over the course of the twentieth century in
Antigua and Barbuda. It is therefore logical to conclude, especially lacking any evidence of
widespread disease or excessive depredation, that sea turtle stocks have been over-exploited by
man. The evidence available to us shows unequivocally that turtles have been harvested for
centuries without regard to the size of their populations or their natural rates of replenishment.
Eggs, juveniles, and adults have all been taken. The persistent loss of the latter is particularly
damaging to the stability of wild populations (section 4.233).

Both resident and foreign fishermen have a long history of taking sea turtles from
Antigua and Barbuda. Rebel (1974) wrote that sea turtles had declined "greatly", adding that
"hawksbill and green turtles are caught in nets year around, and a few are turned when they nest.
Eggs of these two species are also taken. All products are for local consumption." He listed the
following figures for turtles landed in Antigua in the 1940's: 40 in 1943, 79 in 1944, 68 in 1945,
46 in 1946, 116 in 1947, and 53 in 1948. Sources later quoted in Cato et al. (1978) confirmed
that "both greens and hawksbills nested in small numbers on Antigua, but that numbers were
declining steadily." The decline was attributed to illegal harvest during the closed season (then
June to September) and ineffective law enforcement. There was apparently no turtle export from
Antigua at that time. All products were consumed locally, being sold primarily to hotels for
about EC$ 2.00 per lb (viscera and red meat combined) [N.B. US$ 1.00 = EC$ 2.70 in October
1992]. The annual harvest in Antigua was not given, but the annual harvest in Barbuda was
estimated at 150 turtles for export and as many as 3000 for domestic markets (in the latter case,
500 turtles was considered "more probable"). Hawksbill shell (tortoiseshell) buyers from Mar-
tinique, St. Lucia, and Guadeloupe visited Barbuda three times each year, "usually paying EC$
7-8 per pound for the shell" (Cato et al., 1978).

Meylan (1983) reported that, in Barbuda, "heavy exploitation has continued, and possibly
increased, since [Cato et al., 1978]. Turtles are captured to provide meat for hotel restaurants in
Antigua and Guadeloupe, and to a lesser extent, in St. Thomas and Puerto Rico. During the
winter season live green turtles are flown out several times a week on cargo planes that come to
Barbuda to pick up lobsters. Most of these are subadult and adult green turtles; juvenile turtles
are kept for local consumption. A resident who coordinates the export business reported that
"several hundred" are exported annually. Turtle carapaces and tortoiseshell are also exported."
She stated that turtles were caught by both net fishermen and lobster divers, and that a single
fisherman may set as many as 11 nets. "Turtles are also chased with outboard-powered boats
and captured by hand. ... Turtles and eggs are routinely taken from nesting beaches. Surveil-
lance for tracks is carried out by boat, incidental to other fishing activities." (Meylan, 1983).

As for Antigua, Meylan (1983) concluded that there were about 12 fishermen setting nets
for turtles and that the number had been higher in the past. Catch records were not kept, but "in
1980 a turtle fisherman at Urlings reported catching 50 turtles in 1978, and a total of 20 (16
green turtles, 4 hawksbills) between October 1979 and late April 1980. As elsewhere in the
region, turtles are caught to an increasing extent by spearfishermen who are diving for lobsters,


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


reef fish and conch. A large percentage of the turtle meat available on the island is sold under
contract by the fishermen to hotel restaurants. Some meat is sold in the villages at US$ 0.80 per
kg. Tortoiseshell is worked locally and is marketed in tourist shops in St. John's. It is also
exported raw. In 1980 the price paid to fishermen for raw shell was US$ 12 per kg. Shell buyers
go directly to the fishermen's homes to purchase it. Whole polished carapaces are sold to local
souvenir shops. Because of the high value of turtle products, turtles are usually captured on the
nesting beach whenever they are encountered. The meat and shell of an adult hawksbill that had
been caught at Galley Bay in June 1979 brought the captor US$ 111. Residents of Five Islands
Village used to hunt for turtles regularly on the beach, but they do so rarely today, presumably
because so few turtles emerge."

The following year, Joseph et al. (1984) estimated that 150 green turtles, 250 hawksbills,
and one leatherback were landed by local fishermen in 1982 (nation-wide) at St. John's, Parham,
Valley Church Bay, Old Road and Codrington. The turtles were caught between August and
April using nets. The report did not specify the number of fishermen involved. Today the
number of professional fishermen who depend on sea turtle for a significant proportion of their
annual income does not exceed three individuals. Turtles caught are generally not sold to the
public, but rather to private contacts for personal consumption. Turtle meat is rarely available in
the meat market. A few local restaurants in Antigua still offer sea turtle during the open season.
In June 1992, WIDECAST sent a letter to the Mill Reef Club explaining the endangered status of
Caribbean sea turtles and asking that turtles be removed from the menu selection. At a
subsequent meeting, the Club's Board of Directors agreed to discontinue all turtle menu items.
The Hawksbill Hotel has also agreed to remove sea turtle from its menu.

The number of turtles currently harvested each year is not known, but we estimate it does
not exceed 50 turtles and probably does not exceed 30, greens and hawksbills combined. An
unknown proportion of these are nesting females (we estimate that fewer than 100 hawksbills
nest annually). Leatherbacks are rarely killed. The take, whether in nets or from the nesting
beach, is probably largely opportunistic. Only two or three men target turtles with nets designed
for this purpose. The meat sells for US$ 1.37/lb in the market (November 1992) and is
occasionally announced on the radio when available. Turtle penis soaked in gin is readily
available in some bars and turtle eggs are made into a popular rum drink (Meg Hoyle, pers.
comm., 1992). In addition to direct harvest, turtles are sometimes speared, probably mostly by
thoughtless tourists. Take incidental to longlining and other commercial fisheries is a continuing
problem (see section 3.5). In an unusual case, a tagged female from the Pasture Bay nesting
beach was captured in September 1992 by a construction crew on Long Island after she became
trapped in a foundation hole. The crew reported that the turtle was dead when found and was
butchered for her meat.

Veronica Michael (Environmental Awareness Group) spoke with fishermen in the
English Harbour community on 18 October 1992 to clarify the current status of sea turtle harvest
in that area. Interviewees were aware of and sensitive to the sea turtle's plight. In some cases,
the men mentioned that they had caught tagged hawksbill turtles and, realizing that there was
something special about these particular animals, had always released them. They were under
the impression that these turtles had been tagged in Puerto Rico or the U. S. Virgin Islands. No
supporting documentation for this contention is available. When asked how turtles used to be


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


caught in the English Harbour community, those interviewed said they rarely set nets for turtles
at sea because nesting females (probably hawksbills) were predictable at nearby beaches and it
was easier to hunt them there, usually during the half-moon in July and August. Four or more
turtles could be had per night at Windward Bay, fewer at Pigeon Point. Occasionally a turtle
would become entangled in a seine, or grabbed while resting under a ledge in shallow water.

Interviewees were aware of the nesting cycle and would plan their hunting trips with this
information in mind. Some reported that visible "tracks in the sky" led them to the nesting
turtles, a claim widely heard in the Caribbean. Eggs were also taken (and to some extent still
are), but generally not the entire clutch. Sometimes a fish pot would be inverted over the nest to
protect the remaining eggs from mongooses. The meat was shared within the community (not
brought to market); shells were sometimes sold. The blood was drunk for medicinal reasons,
usually in cases of asthma. Today the harvest has ended because the turtles are too rare on the
beaches to make the effort worthwhile. There was a clear consensus that sea turtles, at least
nesting hawksbill populations, had steeply declined in the English Harbour area. The fishermen
were quite interested in supporting EAG conservation efforts, such as by reporting sightings.
The EAG hopes to involve selected fishermen in EAG-sponsored surveys of English Harbour
area beaches (see section 4.291). Unfortunately, the concern shown by the interviewees is not
yet enough -- two hawksbills were netted and killed on 16 October 1992 in Falmouth Harbour.

Joseph et al. (1984) estimated that 2500 eggs were collected in 1982 (nation-wide) for
"subsistence use". That number is now perceived to have been a gross underestimate. We believe
that the number of eggs collected illegally each year exceeds 5000, the equivalent of some 40
clutches from all beaches combined. Informants estimate that roughly half of all eggs laid on
Barbuda are stolen each year. Sea turtle eggs used to be available in the public market, but their
possession and sale is now illegal. Eggs are consumed by the finder, shared amongst friends, or
sold on the black market. Mr. Benjamin from Bolans village was selling leatherback eggs
clandestinely for EC$ 3.00/dozen in mid-1992 ('Bushy' Gonzalez, pers. comm., 1992). As a
result of the persistent take of both sea turtles, especially adult turtles and large juveniles, and
their eggs, declines have been noted in both the number of turtles caught in Antigua (Rebel,
1974) and in the number of turtles nesting in general (Cato et al., 1978). There are several
beaches where sea turtles once nested but do so no longer (Table 1). This fact represents a
significant loss to the people of Antigua and Barbuda, for the reappearance of nesting females
has never been observed anywhere in the world on beaches where the native population was
exterminated.

The sale of tortoiseshell jewelry and trinkets is no longer as common as it was in the past.
The few merchants who still offer these products are aiming at the tourist market. Items are
small and include money clips, earrings, and bracelets. The turtles are captured locally and items
are fashioned by local artisans. Shells are probably sold secondarily to the primary commodity
which is meat. Karen Eckert visited 12 tourist-oriented boutiques (chosen more or less at ran-
dom and encompassing a range of products and prices) in St. John's in October 1992 and found
two stores selling tortoiseshell items. At Bailey's Treasure Cove two money clips were priced at
EC$ 25 and 30, earrings (three pair) were EC$ 30/pair, and two bracelets sold for EC$ 25 each.
The clerk was unaware that turtles were endangered and said that tourists buy the products quite
regularly. Joannette's Boutique had eight pairs of earrings and one finger ring for sale at US$ 5


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


each. The Joannette's clerk was new and did not know whether the objects were purchased from
local artisans or imported, nor whether they sold well to consumers.

In addition to retail sales in St. John's, a variety of jewelry was found offered for sale in
October 1992 at the Galley Boutique in the Nelson Dockyard National Park. The items were all
purchased 12-15 years ago from a local artisan (now deceased) and had sold extremely slowly.
Prices (US$) were: 2 upper arm bangles $12 ea; 2 neck chokers $15 ea; 3 wide bracelets $16 ea;
1 medium bracelet $12; 1 slender bracelet $5; 1 child's bracelet $7; 4 hair combs $12-13 ea;
several pairs of earrings $12 ea; numerous pendants, small charms, and miscellaneous items $6-
12 ea. With the exception of the hair combs, all of the Galley Boutique items were graciously
donated by owner Janie Easton at the request of WIDECAST to the Museum of Antigua and
Barbuda for use in a display to educate residents and tourists about endangered sea turtles.

Retail sale of whole shells is relatively rare. In September 1990, two polished hawksbill
shells were offered for sale by a St. Mary's Street sidewalk-vendor. They were approximately 8
and 10 inches (20-25 cm) in length and priced at US$ 20 and 30 (Carla Melucci, pers. comm.,
1992). In July 1992, the wares of a sidewalk-vendor near Heritage Quay included the polished
shell of a locally caught juvenile hawksbill for the price of US$ 15. The shell was about 30 cm
(12 inches) in length (Wendi Webber and Ximena Prudencio, pers. comm., 1992). In November
1992, both the shells of juvenile hawksbills and their scutes were found for sale in St. John's; the
latter sold for EC$ 40/lb (Meg Hoyle, pers. comm., 1992). Jerry Hazelwood, a local diver,
reported seeing "recently" whole shells for sale to tourists, including at stores at the airport, for
about US$ 100. This could not be corroborated by the authors.

In addition to domestic sales, the commercial export of large amounts of shell is a serious
and continuing threat to hawksbill turtles throughout the Wider Caribbean. According to
Japanese Customs Statistics, a significant proportion of shell received by importers in Japan
originates from Antigua and Barbuda. Based on an average yield of 1.34 kg of shell scutes
('bekko') per turtle (Milliken and Tokunaga, 1987), exports from Antigua and Barbuda totalling
3,354 kg (1983-1986, 1990) represent some 2,500 hawksbills! We do not believe that this level
of harvest actually occurs in national waters. We believe that because Antigua and Barbuda is
not party to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna
and Flora), unscrupulous traders have occasionally indicated "Antigua/Barbuda" as the point of
origin for hawksbills exported illegally from elsewhere (section 4.31). The number of locally
caught turtles that enter into international commerce is not known.

It can safely be said that no Antiguan or Barbudan would, at the present time, consider
sea turtle to be an important part of his/her diet; many would not notice its absence were it to
become unavailable. Nor are residents likely to mourn the absence of trinkets made from turtle
shell. Regarding fishermen still partially dependent on turtles, it is anticipated that the loss of
income derived from turtles (should all harvest be banned) will be compensated by directing the
effort previously allotted to turtles to catching fish. Those who take special pleasure in consum-
ing sea turtles and their eggs are relatively few in number and could also be reached on a person
to person basis. With this in mind, it is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that the
new fisheries regulations be immediately amended to provide protection to nesting turtles and
large juveniles (section 4.23), and that a full moratorium be implemented as soon as possible.


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


The opportunity for a national moratorium on the taking of sea turtles in Antigua and
Barbuda appears to be a real possibility. Many of the turtles harvested in Antigua and Barbuda
are taken not by professional sea turtle fishermen but by divers in pursuit of a wide variety of
game and by occasional individuals catching turtles for sport. These people earn their primary
income from sources other than turtle. A ban on the harvest of sea turtles may injure their sense
of personal choice, but not their livelihoods or their ability to feed their families. A moratorium
has been recommended by the fisheries officer for the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States
(OECS) as an emergency measure for recovering sea turtles in OECS waters. In addition, the
recent adoption of the Annexes to the Protocol to the Cartagena Convention concerning Speci-
ally Protected Areas and Wildlife will ultimately require a moratorium on the capture and sale of
turtles and their eggs since all six Caribbean sea turtles are listed on Annex II (see section 4.32).

3.4 Inadequate Regulatory Mechanisms

Regulatory mechanisms are inadequate and in certain cases nonexistent relative to the
protection of sea turtles and their nesting and foraging habitats. The Fisheries Regulations of
1990 protect small juvenile turtles and establish a closed season, 1 March-31 August (section
4.21). There are three serious deficiencies in these regulations. First, the most important size
classes to protect are the large juveniles and breeding adults, not the small turtles. Second, size
limits should be expressed in shell length so that the legality of the catch can be evaluated prior
to land fall. Third, the closed season does not encompass the entire breeding season. It is im-
perative that the adult turtles be protected at all times, on land and at sea. Breeding females are
quite old (20-30 years) before they nest for the first time, and they are expected to lay eggs for
decades. Their loss is sorely felt since they are difficult for the population to replace once they
are gone. Because the majority of hawksbills are still nesting when the season opens on 1
September, some three-quarters of the entire breeding population in Antigua and Barbuda could
be legally exterminated under the present law. This is clearly an unacceptable reality, and regu-
latory changes are needed (section 4.23).

Poaching is a serious regulatory problem for several reasons. First, fines for turtle
violations have only recently become commensurate with the gravity of the offence (section
4.25). Second, no infraction of a wildlife protection law has ever been successfully prosecuted
or even brought to court in Antigua or Barbuda. Therefore, there is no precedent in this country
for enforcement of conservation laws, because the issues have never been raised. Third, the re-
sources for effective law enforcement are not available. In addition to increasing the fines levied
for violations of sea turtle protection laws, a willingness to prosecute illegal actions is needed, as
well as a commitment of resources to do the job. There is a very small Fisheries Division; more
wildlife law enforcement officers are needed. Currently there are insufficient funds to meet
salaries for wardens and not a single boat or plane available for surveillance. Since wildlife and
fisheries conservation is an expensive undertaking for the government, a financial commitment
will be needed for this endeavour. Equally important is the cultivation of a sound conservation
ethic on the part of the citizenry with regard to the protection of turtles and their eggs.

Regulatory mechanisms are also needed to protect critical habitat. It is important that sea
turtles have adequate nesting beaches on which to lay their eggs, or all other efforts to protect
them will be rendered superfluous. As previously stated (section 3.1), sandy beaches represent a


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


prominent and valuable natural resource in Antigua and Barbuda. Therefore, the only hope for
protecting critical nesting habitat is to protect these beaches for economically understandable
reasons and thereby achieve conservation goals as well. Unfortunately, there are no clear
government directives for protecting wildlife habitat as part of larger development programmes.
In the case of sandy beaches, there is some question concerning public versus private ownership.
There is a widely held belief among Antiguans that all sandy beaches are public property, but, in
reality, legal public access only extends to the mean high water mark. Rules of access and
ownership of the beach above and below the water mark must be clarified before cooperative
agreements for the conservation of sea turtles can be reached with concerned parties. An
integrated and unambiguous national coastal zone management plan is long overdue.

In addition to establishing an integrated process for development planning at the
government level which includes and encourages environmental input, the conservation and pro-
tection of sea turtle nesting habitat would be greatly assisted by building cooperative conserva-
tion programmes with private beachfront property owners and the building code authorities (i.e.,
the Development Control Authority for Antigua and the Local Council for Barbuda). Table 1
provides the specifics of ownership for property immediately behind nesting beaches. A very
successful private initiative has already been established with the Jumby Bay Resort on Long
Island, where a sea turtle conservation, research, and education programme based on a local col-
ony of nesting hawksbills is underway. A detailed management plan for this regionally
important nesting beach is being developed (see section 4.122).

Antigua and Barbuda's development control regulations (e.g., zoning) must be responsive
to the conservation needs of its natural resources. Attached to all development approvals should
be a set of conditions regarding ecological impacts of development that must be followed by the
developer. This is particularly needed for projects that are financed with foreign capital, because
plans drawn up in remote foreign countries are usually not responsive to the special needs of
Antiguans and Barbudans to protect their vanishing natural resources. The involvement of all
Antiguans and Barbudans, private individuals as well as government officials, is necessary to
establish development plans and regulations. To facilitate this involvement, a mandatory period
of public review should precede final consideration and decision by Government regarding
coastal development projects. Local conservation groups and concerned individuals should be
encouraged to comment on development proposals that affect sea turtle nesting beaches. This
process stimulates conservation participation by the public, a process frequently missing.

The central government has recently established a Historical, Conservation and Environ-
mental Commission whose role it is to advise the government on matters relating to government
policy, including issues concerning the natural and cultural heritage of the islands. The Commis-
sion is a non-statutory body, and its recommendations are not binding. It is a recommendation of
this Recovery Action Plan that the Commission be involved in decisions regarding major
construction, especially coastal construction, prior to permission being granted to the developer.
The recently completed Country Environmental Profile (CCA, 1991) suggests "providing the
Commission with substantive coordination/integration responsibilities, both for recommending
environmental policy across departmental lines and for establishing procedures for monitoring
the environmental impacts of development activities". The resource management sector's
regulatory framework would be strengthened considerably by improved coordination.


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


3.5 Other Natural or Man-made Factors

Additional problems, natural or man-made, include beach debris and obstacles,
hurricanes and other violent storms, boat strikes, entanglement at sea, and incidental or
accidental catch. An adult leatherback emerged to nest at The River (Barbuda) in 1979, became
entrapped by debris, and died of exposure (Meylan, 1983). During Hurricanes Hugo and Gabriel
(1989), seven hawksbill nests were affected on Pasture Bay, Long Island. Four were destroyed
and three were partially destroyed (Lynn Corliss, 1989 Field Director, Jumby Bay Hawksbill
Project, pers. comm.). Three hawksbills are known to have been struck by fast-moving boats in
1992. A wind surfer struck a sea turtle in nearshore water in June 1992. One of the nesters at
Pasture Bay (Jumby Bay Resort) is characterized by an old wound that clearly resulted from a
hard blow to the posterior of the carapace, perhaps a boat strike. Small hawksbills (5-10 lb) are
occasionally found inside fish pots in the waters of Barbuda in 10 fathoms of water.

Incidents of entanglement are probably numerous, but documentation is scarce. A big
green turtle, perhaps 100 lb, was recently found entangled in a buoy line on the north side of
Barbuda. In 1979, a leatherback was entangled in the cable of a lobster-pot; the fishermen
brought it back for exhibition, charging 25 cents per look before it died. In 1986, another leath-
erback was found entangled in the cable of a lobster-pot, this time east of Antigua. In February
1992, a leatherback became entangled in buoy lines delineating a swimming area at Dickenson
Bay; she was released alive. Large loggerheads, larger than are observed in local waters (see
section 2.1), are periodically found entangled and adrift, having presumably been transported
from more distant waters. One such individual was found off the north side of Green Island,
Antigua, in 1987 tangled up in what appeared to be cargo netting and palm thatch. Marks on the
neck and flippers suggested rope bums. At about the same time, another large juvenile was found
tangled in a "Japanese net" (heavy green fiber net) off the east coast of Barbuda. A decade ago, a
local fisherman told Meylan (1983) that on several occasions he had found loggerheads floating
at sea entangled in pieces of netting. He attributed it to the presence of Japanese fishing boats in
the area.

Incidental catch is a persistent problem, especially with longlines but also occasionally in
trammel nets in coastal waters. Loggerhead and leatherback turtles are the two species most
commonly associated with incidental capture on longlines; hawksbills and green sea turtles are
rarely caught. A leatherback was reported entangled in a fishing net in August 1992, although no
further details are available. Lucien Barreto, a local Antiguan longliner, caught nine juvenile
loggerheads in one set in March 1991 about 35 miles northeast of Antigua. Longlines are baited
with squid and "Pacific pike", set at night, and retrieved in the morning. Turtles are typically
recovered alive and cut loose with the hook still lodged in the throat or mouth. The nine turtles
captured at one time was the most Barreto had ever seen, although he catches "a few" leather-
backs and loggerheads every year. The full extent of the incidental catch problem in Antigua
and Barbuda is unknown. Barreto is one of only two longliners registered in Antigua, yet there
are many other boats of various nationalities fishing in Antiguan waters without permission or
supervision of any kind. Antiguan law enforcement is inadequate to cope with the problem. The
annual incidental take of sea turtles in Antigua/Barbuda waters is estimated to be 100 or more
(see section 4.27), but the actual number will not be known until on-board observers are
provided to monitor the fishing activity of foreign boats in Antiguan waters.


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


IV. SOLUTIONS TO STRESSES ON SEA TURTLES IN ANTIGUA/BARBUDA

4.1 Manage and Protect Habitat

It is intuitive that enacting and enforcing a regulatory framework for the protection of sea
turtles and their eggs is only the first step in our commitment to the survival of these gentle
creatures. Important foraging and nesting habitats must also be afforded protection. Every effort
should be made to minimize present and potential threats to nesting beaches, including sand
mining and careless coastal development. Similarly, the sustainable management of foraging
habitat entails the protection of coastal and offshore waters from industrial and agricultural pol-
lution, solid waste disposal, and destructive practices such as anchoring and dredging. Maintain-
ing the integrity of the marine environment, including coral, sea grasses, and mangroves, not
only benefits turtles but also the commercial fishing industry. In addition, a pristine marine
environment enhances tourism, which is a major source of income to Antigua/Barbuda, earning
80% of total foreign exchange (CCA, 1991). In the sections that follow, the identification of
habitat important to turtles is discussed, as are recommendations and mechanisms for the
longterm preservation of these habitats. Recommendations are underlined for ease of reference.

4.11 Identify essential habitat

No systematic surveys of sea turtle foraging or nesting habitats have been initiated at any
of the three main islands (Antigua, Barbuda, Redonda) that comprise the nation of Antigua and
Barbuda. Many sandy beaches are found on Antigua and Barbuda, and habitat suitable for sea
turtle nesting is estimated to extend over 102 km of coastline (Joseph et al., 1984). In contrast,
Redonda's coastline consists of vertical cliffs and is not conducive to sea turtle nesting. Sea
turtles regularly feed in the sea grass meadows and coral reefs which surround, to varying
degrees, all three islands. In order that effective conservation and management decisions can be
made concerning endangered sea turtles, it is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan
that priority be given to surveys undertaken specifically to identify locally important nesting and
foraging habitats. The information currently available is summarized below.

4.111 Survey foraging areas

There are large areas of shelf habitat (7-50 fathoms) surrounding Antigua and Barbuda
that are characterized by a coral reef/sponge ecosystem. This habitat should be considered very
important for sea turtle foraging, particularly to hawksbills which feed primarily on reef-associ-
ated sponges (see section 2.3). Redonda is surrounded by deep water and provides nearshore
rocky habitat and associated corals, also potentially useful for hawksbill foraging. In addition,
healthy sea grass meadows virtually surround Antigua and Barbuda and are essential to the
survival of green turtles (see section 2.2). Potentially important areas, especially for hawksbills,
are indicated in Figures 5 and 6, which illustrate the approximate distribution of coral reefs
around Antigua and Barbuda, respectively. There are no comparable maps of sea grass distribu-
tion. Resource atlases developed by the ECNAMP project (ECNAMP, 1980) significantly
underestimate the extent of sea grass in the country, especially around Antigua.


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


Long-term planning for the protection of important habitat is not possible until such
habitats have been identified. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that
systematic study of marine habitat use by turtles be undertaken as soon as possible. In the mean-
time, the continued support of fishermen and divers in reporting sightings and anecdotal informa-
tion is appreciated and encouraged. At-sea sightings data should be cataloged and updated by a
single organization, perhaps by the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda (the Museum is an active
participant in the WIDECAST network), since the Museum is already involved in cataloging
cetacean sightings data. Sea turtle data should be made available upon request to fisheries per-
sonnel, non-government groups, and other interested parties. Until more detailed knowledge is
available, it should be assumed that all healthy sea grass meadows and coral reefs are potential
foraging grounds for sea turtles and, as such, should be managed with care and foresight.

4.112 Survey nesting habitat

Antigua and Barbuda host a combined 102 km of available nesting beaches, 26 km on
Antigua and 76 km on Barbuda. Of this, 73 km are undeveloped, mostly on Barbuda. The
remaining 29 km are developed, heavily frequented by people, and located primarily on Antigua.
The 26 km of Antigua's sandy shoreline is broken into numerous small beaches within protected
bays because of the deeply indented nature of the Antiguan shoreline. These beaches are suitable
for turtle nesting to various degrees, depending on substrate, supralittoral vegetation, the fre-
quency and presence of people on the beach at night, the presence of artificial lighting, and
shoreline development. Known or suspected nesting beaches are summarized in Table 1 and in
Figures 3 and 4.

A well-orchestrated field survey of sandy beaches is necessary in order to test the
accuracy of the often anecdotal data summarized in Table 1. Records should be cataloged,
corrected and updated by a single organization. This clearing house has not yet been established,
but may logically be either the WIDECAST County Coordinators (John and Sarah Fuller; see
section 4.53), the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, or the Fisheries Office. It would be very
useful if an interested group, such as the Environmental Awareness Group, would sponsor
ongoing surveys whereby members living on or near beaches agreed to conduct morning walks
daily (or at least 3-4 times weekly) and document nesting crawls. Programmes of this type must
be preceded by training workshops for participants so that no wildlife laws are violated and data
are accurate with regard to species identification (species can usually be determined from crawl
and nest characteristics; see section 4.291). WIDECAST personnel in the Wider Caribbean
region are available to conduct training workshops upon request. Once important nesting areas
have been identified, area-specific management plans should be developed (see section 4.12).

It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that, as a top priority, surveys of
three potentially very important hawksbill nesting grounds be conducted; namely, Sandy Island,
Pearn's Bay beach group, and the Mill Reef beaches on Antigua. Volunteers, student interns, or
hired personnel should spend a minimum of three weeks on each beach conducting early
morning daily surveys to count crawls, identify species (on the basis of crawl characteristics),
and, if possible, make a judgment on whether or not eggs were laid. Full coverage during peak
hawksbill season (June-December) is ideal, but not necessary for the time being. Because full-
season (six month) nesting surveys are available for the last seven years (1986-1992) at Pasture


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


Bay, an accurate 18-day subsample in late July and another sample of similar length in early
October would be sufficient to estimate the annual number of nests and nesting females at these
three sites. Periodic follow-up patrols to record nest loss (e.g., predators, poaching, erosion) and,
after 55-70 days, nest emergence success would also be desirable. For details concerning beach
monitoring, see section 4.291.

Barbuda is a very important island for nesting sea turtles, both hawksbill and green. A
one-day survey conducted by John Fuller on 8 August 1992 from Palmetto Point north to Billy
Point revealed 30 hawksbill crawls. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that
nesting surveys of Barbuda beaches be a high priority, conducted either from the air or by
ground transport. It is not clear at the present time which beaches are most important for
hawksbills; it is very likely that the entire island provides essential nesting habitat. If surveys
reveal concentrated nesting, an intensive nocturnal tagging and research programme similar to
that ongoing at Pasture Bay, Long Island, should be considered. A half-dozen aerial surveys of
the east coast in July and August should clarify which beaches are most important to green
turtles. The best green turtle nesting beaches are expected to be in Two Feet and Welch's bays.
Given the importance of Barbuda to sea turtles, we recommend that consideration be given to
declaring Barbuda a Sea Turtle Refuge, as discussed in the following subsection.

4.12 Develop area-specific management plans

Once important foraging and nesting areas have been identified, the next step is to devise
management plans that address site-specific threats and conservation needs. "Management" can
involve a wide array of options, from simply enforcing existing regulations banning or restricting
the take of turtles and eggs to manipulative options such as the establishment of a hatchery for
eggs threatened by erosion or feral animals. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan
that local authorities initiate studies designed to contribute to area-specific management plans for
important foraging and nesting areas. Common problems that often need to be addressed are
sand mining (section 4.131), pollution, sewage and garbage disposal (sections 4.143, 4.144,
4.146), artificial beachfront lighting (section 4.132), anchoring and dredging (section 4.147), and
the construction of sea walls and jetties (section 4.133). These activities should be closely moni-
tored and evaluated in important foraging and nesting areas. Guidelines for many management
techniques, such as hatchery construction, are available in the Western Atlantic Turtle Sympos-
ium Manual of Sea Turtle Research and Conservation Techniques (Pritchard et al., 1983).

Jumby Bay Resort is currently developing the first management plan with regulatory
guidelines for a sea turtle nesting beach in Antigua and Barbuda. Protection and management of
nesting habitat, protection of the nesting turtles and their offspring, and control measures for
beach lighting and disturbance by resort guests will be included in this plan (section 4.122). The
success of the Pasture Bay beach management plan by Jumby Bay Resort will establish a
precedent for other private initiatives. Several beachfront developments (e.g., Mill Reef) are
potential candidates for a "Jumby Bay-style" management plan, but these beaches must first be
surveyed to determine which would profit most from such a management plan. Area-specific
plans for protecting nesting turtles on public beaches should also be considered, although threats
will, to some extent, vary between public and private beaches. Legal and illegal take of nesting
turtles and their eggs is the biggest challenge for public beaches, while lights, beachfront devel-


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


opment, and harassment pose the most serious threats on developed, private beaches. It would
follow that surveillance and law enforcement are the actions most needed on public beaches. In
all situations, care should be taken not to disrupt nesting and hatching turtles.

In view of the importance of Barbuda to nesting sea turtles, it is a recommendation of this
Recovery Action Plan that the entire island of Barbuda be declared a Sea Turtle Refuge. The
designation could be accomplished under the Barbuda Local Government Act of 1982, which
gives the Barbuda Council power to declare protected areas and accompanying regulations.
Refuge regulations should include all those summarized in section 4.122 (and expounded upon in
more detail in subsequent sections) and should apply to all sandy beaches. Environmental impact
assessments and a period of public review should be required prior to approval of coastal
construction projects (as should be the case throughout the country). A conservation officer or
warden should be appointed in order to ensure compliance with regulations. The residents of
Barbuda live close to the land and have a strong conservation ethic. Care should be taken to
discuss the idea openly with residents prior to any decision being made on the part of Govern-
ment. The support of residents will be central to the success of the Refuge.

With regard to protecting marine habitat, there are two marine parks and both were
established in 1973: the Diamond/Boone Reef complex in Antigua (Figure 7) and Palaster Reef
in Barbuda (Figure 8). The first is formally known as "Diamond Reef Marine Park", or "Salt
Fish Tail Marine Park" and covers the area of the northwest coast of Antigua, including Salt Fish
Tail, Scone Reefs and Diamond Bank. Legislation defines the area to lie within a line
connecting at a point at 17011'06" N, 61o49'30" W and continuing northwards to 1712'18" N,
61o49' 30" W, then continuing westwards to 1712'18" N, 6153'12" W, and finally southwards
to 1711'06" N, 61053'12" W. Palaster Reef Park covers the area of the southern tip of Barbuda
known as Palaster Reef due south of Cocoa Point and Guava Bay. The area is defined as that
which lies within a line commencing at a point at 17031'12" N, 61044'24" W, continuing
northwards to 17031'54" N, 61044'24" W, then continuing west-northwest to 17032'06" N, 61046'
18" W, then continuing southerly to 17031'34" N, 61046'18" W, and finally southeast back to the
first mentioned point.

The marine parks were originally established as fish sanctuaries, with no boating or
fishing allowed. However, there are no wardens and thus no mechanism for enforcement of Park
regulations. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that management plans be
developed for these areas that provide for the enforcement of Park regulations, with special
attention given to conserving endangered species such as sea turtles. The Parks should be
surveyed carefully with regard to their importance as sea turtle foraging and refuge grounds and
wardens should be employed as soon as possible in order to protect fisheries and turtle resources.
In addition to the marine parks, Nelson Dockyard National Park (established under The National
Parks Act, 1984) encompasses four important nesting beaches. Thus, we recommend that moni-
toring of sea turtle nesting activity be implemented as part of the Park's management authority
and that a conservation plan be developed that takes into account the special needs of nesting and
hatching sea turtles (see section 4.122). Since poaching is still a problem on Park beaches, a
resident manager is needed.


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


4.121 Involve local coastal zone authorities

It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that (i) a communications network
with property owners and developers be implemented, (ii) voluntary compliance with regulatory
guidelines by owners and contractors be encouraged by fiscal incentives, government support,
and/or promotional assistance, (iii) a liaison between building code authorities, most importantly
between the DCA in Antigua and the Local Council in Barbuda, be encouraged, (iv) recommend-
dations for coastal zone ordinances be provided to the appropriate government authorities by the
Historical, Conservation and Environmental Commission, and (v) a mandatory 60-day period be
established for public review and comment of development projects that affect sea turtle and
other wildlife habitat (see also section 4.23).

The Development Control Authority (DCA) has absolute authority over construction
plans for housing and resort development. Beach lighting or landscaping regulations can be built
into the DCA permit process without additional changes to the law. However, once the construc-
tion plans are approved, the DCA has no authority post facto to require compliance with sea
turtle protective measures. Thus, in addition to requiring conservation measures to be integrated
into new developments (ideally as a prerequisite for obtaining a construction permit), it is a
recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that there be a legal mechanism to implement
mandatory lighting ordinances or other mitigative measures as the technology and understanding
of sea turtle biology allows further refinements in management techniques.

When important habitats are privately owned, administrators and land owners should be
intimately involved in the design and implementation of sea turtle conservation initiatives.

4.122 Develop regulatory guidelines

It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that when areas are defined as
especially critical to remaining sea turtle stocks, regulatory guidelines should seek to establish a
framework within which appropriate land use and development (commercial, recreational,
residential) can occur. Development proximal to important nesting beaches should carry the
requirement that beachfront lighting be designed in such a way as to prevent the disorientation of
hatchlings or nesting adults, the construction of buildings on sand should be prohibited, and
natural beach vegetation, woody shrubs, and trees should be preserved for hawksbill nesting
habitat (see Ryder et al., 1989, for discussion). The construction of solid jetties and sea walls,
and coastal activities such as sand mining and dredging should be regulated in such a way as not
to result in the erosion of nesting habitat. We recommend that the following specific guidelines
be implemented for nesting beaches and relevant coastal zones throughout Antigua and Barbuda.
The recommendations, adapted from Orme (1989) and Eckert (1989), are further expanded in the
sections) referenced in each category.

Sand mining: Sand mining should be prohibited on all sandy beaches. The removal of
beach sand disrupts stabilizing vegetation, often seriously exacerbates erosion, and has resulted
in the nearly complete loss of some local beaches (section 4.131). Mining pits invite injury to
humans and livestock and accumulate water which may serve as a breeding ground for mosqui-
toes and other unwanted insects.


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


Artificial lighting: Sea turtles, especially hatchlings, are profoundly influenced by light.
Hatchlings depend largely on a visual response to natural seaward light to guide them to the
ocean. In zones of coastal development, sources of artificial light distract the young turtles so
that they turn away from the sea and crawl landward. It is essential that artificial light sources be
positioned so that the source of light is not directly visible from the beach, does not directly
illuminate the beach, and/or emits wavelengths (i.e., 560-620 nm) which are least attractive to
sea turtles (section 4.132).

Beach stabilisation structures: No permanent impermeable engineering structures,
including breakwaters, jetties, impermeable groynes and seawalls, should be placed on the beach
or the nearshore zone if it is likely that such engineering structures will promote erosion or the
loss of adjoining sandy beaches where sea turtles nest (section 4.133).

Design setbacks: Setbacks should provide for vegetated areas including native coastal
vegetation, dunes, and/or lawns between hotels, homes and similar structures, and the beach
proper. Setbacks not only help to protect coastal properties from storm damage, but also reduce
overcrowding of the shorezone, lessen the likelihood that local residents will be excluded from
the beach, and enhance the probability that artificial lighting will not shine directly on the beach
(section 4.133).

Access: Access to beaches should be confined to specific locations and strictly regulated
so as to minimize destruction of backshore vegetation and beaches by trampling and vehicle use.
Motor vehicles should be prohibited on sandy beaches. Whenever possible, access should be
provided by elevated walkways built over the primary dunes and positioned to direct foot traffic.
Parking lots and roadways (including any paved or unpaved areas where vehicles will operate)
should be positioned so that headlights do not cast light onto the beach at night.

Waste disposal: No dumping should be permitted within the nearshore, beach, dune, or
coastal wetland (including mangrove) environments. On the beach, discarded glass and metal
can injure sea turtles and larger objects obstructing the beach can prevent turtles from finding a
nest site. Plastic can block the emergence of hatchlings; lightweight plastic blows out to sea and
pollutes the ocean. Trash cans and regular pickup should be provided in all high-use areas. If
beach cleanup is necessary, it should be done using hand tools (section 4.134).

Vegetation cover and fires: All attempts should be made to preserve vegetation above the
mean high tide line. Creeping vines and other plants stabilize the beach and offer protection
against destructive erosion by wind and waves. Larger vegetation can enhance nesting habitat
for hawksbills, as well as offer natural shielding for the beach from the artificial lighting of
shoreline development. Fires should be prohibited on sandy beaches. Fires are a hazard to the
surrounding dry forest, create unsightly scars on the beach, may scorch sea turtle eggs and
hatchlings beneath the surface of the sand, and can disorient hatchlings. Beach fires should be
restricted to designated grill facilities.

In addition to aforementioned implementing measures for the conservation of nesting
habitat, regulations are needed to safeguard important foraging grounds. When surveys deter-
mine that specific areas, most likely comprised of healthy coral reef and/or sea grass, are impor-


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


tant to sea turtles for feeding, it is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that protected
area or other conservation status be considered. The two areas designated as marine parks in
1973 (section 4.12) were created primarily as fish sanctuaries that prohibit boating and fishing.
Boating need not be banned in sea turtle conservation areas but, at the very least, mooring must
be confined to buoys provided for this purpose and enforced regulations should forbid pollution
and waste disposal, the collection of plant or animal specimens, spearfishing, and the harassment
of native wildlife. An area-specific management plan should be developed for each protected
habitat; mechanisms for law enforcement should be clearly defined.

The following regulatory guidelines are recommended by this Recovery Action Plan in
order to provide sustainable use of the marine environment by both sea turtles and human beings.
These guidelines, adapted from Eckert (1989), are as follows:

Anchoring and dredging: Anchor damage is a leading cause of destruction to sea grass
meadows and coral reefs throughout the Eastern Caribbean. Fortunately, anchor-related damage
is minimal in Antigua and Barbuda. In order to avoid problems in the future, yachts, mini-cruise
ships, and vessels of all sizes should be required to either anchor in designated sand bottom areas
or tie in at approved moorings. At this time there are few cost-effective systems for mooring
larger vessels, such as cruise ships. Ships longer than 200 feet should be required to dock at port
facilities or anchor in specially designated areas. Dredging results in dramatic disruption of the
seabed and often heavy siltation of downstream coral and sea grass. Whenever possible, dredg-
ing sites should be chosen or timed to cause the least amount of downstream silt and
sedimentation (section 4.147).

Waste disposal and general pollution: Comprehensive legislation is needed in Antigua
and Barbuda to regulate point and non-point sources of pollution. The Dumping at Sea Act of
1975 provides some protection against the indiscriminate disposal of waste and chemicals at sea
(section 4.144). However, land-based sources of pollution, such as industrial facilities, agricul-
tural lands, sewage, and ghauts and storm drains, are largely unregulated and wholly unmoni-
tored (sections 4.143, 4.146). Some serious oil spills have already occurred, such as the April
1990 spill which came ashore in Barbuda, and tar balls are commonplace on the windward
beaches of both Antigua and Barbuda (section 4.145). Pollution not only degrades sea turtle
nesting and foraging habitats, but turtles ingest tar, plastic, rope, and other substances, presum-
ably mistaking these for food.

Physical destruction of coral and sea grass: Living coral reefs should not be dynamited
or dragged with chains. Anchoring should not occur in reef or sea grass areas (see above, and
section 4.147). The practices of using chemicals or dynamite for the purpose of stunning fish for
harvest should be prohibited at all times and under all circumstances (sections 4.141, 1.142).
Specimen collecting and trampling of corals should be actively discouraged. The destruction of
coral reefs resulting from these practices can be irreversible in our lifetime. In the absence of the
sheltering influence of offshore reefs, shorelines are often severely altered, resulting in great
economic losses. Sea grass, too, is profoundly important to coastal ecology, to water clarity, and
to commercial and subsistence fisheries. Sea grass is easily degraded and even destroyed by
sedimentation, anchoring, dredging, and explosives.


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


JUMBY BAY RESORT

In recognition that comprehensive guidelines are necessary in order to safeguard impor-
tant habitat, regulations are currently being prepared at Jumby Bay Resort for the long-term
protection of the nationally and regionally important Pasture Bay hawksbill nesting beach on
Long Island. The Pasture Bay beach is approximately 200 m in length and supports about 30
nesting females (range 20-40) each year. About 150 nests (range 100-200) are produced annually
by this population, with an average yield of 18,000 hatchlings. The nesting beach has been
degraded by lights, people, vehicles, improper landscape management practices, and wind
erosion. The Jumby Bay Hawksbill Sea Turtle Project, initiated by the Georgia Sea Turtle Coop-
erative Research and Education Program and WIDECAST-Antigua in 1986, includes research
and population monitoring, habitat management, and education. Members of the Jumby Bay
Club strongly support the Project and have written stringent requirements both for development
in the vicinity of the nesting beach and for behaviour of family and guests on the beach. The
Rules and Regulations ofJumby Bay Club state:

The landscape of the Island is very fragile; there is a rich diversity of plant
material and wildlife that can easily be disturbed or damaged. The salt air, the
constant tradewinds, the lack of water, and the shallow soil depth make it difficult
to repair or replace lost vegetation. Pasture Bay is one of the largest remaining
breeding grounds for the Hawksbill Sea Turtle and the Island is home to a wide
variety of birds. Conservation and protection of the existing landscape and wild-
life will have the highest priority in the development of the Island.

10. Turtle nesting area: During the Hawksbill Turtle breeding season of
June to November, Owners of lots within the turtle nesting impact area
may be required to take extraordinary measures to protect the hatching
population. These may include turning all lights off at 11 pm or use of
blackout curtains or shutters on villa openings toward the sea.

Exterior lighting within the impact area will be limited to that which is
necessary for safety reasons only, such as step or path lights. These lights
must be indirect or concealed source type fixtures. No up-lighting of
vegetation or building will be allowed.

All Villa Owners must have the responsibility to protect the nesting turtles
from being disturbed or molested by their children, guests, or staff

In addition to concerns with house construction, the Jumby Bay Resort is working to-
ward an aggressive beach management programme to recover degraded nesting habitat. Dr. Jim
Richardson, Director of the Georgia Sea Turtle Cooperative Research and Education Program
(Institute of Ecology, University of Georgia), Scientific Director of the Jumby Bay Hawksbill
Sea Turtle Project, and founding member of the WIDECAST Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle
Recovery Team, suggested the following management ideas to Club members at a 28 June 1992
meeting:


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


Landscape Management Design for Pasture Bay:
A Balance of Needs for Villa Owners and Hawksbill Nesting

Executive Summary:

1. Approximately 60% of hawksbill nesting is in front of private villas and future
villa sites, while 40% is in the protected sea turtle nesting area. Important
nesting habitat occurs in mixed shrub communities and beach forest, as well
as in and under mature sea grape trees.

2. There is no biological or aesthetic reason to prevent the compatible use of
Pasture Bay beach by Villa Owners, resort members/guests, and nesting
hawksbill sea turtles. However, an aggressive hawksbill management pro-
gramme is needed to mitigate continuing losses of sand, dwindling nesting
habitat, people disturbance, and villa construction.

3. Natural beach vegetation is essential in maintaining the integrity of the sandy
beach; note that such vegetation provided a very impressive anti-erosional
mechanism against the powerful winds and waves of Hurricane Hugo.

4. Half of the protected sea turtle nesting area is now virtually unusable for
nesting because of the extensive width of the beach. Landscape planting is
needed to rectify this situation. The other half of this area is prime nesting
habitat rapidly reaching carrying capacity for the limited area available for
nests and the number turtles using the area.

5. Tidal sand deposited on the front beach and immediately offshore is in
dynamic equilibrium with all parts of Pasture Bay beach. If sand-holding
vegetation is altered at one location, re-deposition patterns will have reper-
cussions on sand deposits at all other parts of the beach.

6. A net wind-carried loss of sand from the central cul-de-sac of the front beach
to areas behind the beach is naturally replaced, in part, by sand brought by
waves from the north and east ends of Pasture Bay. As a result, the beach
extremities (the north and east ends) are now exposed ledge and cobble
unsuitable for both turtle nesting and desirable beach recreation.

7. The overall depth of Pasture Bay beach is reduced from historical size, as
evidenced by the pedestals of exposed roots supporting beach palm trees, and
there has been a concomitant reduction and degradation of nesting habitat.
Sand from the back beach could be relocated to the front beach to rectify this
situation, as long as wind erosion has been stopped. Hydraulic or mechanical
means are possible.


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


8. Recently planted sea oats, as an emergency measure, have been successful in
stopping wind-eroded sand. However, this exotic grass needs to be replaced
with native vegetation as soon as practical, to keep the original aspect of the
beach.

9. Dead sea grasses raked from the water's edge should be used to mulch seed
beds for native vegetation. The nursery beds should be located parallel with,
and approximately 10 feet from, the high water line. A mosaic of beds is
aesthetically pleasing and good for turtles.

10. Exposed "white" (full spectrum) light shining on the beach is disruptive and
disorienting to hatchlings and nesting females. The use of low pressure sodi-
um vapor lights is encouraged; their 590 nm wavelength is least harmful to
sea turtles. In any event, resort lights should be low, indirect, and screened
from the beach.

The efforts of the Jumby Bay Resort to not only take into account the sea turtles nesting
on the beach at Pasture Bay, but to sponsor the most comprehensive study anywhere in the world
of the nesting behaviour of hawksbills sets a high standard. The importance of this effort cannot
be over-emphasized. One reason for the precarious global status of hawksbills is that it is so
easy, given the value of beachfront property, to quietly exclude them from their breeding areas.
The Jumby Bay Resort has pledged not to let this happen. Toward this end, the Resort is
encouraged by this Recovery Action Plan to (i) replant native beach vegetation in order to retard
beach erosion at Pasture Bay, (ii) extinguish outdoor lights within the turtle nesting impact area
at 7 pm, rather than 11 pm (in 1992, a majority of nesting and hatching occurred prior to 11 pm),
(iii) install LPS lighting when elevated outdoor lighting is essential for security or other
purposes; shield other outdoor lighting within the turtle nesting impact area, (iv) uniformly and
strictly enforce established guidelines, such as "no up-lighting of vegetation" within the turtle
nesting impact area, (v) inform all parties, especially owners and architects, of conservation
guidelines prior to construction or improvements, and (vi) provide finished regulatory guidelines
for the Jumby Bay Resort viz sea turtle conservation as a model to other beach communities.

4.123 Provide for enforcement of guidelines

Consistent and fair law enforcement is crucial to the perpetuation of any conservation or
management programme. Good laws that are ignored are useless. Thus, guidelines should be
formulated with the community in mind so that a general acceptance of the guidelines will
emerge on the part of residents and users. A particularly good example of this is the continuing
involvement of the Jumby Bay Resort in the evolving regulations governing the sustained con-
servation of the important hawksbill turtle nesting beach at Pasture Bay, Long Island. Similarly,
civic groups, proximal residents, and frequent commercial users (e.g., divers, fishermen) in other
proposed protected areas should be made thoroughly familiar with the management programme
and be responsible for reporting any violations that occur. In this way, limited enforcement
personnel will not have additional burdens placed upon them. This does not lessen the impor-
tance, however, of familiarizing enforcement officers with regulations and making sure that all
reports of violations are properly addressed by the appropriate enforcement entity.


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that Wardens be hired (or citizen
volunteer officers identified) for each management area, especially in the case of Parks or other
formally protected areas, and that the financial and logistical support needed for effective law
enforcement be secured. In most cases, legislation employed to designate a reserve or other
protected area -- Marine Areas (Preservation and Enhancement) Act, 1972; Fisheries Act, 1983;
National Parks Act, 1984; Barbuda Local Government Act, 1982 -- embodies provisions for
enforcement, including designating authorized officers and levying fines and penalties. In
instances where supporting legislation does not adequately provide for field enforcement,
amendments or other suitable solutions must be sought in order to provide fully for the
enforcement of area management guidelines.

4.124 Develop educational materials for each management area

Environmental education and public awareness is a fundamental first step toward the
success of any sea turtle conservation initiative. The following actions are recommended:

1. Develop colourful and comprehensive materials (e.g., brochures, posters, sign
boards) that explain clearly the regulations pertaining to the management area.

2. Provide managers of protected areas, management zones, and tourist facilities
with educational materials describing the conservation programme for Anti-
gua and Barbuda's sea turtles.

Materials should be readily available to the public and should include clear descriptions
of what types of activities are permitted (and not permitted) in the management area. Permanent
wooden sign boards at beach entrances are one way to educate users. For example, a sign board
may explain that beach fires and littering are not permitted, pets should be leashed, vehicles must
be parked in designated areas, and sea turtles not harassed or flash-photographed. If an
important nesting beach is closed to the public at night, this should be indicated. A phone num-
ber to report violations should be provided. Other options include the distribution of informative
pamphlets. The Jumby Bay resort has prepared a handout entitled "Jumby Bay Turtle Facts" for
distribution to guests and Club members. The handout includes information on the biology and
conservation of hawksbills, but does not discuss the history of the Jumby Bay Hawksbill Sea
Turtle Project, management considerations, or guidelines for visitors on the nesting beach. We
recommend that the Jumby Bay handout be revised to include specific information on the Pasture
Bay study, particularly guidelines for visitor behaviour while on the nesting beach. General,
national public awareness campaigns are discussed in section 4.4.

4.13 Prevent or mitigate degradation of nesting beaches

4.131 Sand mining

While it is important to remember that sand is needed for construction aggregate, it is
equally important to keep in mind that mining can result in irreparable damage to beaches. The
chronic removal of sand for construction or other purposes can accelerate beach erosion and de-
grade or destroy coastal vegetation by uprooting it or flooding it with seawater. In severe cases,


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


saline ponds are formed in unsightly pits left by mining operations, shoreline trees and other
stabilizing vegetation are lost to the sea, and entire beach habitats are eliminated. Loss of
beaches reduces the coast's potential to support recreation, tourism, commercial development, as
well as reducing nesting habitat for endangered sea turtles.

There are no interior deposits of sufficient size to be mined commercially in Antigua. As
a result, sand was, until recently, mined by the government from several Antiguan beaches.
Today the demand for sand aggregate on both islands is largely met from interior sand deposits
in Barbuda, although some mining continues on the beaches of Antigua. The Beach Protection
Act gives the Director of Public Works authority to grant permission to mine sand. The problem
is that Public Works is the largest user of sand, thus creating an inherent conflict of interest.
Economic pressures to mine are powerful. The greatest defense against this threat is a citizenry
knowledgeable about conservation priorities and self-governed by an environmental ethic, a
citizenry that demands that wise conservation practices be followed by its government.

There are already several examples of beaches that have been mined virtually out of
existence, including the Pearn's Point beaches and Valley Church Beach, Antigua. It is a
recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that the Government impose a ban on beach sand
mining and that laws be developed soon that provide absolute protection to beaches from sand
mining in perpetuity. Mining not only degrades sea turtle nesting habitat, but has the potential to
completely eliminate shoreline sand deposits, thereby preventing residents and visitors alike
from enjoying the recreational benefits of these beautiful coastal habitats. Offshore sand mining
should be discouraged unless it can be shown that the activity will not result in net erosion of
nearby beaches.

4.132 Lights

Sea turtle hatchlings orient to the sea using the brightness of the open ocean horizon as
their primary cue. When artificial lights are present landward of the nesting beach, hatchlings
orient toward bright artificial light sources instead of the ocean horizon. Under these circum-
stances they crawl toward security lights, street lights, private homes, recreational facilities, and
other sources of night lighting. Disoriented hatchlings drawn away from the sea are crushed by
passing vehicles, eaten by dogs and other domestic pets, or die from exposure in the morning
sun. In Antigua there are countless reports of hatchlings crawling inland toward artificial lights.
Artificial lighting, mostly from hotels, shines on the following beaches: Curtain Bluff, Morris
Bay, Crabb Hill Bay, Runaway Bay, Dutchman's Bay, Long Bay, Jabberwock Beach, and
Dickenson's Bay, among others. The problem is also obvious at Coco Point, Barbuda. On Long
Island, hawksbill hatchlings have been disoriented by lights at Mariani's Point (Jumby Bay
Resort), Pasture Bay. In 1989, an entire nest of disoriented hatchlings was rescued from lights at
another owner's home and returned to the sea (L. Corliss, pers. comm., 1990). The Jumby Bay
Resort is taking steps to prevent such incidents from recurring (section 4.122).

Nesting female sea turtles are also disoriented by artificial lighting. In 1990, a hawksbill
nesting at Pasture Bay crawled inland across a resort lawn and was found the next day by
grounds-keepers; she was carted back to the sea and released. In 1991, two females were disori-
ented inland by lights at Pasture Bay and guided back to the beach by on-site biologists. In 1992,


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at least two females were similarly disoriented. Antigua and Barbuda is not alone with this
problem. On Anegada (British Virgin Islands), a leatherback came ashore to nest in May 1988
and died in the morning sun after being disoriented by the security lights of a local business
(Lettsome, 1988 in Eckert et al., 1992). The empirical and anecdotal evidence is supported by
recent research projects designed to evaluate the effect of lighting on nesting sea turtles.
Witherington (1992), examining the problem of artificial lighting on the beaches in Florida
(USA) and Tortuguero (Costa Rica), found that the presence of mercury vapor lights all but
eliminated nesting on affected beaches; nesting of green turtles and loggerheads on those
beaches was 1/10 and 1/20 that observed on darkened beaches. With this in mind, some
beachfront owners in Florida have switched to low pressure sodium (LPS) vapor lighting, which
has little if any effect on nesting females.

In Antigua and Barbuda, it is important that developers and residents alike understand
that nesting adult and newly emerged hatchling sea turtles are very sensitive to lights on the
beach. Planners and developers must be encouraged to modify lighting plans so as not to disturb
sea turtles. Elevated (>8 ft) lights should be required to be LPS lights. Soft white light can be
used for low elevation lighting. In either case, lighting should be shielded from shining directly
on the beach. A common and effective method for shielding is to leave (or plant) a vegetation
buffer between the sea and shoreline developments. Alternatively, shields can be built into the
lighting fixture, as has been done by Jumby Bay Resort at Pasture Bay. In some areas, the
solution may lie in extinguishing lights for specified evening hours (e.g., 1900-0400 hr) during
the hatching season (peak: August-January) so as to reduce hatchling disorientation. This is a
requirement in some parts of Florida, USA. LPS lights do not wholly solve the problem, but
they interfere with turtle orientation much less than do mercury vapor lights.

Based on the above information, it is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan
that lighting restrictions be imposed on construction permits issued by DCA in areas important to
nesting sea turtles. Restrictions should be developed after consulting the National Environmental
and Historical Commission. An environmental consultant should monitor the construction pro-
cess for permit compliance, as well as periodically inspecting the buildings for lighting and other
environmental regulations.

While an absence of lighting is the best guarantee that hatchlings will safely find the sea,
there are some "next-best" solutions proposed by Witherington (1990):

1. time restrictions (lights extinguished seasonally during evening hours when
nesting/ hatching is most likely to occur; e.g., 1900-0400 hrs),

2. area restrictions (restrict beach lighting to areas of the beach where little or no
nesting occurs; the effectiveness of this is diminished, however, because
sources of light several kilometers away can disrupt hatchling orientation),

3. motion-sensitive lighting (sensor-activated lighting comes on only when a
moving object, such as a person, approaches the light; this might be effective
in low traffic areas),


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4. shielding and lowering light sources (low intensity light at low elevations can
be both attractive and adequate for most purposes; the glow can be shielded
from the beach by flowering hedges or other barriers), and/or

5. alternative light sources, since LPS lighting is known to be less attractive to
hatchlings than full-spectrum white light.

In the U. S. Virgin Islands, a book (Raymond, 1984) providing an overview of the pro-
blems posed by beachfront lighting and potential solutions is issued to all developers seeking
permits for projects which may have an effect on sea turtle orientation due to lighting. Many
developers now include this information in their environmental impact assessments and are
designing appropriate lighting systems (R. Boulon, pers. comm.). In Barbados, Dr. Julia
Horrocks (Bellairs Research Institute and WIDECAST Team Member) has sent a letter to hotels
and restaurants built near the beach asking that (i) security personnel report incidents of sea turtle
nesting on the beach, and (ii) lights shining on the beach be redirected or shaded during the
breeding season. If the latter is impossible, she asks if personnel would examine the grounds
each morning and "rescue" hatchlings that mistakenly crawled away from the sea. A similar
notice is being prepared by WIDECAST in the British Virgin Islands. This kind of communi-
cation is encouraged in all countries of the Caribbean. Coastal developers, residents and hotel
owners cannot be expected to be sensitive to an issue that they know nothing about.

4.133 Beach stabilization structures

Beach stabilization structures such as breakwaters, groynes, and solid jetties constructed
perpendicular to the shoreline can actually exacerbate beach erosion, especially down-current.
There are many local cases of severe erosion to beaches down-current of jetties and groynes;
specific examples include Runaway Bay, Dutchman's Bay, and Jolly Beach in Antigua, and The
River in Barbuda. Beach stabilization structures constructed parallel to the shore can also
provoke erosion, especially if they armour the zone of fore dunes. Furthermore, seawalls and
rip-rap unconsolidatedd rock and boulders) can prevent access by female sea turtles to the nesting
beach. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that holistic coastal zone regulations
be developed that mandate responsible coastal zone development, including setback limits, so
that the loss of sandy beach (and the need for stabilizing structures) is minimized. Prior to any
construction, an environmental impact statement (EIS) should be required by a competent
consultant and construction permits granted based on the results of the EIS. A related discussion
on beach rebuilding is presented in section 4.135.

Setback limits are especially important to the conservation of nesting beaches. If
development of land adjoining a sandy beach is planned, it is a recommendation of this Recovery
Action Plan that setback limits be defined that reflect the damage likely to be caused to the beach
and backshore environment during a major storm, and that take into consideration beach and
backshore characteristics. Setbacks should provide for vegetated areas, including lawns and
dunes between hotels, homes and similar structures, and the beach proper. Setbacks of 30-40 m
and 80-100 m from the line of permanent vegetation are reasonable guidelines for upland coast
development and lowland beach coast development, respectively. Setbacks not only help to
protect coastal properties from storm damage, but also reduce overcrowding of the shorezone,


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


lessen the likelihood that local residents will be excluded from the beach, and enhance the
probability that artificial lighting will not shine directly on the beach.

4.134 Beach cleaning equipment

Mechanized beach cleaning equipment employed to remove accumulated seaweed or
litter can crush incubating sea turtle eggs and accelerate erosion; its use should be avoided.
While such equipment is not commonly used in Antigua or Barbuda, there have been exceptions.
Bull-dozers were used at Pasture Bay to clear root debris after Hurricane Hugo in late 1989. As
a result, two hawksbill turtle nests were crushed. Recognizing the importance of keeping
recreational beaches clean, since litter is a serious problem in some areas, every effort should be
made to provide means of waste disposal at beach areas -- or refuse should be returned home
with its user. The Body Shop is commended for the provision of disposal cans at Jabberwock
Beach. The National Parks Authority provides disposal facilities at the Dockyard National Park,
which encompasses sandy beaches. When beach clean-up is necessary, it is a recommendation
of this Recovery Action Plan that hand rakes be used. Beach clean-up should not include the
removal of vegetative cover. Supralittoral trees and shrubbery provide hawksbills with nesting
habitat (e.g., Ryder et al., 1989). Even raking and removal of leaves and grasses above the high
tide line can increase the probability of wind erosion and degrade nesting habitat.

4.135 Beach rebuilding projects

Beaches are sometimes rebuilt or replenished with sand from adjacent areas when the
erosion of beach areas, particularly those fronting resorts, becomes economically threatening.
This expensive practice need not be detrimental to sea turtle nesting if the sand that is replaced is
similar to the original material (e.g., organic content, grain size) and the rebuilding activities do
not take place during the primary reproductive season. If rebuilding is necessary, replacement
sand should be similar to that which was eroded, thereby maintaining the suitability of the beach
for the incubation of sea turtle eggs. If beaches are rebuilt during the green/hawksbill turtle
nesting season (peak: June to November) or hatching season (peak: August to January), heavy
equipment and activity can deter nesting and crush eggs. In addition, the new overburden suf-
focates incubating eggs and prevents hatchlings from successfully digging their way out of the
nest. If leatherbacks are known to nest on site, personnel should keep in mind that nesting
begins in April (rarely March), peaks in May, and finishes in early July.

It is worth noting that there is an imbalance in the system somewhere when sand is lost
from an otherwise predictable beach habitat and is not replaced by natural accretion processes.
The underlying cause can be as direct as an up-current solid jetty or pier that is literally
"starving" the down-current beaches by interrupting the constant longshore transport of sand and
sediments. Or the impetus may be more subtle, as occurs with the removal of beach vegetation,
or when nearshore pollution retards the productivity of calcareous (coralline) algae and other
sand sources. In the case of Jolly Beach, which was recently replenished with sand dredged from
a swamp nearby, the new sediments did not remain. This indicates that the underlying cause of
the problem was not addressed. The linkages between development and the persistence of sandy
beaches are complex and should be considered with great care before construction proximal to
sandy beaches is permitted. If dunes are leveled, vegetation removed and/or jetties constructed,


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the likelihood of committing the owners to repetitive and increasingly expensive rebuilding is
heightened. In the case of Jolly Beach, the failed rebuilding effort will probably not be attempt-
ed again in the near future. Useful information regarding beach rebuilding in sea turtle nesting
habitat can be obtained from the Florida Department of Natural Resources, 19100 SE Federal
Hwy, Tequesta, Florida 33469-1712 USA.

4.14 Prevent or mitigate degradation of marine habitat

4.141 Dynamiting reefs

Dynamiting living coral reef as a fishing practice is highly destructive and unacceptable
under any circumstances. The resulting explosions) can be lethal to many forms of marine life,
including sea turtles, fishes, and prey items important to sea turtles and commercial fishes. The
use of explosives to capture fish is prohibited in Antigua and Barbuda. It is a recommendation of
this Recovery Action Plan that enforcement of the relevant Fisheries Act provisions be strict and
consistent. Part II (Marine Reserves and Conservation Measures) section 24.(1) of the Fisheries
Act, 1983, states: Any person who (a) permits to be used, uses or attempts to use any explosive,
poison or other noxious substance for the purpose of killing, stunning, disabling or catching fish,
or in any way rendering fish more easily caught; or (2) carries or has in his possession or control
any explosive, poison or other noxious substance in circumstances indicating an intention of
using such explosive, poison or other noxious substance for any of the purposes referred to in the
preceding paragraph, is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not
exceeding twenty thousand dollars (EC$ 20,000).

4.142 Chemical fishing

The use of chemicals, such as chlorine bleach, to stun reef fish or to catch lobster
destroys coral and other forms of marine life associated with the reef. Chlorine is highly toxic to
corals. Fishing with chemicals or other noxious substances is illegal in Antigua and Barbuda,
but it reportedly occurs on rare occasions. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan
that enforcement of the relevant Fisheries Act provisions (see section 4.141, above) be strict and
consistent with regard to prosecuting fisherman employing chemicals whilst fishing.

4.143 Industrial discharges

Industrial discharges contaminate food chains, causing fish and other marine organisms
to become toxic to sea turtles and man (see section 3.1, Marine Habitat, for discussion).
Examples of industrial effluent in Antigua and Barbuda include such things as the Antigua
Public Utilities Authority discharging oil into ghauts (stream valleys) that ultimately lead to the
sea. Spills, including some which have resulted in oil on the beach, have been reported at the
bunkering station at Crab's Peninsula. The West Indies Oil Company Terminal is another poten-
tial source of industrial waste. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that (i)
existing pollution laws be reviewed for completeness and enforceability, providing Government
with recommendations for changes where needed, (ii) industries be monitored to confirm that
discharges are duly registered with Government and properly identified as to content, and (iii)
fish and other marine life in suspected polluted areas be tested for the presence of toxins.


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


The Dumping at Sea Act, 1975, makes it an offence to, amongst other things, "dump
substances or articles in Antiguan waters [or] dump substances or articles in the sea outside
Antiguan waters from an Antigua ship, aircraft, hovercraft or marine structure" [N.B. Since
independence, Antigua is understood to refer to Antigua and Barbuda]. The law further provides
that it is illegal to dispose of substances at sea "from a structure on land constructed or adapted
wholly or mainly for the purpose of depositing solids in the sea." The penalty on summary
conviction is a fine of EC$ 2,000 and imprisonment for 12 months; on conviction on indictment,
a fine of EC$ 25,000 and imprisonment for five years. In some cases it may be possible to
prosecute land-based, point-source polluters under this law, particularly if the offending industry
or government facility can be shown to have constructed conduits specifically for the purpose of
disposing effluent directly to the sea. This interpretation would have to be tested in court.

4.144 At-sea dumping of garbage

Garbage and other substances dumped at sea contaminates the environment and threatens
the lives of sea turtles. Death to marine organisms as a result of ingestion or entanglement is
widespread (e.g., O'Hara et al., 1986; Laist, 1987; CEE, 1987). Mrosovsky (1981) has
summarized data showing that 44% of adult non-breeding leatherbacks have plastic in their
stomachs (plastic bags are consumed by the turtles who mistake them for jellyfish). Styrofoam
and other soft plastics also present a significant health hazard to sea turtles (Balazs, 1985). A
great deal of debris discarded from cruise ships and merchant ships ultimately washes ashore on
nesting beaches in Antigua and Barbuda (especially the windward beaches), as it does through-
out most of the Eastern Caribbean, providing evidence of the magnitude of the problem. This is
certainly true at Pasture Bay, an important hawksbill rookery, where a variety of ocean-borne
debris collects on the north and west shores of the bay.

Dumping violations by the boating community are difficult to monitor and require a
concentrated effort at public education, coupled with convenient places to safely dispose of
refuse on shore and stiff penalties for offenders. As noted above (section 4.143), the Dumping at
Sea Act (1975) includes stiff penalties upon conviction for disposing of "any substance or
articles" from any marine vessel or structure at sea. Unfortunately, while the Act allows the
Minister to appoint enforcement officers, such appointments have yet to be made. The govern-
ment of Antigua and Barbuda should register its concern with cruise ship lines, merchant ships
and military vessels that garbage not be thrown overboard, citing aesthetics and dangers to mar-
ine life. Warning should be made that offenders will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

There are efforts underway to solicit support from the yachting and fishing communities
in the reduction of litter at sea. For example, the Port Authority provides facilities for cruise
ships to dispose of their waste. This and other relevant information about regulations governing
the marine environment of Antigua and Barbuda is provided to captains when they check-in with
the Port Authority. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that a campaign be
undertaken to alert marine users of the threat to fisheries and turtles from the indiscriminate
disposal of waste at sea. Relevant information should be provided at the Annual Charter Yacht
Show (where the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda generally has a booth to solicit assistance
from the yachting community in reporting whale sightings) and during Sailing Week each April.
National media attention should be requested.


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


4.145 Oil exploration, production, refining, transport

Byproducts of oil and the oil industry pose a grave threat to sea turtles. Behavioural
experiments indicate that green and loggerhead sea turtles possess limited ability to avoid oil
slicks, and physiological experiments show that the respiration, skin, some aspects of blood
chemistry and composition, and salt gland function of 15-18 month old loggerheads are
significantly affected by exposure to crude oil preweathered for 48 hours (Vargo et al., 1986).
There is some evidence to suggest that hawksbills are also vulnerable to oil pollution. Hawks-
bills (predominantly juveniles), were only 2.2% (34/1551) of the total sea turtle standings in
Florida between 1980-1984, yet comprised 28.0% of petroleum-related strandings. Oil and tar
fouling was both external and internal. Chemical analysis of internal organs provided clear
evidence that crude oil from tanker discharge had been ingested (Vargo et al., 1986). Carr
(1987) reported juvenile hawksbills (to 20 cm) "stranded [in Florida] with tar-smeared sargas-
sum"; some individuals had ingested tar. Aged crude oil turns to tar balls which float on the
surface of the ocean and can cause turtles that ingest them to die for physical rather than
chemical reasons. Fresh crude oil on nesting beaches can be highly toxic to incubating eggs.

Some serious spills have already come ashore from the Atlantic, such as in April 1990
when a slick some 10 ft (3 m) deep and several miles long came ashore in Barbuda. Several
beaches were probably affected, but no immediate site inspection was done. An offshore spill in
1988 contaminated a segment of Pasture Bay beach with crude oil and tar. Several nesting
hawksbills were physically contaminated by the soft tar, but no negative effects on health or
nesting activity were noted by scientists studying the turtles that year. Most windward beaches
on both Antigua and Barbuda, especially the latter, are littered with tar balls to varying degrees.
Nesting beaches and incapacitated turtles should be routinely inspected for oil and tar damage.
Evidence of contamination should be reported to the Historical, Conservation and Environmental
Commission (Ministry of Economic Development), Coast Guard, and/or the Fisheries Division
(Ministry of Agriculture). Preventative measures are urgently needed, including strong coastal
zone regulations for land-based refineries, monitoring programmes for the municipal drainage of
oil from fuel storage facilities, gas stations and motor vehicles, and centrally coordinated oil spill
contingency plans in the case of a spill. Relevant topics and response protocol have been discus-
sed by the Disaster Preparedness Committee and a National Oil Spill Contingency Plan is under
development.

The danger always exists of an oil spill from tankers transporting or unloading oil.
According to the CCA (1991), the proposal to relocate the West Indies oil bunkering and storage
facility (now at Friar's Hill) to one of three possible sites -- Urlings, Fishers Point, or Crabbs --
"poses a serious threat of contamination and pollution of reefs and beaches in proximity to the
[chosen] site. Leakages, which are almost inevitable, would degrade these areas over time; in the
event of an oil spill, habitat destruction could be much quicker and more extensive. The absence
of adequate oil spill contingency planning procedures and in-country capabilities for oil spill
clean-up increase the necessity for a full environmental impact assessment and review" before
the Government of Antigua and Barbuba moves ahead with plans for this proposed project. The
most likely relocation site now appears to be Cades Estate, arguably the worst choice with regard
to potential environmental calamity. Cades Reef complex is vulnerable to ruin from a serious oil
spill, as is downstream habitat important to sea turtles for foraging, and the physical blight on


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


this pristine coastal landscape from the construction of a tank farm is seen by many as unaccep-
table. The whole concept of relocation should be reconsidered. If the move is inevitable, careful
consideration should be given to selection of a site which will truly minimize potential
environmental and aesthetic damage.

Ships in Antiguan and Barbudan waters should be warned that pumping an oil-con-
taminated bilge is illegal and will be punished severely. Governments of the countries of registry
should receive similar warnings. The Dumping at Sea Act (see sections 4.143, 4.144) and the
Fisheries Act should be fully enforced in regards to oil pollution. The Fisheries Act gives the
Minister power to make regulations with respect to protection of all marine flora and fauna. This
mechanism could be usefully adopted to promulgate more comprehensive oil discharge
regulations, and the Minister is urged to explore this avenue. It is a recommendation of this
Recovery Action Plan that a comprehensive National Oil Spill Contingency Plan be adopted and
implemented as soon as possible. With regard to international cooperation in the event of a
serious spill, Antigua and Barbuda ratified the Cartagena Convention (see section 4.32), as well
as the Protocol Concerning Co-operation in Combating Oil Spills in the Wider Caribbean Region
associated with this Convention, on 11 September 1986. Article 3 of the Protocol states:

a. The contracting Parties shall, within their capabilities, cooperate in taking all
necessary measures, both preventive and remedial, for the protection of the
marine and coastal environment of the Wider Caribbean, particularly the
coastal areas of the islands of the region, from oil spill incidents.

b. The contracting Parties shall, within their capabilities, establish and maintain,
or ensure the establishment and maintenance of, the means of responding to
oil spill incidents and shall endeavor to reduce the risk thereof. Such means
shall include the enactment, as necessary, of relevant legislation, the prepara-
tion of contingency plans, the identification and development of the capability
to respond to an oil spill incident and the designation of an authority respon-
sible for the implementation of this protocol.

4.146 Agricultural run-off and sewage

As explained in the recently published Country Environmental Profile (CCA, 1991), the
landscape today is a result of land use patterns dating back to the early seventeenth century. In
the space of a few decades, much of the natural vegetation was cleared for cultivation of tobacco,
indigo, cotton and, later, sugar cane. Production of sugar cane in Antigua under the colonial
plantation system was well established by the close of the eighteenth century. Only 5,500 acres
(of a total land area of 69,120 acres) are reported to have been spared from cane production
(Cater, 1944 in CCA, 1991). Much of the land that became available with the end of sugar
production in the 1960's is used today by small-scale farmers; only 1.5% of operational farms
exceed 10 acres and nearly 70% of all farmers pursue this occupation on a part-time basis.
Despite the small-scale nature of modern agriculture (the contribution of agriculture to the
national economy is <5%; CCA, 1991), Lausche (1986) refers to a study reporting Antigua/
Barbuda to be the largest importer of pesticides in the Lesser Antilles. Betz (1989), in her report
on land-based sources of marine pollution in the Caribbean, cites Hammerton (1985 report to


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


CARDI and USAID) in which he lists seven types of fungicides, 17 types of herbicides, and 18
types of insecticides, acaricides, and nematicides available for use in Antigua and Barbuda.

Agricultural pesticides and herbicides frequently enter the natural environment as
persistent toxins. These toxins accumulate in the food chain, and can present a significant threat
to large predators (such as some fish and sea turtles) and to man when the contaminated species
are consumed. Data are insufficient at the present time to evaluate the full extent to which
agricultural run-off is affecting the productivity or viability of marine habitats important to sea
turtles, but it is clear that deforestation has resulted in massive runoff of upland soil and its
associated agricultural chemicals. Pesticide pollution was implicated in a recent fish-kill in the
Potworks Dam (Fernandez and Williams, 1990). There is no list of pesticides approved for use
in Antigua and Barbuda, no records or control of imports, and no controls on distribution or
disposal (Lausche, 1986; DeGeorges, 1989). It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action
Plan that the Pesticide Control Board established by the Pesticide Control Act of 1973 be
reactivated, that chemicals used for commercial agricultural purposes be registered, and that their
use be monitored for compliance with accepted safety standards. Antigua/Barbuda is one of the
few places in the Wider Caribbean still lacking proper statutory management of these toxins.

Central sewage treatment is lacking in Antigua and Barbuda. There are no municipal
sewage treatment plants on either island. Most domestic sewage is handled by individual septic
tanks with drain fields to the porous limestone rock. Raw sewage is discharged from a
nonfunctional private plant at McKinnons' swamp. High bacterial levels have already been doc-
umented in some areas, such as in Dickenson Bay. Contaminants are also found in the treated
effluent of industrial and municipal sewage released to the ocean from discharge pipes located
well offshore. Such out-of-sight, out-of-mind disposal practices are dangerous not only to sea
turtles, but also to other marine organisms and to people who consume these organisms. The
only way to control this problem is to control the quantity and chemical makeup of the effluent at
its source. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that strong environmental pro-
tection laws be developed to address the threat of coastal and ground water contamination
resulting from untreated or incompletely treated sewage and that investment in infrastructure to
treat and properly dispose of raw sewage be a priority for both Government and industry.
Routine monitoring for compliance with environmental standards is essential.

4.147 Anchoring and dredging

Dredging (resulting in bottom disruption and widespread siltation) and indiscriminate
anchoring severely degrade sea grass meadows and coral reefs. Sea grasses are essential in the
diet of the green sea turtle (section 2.2), and the hawksbill feeds principally on sponges and other
invertebrates associated with coral reefs (section 2.4). Thus, the effects of dredging and
anchoring, both increasingly common in the West Indies (and increasing but still relatively
infrequent in Antigua and Barbuda), will eventually have profoundly negative consequences for
green and hawksbill turtles in nearshore waters. In addition to providing food for sea turtles,
both of these habitat types serve as essential "nursery" and juvenile development habitat for
commercially important fishes and contribute to SCUBA diving tourist dollars. For all these
reasons, minimizing damage to these important and fragile ecosystems should be a priority.
Widespread damage, especially to living coral, can be irreparable in our lifetime.


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


Traditional anchoring sites for yachts and other vessels in Antigua and Barbuda are
mainly restricted to mud or sandy bottoms. Damage to living coral and sea grass is not wide-
spread. Nevertheless, Boon's Reef in Antigua show signs of anchor damage and should be
examined in order to determine the extent of the destruction. Sea grasses show anchor damage
in the Green Island area, North Sound area, Dickenson Bay, Jolly Beach, Curtain Bluff, and
Falmouth Harbour. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that mooring systems
be examined and implemented by local authorities as a way of mitigating severe damage to sea
grass and coral reef habitats. Several islands, including Tortola and Virgin Gorda (British Virgin
Islands) and Saba (Netherlands Antilles) have instituted comprehensive and very effective moor-
ing systems to protect the long term integrity of slow-growing coral reefs. Technical information
can be found in Halas (1985). Halas (1985) has designed a relatively inexpensive mooring
system (US$ 100-200/mooring) which is adequate for holding yachts and live-aboard dive boats
<55 ft in length and <36 tons.

With regard to dredging, the Jolly Harbour Project undoubtedly causes siltation down-
current, as has been the case with the recent dredging of St. John's Harbour. Dynamiting and
dredging the channel at the new U. S. Navy Marine Terminal Facility (SEAL training) has
resulted at times in a silt plume stretching four-plus miles westward along the coast. It is a
recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that whenever possible, dredging sites be chosen
or activities timed to cause the least amount of downstream silt and sedimentation.

4.2 Manage and Protect All Life Stages

In the previous subsections, a variety of solutions to contemporary assaults on sea turtle
nesting and feeding habitats were presented and explained. The subsections which follow focus
on managing and protecting the turtles themselves. Existing conservation legislation is reviewed
and improvements are proposed. Other relevant topics are discussed, such as law enforcement,
incidental catch, alternative livelihoods for turtle fishermen, population management, and
population monitoring and trend analysis.

4.21 Review existing local laws and regulations

The Turtle Ordinance of 1927 granted partial protection to all species of sea turtle with
the exception of the loggerhead, Caretta caretta. It established a closed season, 1 June-30 Sep-
tember, inclusive, during which time one could neither catch, attempt to catch, sell nor possess
any sea turtle or its eggs. In addition, the Ordinance fully protected sea turtles less than 20 lb in
weight. Upon conviction, any turtles or eggs in possession were to be forfeited and any net or
other instrument used in the crime could be seized. A person found guilty of violating the Ordin-
ance was liable to a fine not exceeding Ten Pounds. WIDECAST personnel in Antigua, realizing
that the Ordinance was clearly antiquated and not responsive to the needs of diminishing sea
turtle numbers in Antigua and Barbuda, recently petitioned the government to revise the law to
provide full protection to large juveniles and adult size classes, as well as extend the closed
season through the nesting season, a mandate which would reflect the gravity of the sea turtles'
plight. The effort was partially successful in that the closed season was extended, the minimum
size limit was raised to include a larger range of juvenile size classes, and the loggerhead turtle
was included for the first time; however, breeding adults were not protected.


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


The Fisheries Regulations of 1990 (The Fisheries Act, 1983) state:

21.(1) The Minister shall by Notice published in the Gazette declare the close season for
turtle which until otherwise declared shall commence from the 1st day of March and end on the
31 st day of August of every year.

(2) No person shall:

(a) fish for, take, sell, purchase or have in his possession any turtle
or part thereof, during the close season for that species of
turtle;
(b) disturb, take, sell, purchase or have in his possession any turtle
eggs; or
(c) interfere with any turtle nest;
(d) take, sell, purchase or have in his possession any undersized
turtle;
(e) sell, purchase or have in his possession the shell of any under-
sized turtle. [N.B. Activities described in (2)(b)-(e) are prohib-
ited at all times.]

(3) For the purposes of this regulation "undersize" means --

(a) Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) less than 350
pounds (158.75 kg) in weight;
(b) Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) less than 180 pounds (81.65 kg)
in weight;
(c) Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) less than 85 pounds
(38.50 kg) in weight;
(d) Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) less than 160 pounds (72.57
kg) in weight.

The Regulations further prohibit the use of a speargun for fishing in Antigua and Barbuda
without first having obtained written permission from the Chief Fisheries Officer. Any person
contravening any of the provisions of these Regulations is guilty of an offence and is liable upon
summary conviction to a fine of EC$ 5,000 or to imprisonment of twelve months. The Fisheries
Act of 1983 also includes a mechanism for marine reserves and other habitat conservation mea-
sures. The Act reads, in part:

22.(1) The Minister may, by notice published in the Gazette, declare any area of Antigua
and Barbuda waters and, as appropriate, any adjacent or surrounding land, to be a marine re-
serve where he considers that special measures are necessary --

(a) to afford special protection to the flora and fauna of such areas
and to protect and preserve the natural breeding grounds and
habitats of aquatic life, with particular regard to flora and fauna
in danger of extinction;


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...



(b) to allow for the natural regeneration of aquatic life in areas
where such life has been depleted;
(c) to promote scientific study and research in respect of such
areas; or
(d) to preserve and enhance the natural beauty of such areas.

The Act establishes that it is illegal (unless by permission of the Minister) within the boundaries
of a marine reserve to fish, take or destroy any flora and fauna other than fish, dredge, extract
sand or gravel, dispose of waste or other pollution, or construct any building; penalty for a
convicted offence is not to exceed EC$ 10,000.

The Marine Areas Preservation and Enhancement Act of 1972 established (as of 1973)
two marine protected areas, one at Diamond Reef and Salt Fish Tail Reef in Antigua and a
second at Palaster Reef in Barbuda. These are more fully discussed in section 4.12 of this
Recovery Action Plan. The Marine Areas Preservation and Enhancement Act gives the Minister
responsible for Fisheries much the same power to designate protected areas as are granted by the
revised Fisheries Act, but the 1972 Act also provides for acquiring adjacent lands important to
the reserve, assigning management authority, regulating use, parking, concessions, licensing of
boats and guides, fees, and enforcement.

Also relevant to the protection of specific life stages, in particular nesting females and
eggs, is the Beach Protection Ordinance of 1957 which grants the Director of Public Works the
ability to regulate the removal of sand from beaches. A permit is needed to, amongst other
things, remove sand or other substrate from a beach or to "convey or move" for building or
construction purposes any beach sand. The problem is that Public Works is the largest user of
sand, thus exposing an inherent conflict of interest (section 4.131). Furthermore, penalties upon
conviction of an offence include very minimal fines (not exceeding EC$ 50) and imprisonment
for a term not exceeding three months. The Beach Control Ordinance of 1958 vests the
"foreshore of the Colony and the floor of the sea" in the Crown and prohibits any use of the
foreshore or the floor of the sea in connection with trade, business, or any commercial enterprise,
but the Ordinance fails to define "foreshore".

4.22 Evaluate the effectiveness of law enforcement

Current law enforcement is inadequate to non-existent. Necessary improvements include
encouraging Government to enforce laws and prosecute infractions, modifying penalties to
include fines and imprisonment that reflect the gravity of the sea turtles' plight (see section 4.25),
and seeking additional law enforcement agents and financial/logistical support for wildlife man-
agement departments. The Minister can designate authorized fisheries enforcement officers
under Section 26 of the Fisheries Act; presently both Fisheries and Police personnel are involved
with the enforcement of conservation provisions. Notwithstanding recent additions in Fisheries
Division personnel, the nation has not yet come to terms with the idea that it can be a criminal
offence of a serious nature to violate sea turtle or other conservation laws. Consequently, through
-out the law enforcement system, there is a reluctance to take the law seriously. No arrests have
ever been made for violations of turtle conservation regulations. It is likely that the judiciary
system would prosecute such a case to the fullest extent of the law.


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


4.23 Propose new regulations where needed

Wildlife management laws and regulations pertaining to sea turtles must reflect the
biological realities of sustainable harvest. Neither the Turtle Ordinance of 1927 nor the Fisheries
Regulations of 1990 reflect a current understanding of sea turtle ecology, and neither responds to
the needs of diminishing sea turtle numbers in Antigua and Barbuda. It is a recommendation of
this Recovery Action Plan that a moratorium be implemented on the capture and sale of sea
turtles and their products until such time as there is sufficient information to show that a
regulated harvest will not compromise the sustainable recovery of depleted sea turtle stocks.
Interim legislation, if needed, is described in section 4.232. In addition, regulations to conserve
important breeding and feeding grounds are needed. It is recommended by this Recovery Action
Plan that surveys be undertaken to identify important habitat (section 4.11), that area-specific
management plans be developed (section 4.12), and that a 60-day public comment period be
required for all development plans above a certain minimal size before approval may be received
from the government. Contractors/owners who respond voluntarily to suggestions for greater
environmental sensitivity in their developments should be rewarded with fiscal incentives. This
could take the form of tax breaks, government support or promotional advertising by
conservation groups, international publications, and the travel industry for cooperating resorts.

4.231 Eggs

The Fisheries Regulations of 1990 provide for the protection of sea turtle eggs, making it
an offence to disturb, take, sell, purchase or possess any turtle eggs or interfere with any turtle
nest at any time (section 4.21). Nevertheless, the illegal collection of eggs continues. An esti-
mated one-half of all eggs laid in Barbuda are harvested, in addition to an unquantified propor-
tion of those laid in Antigua (section 3.3). It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan
that a concentrated effort be made to inform the public that the harvest of sea turtle eggs (all
species) is prohibited. Reports to the Fisheries Office or Police of violations should be encour-
aged. Penalties upon conviction should be strict in order to set an example for others who may
consider contravening these regulations. It is an unambiguous biological reality that the contin-
ued harvest of eggs will guarantee the extinction of local nesting populations, regardless of any
other conservation measures.

4.232 Immature turtles

Any continued harvest of the already depleted sea turtle resource is viewed as counter-
productive to the objective of sustained recovery of local sea turtle populations. It is a recom-
mendation of this Recovery Action Plan that an indefinite moratorium on the harvest of sea
turtles of all sizes be enacted. If an interim period prior to the enforcement of a full moratorium
is unavoidable, Regulation 21 (Turtles) of the Fisheries Regulations of 1990 (Fisheries Act,
1983) should be substantially revised and implemented during an interim period not to exceed
one year. During this time, Fisheries personnel should be preparing the fishing community for a
ban. It should be recognized that whilst the interim regulations described below represent a
significant advancement over the present regulatory framework, they are in no way capable of
realizing the objective of a sustained recovery of depleted sea turtle stocks. They are intended
only to serve as a credible intermediate step toward full protection.


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Any interim regulations should restrict harvest to juvenile green and loggerhead turtles,
and further confine the legal harvest to green and loggerhead turtles with a curved carapace
length less than 24 inches (60 cm). Small juvenile turtles are completing a period of rapid
growth. If turtles must be harvested, this size class is more capable of being replaced than the
adult class. The harvest of olive ridleys, hawksbills, and leatherbacks of any size should be
forbidden immediately. Olive ridleys and hawksbills are seriously depleted in the Western
Atlantic and no amount of harvest can be justified, even on an interim basis. Since only adult
leatherbacks are encountered, there is no opportunity to harvest immatures of this species. With
this in mind, Regulation 21 (Turtles) should be repealed and replaced with the following interim
text:

21.(1) The close season for turtle until otherwise declared shall commence from the 1st
day of March and end on the 30th day of November of every year.

(2) No person shall:

(a) catch or take, or attempt to catch or take, or cause to be caught
or taken any Green (Chelonia mydas) or Loggerhead turtle
(Caretta caretta) during the close season; or
(b) notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a), at anytime
catch or take, or attempt to catch or take, or cause to be caught
or taken any Green or Loggerhead turtle which is greater than
24 inches (60 cm) in carapace (shell) length; or
(c) catch or take any Green or Loggerhead turtle using a Spear
Gun (Fish Gun); or
(d) buy, sell, offer or expose for sale, or have in his possession the
whole or any part thereof of any Green or Loggerhead turtle
during the close season; or
(e) notwithstanding subsection (a) take, capture or disturb or
attempt to take, capture or disturb any Green or Loggerhead
turtle or the eggs of same found on the shore or within one
hundred yards thereof; or
(f) buy, sell, offer or expose for sale, or have in his possession
eggs of any Green or Loggerhead turtle.

(3) No person shall:

(a) catch or take, or attempt to catch or take, or cause to be caught
or taken at anytime or in any place any Hawksbill turtle
(Eretmochelys imbricata), Olive Ridley turtle (Lepidochelys
olivacea), or Leatherback turtle (Dermochelvs coriacea) or the
eggs of such turtles; or
(b) buy, sell, offer or expose for sale, or have in his possession the
whole or any portion of Hawksbill, Olive Ridley, or Leather-
back turtles, including the meat, oil, shell or eggs of such
turtles.


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


(4) Any person contravening any of the provisions of these Regula-
tions is guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon summary con-
viction to a fine of $5,000 or to imprisonment of twelve months;
and, in addition thereto, any turtle parts, products or eggs and any
boat, vehicle and/or equipment used in connection with the com-
mission of an offence specified in Regulation 2 or 3 shall be for-
feited to the Crown save and except that no such forfeiture shall
take place in the event of the owner thereof satisfying the Court
that he did not know of the use thereof in the commission of such
offence.

Turtles must be landed alive in order that oversized turtles and protected species can be
released unharmed. Consequently, the provision that turtles not be speared is an important one.
Nets should be checked regularly to ensure that ensnared turtles do not drown or become
vulnerable to predators. Turtles legally landed should be killed humanely prior to butchering.

4.233 Nesting females

Sea turtles are long-lived, and adult females will lay eggs for many years. Adult sea
turtles represent decades of selective survival (sexual maturity is reached for most species in the
Western Atlantic at 20-35 years), are the most difficult life stage for a population to replace, and
are (along with subadults just entering their breeding years) the most important life stage for the
survival of a sea turtle population (e.g., Crouse et al., 1987; Frazer, 1983, 1989). It is crucial to
remember that, regardless of the expense and care taken to protect sea turtle habitat, eggs and
juvenile life stages, it is inevitable that we will loose the sea turtle populations that nest in
Antigua and Barbuda if we continue to eliminate our breeding animals. It is, therefore, an urgent
recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that adult turtles be protected at all times and
under all circumstances. The majority of hawksbill sea turtles nesting in Antigua and Barbuda
are still routinely visiting their nesting beaches when the season opens on 1 September. In 1991,
for example, 26 of 34 (76%) hawksbills nesting at Pasture Bay, Long Island, could have been
legally killed because they were still nesting after 1 September. No population, especially one
characterized by delayed maturity and high natural adult survival, can withstand such pressure,
which is why sea turtles are greatly depleted from their former abundance (section 3.3).

4.234 Unprotected species

It is important that all sea turtle species and their eggs are explicitly protected.

4.24 Augment existing law enforcement efforts

The law enforcement capability of Antigua/Barbuda is not sufficient to deal adequately
with the problem of sea turtle protection. A cooperative private initiative is needed. The follow-
ing actions are encouraged:

1. Private individuals (including fishermen, divers, and boaters) should assist
governmental law enforcement efforts by reporting violations and may be
appointed as authorized officers under the Fisheries Act.


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2. Owners of nesting beaches or beachfront property should be urged to pro-
vide for regular patrols by trained personnel to protect nesting turtles and
their eggs.

3. Research efforts should be encouraged that, by the nature of the presence
of research personnel, serve also as a deterrent to illegal activities.

4. The names of individuals guilty of persistent infractions of sea turtle laws
should be publicized in national media.

We recommend that the Minister appoint several additional authorized officers from
amongst the civilian population who would be unpaid but have commitment to the natural
resources of Antigua and Barbuda. Government (Fisheries Division) and/or non-government
groups (Environmental Awareness Group) should place placards in selected public areas
reminding people, residents and tourists alike, of the laws protecting sea turtles and requesting
that violations be reported to the Fisheries Division. The media could also be used to greater
advantage, publicizing the plight of sea turtles and encouraging residents to get involved. A
separate Division of Conservation Law Enforcement would be highly desirable. Conservation
Officers should be specifically trained in environmental law and enforcement procedures and be
responsible for regulations concerning mining and minerals, pollution, protected species,
fisheries and marine resources, boater safety, game and hunting, and coastal zone permits and
compliance. Officers should be stationed in both Antigua and Barbuda and have reliable access
to marine vessels and other essential transport.

4.25 Make fines commensurate with product value

Turtle meat was selling for up to EC$ 6.00 per lb in 1992 (comparable to fish), or about
EC$ 100 for a whole turtle. Thus, current fines are commensurate with product value and with
the gravity of the offence. Any person convicted of contravening any of the provisions of the
1990 Fisheries Regulations, including the sea turtle provisions (see section 4.21), is liable to a
fine of EC$ 5,000 or to imprisonment of twelve months. In addition, any fishing vessel (together
with its gear, stores and cargo) and any vehicle, fishing gear, net or other fishing appliance used
in the commission of the offence can be forfeited (Section 33, Fisheries Act, 1983). A
commitment on the part of the government to enforcing current regulations is needed, as well as
to providing the resources necessary to carry out the job.

4.26 Investigate alternative livelihoods for turtle fishermen

The expert advice of Fisheries Officers, as well as from other government officials, the
OECS, WIDECAST, the IUCN, and other organizations would be useful in order to identify
alternative income sources for the 2-3 individuals that still rely on sea turtles for significant
nutrition or income. These alternatives might include conservation livelihoods, enforcement
duties, or enhanced fishing opportunities. Consideration need not be given to those who take sea
turtles only for sport and are not tied to the resource for valid economic reasons.


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4.27 Determine incidental catch and promote the use of TEDs

The incidental capture and death by drowning of sea turtles in shrimp trawl nets does not
occur in Antigua/Barbuda. Thus there is no need for the implementation of turtle excluder de-
vices (TEDs) which release trawl-caught turtles. However, the entanglement of sea turtles in fish
pot lines and in longlines is perceived to be an increasingly serious problem. The numbers of
turtles taken incidentally by a multi-national legal and illegal longline fishing industry within and
adjacent to Antiguan/Barbudan waters and its economic zone are not precisely known, but we
are in the process of estimating the take from ongoing interviews with fishermen. Preliminary
evidence suggests that the toll approaches 100 or more turtles each year, mostly loggerheads and
leatherbacks. Entanglement and incidental catch also occurs in trammel nets, seines, and gill
nets. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that incidents of entanglement be
documented by the Chief Fisheries Officer, that the right to place on-board observers on foreign
fishing vessels within the EEZ be established, and that the Government support the use of
(TEDs) by shrimp trawlers throughout the Wider Caribbean.

It is further a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that the Government not
license purse-seining vessels or other large-scale commercial fishing enterprises to fish in the
waters of Antigua and Barbuda. Historically, it has been virtually impossible to monitor the
activities of large-scale foreign fishing enterprises operating legally or illegally in the waters of
Antigua and Barbuda. It is widely known that several of these fishing technologies, including
purse-seines, longlines and driftnets, kill large numbers of non-target species, including marine
turtles, throughout the world every year. In addition to serious incidental catch problems, large-
scale indiscriminate fishing discourages local fishermen with regard to conservation methods.

4.28 Supplement reduced populations using management techniques

Identifying and protecting important foraging areas and natural beaches (section 4.11)
and revising fisheries legislation to include an indefinite moratorium on the harvest of sea turtles
and their eggs (section 4.23) are considered by this Recovery Action Plan to be the highest
national management priorities. Second priority should be placed on identifying threatened
nesting or foraging populations that would benefit from specific, hands-on management
initiatives. Continuing support of ongoing monitoring and conservation programmes, such as that
at Pasture Bay, Long Island, is essential. Implementing management options such as the
establishment of a hatchery for eggs threatened by erosion or excessive depredation should be
undertaken as needed using the advice of sea turtle experts and pursuant to management
techniques described in Pritchard et al. (1983).

An individual sea turtle has the capacity to lay thousands of eggs in her lifetime, yet the
probability that a given egg will lead to the production of a mature female is less than one per-
cent. Many hundreds of hatchlings must enter the sea for each female that survives to adulthood.
For all sea turtle nests not harvested but allowed to develop, it should be a conservation manage-
ment goal to see that at least 50% of these hatch successfully. Recognizing that there will con-
tinue to be productivity losses to predators, erosion, natural levels of infertility, etc., it is impor-
tant that Government take quick steps to protect eggs from human consumption. Where neces-
sary to protect eggs from poachers or predators, fenced hatcheries may have to be considered.


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


But hatcheries should be used only if absolutely necessary. The artificial incubation of eggs and
the improper handling of eggs and hatchlings can be disastrous. Incubation temperature is
largely responsible for determining hatchling sex, so any attempt to artificially incubate eggs
may skew the normal sex ratio of the nest.

The occasional erosion-prone nest should be relocated to a safe place on the natural
beach. The decision to do so should be made at the time of egg-laying. If eggs are moved after
the first 24 hr, the risk is high of dislodging the tiny embryo from the inner lining of the eggshell
and killing it. Sometimes a compromise has to be made. If, for example, eggs are being washed
away, such as by a storm surge, an attempt to salvage the clutch is prudent. There may be a
steep decline in the hatch success of the rescued nest, but this would be preferable to a total loss.
Eggs should always be handled with great care and reburied on a natural beach, preferably the
one where the female made the original nest. The new nest should be dug to the same depth as
the original nest and in the same type of habitat (open beach vs. beach forest) so that the
temperature of incubation is not altered. Hatchlings should always be allowed to emerge from
the nest naturally and traverse the beach unaided as soon as they emerge. Each hatchling is very
important and contributes to the probability that enough turtles will mature to perpetuate the
population. These hatchlings, when mature in about 20-30 years, will return to the beaches of
Antigua and Barbuda to lay the eggs of the next generation.

4.29 Monitor stocks

A population of animals cannot be managed adequately until its numbers are counted
with statistical accuracy. Standing stocks and changes in numbers that may reflect worsening
conditions are impossible to identify without such accuracy. Existing statistics on the turtle pop-
ulations of Antigua/Barbuda are virtually nonexistent. The following actions are recommended:

1. Designate Index Beaches for intensive monitoring.

2. Implement immediately a programme for the proper statistical evaluation
of the existing numbers of sea turtles.

3. Establish a system of sub-sampling to ensure methods are comparable be-
tween different size classes, different locations, and different observers.

4. Implement a fisheries programme for gathering information on the num-
bers of turtles taken, and the number sold for either domestic use or inter-
national distribution.

5. Encourage research that will provide statistical estimates of stocks and de-
velop a long-term stock assessment programme to identify trends over a
period of decades.

6. Select one individual (ex officio or otherwise), either a government official
(or office) or a member of the WIDECAST local network, to function as a
repository for statistical data.


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


The following subsections articulate acceptable methodology regarding monitoring nests, hatch-
lings, and the larger size classes of turtles. A time-table and budget for the monitoring effort are
presented in section 4.6.

4.291 Nests

Because it is neither possible nor necessary to monitor all sea turtle nesting beaches in
Antigua and Barbuda, it is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that Index Beaches
be selected for comprehensive study. These areas should encompass important nesting habitat
for leatherbacks, hawksbills, and green turtles and should be monitored on a daily basis during
the breeding season for nest and hatch success. At least two major nesting beaches or areas on
each of the two main islands should be selected as Index Beaches and protected from activities
that compromise the suitability of the habitat to support sea turtle nesting. One Index Beach al-
ready fully monitored is Pasture Bay (Jumby Bay Hawksbill Sea Turtle Project) on Long Island,
north of Antigua. This programme sets the standard for other beaches chosen for in-depth cover-
age. Whether monitoring efforts occur at night or during early morning hours, it is important to
provide for a measurement of sampling efficiency, including nests missed, the ability to identify
the age of a nesting crawl and the species responsible, and the ratio of nests to total crawls. The
potential for aerial surveys should be investigated, in particular with regard to measuring nesting
activity on remote beaches; aerial survey protocol is described in Pritchard et al. (1983).

The Jumby Bay Hawksbill Sea Turtle Project has already provided many important de-
tails necessary for the accurate interpretation of nesting monitoring data from other beaches. For
example, the study has shown that hawksbills nest five times per season and that most females
remigrate to the nesting beach on two- or three-year intervals. The approximate ratio of nests to
crawls at Jumby Bay is 0.67, although this ratio may vary from beach to beach. The nest:crawl
statistic is very important because it converts crawl counts to estimated nest counts. Having
established an estimated nest count (which can be gleaned from early morning tallies of nesting
beach crawls) and knowing that average fecundity is five nests/female/season, the number of
females nesting during a particular year can be fairly estimated. As an example, if 30 crawls are
counted during early morning patrols of a particular beach, an estimated 20 (30 x 0.67) would be
considered nests. Dividing 20 by five nests per female shows that four turtles nested that year.
Finally, using remigration indices (these have not been fully defined) converts average annual
population size to total population size. [N.B. It should be noted that hawksbills may nest
indiscriminately between adjacent beaches; thus, to gain an accurate picture of nesting activity,
the full extent of the nesting area must first be defined.]

It is often difficult to confirm the deposition of eggs during early morning beach walks,
but in some cases it is clear the turtle returned to the sea without ever attempting to dig. This is a
"false crawl". Alternatively, when a poacher or predator has exposed eggs, or hatchlings are
observed, nesting can be confirmed. In cases of an undisturbed crawl and potential nest site,
distinguishing a true nest from an unsuccessful attempt is difficult even for an experienced
worker. Gently probing for the eggs with a sharp stick will sometimes confirm the presence of a
nest, but this is strongly discouraged because bacterial invasion of broken eggs may destroy the
entire nest. In the case of hawksbills, even finding a site suitable for probing among dense
vegetation can be difficult. Hence the logic that crawls (or tracks), rather than nests, be the basis


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


of reporting. When a crawl has been counted, it should be disguised with a palm frond or a
gentle sweeping motion of hands or feet in order to dissuade possible poachers from finding the
site and also to prevent the crawl from being counted twice.

Identifying a fresh crawl as to species is possible in many cases, since sea turtles leave
either a symmetrical or an asymmetrical track in the sand. In the first case, the pattern is made
by the simultaneous movement of the fore flippers. In the second case, the pattern alternates like
a zipper, a result of the turtle moving her fore flippers in an alternating rhythm. Leatherbacks
leave a deep, symmetrical crawl about 2 m in width. Green turtles also leave a symmetrical
crawl, but only about 1 m in width; the nest site is often characterized by a deep, solitary pit 1 m
or more in depth and breadth. Hawksbills and loggerheads leave an asymmetrical crawl, the
hawksbill about 0.7 m in width and the loggerhead about 1.2 m in width. The hawksbill crawl is
often very faint, however, since the animal averages a mere 54 kg (Caribbean Nicaragua:
Nietschmann, 1972 in Witzell, 1983). Loggerheads are typically twice as massive, averaging
about 116 kg in Florida (Ehrhart and Yoder, 1978 in Dodd, 1988). In addition, hawksbills will
often make their nests deep within the shelter of Coccoloba or other beach vegetation.

As noted above, the nest:false crawl ratio for each beach is important. For hawksbills,
the ratio can be approximated by using the Jumby Bay figure. Once the number of nests laid per
species is known for a particular beach, a knowledge of the average number of clutches laid per
female (estimated to be four for green turtles, five for hawksbills, six for leatherbacks) can be
used to estimate the number of breeding females at that site. To obtain a more accurate
assessment of the number of females nesting per year on a particular beach, as well as the return
intervals both within and between seasons by individuals, all-night patrols must be undertaken by
trained personnel and the tagging of nesting females initiated. Tagging is not something to be
undertaken lightly. It is time-consuming and can be expensive. Most importantly, one does not
learn much about nesting dynamics from tagging for a year or two. A long-term research
commitment is requisite for knowledge gained beyond that obtained from daily crawl counts.

Beach surveys could be undertaken by volunteer groups, as suggested in section 4.112, if
coordination (such as by the EAG) were available. The EAG youth group (EAG'ER) is encour-
aged to continue and expand its preliminary survey efforts in the English Harbour community
under the supervision of Veronica Micheal, EAG Environmental Education Coordinator. The
group has conducted periodic walking surveys of Pigeon Point and Freeman's Beach since 1991.
Their objective has been to quantify reportedly significant losses of hawksbill nests to mon-
gooses and to involve the community in sea turtle conservation. The EAG's concept of collabor-
ating with one or two area fishermen and a small group of dedicated students is excellent. Using
both EAG and community resources, we recommend expanding the survey effort to June-
November morning patrols of Windward, Pigeon Point, Big Rendezvous, and Little Rendezvous
bay beaches. Participants (and interested members of the community) should be required to
attend a brief but comprehensive training seminar sponsored by the EAG and WIDECAST.

In addition to morning surveys, nocturnal patrols should be undertaken periodically
throughout the season (e.g., one week of nights per month). These nightly efforts are not
intended to gather systematic data, but rather to provide participants a chance to witness egg-
laying and acquire a keener understanding of the turtles and their behaviour. This experience is


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


very useful when it comes to interpreting nesting crawls on the beach during the day. Participants
should plan to spend a week with the Jumby Bay Hawksbill Turtle Project leaders learning
proper beach etiquette and the techniques for measuring and tagging, if such activity is planned
for the English Harbour area. As stated above, tagging should be not be undertaken lightly.
Done incorrectly it can be painful and counter-productive. Done correctly, however, it can
provide useful information on post-nesting movement if tagged turtles are captured by fishermen
in distant countries and the tag returned (all tags are stamped with a return address).

4.292 Hatchlings

On beaches where sea turtle nesting occurs, it is necessary to identify causes of hatchling
mortality. Choose an adequate sample of sea turtle nests from selected beaches and follow the
fate of the eggs through hatching and emergence. Record losses to predators, erosion, wave-
wash, crushing by vehicles, etc. Calculate hatching success by analysis of nest contents
following the natural emergence of all the baby turtles. Estimate the number of hatchlings from
the number of broken egg shells, then estimate total clutch size by factoring in the number of
undeveloped eggs, pre-term embryos, hatchlings dead in the nest, etc.

4.293 Immature and adult turtles

The monitoring of juvenile and adult turtles requires special preparation and can be much
more difficult than counting nests or evaluating hatchling mortality. For example, quantification
of sea turtle numbers in the water by aerial survey has never been particularly successful. This
technique probably should not be attempted here except with extreme caution as to conclusions
reached. Instead, identify transects along reefs and grass beds for counting foraging sea turtles in
a statistical manner suitable for replication. Solicit the assistance of divers and other private
individuals to perform this task as a volunteer effort. Establish a network for reporting the
presence of turtles found moribund or dead on beaches. Gather information from fishermen and
boaters on sightings of sea turtles at sea. Prepare data forms that will function as guides for
gathering all pertinent information. Again, select one individual, either a government official or
a member of the WIDECAST local network to function as a repository for statistical data.

Beyond sightings and standings data, specific and highly valuable information can be
gained using bio-telemetry. Comprehensive monitoring of juvenile populations can only be
accomplished using radio or other remote tracking technologies designed to document range and
movement. Range and movement data are also necessary for the effective conservation of re-
productively active adults. The monitoring of gravid females during the nesting season is
particularly important. Without accurate information on inter-nesting behaviour and movement,
at-sea conservation initiatives regarding incidental catch, pollution, habitat protection, etc. are far
less likely to be successful. The assistance of qualified professionals should be solicited to
design and implement a study to monitor stocks at sea using bio-telemetry.

4.3 Encourage and Support International Cooperation

Sea turtles are highly migratory throughout the Caribbean; no one nation can adequately
protect them without the cooperation of other States. Antigua/Barbuda is strongly encouraged to


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


pursue international sea turtle conservation programmes with the OECS, CARICOM, the
Caribbean Environment Programme of UNEP, and to participate in cooperative fisheries
symposia such as the Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium (WATS). The fact that Antigua and
Barbuda ratified the Cartagena Convention in 1986 (section 4.32) and was instrumental in the
drafting and adoption of the new Protocol for Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW)
associated with this Convention, speaks highly for its willingness to participate in the interna-
tional conservation community. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that Gov-
ernment ratify the SPAW Protocol and the CITES treaty. International pollution control treaties
are also important to Antigua and Barbuda; specifically, MARPOL 1973 (with Protocol 1978)
and the London Dumping Convention 1972. These treaties are discussed in more detail below.

4.31 CITES

The 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and
Flora (CITES) is among the most powerful wildlife treaties in the world. With 118 member
nations worldwide, the most recent being Barbados (USFWS, 1992), it has been very effective at
reducing international commerce in endangered and depleted species, including their parts and
products. Appendix I lists endangered species (including all species of sea turtle), trade in which
is tightly controlled; Appendix II lists species that may become endangered unless trade is
regulated; Appendix III lists species that any Party wishes to regulate and requires international
cooperation to control trade; Appendix IV contains model permits. Permits are required for
species listed in appendices I and II stating that export/import will not be detrimental to the
survival of the species. It is an urgent recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that
Antigua and Barbuda, which is not yet a Party to this Convention, accede as soon as possible.
This step is especially important because it appears that some wildlife traders are falsifying
shipping documents to indicate "Antigua and Barbuda" as the point of origin for sea turtle
products illegally exported from CITES countries to Japan.

According to Japanese Customs Statistics, 849 kg of 'bekko' (hawksbill shell scutes) was
exported to Japan between 1983-1986 from Antigua/Barbuda (Milliken and Tokunaga, 1987).
Based on a calculated average yield of 1.34 kg of bekko per turtle imported into Japan from the
Caribbean region (Milliken and Tokunaga, 1987), this trade represents about 630 endangered
hawksbill turtles. Japanese dealer's data indicate an even higher level of export, equal to some
1,089 kg (813 turtles) between 1984-1986. The authors of this Recovery Action Plan consider it
impossible that these turtles were exported from Antigua/Barbuda (there is no evidence that the
harvest is high enough to support such trade and no evidence of stockpiling of shell). This
conclusion is supported by Milliken and Tokunaga (1987) who suggested that shipments of shell
obtained elsewhere in the Caribbean had been deliberately labeled "Antigua/Barbuda" because of
our non-Party status with regard to CITES. Canin (1991), in a review of the international aspects
of Japanese hawksbill shell industry, also considered it unlikely that the shell exported to Japan
from Antigua and Barbuda (which, in 1990, was 2,505 kg -- among the highest volume of bekko
export in the world) had been obtained locally. Antiguan authorities deny any knowledge of the
export, further suggesting foul play on the part of unscrupulous dealers.

In order to eliminate such abuse on the sovereignty of Antigua and Barbuda by
smugglers, it is essential that Antigua and Barbuda ratify CITES. It is encouraging that Adrian


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Brown (Customs Officer, Ministry of Finance) and Everette Williams (Forestry Assistant
Officer, Ministry of Agriculture) attended the Caribbean CITES Implementation Training
Seminar held in Trinidad, 14-18 September 1992. This comprehensive seminar, hosted by the
Government of Trinidad and Tobago and the CITES Secretariat, was convened to familiarize
Eastern Caribbean governments, especially non-CITES parties, with the Convention.

4.32 Regional treaties

In 1940, the Convention on Nature Protection and Wildlife Preservation in the Western
Hemisphere was negotiated under the auspices of the Pan American Union. Twelve of the
parties to the Western Hemisphere Convention are in the wider Caribbean region (Antigua and
Barbuda is not a party). The Convention has not been as effective as it might have been,
however, since it contains no mechanism for reaching decisions binding upon the parties but
leaves each party to implement the treaty's provisions as it find "appropriate". The Bonn
Convention for the Conservation of Migratory Wild Animals, if ratified by enough nations in the
wider Caribbean, could be an effective tool in the conservation of migratory species, such as sea
turtles. It was developed to deal with all threats to migratory species, including habitat
destruction and taking for domestic consumption. Unfortunately, only France, the Netherlands
and the United Kingdom, among nations of the wider Caribbean, have signed this Convention.

The 1973 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, known as
the MARPOL Convention, is an important treaty for the conservation of marine habitat. Its
objective is "to preserve the marine environment by achieving the complete elimination of
international pollution by oil and other harmful substances" (UNEP, 1989). Antigua and Barbu-
da deposited its instrument of ratification on 9 February 1987. The Convention has five Annexes
that give detailed technical specifications regarding the way in which a ship must be built and
equipped to prevent major pollution of the marine environment in case of accidents, as well as
technical requirements to minimize operational discharges. The five Annexes are for oil, chemi-
cals in bulk, packaged chemicals, liquid sewage, and garbage. Regarding Annex 5 (garbage), it
has been proposed to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) by the nations of the
Caribbean that the Caribbean Region be declared a "Special Area". This proposal has been ac-
cepted, but will only come into force when nations install facilities to receive garbage on shore.

The most promising regional environmental treaty with regard to the protection of sea
turtles and their habitats is the United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) Regional Seas
Convention in the Caribbean, known as the Convention for the Protection and Development of
the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region (the "Cartagena Convention"). The
Convention is coupled with an Action Plan, known as the Action Plan for the Caribbean
Environment Programme (APCEP). The First Intergovernmental Meeting on APCEP was
convened by UNEP in cooperation with the Economic Commission for Latin America in
Montego Bay, Jamaica, 6-8 April 1981. The representatives of Governments from 22 States in
the region 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 the Cartagena Convention and ultimately adopted both the Convention and a Protocol


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Concerning Co-operation in Combating Oil Spills in the Wider Caribbean Region. The Conven-
tion describes the responsibilities of Contracting Parties to "prevent, reduce and control" pollu-
tion from a variety of sources (i.e., pollution from ships, from at-sea dumping of waste, from
land-based sources, from sea-bed activities, and from airborne sources). Article 10 is of special
interest 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." Antigua and
Barbuda ratified the Convention on 11 September 1986.

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 (i.e., Caretta caretta, Chelonia mydas, Eretmochelys imbricata,
Dermochelys coriacea, Lepidochelys kempii, and L. olivacea) in Annex II (Eckert 1991; UNEP,
1991). The unanimous vote on this issue is a clear statement on the part of Caribbean
governments that the protection of regionally depleted species, including sea turtles, is a priority.
Antigua/Barbuda 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 the
government has not yet ratified the Protocol. It is a strong recommendation of this Recovery
Action Plan that Antigua and Barbuda ratify the SPAW Protocol with its Annexes at the earliest
possible opportunity.

4.33 Subregional sea turtle management

It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that the Antigua/Barbuda Fisheries
Officer work closely with regional groups such as the WIDECAST, OECS, CARICOM, CCA,
UNEP, and others on cooperative sea turtle recovery and management programmes. The OECS/
FAO Draft Report of the Workshop on the Review of the Harmonized Fisheries Legislation
(March 30 April 2, 1992) recommends a moratorium on the taking of sea turtles in member
countries. This decision meaningfully strengthens the recent decision by Parties to the UNEP
Cartagena Convention to ban the direct and incidental harvest of marine turtles throughout the
Wider Caribbean. Representatives of Antigua and Barbuda should actively support OECS-wide
(and regional) protection for sea turtles. Sea turtles are migratory marine animals and unilateral
conservation, while important, is insufficient without equal protection in neighboring states. In


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the case of Antigua and Barbuda, cooperative programmes to monitor stocks and enforce
regulations should be established with Anguilla, St. Martin/Maarten, and St. Barthelemy to the
north, Saba, St. Eustatius, and St. Kitts and Nevis to the west, and Montserrat and Guadeloupe to
the southwest. Full regional efforts are also needed, as clearly shown by the capture in Barbuda
of a green turtle tagged earlier at Aves Island (Cato et al., 1978) and the more recent capture in
Dominica of a hawksbill tagged on Long Island, Antigua.

Since sea turtle tagging is new to Antigua and Barbuda and is only being done at Pasture
Bay, Long Island, it is not surprising that little direct evidence is currently available regarding
the international movements of Antigua and Barbuda turtles. There has been only one recapture,
and that was of a hawksbill tagged while nesting at Pasture Bay, Long Island, on 18 June 1991.
The same turtle was captured by a fisherman in Dominica during the first week of November
1991. Recognizing that tag returns can provide valuable information on the range of sea turtles,
it is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that the Jumby Bay Hawksbill Turtle
Project continue to tag the females nesting at Pasture Bay, and that trained personnel in Antigua
do whatever they can to promote responsible, long-term tagging efforts in neighboring
countries. Furthermore, fishermen should be made aware of turtle tagging efforts and should be
encouraged to participate in sea turtle conservation by returning tags removed from dead turtles
to the address engraved on the tag. An observer should never remove a tag from a living turtle,
but should a live tagged turtle be captured accidentally in a net, for example, the tag number
should be recorded prior to the turtle being released back to the sea. This information should be
sent to the tag address.

4.4 Develop Public Education

4.41 Residents

It is important that residents have access to sea turtle information so that informed
decisions can be made regarding the management and conservation of these endangered species.
Fortunately, there is a growing effort on the part of several groups in Antigua and Barbuda to
design and implement public awareness programmes that include sea turtles. Such efforts, which
often are accompanied by national media coverage, have been made by the Fisheries Division,
EAG, Body Shop, Cable and Wireless, and C-TV (local cable "superstation"). The EAG is
presently building a library of natural resource materials and WIDECAST is actively involved in
providing scientific papers and other references, as well as posters, brochures, videos, and slides.
In addition, EAG and WIDECAST personnel are working together to design two colour
brochures to share with schools, community groups, museums, and selected places of business,
as well as with tourists and other visitors. One will provide a general explanation of sea turtle
biology, why turtles are endangered, and what regulations protect them in Antigua and Barbuda.
The other will have more local flavour, focusing on the history and future of local sea turtles and
what is being done by EAG and others to promote sea turtle conservation.

WIDECAST has developed several information packets about hawksbills nesting at
Pasture Bay for Jumby Bay Resort home owners, as well as given public presentations to home
owners and their guests both on the beach during turtle patrol and in more formal settings. We
encourage sea turtle research and programme leaders at Jumby Bay Resort to provide copies of


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their approved guidelines to safeguard the hawksbill nesting beach at Pasture Bay, Long Island,
to other beach communities (see section 4.122). The Jumby Bay Hawksbill Turtle Project also
includes programmes and slide shows in the public schools of Antigua, sometimes with live
turtle hatchlings. These programmes, conducted by the Jumby Bay research biologists and in
collaboration with the EAG, are in much demand by Antiguan teachers. School programmes
such as these should be a high priority in Antigua and Barbuda, for the roots of a conservation
ethic are nurtured at a young age. These programmes should treat more than the biology and
conservation of sea turtles. Children should be taught that the continued presence of sea turtles
in our waters is a necessary part of our national pride and important for the quality of life in
Antigua and Barbuda. In addition, and also relating to children, the Jumby Bay program is
assisting with the development of a children's book focusing on hawksbill sea turtles. This book
is expected to be available for distribution in 1993 or 1994.

Since 1991, the EAG has been active in providing lectures and slide shows about sea
turtles to the public schools, mainly primary schools. Programme expansion into the secondary
schools has begun; Science Clubs are being targeted as a priority. A video of the Jumby Bay
Resort hawksbill research programme has been provided to the EAG and this has been a popular
school presentation. Unfortunately, only two schools have the equipment necessary to view
videos. The EAG is presently seeking a grant to purchase its own video and slide viewing
equipment in order to expand its community outreach capacity. The EAG has done remarkable
job of public awareness and creative programming, despite the fact that the Group has no paid or
full-time staff. Full advantage should be taken of the print and electronic media in getting the
sea turtle conservation message across to the citizenry of Antigua and Barbuda.

Informative programmes on the conservation and biology of Antiguan sea turtles have
also been given to local dive clubs and to the staff of the Jumby Bay Resort. These programmes
are very popular and much appreciated by the audiences. SCUBA dive clubs should be
encouraged to become involved with cooperative research efforts by keeping records of sightings
on standard forms provided for this purpose. A central clearing-house for the data is essential.

4.42 Fishermen

Fishermen who specialize in the taking of sea turtles should be encouraged to explore
alternative fishing targets, in order that sea turtles might have a chance to recover their numbers.
Work with "opportunistic fishermen", those that take lobster and reef fish with spear-guns, is
necessary to heighten the probability that they will leave the occasional sea turtle alone. The
possibility of utilizing some of the fishermen as paid research assistants should be considered;
this has worked well in other areas and works particularly well where researchers use tangle nets
for mark-recapture studies of growth and habitat use. The Fisheries Division, in cooperation
with the Antigua and Barbuda Sport Fishing Club and the Antigua and Barbuda Fisherman's
Association, has undertaken an intensive data-gathering project in order to obtain data essential
to the sustainable management of local fisheries resources. This effort provides an excellent
opportunity to emphasize that the Fisheries Regulations regarding sea turtles were recently
revised (section 4.21) and that a regional moratorium will soon be enacted, pending Antigua/
Barbuda ratification of the SPAW Protocol to the Cartagena Convention (section 4.32).


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4.43 Tourists

All major resorts constructed on or adjacent to sea turtle nesting habitat should be
provided with sea turtle awareness materials, perhaps based on materials already developed for
Jumby Bay Resort owners and guests, and including the Sea Turtles of Antigua and Barbuda
brochure currently under development by WIDECAST and the EAG (section 4.41). In addition,
a brochure should be designed specifically for visitors that explains local regulations and
international law, the latter so that tourists are aware that sea turtle products cannot legally be
returned to most countries. A display planned for the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, a joint
project of WIDECAST and museum staff, will provide an excellent opportunity to educate both
visitors and residents about endangered sea turtles. An additional display at the international
airport would be highly desirable, as well as attractive displays at selected hotels, dive shops, and
other tourist-oriented places of business. It would be useful to integrate these efforts into the
larger context of encouraging travelers not to collect coral or other marine creatures, not to
anchor sailboats and yachts on local reefs, and to practice appropriate "beach etiquette" (no
driving on beaches, no bonfires, no litter). Funding for such a programme could be solicited
from businesses in tourist districts, such as St. John's.

4.44 Non-consumptive uses of sea turtles to generate revenue

Tourism is appreciated and understood as a primary source of revenue. SCUBA dive
clubs could perhaps be rewarded with free promotional help if they feature non-consumptive
experiences with sea turtles, such as photography. It should be stressed whenever possible that
the value of accessible, visible sea turtles on natural coral reefs is a good investment! We
recommend that SCUBA dive operators, clubs, and retail shops be fully integrated into ongoing
public awareness efforts on the part of EAG and others. Lynn Corliss, former Field Director for
the Jumby Bay Hawksbill Project, has designed and distributed data sheets to local dive
operators in order to encourage their participation in reporting sea turtle sightings. "Turtle
Walks" may at some future time be offered under the aegis of the EAG. Participants would pay
a fee to accompany a trained Guide to a sea turtle nesting beach to quietly and non-obtrusively
observe the nesting process. Guidelines developed for the Jumby Bay Resort could serve as a
blueprint for such an endeavour. In addition, WIDECAST is preparing a Sea Turtle Ecotourism
Manual for use throughout the region.

4.5 Increase Information Exchange

4.51 Marine Turtle Newsletter

The Marine Turtle Newsletter (MTN) is a scholarly publication that provides timely
information regarding the conservation status of sea turtles around the world, as well as new
research techniques and a listing of current scientific publications about sea turtles. English and
Spanish editions of the MTN are distributed quarterly, free of charge, to readers in more than 100
countries. At the present time, the Newsletter is received in Antigua/Barbuda only by John
Fuller, a member of the WIDECAST regional Sea Turtle Recovery Team. We recommend that
local readership be broadened to include Fisheries personnel, the Environmental Awareness
Group, interested members of the Jumby Bay Club, and public libraries in the country. To sub-


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scribe, notify the Marine Turtle Newsletter Editors, Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute, 1700
South Shores Road, San Diego, California 92109 USA.

4.52 Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium (WATS)

The nation of Antigua and Barbuda has supported this important regional data base in the
past and is encouraged to continue to support and participate in the efforts of this Symposium in
the future. A National Report for Antigua and Barbuda was drafted by Joseph et al. (1984) for
the first Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium (WATS I) convened in 1983 in Costa Rica. At
WATS II, convened in 1987 in Puerto Rico, Antigua and Barbuda was represented, but a
National Report was not presented. An important resource book, the Manual of Sea Turtle
Research and Conservation Techniques (Pritchard et al., 1983), was a product of WATS I.

4.53 WIDECAST

The Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Recovery Team and Conservation Network, known as
WIDECAST, consists of a regional team of sea turtle experts that 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 Antigua
and Barbuda, in the Wider Caribbean. Each STRAP is tailored specifically to local circum-
stances and provides the following information:

1. The local 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
turtles.
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. Utilising local network participants to collect information and draft, under
the supervision of regional sea turtle experts, locally appropriate sea turtle
management recommendations.


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3. Providing or assisting in the development of educational materials (slides,
brochures, posters, pamphlets).
4. Sponsoring or supporting local or subregional workshops on sea turtle
biology and management.
5. Assisting governments and non-government groups with the implementa-
tion of effective management and conservation programmes 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 Caribbean
Trust Fund of the UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme, as well as by government and
non-government agencies and groups. Government and non-government personnel, biologists,
fishermen, educators, developers, and other interested persons are encouraged to join in
WIDECAST's efforts in Antigua and Barbuda. The Country Coordinators in Antigua and
Barbuda are John and Sarah Fuller, Hodges Bay, P. O. Box 1168, St. John's, Antigua. John
Fuller is also a member of the WIDECAST regional Sea Turtle Recovery Team.

4.54 IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group

The Marine Turtle Specialist Group (Dr. Karen Bjorndal, Chair) is responsible for
tracking the status of sea turtle populations around the world for the World Resources Union
(IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC). The Group is presently drafting an outline for a
global Marine Turtle Action Plan. The Group is a valuable source of information about sea
turtles and technical advice on conservation projects. Contact Dr. Karen Bjomdal, Archie Carr
Center for Sea Turtle Research, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611 USA.

4.55 Workshops on research and management

Prior to the implementation of field surveys or other sea turtle conservation projects,
participants should be educated concerning basic sea turtle ecology. This training should include
the identification of sea turtle species, whether the evidence available is a live turtle, a hatchling,
an egg, or a crawl on the beach. Additional detail, provided as needed, could include proper
methods to tag turtles, to conduct beach patrols, move eggs, survey by air, etc. Informal on-site
workshops can be arranged by WIDECAST upon request. More formal field instruction is
available from the Caribbean Conservation Corporation (P. O. Box 2866, Gainesville, Florida
32602) at their annual sea turtle training course in Tortuguero, Costa Rica. A Manual of Sea
Turtle Research and Conservation Techniques, produced by the Western Atlantic Turtle
Symposium (Pritchard et al., 1983), provides instruction and background for many sea turtle
research and management techniques. Programme managers are encouraged to follow it to the
fullest extent when research and conservation projects are designed and implemented.

4.56 Exchange of information among local groups

Almost any endeavour, especially conservation, benefits from the free exchange of
information. Both the Environmental Awareness Group and the Historical and Archaeological
Society produce and distribute informative newsletters to their memberships. Full advantage


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should be taken of all opportunities to communicate the conservation message to residents and
visitors alike.

4.6 Implement a National Sea Turtle Conservation Programme

4.61 Rationale

Sea turtles have always been and continue to be an inseparable part of life in Antigua and
Barbuda. The full extent of their historical relationships with and importance to coral reefs, sea
grass, and sandy beaches can only be guessed, for the vast numbers of turtles once present in our
waters have been reduced to relatively few individuals. The last surviving animals provide a
treasured link with an historical heritage now largely gone. They are part of our quality of life.
Our children deserve the right to observe a hawksbill turtle laying her eggs beneath a sea grape
tree, witness a fleet of green turtles foraging upon meadows of sea grass in coastal waters, or be
awed by an encounter with a 1000 lb leatherback. No other rationale should be needed for a sea
turtle conservation programme. There must be a personal obligation on the part of all Antiguans
and Barbudans to preserve and recover for future generations what we have so nearly destroyed.
Further, we have a responsibility to our fellow Caribbean citizens, since sea turtles are a shared
heritage amongst our many nations.

Sea turtles are also a valuable economic resource. They once provided an important
source of food and raw materials for our island forebears, from pre-Columbian days to the mid-
twentieth century. Having now decimated our sea turtle stocks through indiscriminate harvest, it
is no longer reasonable to expect to earn a livelihood from the killing and eating of turtles.
Today, the economic value of living sea turtles for non-consumptive "ecotourism" far outweighs
the cash value of the turtle fishery. Living sea turtles mean jobs. Conservation of sea turtles is
in the best economic interest of all Antiguans and Barbudans. Perhaps someday we can suf-
ficiently recover our sea turtle population numbers to again share in the harvest of turtles, but we
must first prove our wildlife management skills before that day can arrive. We must focus our
management efforts on the three species of sea turtle, all classified as Endangered (Groombridge,
1982; Groombridge and Luxmoore, 1989), that still nest in Antigua/Barbuda. These are the
hawksbill, leatherback, and green turtle (Figure 2).

A sea turtle conservation programme is needed for Antigua and Barbuda, and it must be
implemented immediately. Relatively small nesting populations remain of hawksbills, green
turtles, and leatherbacks (we estimate <130 nesters/yr, combined). They must be protected at all
costs, for we know that sea turtles return to nest where they were born. Beaches stripped of their
resident nesting turtles may not be recolonized in less than hundreds of years. Existing fisheries
legislation is inadequate to promote full recovery of remaining stocks and illegal harvest
continues, despite conservation laws currently in place. Nesting and feeding habitat is being
destroyed at an alarming rate. Our citizens continue to believe that sea turtles are forever, that
the ocean will always provide, and that the responsibility for our disappearing turtles must lie far
away and not with us. This is denial of responsibility. There is still time for a meaningful sea
turtle conservation programme in Antigua and Barbuda, but not much time.


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4.62 Goals and objectives

The broad goals and objectives of the proposed Sea Turtle Conservation Programme
(STCP) are to obtain comprehensive and accurate data on the distribution of sea turtle nesting
and foraging habitats and to promote the conservation and recovery of remaining sea turtle
stocks. The specific objectives of the Programme are as follows:

1. Establish a Sea Turtle Conservation Programme (STCP) with a full-time
Programme Director, an office, and a Board of Directors.

2. Ground survey (at least weekly, 1 April-30 November) all potential nesting
beaches (see Table 1) during Years 1 and 2. During Years 3-5, determine nest
density and nest success at at least four important rookeries (defined based on
the initial 2-year survey), two each in Barbuda and Antigua, in addition to
Pasture Bay (Long Island).

3. Collect information relative to the distribution and abundance of turtles at sea
during Years 1-5, based on sightings from volunteer network participants and
data gathered during any ongoing or planned coral reef and/or sea grass
monitoring programmes.

4. Quantify critical nesting and feeding habitats based on the results of field
surveys undertaken as described in 2 and 3 above, and develop holistic
management plans for these habitats as soon as possible.

5. Define residency patterns and movements of local sea turtles and evaluate the
extent to which sea turtles are shared with neighboring political jurisdictions
(use tagging programmes and bio-telemetry).

6. Quantify the exploitation (direct harvest) of sea turtles on an annual basis,
based on user and market surveys.

7. Quantify the incidental take of sea turtles in Antigua/Barbuda waters by local
and foreign-operated longline and net fisheries.

8. Enact and enforce a moratorium on the capture of sea turtles (all species) and
the collection of sea turtle eggs.

9. Promote community support of (and participation in) sea turtle conservation;
increase public awareness through ongoing education programmes in schools,
public presentations, brochures and posters, and the media.

10. Solicit assistance from the public in documenting sea turtle nests and at-sea
sightings, reporting illegal activities, and safeguarding turtles and eggs from
poachers by providing informal surveillance.


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4.63 Activities

The following activities are proposed to meet the goals and objectives outlined above:

1. Organize a STCP Board of Directors, keeping the Board non-governmental
but with invited participation from government officials involved with sea
turtles and coast conservation. Hire a Programme Director by Year

2. Establish a list of action initiatives. Distribute itemized responsibilities to
specific individuals and organizations.

3. Identify and involve in the STCP pertinent Government (national and island)
ministries and offices, non-governmental groups (e.g., the EAG, Georgia Sea
Turtle Cooperative Research and Education Program, Museum of Antigua and
Barbuda), local fishing and development representatives, U. S. military
commands, hotels, private community organizations (e.g., Mill Reef Club,
Jumby Bay Club), social clubs and children's groups, concerned citizens, and
international organizations.

3. Maintain an active WIDECAST network in Antigua/Barbuda to sustain and
support the STCP.

4. Undertake at least weekly ground surveys of all sandy beaches where sea
turtles are believed to lay their eggs (see Table 1, Figures 3 and 4) for two
consecutive years (1 April-30 November).

5. Based on data collected during Years 1 and 2 (see activity no. 4), at least two
Index Beaches will be identified on Antigua and two on Barbuda for
comprehensive study. These beaches will be patrolled daily, preferably at
night, in order to quantify population size and reproductive success. We pre-
dict that the following areas will emerge as important habitat, and thus good
candidates for Index Beach designation: Antigua -- Green Island and the Mill
Reef beaches, Pearn's Point beaches; Barbuda -- western coast from Billy
Point to The River, northeast coast in the vicinity of Two Feet Bay, south
coast from Spanish Well Point to Coco Point and around to Spanish Point.

6. On secondary hawksbill nesting beaches where trend data are desired, an
alternative to continuous daily surveys (June to November) will be employed.
Specifically, at least two surveys covering 18 consecutive nights each will be
undertaken (one in August, one in October). Then, using the Jumby Bay
Hawksbill Sea Turtle Project data base, the resulting data will be extrapolated
to describe the entire season.

7. Collect information relative to the distribution and abundance of turtles at sea
over five consecutive years based on sightings from volunteer networks and
data gathered during any ongoing coral reef and/or sea grass monitoring


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


programmes. Focus on sport fishermen, commercial long-line fishermen, and
diving clubs for this purpose.

8. Support continuation of the long-term hawksbill population study at Pasture
Bay, Long Island. Initiate additional long-term tagging studies on the main
islands if surveys indicate that nesting densities are sufficient to reward such
an effort. Request the existing expertise of the Jumby Bay Hawksbill Project
and the participation of its scientific adviser (Georgia Sea Turtle Cooperative
Research and Education Program) for assistance with initiation of any new
tagging programmes.

9. Develop site-specific management plans for critical nesting and foraging
habitats, including Index Beaches, taking into account the recommendations
of this Recovery Action Plan. For nesting beaches, include provision for
nightly protection against harassment of nesting females and adequate pro-
tection for incubating eggs throughout the hatching season. At sea, pollution
and destruction of the seabed should be addressed.

10. Provide for the long-term protection of critical habitats. Hire and train
wardens to oversee these areas and enforce compliance with regulations.

11. Solicit the assistance of professionals to design at-sea monitoring programmes
to determine residency patterns and movements of sea turtles.

12. Conduct interview and market surveys in order to determine or estimate the
number of sea turtles caught during the annual 1 September 28 February
open season. The number of turtles involved, as well as size species, place
and method of capture, and fate (market) will be recorded. The number of
fishermen involved will be determined. This is particularly important in
Barbuda where a small turtle fishery continues.

13. Quantify the incidental take of sea turtles. Determine the types of fishing gear
used in Antigua/Barbuda and determine the relative proportion of annual
incidental catch attributable to each gear type. Collaborate with local Indus-
tries to have incidentally captured turtles brought to an authorised receiving
station for rehabilitation (if alive and treatment is called for) or scientific study
(if dead). Place observers and/or cameras on-board cooperative vessels. Work
with Government and international conservation organizations to require on-
board observers on foreign vessels fishing in Antigua/Barbuda waters.

14. Lobby Government with specific requests for improved national legislation
and enforcement (see section 4.23) and international agreements. Encourage
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to sign CITES, MARPOL, and the SPAW
Protocol to the Cartagena Convention.


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


15. Acquire field and camping equipment for sea turtle surveys, as well as data
collection materials (e.g., measuring tapes, tags and pliers, flashlights,
clipboards, tents, sleeping bags, cooking utensils, a small dinghy). These may
be obtained by direct purchase, as well as by soliciting the donations of items.
A 4-wheel ATV vehicle, such as a Honda 350, would be particularly useful
for Barbuda.

16. Provide training opportunities (local workshops) for field personnel in data
collection techniques. Whenever possible, encourage persons to attend rele-
vant training programmes overseas (e.g., Tortuguero, Costa Rica) and to visit
long-term research projects elsewhere in the region (e.g., Sandy Point
National Wildlife Refuge, St. Croix).

17. Host workshops for volunteers, SCUBA operators, yacht and charterboat
crews, etc. to provide training in sea turtle identification and record-keeping.
This will enhance accurate reporting of sea turtle nesting and at-sea sightings,
as well as public awareness of endangered sea turtles. Provide volunteers with
log books, data sheets, etc.

18. Gather data opportunistically on the distribution and abundance of turtles at
sea. Focus on sport fishermen; commercial longline fishermen; turtle, fish
pot, and hook-and-line fishermen; and SCUBA dive clubs. Should sea grass
and coral reef monitoring programmes be established, ensure that sea turtle
sightings become part of the recorded data base. Determine species, size, and
behaviour of the animal when sighted. Develop a confidence index for the
accuracy of the observations. Correlate sightings with sea state, date, weather
patterns, depth of water, bottom type, and proximity to other significant
marine features.

19. Build a library of published scientific literature and environmental education
materials for national use; house the collection at the National Sea Turtle
Conservation Programme office.

20. Expand existing environmental education programmes for schools and the
general public by purchasing or otherwise acquiring audiovisual materials and
literature on sea turtle biology and conservation, distributing the WIDECAST
sea turtle identification mini-poster, and working with WIDECAST to develop
posters and leaflets for national display. Coordinate the EAG, Jumby Bay
Hawksbill Project, and the Ministry of Education, Office of Science Educa-
tion, to provide national sea turtle conservation programmes to local elemen-
tary schools.

A suggested time chart for these activities is the following:


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CEP Technical Report No. 16



Activity Year 1 2 3 4 5 Ongoing


1. STCP Board of Directors X
Hire STCP Programme Director X
List/distribute action initiatives X

2. Establish STCP partners X X

3. Maintain WIDECAST network X

4. Preliminary beach surveys X X

5. Intense survey of Index Beaches X X X X

6. Subsample secondary beaches X X X X

7. Distribution/abundance at sea X X X X X X

8. Continue Jumby Bay Project X X X X X X

9. Site-specific mgmt plans X X X

10. Long-term protection of habitat X

11. Movements/behaviour at sea X X X

12. Interviews and market surveys X X

13. Determine incidental take X X X

14. Lobbying initiatives X X X

15. Acquire survey equipment X X X

16. Training X X X

17. Workshops X X X

18. Involve marine users X X X X X X

19. Build a sea turtle library X X X

20. Environmental education X X X X X X


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Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


4.64 Budget

The STCP will not function without financial and material support from Government and
non-government sources. The following budget, except for Warden's salaries, is expected to be
solicited from private sources, grants, donations, etc. Amounts are US$ in multiples of $1000.


Item Year 1 2 3 4 5


STCP Director -0- 12 12 12 12

STCP Office (equipment) 5 4 3 2 2

STCP Office (supplies) 1 1 1 1 1

Transportation (auto) 3 6 6 6 6

Transportation (boat) 2 2 2 2 2

Training Workshops (supplies) 1 1 1 1 1

School Programmes (supplies) 1 1 1 1 1

Environmental Education 3 3 3 3 3

Antigua Beach Surveys (wages) 3 3 3 3 3

Barbuda Beach Surveys (wages) 3 3 3 3 3

Survey Scientific Equipment 1 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5

Survey Camping Gear 2 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5

CB Radios 1.5 1.0 1.0 -0- -0-

Intensive Tagging (wages, expenses) 15 15 25 35 35

Food and Housing for Field Biologists 7.5 7.5 15 25 25

2 Wardens (wages) -0- 24 24 24 24

Contingencies (10%) 5 8.5 10 12 12

TOTAL 54 93 111 131 131


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


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Table 1. The distribution of sea turtle nesting beaches and beach ownership in Antigua and Bar-
buda. At some sites, nesting populations are thought to have already been lost; where this is be-
lieved to be the case, the species has been placed in brackets. Important and very important nest-
ing beaches are indicated by a single (*) or double (**) asterisk, respectively. There are three
species of sea turtle known to nest in Antigua and Barbuda -- the hawksbill (H), Eretmochelys
imbricata; the green turtle (G), Chelonia mydas; and the leatherback (L), Dermochelys coriacea.
Field surveys designed to corroborate and, as necessary, correct the following preliminary data
are considered by this Recovery Action Plan to be an urgent priority. Beach length is given in
kilometers.


Beach Length Owner Species


ANTIGUA


1. Pasture Bay, Long Is. **
2. Sandy Island **
3. Great Bird Island
(two beaches)
4. Guiana Island
5. Pelican Island

6. Long Bay

7. Devil's Bridge Beach
8. Green Island *
(several beaches)
9. Mill Reef Beaches **
(several beaches)
10. Half Moon Bay


11. Crawl Bay
12. Mamora Bay
13. Indian Creek Beach *
14. Freeman's Bay
15. Windward Bay
16. Pigeon Point Beach
17. Dieppe Bay
18. Turtle Bay *
19. Little Rendezvous Bay
20. Big Rendezvous Bay *
21. Tuck's Beach
22. Carlisle Bay
23. Curtain Bluff Beach


Arawak Co.
Government
John Fuller


Guiana Isl. Farms Ltd.
Albertino Paravano,
California USA
Long Bay Hotel
Pineapple Beach Hotel
Government (Nat'l Park)
Leased by government
to Mill Reef Club
Mill Reef Club


0.05


H
H,G
H

H
[??]

H

H
H,G

H,G,L


Government H, G, L
H.M.B. Holdings, Ltd.
(c/o Half Moon Bay Hotel)
Government ??
St. James Club [??]
Ralph Camacho H, G
Galleon Beach Hotel [??]
New Century Develop. Co. H, G
Government H
Dieppe Bay, Ltd. H, G
Mr. JeffPidduck H, G?
c/o Jack Henderson H, G
c/o Estate of J. Rowan Henry H, G, L
Mrs. Erskine H, G
Carlisle Bay Develop. Co. H, G, L
Mr. Howard Hulford H, G, L


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CEP Technical Report No. 16


Table 1, continued.


Beach


Length


24. Morris Bay *

25. Johnson's Point


26. Crabb Hill Beach
27. Darkwood Beach
28. Fryes Bay
(two beaches)
29. Jolly Beach
(=Lignumvitae Bay)
30. Pearn's Point Beaches **
(5 beaches, 1 sand mined
by the government)
31. Hermitage Bay
(=Two Foot Bay, Royal Bay)
32. Five Islands Estate Beaches *
33. Hawksbill Bay
(4 beaches, 1 important)
34. Galley Bay
35. Deep Bay
36. Hog John Bay
37. Ft. James Beach
38. Runaway Bay *
39. Dickenson Bay
40. Soldier Bay
(and 2 smaller beaches)
41. White Sands Beach
42. Jabberwock Beach *
43. Dutchman Bay


Owner


Nicholas A. Fuller
Government
Mr. Daryl Belizaire
Blue Heron Hotel
Government
Government
Government


Jolly Beach Universal
Caribbean Establishment
Lawrence Nilsen, Ltd.


Pewee Francis

Mr. Keith Edwards
c/o Hawksbill Hotel

Galley Bay Hotel
Government
Government
Government
Multiple owners
Multiple owners
Mrs. Lee Schaffler

Point Pleasant, Ltd.
Government
Mrs. Nicholas Fuller
Government


BARBUDA


Spanish Point Beach *
Coco Point East
Coco Point Beach *


Government
Mr. Frank Delisle
Coco Point Hotel (USA)
William Cody Kelly III
Government, K Club


Species


H,G,L

H


H

H,G,L


G,H,L
G

H,G
H
[H, G]
[H]
H
H,L
H

H
H,L
H,L


H
H
H,G,L


Page 78






Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


Table 1, continued.


Beach Length Owner Species


4. Coral Group Beaches 1.7
5. Continuous Beach from 22.1
River to Billy Point *
(Palmetto Point, Low Bay,
Palm Beach, Cedar Tree Point)
6. North Beach 4.8
(to Cobb Cove)
7. Kid Island Beach 0.8
8. Fishing Creek Beach 0.6
9. Hog Point to Sea View 4.0
10. Two Feet Bay 0.5
11. Ghaut to Pigeon Cliff 2.4
12. Pigeon Cliff to Griffin Pt ** 2.4
13. Bleaky Bay Beaches 0.8


Government
Government


Government

Government
Government
Government
Government
Government
Government
Government


H
H,G,L



H,G

H,G
H,G
H
H,G
H,G
H,G,L
H,L


Page 79






CEP Technical Report No. 16


Table 2. Selected reproductive data for hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) nesting at
Pasture Bay (Jumby Bay Resort) on Long Island, Antigua, 1987-1992 (15 June-15 November).
Nests per turtle, clutch size (=eggs per nest), and hatch success represent average annual values;
ranges in parentheses.


Total Total Total Nests/ Clutch Hatch
Year Turtles Crawls Nests Turtle Size Success


1987


1988


1989


1990


1991


1992


164


227


202


116


226


189


99


156


129


78


137


114


157
(62-215)

147
(70-203)

151
(96-196)

150
(68-202)

148
(94-225)

153
(124-229)


79%


85%


84%


74%


79%


90%


* For maximum accuracy, annual clutch frequency (=nests per turtle) was calculated only for those
turtles nesting completely within the survey period; that is, turtles that began nesting after 5 July and
deposited their last clutch of eggs prior to 25 October. Since turtles do not normally display inter-nesting
intervals exceeding 20 days, we can be confident that these individuals did not nest prior to the initiation
of all-night patrol and likewise did not continue nesting after all-night patrol had ceased.

** Not calculated.


Page 80








Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...




70 650 60



-20d
ATLANTIC OCEAN
Dominican Republic



Puerto Rico Tortola
W r Virgin Gorda
S SJ Johfl AqBltll
ShSt Joh n f Anguilla
W S. a4 St. Martin
wSab St. Barthelemy

St. Croix st. Euarba
St. Kitts
Neviw 40 Antigua

Montsrat 4


Guadeloupe -
I Marie Galante


Domrnin* C
CARIBBEAN SEA n o

Martinique


St. Lucia


St. Vlncmnt Barbados
BeaulIa
Aruba The Gredlnadn
SCuracao Bonire Carriacou
Grenada





SOUTH AMERICA Tobago


Trinidad O






NAUTICAL MILES

0 50 100 150 200 250 300






Figure 1. The two island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, West Indies.


Page 81







CEP Technical Report No. 16


SMCIEDEBSCRIONS


Grea turtle (Chelonia nydar)
olive brown shell, often streaked; underside pale
yellow; plates on the shell do not overlap one
another; 1 pair of large scales between the eyes;
adults 95-125 cm shell length; to 230 kg; rounded,
slightly serrated jaw; feeds on sea grass


Loggerhead turtle (Careia careua)
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


Hawksbll turtle (Eremochelys imbricara)
oval shell mottled brown, orange, yellow; plates
on the shell overlap one another and are pointed
posteriorly; 2 pair of scales between the eyes;
adults 70-95 cm shell length; to 85 kg; pointed
face and jaw; feeds in coral reefs


Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys 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, jellyfish eater; rare


Figure 2. Four species of sea turtle are found in Antigua and Barbuda. Hawksbills (Eretmo-
chelys imbricata) are most common, followed by green turtles (Chelonia mydas); loggerheads
(Caretta caretta) and leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea) are much less common.


Page 82






Antigua and Barbuda Sea Turtles ...


/


4i8


Figure 3. Known or suspected sea turtle nesting beaches in Antigua, West Indies. Numbers
refer to locations listed in Table 1 (Sandy Island located northeast of Antigua is not shown).


Page 83






CEP Technical Report No. 16


Figure 4. Known or suspected sea turtle nesting beaches in Barbuda, West Indies. Numbers
refer to locations listed in Table 1.


Page 84




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