WIDECAST Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan for St. Lucia. CEP Technical Report No. 26.


Material Information

WIDECAST Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan for St. Lucia. CEP Technical Report No. 26.
Physical Description:
d'Auvergne, Crispin and Karen L. Eckert.
UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme
Place of Publication:
Kingston, Jamaica
Publication Date:

Record Information

Source Institution:
Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Network
Holding Location:
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
System ID:

This item has the following downloads:

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Title Page
        Title Page 1
        Title Page 2
        Page i
        Page ii
    Table of Contents
        Page iii
        Page iv
    List of acronyms
        Page v
    List of tables and figures
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
        Page xiii
        Page xiv
    I. Introduction
        Page 1
    II. Status and distribution of sea turtles in St. Lucia
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
    III. Stresses on sea turtles in St. Lucia
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
    IV. Solutions to stresses on sea turtles in St. Lucia
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        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
    V. Literature cited
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
    Tables and figures
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
    Appendix 1. Management plan for St. Lucia's sea turtles: An overview
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
    Back Cover
        Page 70
        Page 71
Full Text

Caribbean Environment Programme

UNEP United Nations Environment Programme

Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan
for St. Lucia

Crispin d' Auvergne
Karen L. Eckert 2
1National Coordinator, ENCORE Project
Country Coordinator, WIDECAST-St. Lucia
2 Executive Director, WIDECAST

Karen L. Eckert, Editor

Prepared by:

Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network

CEP Technical Report No. 26



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 par-
ticular reference to endangered, threatened, or vulnerable species of sea turtle. This is consis-
tent 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 Protocol 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 declares
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 ninth 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
management among local individuals and institutions. Each recovery action plan summarizes
the known distribution of sea turtles, discusses major causes of mortality, evaluates the effect-
tiveness of existing conservation laws, and priorities implementing measures for stock recovery.
WIDECAST was founded in 1981 by Monitor International, in response to a recommendation by
the IUCN/CCA Meeting of Non-Governmental Caribbean Organizations on Living Re-sources
Conservation for Sustainable Development in the Wider Caribbean (Santo Domingo, 26-29
August 1981) that a "Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan should be prepared ...
consistent with the Action Plan for the Caribbean Environment Programme." WIDECAST is an
autonomous NGO, partially supported by the Caribbean Environment Programme.

Page i

CEP Technical Report No. 26


We thank Dr. Julia A. Horrocks (Bellairs Research Institute, Barbados) of WIDECAST
1/ for her advice, support, and editorial assistance in the preparation of this report. We also
thank Peter A. Murray of the OECS Fisheries Unit (St. Lucia Department of Fisheries) and Sarah
George (Department of Fisheries) for their review of earlier drafts. In addition, Jim Sparks (St.
Lucia Naturalists' Society) assisted in coordination of Turtle Watches and collection and analysis
of data; Grande Anse Wardens Kela Wella and King Kah Lead foot-surveyed Grande Anse
nesting beach and collected data (1989-1992); Presley James foot-surveyed several east coast
nesting beaches, as well as Vigie Beach in Castries, and collected data (1992-1993); Sarah
George, Williana Joseph, and Feria Narcisse (Department of Fisheries) assisted with data
compilation and background information; Horace Walters (Chief Fisheries Officer) provided
invaluable institutional support; and Lenita Joseph (ENCORE) and Samanthia Houson
(Department of Fisheries) provided secretarial support and typing. Leo Titus Preville
(Government Information Service) dedicated his time and expertise to spreading the word about
the endangered status of St. Lucia sea turtles. Finally, we wish to thank the members of the St.
Lucia Naturalists' Society who have been working diligently for many years to protect the
nation's sea turtles. We hope that with the publication of this Recovery Action Plan, many more
people will become actively involved in the struggle to conserve our remaining turtles.

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
L. Eckert (USA), Jacques Fretey (France), Lic. Hedelvy Guada (Venezuela), Dr. Julia A.
Horrocks (Barbados), Dr. Peter C. H. Pritchard (USA), Dr. James I. Richardson (USA), and Dr.
Georgita Ruiz (Mexico). The IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group (Dr. Karen A.
Bjorndal, Chair) and UNEP-CAR/RCU (Dr. Richard Meganck, Co-ordinator) reviewed an
earlier draft. Major financial support for WIDECAST has come from the UNEP Caribbean
Environment Programme, the U. S. National Marine Fisheries Service (Office of Protected Re-
sources), and the U. S. State Department (Bureau of Oceans and Intl. Environmental and Scien-
tific Affairs/Office of Ocean Affairs). Chelonia Institute provided travel assistance to Dr. K. L.
Eckert and to Dr. J. I. Richardson for technical visits during 1993. Special appreciation is due
Col. Milton Kaufmann (President of Monitor International and Founder of WIDECAST) for his
unwavering personal commitment to WIDECAST since its inception more than a decade ago.

Page ii

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...


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



2.1 Caretta caretta, Loggerhead Sea Turtle 2
2.2 Chelonia mydas, Green Sea Turtle 3
2.3 Dermochelys coriacea, Leatherback Sea Turtle 5
2.4 Eretmochelys imbricata, Hawksbill Sea Turtle 6
2.5 Lepidochelys kempii, Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle 7
2.6 Lepidochelys olivacea, Olive Ridley Sea Turtle 7


3.1 Destruction or Modification of Habitat 8
3.2 Disease or Predation 9
3.3 Over-utilisation 9
3.4 Inadequate Regulatory Mechanisms 12
3.5 Other Natural or Man-made Factors 13


4.1 Manage and Protect Habitat 13
4.11 Identify essential habitat 14
4.111 Survey foraging areas 14
4.112 Survey nesting habitat 15
4.12 Develop area-specific management plans 16
4.121 Involve local coastal zone authorities 17
4.122 Develop regulatory guidelines 17
4.123 Provide for enforcement of guidelines 20
4.124 Develop educational materials 20
4.13 Prevent or mitigate degradation of nesting beaches 21
4.131 Sand mining 21
4.132 Lights 22
4.133 Beach stabilisation structures 23
4.134 Beach cleaning equipment and vehicular use of beaches 23
4.135 Beach rebuilding projects 24

Page iii

CEP Technical Report No. 26

4.14 Prevent or mitigate degradation of marine habitat 25
4.141 Dynamiting reefs 25
4.142 Chemical fishing 25
4.143 Industrial discharges 26
4.144 At-sea dumping of garbage 26
4.145 Oil exploration, production, refining, transport 27
4.146 Agricultural runoff and sewage 28
4.147 Others (anchoring, dredging, sedimentation) 29

4.2 Manage and Protect all Life Stages 29
4.21 Review existing local laws and regulations 29
4.22 Evaluate the effectiveness of law enforcement 30
4.23 Propose new regulations where needed 30
4.231 Eggs 31
4.232 Immature turtles 31
4.233 Nesting females 32
4.234 Unprotected species 32
4.24 Augment existing law enforcement efforts 32
4.25 Make fines commensurate with product value 34
4.26 Investigate alternative livelihoods for turtle fishermen 34
4.27 Determine incidental catch and promote the use of TEDs 34
4.28 Supplement reduced populations using management techniques 35
4.29 Monitor stocks 36
4.291 Nests 36
4.292 Hatchlings 38
4.293 Immature and adult turtles 39

4.3 Encourage and Support International Cooperation 39
4.31 CITES 39
4.32 Regional treaties 40
4.33 Subregional sea turtle management 41

4.4 Develop Public Education 42
4.41 Residents 42
4.42 Fishermen 42
4.43 Tourists 43
4.44 Non-consumptive uses of sea turtles to generate revenue 44

4.5 Increase Information Exchange 44
4.51 Marine Turtle Newsletter 44
4.52 Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium (WATS) 44
4.53 WIDECAST 44
4.54 IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group 46
4.55 Workshops on research and management 46
4.56 Exchange of information among local groups 46

Page iv

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

4.6 Implement a National Sea Turtle Conservation Programme
4.61 Rationale
4.62 Goals and objectives
4.63 Activities
4.64 Results
4.65 Budget


Management Plan for St. Lucia's Sea Turtles: An Overview


BVI British Virgin Islands
CARIPOL Caribbean Pollution Prevention Programme
CCA Caribbean Conservation Association
CEHI Caribbean Environmental Health Institute
CEP UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme
CFRAMP Caricom Fisheries Resource Assessment and Management Programme
CITES Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
ECNAMP Eastern Caribbean Natural Areas Management Programme
EIA Environmental Impact Assessment
ENCORE Environmental and Coastal Resources Project
GDP Gross Domestic Product
IRF Island Resources Foundation
IUCN World Conservation Union
MARPOL International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships
OECS Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States
SLNS St. Lucia Naturalists' Society
SPAW Protocol Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife
STRAP Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan
TED Turtle Excluder Device
UNEP United Nations Environment Programme
UNESCO United Nations Education, Science, and Cultural Organization
USVI United States Virgin Islands
WATS Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium
WIDECAST Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network
WWF World Wildlife Fund

Page v

CEP Technical Report No. 26


TABLE 1 60
Recorded nestings of sea turtles in St. Lucia, 1983-1993, with earlier
literature records.

TABLE 2 62
Leatherback nesting records, 1987, including carapace measurements
and clutch size (yolked eggs).

Location of St. Lucia, West Indies.

Sea turtle nesting beaches and important marine habitats in St. Lucia.

An identification guide to sea turtles in St. Lucia.

St. Lucia Marine Reserves.

Page vi

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...


St. Lucia (61W, 14N) is one of the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, lying to the
south of Martinique and to the north of St. Vincent in the eastern Caribbean Sea. Four species of
sea turtle occur in the waters of St. Lucia; namely, the green turtle (Chelonia mydas), leatherback
(Dermochelys coriacea), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) and, on rare occasions, the
loggerhead (Caretta caretta). Hawksbill and green turtles are commonly observed in nearshore
waters. The former are generally associated with coral reef systems, while the latter are usually
seen foraging in sea grass beds.

Records suggest that the major nesting species are the leatherback and the hawksbill.
Leatherbacks nest mainly between April and July, although nesting activity has been recorded in
March. Nesting is more frequent on the high energy windward beaches of the east coast.
Hawksbills are believed to nest primarily between June and December or January on beaches all
around the island; precise data are lacking. Little information has been obtained on green turtle
nesting. Literature references notwithstanding, there is no conclusive evidence that loggerheads
nest in St. Lucia.

Over the last ten years, leatherback nesting on Grande Anse Beach has been monitored
by the Department of Fisheries and the St. Lucia Naturalists' Society (SLNS). While this
programme has been hampered by a number of problems, a great deal has been learned about the
nesting patterns of the turtles. In the mid-1980's, the data suggested that 12-28 leatherbacks
nested on Grande Anse annually. Record numbers of nests were recorded in 1991 and 1992, but
many and perhaps all of the nesting females were killed on the beach during these years.
Leatherbacks are not usually killed for their meat, but rather for unlaid eggs and body organs.
Carcasses are often left to rot.

Green and hawksbill turtles are caught at sea or during nesting. The eggs and meat of
both species are consumed. Hawksbill shell was once used in the making of souvenirs and
jewelry, but this activity appears virtually non-existent today. A closed season (1 March-30
September) is in effect for all species, as are minimum weight limits. Eggs and nesting females
are fully protected, but enforcement is lacking. A year-around ban on the harvest of sea turtles
of all sizes is a priority recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan.

St. Lucia exported nearly 3,000 kg of hawksbill shell to Japan from 1973-1983, but this
trade has now ended due in large measure to the fact that St. Lucia ratified the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1982. Until
recently, hawksbill shell jewelry and trinkets were sold within St. Lucia, primarily to tourists, but
an educational campaign appears to have virtually eliminated this activity. Public awareness of
the plight of the sea turtles is particularly important since law enforcement of national conser-
vation legislation is inadequate.

Sea turtle populations in St. Lucia have been subjected to a variety of pressures, both
historically and at the present time. Today very few persons depend on the capture of turtles for
a significant portion of their livelihood, but the fishery has persisted and opportunistic capture is
also reported. An estimated 10-15 persons fish seasonally for turtle at the present time; only one

Page vii

CEP Technical Report No. 26

individual relies substantively on income derived. Fisheries landing data indicate that 3055 and
1468 lb (whole weight) of turtle were landed in 1991 and 1992, respectively, during the annual
five-month open season. The catch consists of green turtles and hawksbills, mostly juveniles. In
all, 200 or more turtles are legally landed each year and in addition there is a unquantified
clandestine catch. The wholly illegal slaughter of leatherbacks on east coast nesting beaches is
pursued by two dozen or more persons from several surrounding villages. Many fishermen and
informed observers agree that populations of all species are declining.

In addition to direct harvest (netting at sea, as well as the killing of egg-laying females),
nesting beaches are degraded by human activity. The two major threats are beach sand mining
for construction material and beach-front development for the tourist industry. The mining
problem has been aggravated by conflicting legislation concerning the management of beaches.
Turtle foraging areas have also been affected by rising human populations and an increase in
ocean-based commercial and recreational activities. This is especially true of the coral reefs
which have been affected by dynamiting, anchoring, siltation, and over-fishing.

If sea turtle populations in St. Lucia are to be meaningfully protected and restored, a
comprehensive approach must be adopted. First, monitoring and data collection capabilities
must be developed in order to obtain more accurate information on the status of various species.
The regulatory framework must be consolidated and strengthened, not only in terms of sea turtle
legislation, but with regard to national coastal zone management. Very importantly, the
enforcement capability of the relevant institutions must also be strengthened.

Enhancing public awareness is crucial. The population at large, and especially resource
user groups, must be sensitised to the need to protect the turtles. Where possible, the public
should become involved in monitoring and data collection efforts. There must be a clear idea in
the minds of citizens of what actions are needed to conserve our remaining sea turtles. Public
support and understanding of conservation measures (e.g., gear restrictions, closed seasons, li-
censing arrangements) are central to programme success.

Finally, it must be borne in mind that it will be necessary to collaborate with other
countries in the Wider Caribbean region, as well as to support relevant international initiatives
(e.g., CITES, SPAW Protocol to the Cartagena Convention, WIDECAST). This is necessary
because all species of endangered sea turtle are highly migratory and move freely between
territories. Also, the sharing of ideas and experience within the international conservation and
fisheries communities is useful and is strongly encouraged.

The WIDECAST Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan for St. Lucia is fully supportive of all
efforts aimed at improving the national capability to conserve sea turtle populations. This Action
Plan represents a significant advance for conservation in St. Lucia in that it provides for the first
time a comprehensive assessment of the status of sea turtles in our waters, of the threats facing
sea turtles, and of the solutions that are relevant to our situation. We envisage that as a result of
the community-based effort to draft and implement this Action Plan, legislation, public
awareness, population monitoring, community-based conservation initiatives, and regional
cooperation will be expanded and improved.

Page viii

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...


A los 61 Oeste, 14 Norte, Santa Lucia es una de las Islas a Sotavento de las Antillas
Menores localizada al sur de Martinica y al norte de San Vicente. Es sabido que en las aguas de
Santa Lucia se hallan cuatro species de tortugas marinas a saber: la Tortuga Verde del Atlantico
(Chelonia mydas), la Tortuga Laud (Dermochelys coriacea), la Tortuga Carey (Eretmochelys
imbricata), y en raras ocasiones, la Tortuga Caguama (Caretta caretta). La tortuga Carey y las
tortugas Verdes del Atlantico se observan comunmente en las aguas cercanas a las costas. Las
primeras se hallan generalmente asociadas a los sistemas de arrecifes coralinos, mientras que las
ultimas se ven alimentandose en las praderas marinas.

Los registros sugieren que las species principles de anidaci6n son las tortugas Laud y la
Carey. Las tortugas Laud anidan principalmente entire abril y julio, aunque se ha registrado
actividad de anidaci6n en el mes de marzo. La anidaci6n es mas frecuente sobre las playas de
alta energia a sotavento de la costa oriental. Se cree que las tortugas Carey anidan especialmente
entire junio y diciembre o enero sobre las playas que rodean la isla; se carece de datos precisos.
Se ha obtenido poca informaci6n sobre la anidaci6n de la tortuga Verde del Atlantico. A pesar
de las referencias en la literature, no existe evidencia concluyente de que la Tortuga Caguama
anida en Santa Lucia.

Durante la decada pasada, la anidaci6n de tortugas Laud en la Playa de Grande Anse ha
sido vigilada por el Departamento de Pesquerias y la Sociedad de Naturalistas de Santa Lucia
(SLNS). Mientras este program ha sido obstaculizado por una series de problems, much se ha
aprendido acerca de los patrons de anidaci6n de las tortugas. A mediados de los afios ochenta,
los datos sugieren que anualmente, unas 12 a 28 tortugas Laud anidaron en Grande Anse. Se
tiene constancia de una cantidad record de nidos en 1991 y 1992, pero en esos afios muchas y tal
vez todas las hembras que anidaron fueron muertas en la playa. Por lo general no se mata a las
tortugas Laud por su came sino por los huevos y por sus 6rganos. A menudo se dejan podrir los

Las tortugas Carey y las Verdes del Atlantico se capturan en el mar o durante la anida-
ci6n. Tanto los huevos como la came de ambas species se consume. La caparaz6n de la tor-
tuga Carey se utilizaba antes en la fabricaci6n de recuerdos y joyas, pero esta actividad parece
que no existe hoy en dia. Existe una temporada de veda (1 de marzo al 30 de septiembre) en
efecto para todas las species, asi como limits minimos de peso. Los huevos y las hembras que
anidan estan plenamente protegidos, pero se carece de fuerza coercitiva. Una de las recomenda-
ciones principles de este Plan de Acci6n para la Recuperaci6n es la prohibici6n durante todo el
afio del aprovechamiento de las tortugas marinas de todos los tamanos.

De 1973 a 1983, Santa Lucia export a Jap6n cerca de 3.000 kg de caparaz6n de tortuga
Carey, pero el comercio de la tortuga marina ha cesado. Esto se debe en gran media a que en
1982, Santa Lucia ratific6 el Convenio sobre el Comercio Internacional de Especies de Flora y
Fauna Silvestres en Peligro (CITES). Hasta hace poco, las joyas y pequefios objetos de carey se
vendian en Santa Lucia a los turistas, principalmente; por medio de una campafia educativa se ha
eliminado grandemente esta actividad. La toma de conciencia public sobre la dificil situaci6n

Page ix

CEP Technical Report No. 26

de tortuga marina es de particular importancia ya que la capacidad cohercitiva de la legislaci6n
national de la conservaci6n result inadecuada.

Las poblaciones de tortugas en Santa Lucia han estado sujetas a una variedad de
presiones, tanto hist6ricamente como en la actualidad. Hoy en dia muy pocas personas dependent
de la capture de tortugas para una parte significativa de c6mo se ganan la vida, pero la pesca ha
persistido y tambien se ha informado sobre la capture oportunista. Se estima que en la
actualidad, de 10 a 15 personas se dedican a la pesca de la tortuga por temporadas; solamente un
pescador tiene en la tortuga marina su unica fuente de ingresos. Datos de pesca sobre las
tortugas indican que de 3055 a 1468 lb (peso total) fueron recogidas durante 1991 y 1992,
respectivamente, durante la temporada annual abierta de cinco meses. La capture consiste en tor-
tugas Verdes del Atlantico y tortugas Carey, en su mayoria juveniles. En total, 200 o mas tor-
tugas aparecen en las costas cada afio, ademas de las captures clandestinas. La matanza illegal de
tortugas Toras en las playas de anidaci6n de la costa oriental es llevada a cabo por dos docenas o
mas personas de varias poblaciones cercanas. Muchos de los pescadores y los observadores
informados conciden en que las poblaciones de todas las species estan en descenso.

Ademas de la explotaci6n direct redess en el mar, asi como la muerte de hembras pone-
doras), las playas de anidaci6n se degradan por la actividad humana. Las dos amenazas mayores
son el minado de arena para obtener material de construcci6n y el desarrollo de las playas para la
industrial turistica. El problema del minado ha sido agravado por la existente legislaci6n
conflictiva relative al manejo de playas. Las areas de forraje para las tortugas tambien han sido
afectadas por el aumento de la poblaci6n humana y por un aumento de las actividades
comerciales y recreativas que se original en el oceano. Esto es verdad en especial cuando se
trata de los arrecifes coralinos que han sido afectados por las explosions de dinamita, los buques
que anclan, la erosi6n, y la sobrepesca.

Si las poblaciones de tortugas marinas en Santa Lucia se protegen y restaurant significa-
tivamente, debe adoptarse un enfoque integral. Primero, deben desarrollarse las capacidades de
vigilancia y recolecci6n de datos con el objeto de obtener informaci6n mas exacta sobre el estado
de varias species. El marco regulador debe consolidarse y fortalecerse, no solo en terminos de
legislaci6n sobre la tortuga marina, sino con respect al manejo national de las zonas costeras.
Lo que es mas important, tambien debe fortalecerse la capacidad de cumplimiento de las leyes
por parte de las instituciones pertinentes.

La intensificaci6n de la conciencia public es critical. La poblaci6n en general, y en
especial los grupos de usuarios de los recursos, deben sensibilizarse a la necesidad de proteger
las tortugas. En lo possible, el public debe involucrarse en los esfuerzos de vigilancia y
recolecci6n de datos. Debe existir una idea clara en las mentes de los ciudadanos de cu les
acciones son necesarias para conservar las restantes tortugas marinas. El apoyo del public y la
comprensi6n de las medidas de conservaci6n (p.ej., restricciones en los equipos, temporadas de
veda, obtenci6n de licencias) son esenciales para el exito del program.

Finalmente, debe tenerse en cuenta que sera necesario colaborar con otros paises en las
comunidades regionales e internacionales, asi como apoyar las iniciativas internacionales perti-
nentes (p.ej., CITES, Protocolo de SPAW del Convenio de Cartagena, WIDECAST). Lo anterior

Page x

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

se hace necesario porque todas las species de tortugas marinas en peligro son altamente
migratorias y se mueven libremente entire los territories. Tambien, es util y se recomienda el
compartir ideas y experiencia dentro de la comunidad dedicada a la pesqueria y a la conservaci6n

El Plan de Acci6n para la Recuperaci6n de la Tortuga Marina de WIDECAST para Santa
Lucia apoya plenamente los esfuerzos dirigidos al mejoramiento de la capacidad national para
conservar las poblaciones de tortugas marinas. Este Plan de Acci6n represent un advance
significativo para la conservaci6n en Santa Lucia en cuanto por primera vez provee una
evaluaci6n integral del estado de las tortugas marinas en nuestras aguas, de las amenazas que
enfrentan las tortugas, y de las soluciones que son pertinentes a nuestra situaci6n. Preveemos
que como resultado de los esfuerzos comunitarios para redactar e implementar este Plan de
Acci6n, se ampliary mejorarla legislaci6n, la concientizaci6n public, la vigilancia de las
poblaciones, las iniciativas de conservaci6n originadas en la comunidad, asi como la cooperaci6n

Page xi

CEP Technical Report No. 26


Sainte-Lucie (61 0, 14 N) fait parties des miles du vent des Petites Antilles, se trouvant au
sud de la Martinique et au nord de Saint-Vincent. Quatre especes de tortue de mer vivent dans
les eaux de Sainte-Lucie, a savoir, la tortue verte (Chelonia mydas), la tortue luth (Dermochelys
coriacea), la tortue a ecaille (Eretmochelys imbricata), et, rarement, la tortue caouanne, (Caretta
caretta). La tortue a ecaille et la tortue verte se rencontrent tries souvent dans les eaux pres des
c6tes. La premiere se trouve souvent dans les r,cifs coralliens, tandis que la derniere s'alimente
dans les bancs d'algues.

Selon les informations disponibles, la tortue luth et la tortue a ecaille sont les deux
especes qui ont plus tendance a etablir un nid. La tortue luth fait son nid en general entire avril et
juillet, bien que cette activity ait ete observee au mois de mars. La nidation est plus frequente sur
les plages exposees au vents forts de la c6te est. Bien que des donnees precises ne soient pas
disponibles, on estime que la tortue a ecaille fait son nid entire juin et decembre ou janvier sur les
plages entourant l'ile. Des informations relatives a cette activity chez la tortue verte ne sont pas
tries abondantes. Malgre les references bibliographiques, il n'y a pas de preuve concluante que la
tortue caouanne fasse son nid sur l'ile de Sainte-Lucie.

Au course des dix dernieres annees, la nidation de la tortue luth sur la plage Grande Anse a
ete, surveillee par le Departement de la PNche et par la Societe, des Naturalistes de Sainte-Lucie
(SLNS). Beaucoup d'informations ont ete obtenues sur la nidation des tortues, malgre les
problems rencontres par ce programme. Selon les donnees disponibles, entire 12 et 28 tortues
luth faisaient leur nid chaque annee sur la plage de Grande Anse. Un nombre record de nids a
ete observe en 1991 et 1992 mais beaucoup et peut-6tre toutes les femelles ont ete tuees sur les
plages pendant cette meme period. En general, la tortue luth n'est pas tuee pour sa chair, mais
plut6t pour ses oeufs non pondus et ses organes. La carcasse est souvent abandonnee.

La tortue verte et la tortue a ecaille sont capturees en mer pendant la nidation. Les oeufs
et la chair des deux especes sont consommees. La carapace de la tortue a ecaille etait utilisee
autrefois pour la confection des souvenirs et des bijoux, mais cette activity semble ne plus exister
aujourd'hui. Une saison de fermeture (du 1er mars au 30 septembre), ainsi qu'un poids minimal,
sont de rigueur pour la protection de toutes les especes. Les oeufs et les femelles sont
completement proteges, mais cette protection n'est pas bien appliquee. Le Plan d'action pour la
protection des tortues de mer a fixed comme priority l'interdiction total de capture des tortues de
toutes tailles.

Entre 1973 et 1983, Sainte-Lucie a exported pres de 3 000 kilogrammes d'ecailles de
tortue. Neanmoins, la commercialization des products de tortues de mer a cesse. Ceci est dfie en
grande parties au fait que Sainte-Lucie a ratifi, en 1982 la Convention sur le commerce
international des especes de faune et de flore sauvages menacees d'extinction (CITES). Jusqu'a
tries recemment, des bijoux en ecaille de tortue etaient vendus a Sainte-Lucie, surtout aux tour-
istes. Cette pratique a quasimment disparu grace a une champagne d'education. La sensibilisation
du public au sort de la tortue de mer est tries important etant donned l'inadequation de la
legislation national relative a la conservation.

Page xii

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

Depuis toujours, les populations de tortue de mer a Sainte- Lucie ont ete victims de tous
types de pressions. Aujourd'hui, tries peu de gens vivent de la capture des tortues de mer mais
cette pratique a continue et la capture accidentelle a egalement ete signalee. Bien qu'il soit
estime qu'entre 10 et 15 personnel capturent actuellement les tortues de mer pendant la saison
ouverte, une seule d'entre elles vit exclusivement de cette activity. Selon les donnees dispon-
ibles, 1.389,65 kg et 667,30 kg de tortue ont ete prises en 1991 et 1992 respectivement pendant
la saison ouverte annuelle qui dure cinq mois. La capture consiste en tortues vertes et tortues a
ecaille don't la plupart des jeunes. En tout, plus de 200 tortues ou plus sont capturees chaque
annee, sans computer les prises clandestines. La mise a mort illicite de tortues cuir sur les plages
de nidation de la c6te est pratiquee par au moins vingt-quatre personnel venant des villages
avoisinants. Selon beaucoup de pecheurs et d'observateurs, les populations de toutes les especes
sont en baisse.

En plus de la recolte directed (la prise en mer et la mort des femelles en ponte), les plages
de nidation ont ete detruites par les activities de l'homme. L'exploitation des plages pour
l'extraction du sable de construction et pour l'industrie du tourism constituent les deux
principles menaces. Le premier problem a ete aggrave par une legislation contradictoire con-
cemant la gestion des plages. Les zones d'alimentation des tortues ont egalement ete touches
par la croissance demographique et l'augmentation des activities commercials et de loisirs
maritimes. Ceci est vrai des recifs coralliens en particulier qui ont ete detruits par les travaux a
la dynamite, l'ancrage, la siltation et la sur-exploitation de la peche.

Afin de proteger et de restaurer les populations de tortue de mer de facon efficace, une
approche d'ensemble doit 6tre adoptee. Tout d'abord, la capacity de surveillance et de collect de
donnees doit 6tre developpee afin d'obtenir des informations plus precises sur la situation des
differentes especes. Le cadre de regulation doit &tre consolide et renforce, non seulement en ce
qui concede la legislation relative a la tortue de mer, mais egalement pour ce qui touche a la
gestion national de la zone c6tiere. II devient done absolument primordial de renforcer la
capacity des institutions concernees a appliquer les measures.

La sensibilisation du public est tries important. La population en general, et surtout les
groups utilisateurs des differentes resources doivent 6tre convaincus de la necessity de proteger
les tortues. Le public doit participer, si possible, aux efforts de de surveillance et de collect des
donnees. Les citoyens doivent avoir une idee claire des measures a prendre pour proteger les
tortues de mer restantes. L'appui et la comprehension du public des measures de protection (par
example, des restrictions concernant l'equipement, les saisons de fermeture, l'octroi des permis)
sont indispensables au success du programme.

Finalement, il faut tenir compete de la necessity de collaborer avec d'autres pays de la
communaute regional et international et d'appuyer les initiatives internationals importantes
telles que la CITES, le Protocole SPAW a la Convention de Carthagene et le WIDECAST. Cette
collaboration est necessaire car toutes les especes de tortures menacees sont migratrices et
circulent librement entire les different territoires. De plus, le partage des idees et des experi-
ences au sein des communautes internationales de protection et de peche est tries utile et
hautement recommande.

Page xiii

CEP Technical Report No. 26

Le Plan d'action de WIDECAST pour la recuperation des tortues marines a Sainte-Lucie
appuie tous les efforts visant a ameliorer la capacity national de protection des populations de
tortue. Ce Plan d'action represent un success majeur pour la protection des tortues a Sainte-
Lucie car, pour la premiere fois, il value de maniere complete la situation des tortues de mer
dans les eaux du pays, les menaces contre la tortue marine et les solutions qui s'appliquent a la
situation. Nous envisageons qu'en raison de l'effort accompli au niveau de la communaute pour
laborer et mettre en oeuvre ce Plan d'action, la legislation, la sensibilisation du public, la
surveillance des activities de la population, des initiatives de protection entreprises au niveau de
la communaute ainsi que la cooperation regional seront elargies et ameliorees.

Page xiv


Sea turtles were caught in St. Lucia (61W, 14N; see Figure 1) by the Caribs and
Arawaks, and possibly by those who settled the island before them. Based on archaeological ev-
idence (e.g., from Grande Anse, Marie Galante, and Folle Anse), sea turtles were important to
the pre-historic fishing economy of St. Lucia (Wing and Reitz, 1982). There are few literature
references to the industry prior to World War II, but it is likely that turtles were an important
component of local culture and economy through most of the twentieth century. The fishery has
declined considerably in the last two decades or so, but persists to the present day. An estimated
10-15 persons target sea turtles at the present time and the legal catch is obtained entirely by
netting (see section 3.3). In addition, an unquantified number of turtles are caught in nets (usu-
ally trammel nets) set for other species and some are taken while nesting on local beaches. The
general opinion of fishermen is that the populations of sea turtles have declined. Green turtles,
hawksbills and leatherbacks are all taken, sometimes in contravention of existing laws. The ille-
gal collection of eggs is widespread. The uncontrolled slaughter of nesting leatherbacks on east
coast beaches is perhaps the most serious, unresolved sea turtle conservation issue.

Two species of sea turtle are most frequently seen in St. Lucia's waters: the green turtle
(Chelonia mydas) and the hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata). The leatherback (Dermochelys
coriacea) is less common and is observed only during the reproductive season (April-July;
section 2.3). There have been infrequent reports of turtles which by their description may be
loggerheads (Caretta caretta), but these have yet to be substantiated (in any event, we are quite
certain that loggerheads do not nest on the island). Hawksbills are observed most frequently near
coral reefs, while green turtles are associated with sea grass communities along the coast. The
leatherbacks present are almost invariably breeding adults which probably remain in deep water
between nestings. A notable exception was an injured neonate (11.5 cm straight carapace length)
recovered alive on the east coast in September 1991 and later released (Sparks, 1993).

Existing legislation offers some protection, but enforcement has never been rigorous.
The Fisheries Act (No. 10 of 1984) protects nesting turtles and their eggs, authorizes a closed
season (1 March-30 September), and establishes minimum weight limits. While potentially
useful in controlling the depletion of turtle stocks, the Act is inadequate to promote recovery
because large juveniles and breeding-age adults (theoretically the most important size classes to
conserve relative to population recovery) can legally be taken at sea at all times of the year.
Furthermore, the closed season does not encompass the entire breeding season. Unfortunately,
the new Fisheries Regulations (1994) (see section 4.21) do not correct these deficiencies. St.
Lucia has signed several important international conservation treaties in recent years, including
CITES (ratified in 1982, prohibits international trade in sea turtles and their parts or products),
the UNEP Cartagena Convention (ratified in 1984, calls for management and recovery planning
on behalf of endangered species), and the SPAW Protocol to the Cartagena Convention (signed
in 1991, calls for full protection of sea turtles).

The objectives of this Recovery Action Plan are to compile existing data on the status and
distribution of sea turtles in St. Lucia, assess the role played by sea turtles in the culture and
economy, discuss factors threatening turtles and their habitats, and provide specific management
recommendations, including revised legislation, designed to enhance the survival prospects of

Page 1

CEP Technical Report No. 26

these ancient reptiles. The process of developing the Action Plan enhanced public awareness of
the sea turtles' plight and encouraged public participation in sea turtle conservation measures.
Maintaining momentum in the sea turtle conservation programme, including full implementation
of this Action Plan, is crucial to the survival of sea turtles in St. Lucia. The Action Plan includes
recommendations for implementing a comprehensive National Sea Turtle Conservation Pro-
gramme (section 4.6), as well as a brief summary of specific Government actions deemed neces-
sary in the immediate term (Appendix I, Management Plan for St. Lucia's Sea Turtles: An


In the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, 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 eggs. 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 continuing degradation of important nesting beaches and feeding areas, also
threaten the continued existence of Caribbean populations. A recent report concluded that about
half the world's nesting populations of hawksbills 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).

Three species of endangered sea turtle are known to nest in St. Lucia: the hawksbill, the
green turtle, and the leatherback. In addition, foraging hawksbills and green turtles of varying
sizes are present year-around. Loggerhead nesting has not been verified, but unconfirmed re-
ports of sightings by fishermen indicate that the species may pass through our waters. Neither of
the ridley turtles have been documented. While our information is far from complete, it provides
general guidelines for management purposes and indicates where further study is most needed.
In general, the status of sea turtle stocks in St. Lucia can be described as declining. Seasonal
nesting occurs on beaches throughout the country and foraging areas tend to correspond with
healthy sea grass and coral reef ecosystems. Table 1 and Figure 2 summarize the distribution of
known nesting beaches.

2.1 Caretta caretta, Loggerhead Sea Turtle

There are no indigenous common names applied to this species; the preferred name is
"loggerhead". Adults are recognized by a large head, thick, somewhat tapered carapace, and
characteristically heavy encrustation of invertebrate epifauna (especially barnacles) (Figure 3).
The large head and strong jaws, for which the species was named, are necessary adaptations to a
diet of mollusks and hard-shelled crabs. Tunicates, fishes, and plants are also eaten (summar-
ised by Dodd, 1988). Nesting females in Florida USA average 92 cm in straight shell length
(range 81-110 cm; n=194) and 116 kg (71.7-180.7 kg; n=261) (Ehrhart and Yoder, 1978).
Adults can weigh up to 200 kg (440 lb) (Pritchard et al., 1983). The colour is red-brown to
brown; hatchlings are sometimes gray.

Page 2

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

Loggerheads have a wide oceanic distribution. In the Atlantic Ocean, they are seen 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 in 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). Loggerheads nest occasionally
during the summer months on islands in the eastern Caribbean (Rebel, 1974; Dodd, 1988;
Ehrhart, 1989).

The species' juvenile years are characterized by trans-Atlantic movement. According to
the existing paradigm for populations nesting in the USA, hatchlings leave their natal beaches
and are carried passively on the North Atlantic subtropical gyre in Sargassum seaweed rafts to
areas of the eastern North Atlantic, including the Azores. After several years of pelagic
existence, juveniles (typically 50-65 cm shell length) return or are returned by currents to the
western North Atlantic to become resident benthic (=bottom) feeders on the continental shelf.
Studies of Florida loggerheads suggest that individuals reach sexual maturity at 12-30 years old,
more likely closer to 30 years than to 12 (Frazer and Ehrhart, 1985).

Although Carr et al. (1982) (later quoted by Dodd, 1988) reported that the loggerhead
nested infrequently on beaches such as Pigeon Island, Cas-en-Bas, and Pitton Sivons (=Anse
L'Ivrogne), the St. Lucia Department of Fisheries has no evidence to substantiate nesting in St.
Lucia. There are some unconfirmed reports of sightings at sea by fishermen. The seasonality of
such sightings has not been determined and there are presently no data available to specify what
age/size classes are observed. Preferred foraging areas have not been delimited. The species is
considerably rarer than either the green turtle or the hawksbill. Cato et al. (1978) reported one
loggerhead shell on the premises of a "souvenir dealer and turtleshell merchant in Castries".

2.2 Chelonia mydas, Green Sea Turtle

Local common names for the species include "tortie", "green turtle" and "green back".
The green turtle is recognized by its round, blunt beak with serrated cutting edges and smooth
carapace plates (=scutes) that do not overlap one another (cf hawksbill turtle, section 2.4). The
single pair of large scales situated between the eyes is also a diagnostic feature (Figure 3). The
carapace is generally devoid of barnacles. Adults usually measure 95-120 cm in straightline
carapace length (nuchal notch to posterior tip). The maximum reported weight of an adult
female nesting in Suriname was 182 kg (400 lb) (Schulz, 1975). Individuals of varying sizes are
present throughout the year and are frequently sighted in coastal waters, mainly off the eastern

It is likely that individual green turtles do not remain in local waters throughout their
lives. Hatchlings emerge from their nests, scurry to the sea, orient offshore in a swimming
frenzy that persists over a period of days, and ultimately enter an offshore convergence or weed
line. It is well known, for example, that Sargassum seaweed rafts shelter hatchling green turtles
and also harbour a diverse, specialized fauna, including many kinds of little fishes, crustaceans,

Page 3

CEP Technical Report No. 26

worms, mollusks, tunicates, and coelenterates; these may provide food for the young turtles
(Carr, 1987a). The turtles remain epipelagic (=surface dwelling in the open sea) for an unknown
period of time (perhaps 1-3 yrs) before taking up residence in continental shelf habitats.

Upon leaving the open sea existence that characterises their earliest years, green turtles
become herbivores and remain so for the rest of their lives (Bjordal, 1985). In the Caribbean
Sea, green turtles feed primarily on the sea grass Thalassia testudinum (Bjorndal, 1982),
commonly referred to as "turtle grass". Field studies indicate that individual turtles maintain
feeding "scars" by returning to the same area of sea grass meadow to forage each day (Ogden et
al., 1980, 1983). These scars, or grazing plots, are maintained by regular cropping for several
months and the more digestible newer growth (higher in protein, lower in lignin) is preferred
(Bjorndal, 1980). When the cropped grasses show signs of stress (blade thinning, increased
inter-nodal distance), the turtle apparently abandons the scar and moves on to form another.

Juvenile green turtles travel extensively and in the years preceding reproductive maturity
take up temporary residence in many locations (Carr et al., 1978). They may travel thousands of
kilometers in the Caribbean Sea before the urge to reproduce impels them to migrate to mating
and nesting grounds, the latter presumed to be their natal (=birth) beach. Caribbean green turtles
reach sexual maturity at an estimated 18-36 years of age (reviewed by Frazer and Ladner, 1986).
After reproducing, there is some evidence that turtles return to resident foraging grounds.
Therefore, the movements of adults are likely to be less extensive than those of juveniles, since
adults move seasonally between relatively fixed feeding and breeding areas.

There is ample evidence that green turtles feed on sea grass in St. Lucia's waters, but
specific foraging grounds have yet to be delineated. Bacon (1981) reported frequent foraging by
juveniles and adults and named foraging sites at SoufriSre, Choiseul, Anse Sable, Micoud, and
from Gros Islet to Anse Lavoutte. Carr et al. (1982) made similar observations and added that,
during the time of their survey, two "washtub-sized" green turtles had been caught at Gros Islet,
killed, and sold in the public market at Castries. A green turtle originally tagged while nesting at
Aves Island (Venezuela) was captured near Vieux-Fort (Carr et al., 1982). Foraging habitat also
occurs in the areas of Choc Bay, north of SoufriSre to Jambette Point, and south of Micoud to

It is believed that some beaches on both coasts may be used for nesting by this species,
but reports are very rare and population estimates cannot be derived from existing data. Nesting
frequency is not known but on the basis of information available from other areas, 2-6 nests are
probably laid per female every 2-3 years. Nesting is nocturnal and clutches are laid 12-14 days
apart. The nesting season in St. Lucia is not clearly defined, but nesting at Grande Anse has not
been observed before July. Field studies elsewhere in the Eastern Caribbean suggest that the
number of eggs deposited per nest generally ranges from 125 to 150.

Reports from fishermen and Fisheries extension staff indicate that green turtles are caught
more often than any other species by the few remaining fishermen who specialise in sea turtle
fishing. These persons use turtle nets known as "folle" for this purpose. Murray (1984) reported
that the Fisheries Management Unit purchased five green turtles from a local fisherman ranging
in weight from 7.3-15.2 kg (35.6-55.9 cm carapace length). These turtles, which had been

Page 4

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

caught on the east side of the island, were tagged and released. In addition to direct harvest
(which occurs both legally and illegally), incidental capture in beach seine nets and oppor-
tunistic catches are frequent on the northwest and southeast coasts. Meat is consumed locally,
usually by the family and friends of the fishermen (see section 3.3.)

2.3 Dermochelys coriacea, Leatherback Sea Turtle

The leatherback (sometimes referred to locally as "tortie aclen") is the largest of all sea
turtles. Females nesting in the Caribbean typically weigh 300-500 kg (650-1100 lb). The larg-
est leatherback on record is a 916 kg (2015 lb) male that washed ashore dead on the coast of
Wales, U.K. (Morgan, 1989). The species is easily distinguished because it lacks a bony shell,
having instead a slightly flexible skin-covered carapace (Figure 3). The smooth, black skin is
spotted with pale yellow or white. The tapered carapace is raised into seven prominent ridges
and powerful front flippers extend nearly the length of the body. Leatherbacks are found in the
tropics, as well as in cold Canadian and European waters; they have the most extensive range of
any reptile. Leatherbacks are seasonal visitors to St. Lucia. It is likely that they leave northern
foraging and residence areas to migrate to nesting beaches in St. Lucia and then return to these
latitudes after egg-laying is complete (cf. Eckert and Eckert, 1988).

The species is not often observed or caught in St. Lucia's waters, but it nests on the
island. Nesting is concentrated on a number of large, high energy windward beaches along the
east coast, the major one being Grande Anse (Table 1, Figure 2). d'Auvergne et al. (1989) esti-
mate that 12-28 females nest on Grande Anse beach annually. Nesting is also reported from the
southernmost tip of the island to Burgot Point, on the Maria Islands, at the mouth of the Trou-
massee River, at Fond Bay and Cas-en-Bas (Carr et al., 1982). While virtually all nesting occurs
at night, one female was seen nesting at Anse Sable in April 1991 during the day, the first diurnal
nesting documented by the Department of Fisheries. Females nesting at Grande Anse beach
measure 129.5-186.7 cm curved carapace length (n=19) (Charles, 1987) (Table 2).

Data collected at the well-studied beach at Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge (St.
Croix, U. S. Virgin Islands) indicate that each female deposits an average of 6-7 clutches of eggs
at 10-day intervals (range 7-13 days) 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, averaging 85;
a variable number of small, yolkless eggs is also deposited. The eggs incubate in the sand at a
depth of 60-70 cm. Hatchlings emerge from their nest, generally at dusk, 60-65 days after egg-
laying (e.g., McDonald et al., 1991). The reason leatherbacks are so rarely seen offshore during
the nesting season may be that they spend little time at the surface. Recent studies deploying
time-depth recorders on gravid (egg-bearing) females nesting on St. Croix have shown that
individuals 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).

Neither feeding nor mating has ever been documented in the waters of St. Lucia. Males
are not seen, only adult females come to the nesting beaches. Nothing is known about distribu-
tion or behaviour of the juveniles. On 14 September 1991, a very young turtle (11.5 cm straight

Page 5

CEP Technical Report No. 26

carapace length, 8.0 cm carapace width, weight about 6 oz) was found on an east coast beach.
The front right flipper had been badly damaged and it could not be made to return to the sea. It
was cared for aboard the yacht Quandry for about a week. When it could not be made to eat
crushed egg yolk or live jellyfish, it was released (Sparks, 1993).

The harvest of leatherbacks has traditionally been low in St. Lucia, but has sometimes
reached critical levels, especially in recent years (section 3.3). Egg poaching is a significant
threat. Not only are eggs collected from the beach, but nesting females are often slaughtered
primarily for the eggs within; most and often all of the meat is left behind. The eggs are
consumed mainly for reputed aphrodisiac qualities, despite the fact that this is against the law
(c.f. section 4.21). In contrast to some other Eastern Caribbean islands (e.g., Tortola, St. Kitts,
Grenada) where leatherbacks are (or were until recently) killed for oil, there is no evidence of a
market for this product in St. Lucia.

2.4 Eretmochelys imbricata, Hawksbill Sea Turtle

The hawksbill (sometimes referred to as "kawet" or "carey") is distinguished by a narrow,
pointed beak which may be useful in removing sponges and other prey items from the reef. The
carapace is often posteriorly serrated and the carapace scutes overlap, like shingles on a roof
(Figure 3). Two pair of scales are located directly between the eyes. Adults rarely exceed 80 kg
(175 lb) and a straightline carapace length of about 90 cm. Bright mottled colouration (brown,
gold, orange) is common. This rare turtle is challenging to study. 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 sufficiently large number of
recaptures to illustrate post-nesting movement). Gravid (=egg-bearing) females often nest on
isolated beaches (including those flanked by exposed coral and rock) that are difficult to monitor
on a consistent basis.

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. Data collected at this
site indicate that over the course of the main nesting season (mid-June to mid-November) turtles
make an average of five nests separated by intervals of 13-18 days (Corliss et al., 1989; Hoyle
and Richardson, 1993). Average clutch size ranges from 120-160 eggs in the Western Atlantic
(summarised by Witzell, 1983). The female often lays her eggs in the shelter of beach
vegetation, such as the sea grape (Coccoloba uvifera). In many cases, the only evidence of the
visit is a faint asymmetrical crawl (flippers alternating) about 0.7 m wide leading to and from the
ocean. Incubation periods average 60 to 75 days in the Western Atlantic (Witzell, 1983).
Females predictably return to the same beach or area to renest on intervals of 2-3 years, again
based on data collected in Antigua. As is the case with all other species of sea turtle, sand
temperature plays a large role in determining hatchling sex. Warmer incubation temperatures
favour females, whereas cooler temperatures favour males.

In St. Lucia, hawksbills appear most frequently along the sheltered west coast, although
some sightings have occurred on the east and primarily the southeast coast. Some nesting also
takes place on the northeast (Grande Anse) and west (Anse Chastanet) coasts. Bacon (1981) re-
ported nesting at Anse Becune, Point Saline, Pigeon Island, Anse Cochon, Anse Jambon, Anse

Page 6

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

Mamin, Anse Ger, Praslin, Grande Anse, Cas-en-Bas, the mouth of the Troumassee River, and
from the southern tip of the island to Burgot Point. Additional nesting sites, including Cariblue,
Anse Chastanet, Dennery, Honeymoon Beach and possibly Trou L'Oranger, Anse Micoud, Anse
de Sables, Anse Commerette, Fond d'Or, and Anse Lapins, were reported by Murray (1984).
Carr et al. (1982) concluded that hawksbills nest to some extent on nearly all of St. Lucia's
beaches. Murray (1984) roughly estimated the annual number of nesting females at 11 (the
equivalent of about 55 nests island-wide), but supporting data are not available. Nesting is
believed to occur in very low densities. Peak nesting appears to occur between June and August,
but some activity may occur year around.

Hawksbills of various size classes are present in the waters of St. Lucia year around.
Systematic studies have not been undertaken, but the species is generally observed in association
with coral reefs. Hawksbills are "spongivores" and feed mainly on reef-associated sponges in the
Caribbean region. Sponges contributed 95.3% of the total dry mass of all food items in digestive
tract samples from 61 animals from seven Caribbean countries (Meylan, 1988). Hawksbills are
still caught, usually at sea and often illegally, for consumption. Reports indicate that eggs are
also collected. There is a limited local market for hawksbill shell, but no known export at the
present time (sections 3.3, 4.31).

2.5 Lepidochelvs kempii, Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle

There are no records of Kemp's ridleys in St. Lucia, 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, and
carapace scutes do not overlap one another. 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 behaviour due to being held
captive during its first year (Woody, 1991), Kemp's ridleys are confined to the Gulf of Mexico
and temperate northern Atlantic. The total adult population is thought to number no more than
900 females and an unknown number of males (Ross et al. 1989), making it the world's most
endangered sea turtle. The species nests in Tamaulipas, Mexico.

2.6 Lepidochelys olivacea, Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

There are no records of this species from the waters of St. Lucia, nor would it be expect-
ed to occur. 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 yellow-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 medi-
an on the shell) are divided into 5-9 pairs, considerably more than other sea turtles which typi-
cally 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 con-
siderably in recent years, from about 3,000 nests per year in the late 1960's to fewer than 500

Page 7

CEP Technical Report No. 26

nests per year today (Reichart and Fretey, 1993). Diffuse nesting occurs in northwestern Guy-
ana and in French Guiana (Reichart, 1989).


3.1 Destruction or Modification of Habitat

St. Lucia's population has soared from 42,220 in 1891 (CCA/IRF, 1991) to 135,975 in
1991 (Government of St. Lucia, 1991). Today St. Lucia has a balanced economy with a sophis-
ticated manufacturing structure and a well-developed tourism sector. In hand with economic
development and an increasing human population, commercial and recreational activity along the
coastline has noticeably affected the habitat of sea turtles. One of the major factors has been and
continues to be sand mining (section 4.131). The construction industry relies on beach sand as a
source of fine building aggregate. In recent years, some sandy beaches (e.g., Soufriere) have
been reduced to cobble by the mining. At the present time at least six turtle nesting beaches are
heavily exploited, legally or otherwise. Of these, at least two have become unsuitable for
nesting. Grand Anse beach, the largest in St. Lucia and a regionally important nesting site for
endangered leatherback sea turtles, is experiencing severe structural instability. Grand Anse is
now characterized by an unnaturally shallow profile, which means that in many cases
leatherbacks are forced to abandon the nesting sequence after digging into the water table.

In addition to sand mining, sea turtles face additional threats to their survival as a direct
result of coastal development and industry (see section 4.13 for details). For example, the
emphasis on tourism (an industry which contributed 22% of the total GDP in 1986: CCA/IRF,
1991) has seen the establishment of hotels on some nesting beaches. As a consequence, vegeta-
tion has been removed and beach footage above high water has been lost. Beach-front lighting is
also a problem in that it disorients emerging hatchlings and may dissuade gravid females from
coming ashore. Not all coastal development has been associated with tourism, however.
Dennery and other long-established communities are clustered along once prominent turtle
nesting beaches. These shorelines are densely populated and characterized by modest homes,
fishing and market facilities, roads, and subsistence fishing vessels. Some beaches are affected
by tar globules from ocean-going vessels and by debris such as plastic bags and bottles. This
problem is greater on the windward east coast. In addition, domestic garbage is carried to the sea
by rivers and storms and ultimately washes ashore on sandy beaches.

Some of the reefs around the island have been damaged or destroyed by the use of
dynamite, in contravention of the Fisheries Act of 1984 (see section 4.141). Other reefs have
been completely obliterated by dredging during coastal projects, such as land reclamation. There
is also the serious problem of reef destruction which results when yachts, dive boats, and fishing
vessels anchor on living coral and when fish pots are dropped on coral reefs. This is especially
serious along the west coast (in general, the east coast is too rough to provide good anchorage).
Finally, it is believed that marine habitats are being affected by siltation due to the erosion of
upland regions, agricultural run-off, and indiscriminate waste disposal. These problems are dis-
cussed in greater detail, and some solutions proposed, in later sections (especially section 4.14).

Page 8

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

3.2 Disease or Predation

No studies have been carried out on local sea turtle populations to determine the inci-
dence of disease or predation. To date, no cases of green turtle fibropapilloma, a debilitating and
sometimes fatal tumor disease reported elsewhere in the Caribbean (Jacobson, 1990), have been
reported in St. Lucia. Ghost crabs (Ocypode quadratus) and night herons (Nyctanassa violacea)
prey on emerging hatchlings. Pigs sometimes dig up nests, such as at Anse Sable. Consumption
of eggs and hatchlings by domestic dogs is reported from Vigie Beach, Castries (P. James, pers.
comm., 1993). The extent of nest loss to these predators is unquantified. Predation by mon-
gooses (Herpestes auropunctatus) has not been documented. On a few occasions nesting female
leatherbacks have been observed with bitten-off flippers, suggesting attacks by sharks at sea.
Some years ago, leatherback remains were found in the stomachs of three killer whales captured
off St. Vincent (Caldwell and Caldwell, 1969). In the absence of evidence to the contrary, the
level of predation is assumed to be within normal and natural limits.

3.3 Over-utilisation

The commercial sea turtle industry in St. Lucia appears to have begun in about 1937
when live green turtles were shipped to England and the USA; after 1941, the shipments
consisted primarily of dried green turtle meat (Murray, 1984). Most of the trade after 1949 de-
pended on turtles imported from Aves Island (Venezuela) and landed at Castries. Each year
about 300 turtles weighing approximately 45,000 lb were imported under special licence during
the local closed season, which was 1 May-31 August at that time (Rebel, 1974; Murray, 1984).
[N.B. This number and weight are not entirely consistent; only large adult turtles, typically
weighing 250-400 lb, are found on Aves Island, which would suggest an aggregated weight of
about 75,000 to 120,000 lb for 300 turtles (Cato et al., 1978).] A portion of the meat was sold
locally and about 30% was exported to the U. S. Virgin Islands and to England. In addition,
about 600 lb of dried turtle meat and calipee and calipash were exported annually to England,
and the same to Germany (Rebel, 1974). Even though collection of turtles from Aves Island was
illegal, a favourable price ($75/turtle) made the effort worthwhile (Cato et al., 1978). Eggs were
also brought from Aves Island, as reported by Oliver Calderon (Ranger, Pigeon Island National
Landmark) who remembers them (from his youth) displayed in the local market in small piles;
they were inexpensive and frequently purchased (pers. comm. to K. Eckert, October 1993). It is
not clear when imports from Aves Island came to an end, but perhaps by the mid-1970's. Local
landing estimates for the 1969 open season (1 September-30 April) were 37,500 lb of green turtle
and 24,000 lb of hawksbill (Rebel, 1974).

A decade later, Cato et al. (1978) described the fishery as follows: "St. Lucia is both an
importer and exporter of tortoiseshell, and has a fishery based upon both the hawksbill and the
green turtle. The hawksbill is known to nest periodically on St. Lucia, and the green turtle
probably does also. One loggerhead shell was seen on the premises of a souvenir dealer and
turtleshell merchant in Castries. The chief informant on St. Lucia was Mr. Leonard Stephen, a
fisherman resident at Choiseul, at the southern end of the island. Stephen reported that he caught
green turtles and hawksbills in comparable numbers, using 18 inch (45 cm) stretch nets
fabricated from green nylon twine. The upper border of the net is provided with floats, and the
ends have both larger floats and heavy rocks attached to keep the net upright in the water. The

Page 9

CEP Technical Report No. 26

net is set overnight in areas known to be frequented by turtles. Fish usually pass straight
through; adult turtles and some juveniles are caught.

"Stephen estimated that he caught approximately 100 turtles in 1975, and approximately
60 in 1977, but the capture success was so variable that accurate estimates were hard to make.
Stephen's estimate for the total annual catch from St. Lucia was 500 turtles per year, but
emphasized that this was an order-of-magnitude estimate only. Stephen felt that dynamite
fishing was responsible for the destruction of significant numbers of turtles in St. Lucia waters.
Turtle meat sold in St. Lucia fetches about US$ 1.25 per pound, though meat exported to the
neighboring French Island of Martinique fetched as much as US$ 4.00 per pound. Hawksbill
shell was purchased by an exporter in Castries by the name of Fritsch for EC$ 25.00 per pound.
While fishermen did not consider this to be a particularly competitive price, the market was
always available for whatever quantity they had to sell. Fritsch exported the product to Liver-
pool, England, where it was manufactured into artifacts. The writer also visited a local manufac-
turer in a village on the west coast of St. Lucia; but while this individual produced large numbers
of artifacts, they were small items such as earrings, and the total number of entire hawksbill
shells consumed by such an operator would be very low. [N.B. Today US$ 1.00 = EC$ 2.72.]

"A difference in the yield of shell for male and female hawksbills was reported. Males
yield only about three pounds, but the females often produce six pounds, and in one exceptional
case the five largest scutes alone from a single turtle weighed a total of 71/2 pounds. The writer
can testify to the occasional capture of hawksbills with unusually thick, heavy shells; a bisected
raw costal [=lateral] scute in a workshop in Castries had a thickness of over one centimeter.
Islanders from St. Lucia participate occasionally in the illicit capture of nesting green turtles on
Aves Island, over a hundred miles to the west. Eddie King, a boat navigator from Micoud, used
to travel to Aves Island to catch turtles and sell them in Puerto Rico, but he had stopped two-
three years ago (i.e., around 1974-1975)." (Cato et al., 1978).

Today, as in years' past, the number of turtles landed annually can only be estimated.
These estimates are comparatively low when compared to historical values; nevertheless, it is
clear from interviews and Fisheries data that 200 or more turtles have been legally landed per
year since 1990, in addition to an unquantified number caught during the closed season and a
most likely large number of females removed illegally from nesting beaches. The latter practice
is particularly prevalent on the east coast north of Dennery where fishermen travel to the beach-
es at night and, while ostensibly hand-lining from shore, take the opportunity to kill any nesting
turtle that is encountered (P. James, pers. comm., 1993). With regard to legal landings, De-
partment of Fisheries statistics indicate that approximately 90 turtles were slaughtered in the
Vieux-Fort area during the open season, October 1990-February 1991. Most were caught in the
Micoud area. Because Vieux-Fort is the major slaughter centre, perhaps another 80 turtles were
killed legally at other centres such as Castries. Murray (1984) estimated that five green turtles
were landed at Castries and four green turtles and one hawksbill at Canaries in September, and
four green turtles at Vieux-Fort between September and November of 1992.

Department of Fisheries data indicate that during the annual five-month open season in
1991 and 1992, 3055 and 1468 lb (whole weight), respectively, of sea turtle (hawksbill and green
turtle combined, mostly juveniles) were landed at 11 landing sites (Gros Islet, Castries, Bannas,

Page 10

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

Dennery, Micoud, Vieux-Fort, Laborie, Choiseul, SoufriSre, Praslin Bay, Savanne). The major-
ity of turtles were landed at Dennery and Gros Islet (see Figure 2). As noted above, the data
surely underestimate the total catch on an annual basis because unquantified numbers of turtles
are landed in isolated areas, landed illegally during the closed season, or killed clandestinely
whilst nesting. An estimated 10-15 fishermen still target turtles using large mesh, homemade
turtle nets ("folle"); an estimated 15-20 nets are in operation during the open season. Only one
individual reportedly relies heavily on the income derived; in most cases full-time fishermen
simply augment their annual income by targeting turtles when it is legal to do so. In contrast,
dozens of rural, part-time fishermen visit nesting beaches during the breeding season to fish in
the evening and kill nesting females on an opportunistic basis. Effective law enforcement is
nearly impossible.

In addition to the direct harvest, green and hawksbill turtles are sometimes caught inci-
dental to other fishing activities. The continuing harvest (legal and illegal, direct and accidental)
is cause for serious concern. Murray (1984) indicated that the numbers of sea turtles seen in
1982 showed a significant decrease relative to 1980 and a major decrease relative to 1972.
Fishermen have been among the first to concede that stocks are decreasing, but the adage that
"my grandfather caught turtles, my father caught turtles, and I will catch turtles" is powerful
here. There is a genuine belief that the resource is inexhaustible, that "there are plenty more
turtles in the sea". It is noteworthy that the take of eggs is also a continuing threat to remaining
populations. The proportion of eggs removed from nesting beaches is impossible to quantify, but
informed observers unanimously agree that virtually any nest discovered by rural fishermen will
be raided. As an example, of 33 green and hawksbill nests recorded by SLNS volunteers on
Grande Anse in 1993, 30 had been dug (the other three "escaped" only because they had been
camouflaged by the SLNS; P. James, pers. comm., 1993).

With regard to the seasonally present leatherbacks, the available evidence (i.e., informal
reports) suggests that nesting females are killed by a relatively small number of individuals
resident in the communities of Garrand and Boguis. In the past, evidence suggested that many
turtles were killed by persons who came to the beach to collect sand illegally at night. However,
this activity seems to have declined and now most of the poaching is done by persons who come
to Grande Anse specifically for that purpose. There is no indication that the persons involved
rely on turtle meat for their subsistence. Rather, it appears that the turtles are killed more for
sport; the meat (which is not very popular) and eggs are taken only incidentally. When taken,
the meat is distributed clandestinely among friends and families since it is unavailable in public
markets. It is not uncommon that only the eggs are removed and the entire carcass is left to rot.
The number of leatherbacks killed each year has varied over the last decade. In the early- to
mid-1980's, an average of 5-6 turtles was killed annually. In 1989 this activity was significantly
reduced due to the presence of two Wardens employed by the Department of Fisheries to patrol
Grande Anse Beach and Mangroves Marine Reserve. The Wardens were employed only part-
time, however, and despite their best efforts the number of leatherback carcasses rose again in
1991. Funding to support the Wardens expired in 1992. Some estimates place the number of
leatherbacks killed in 1993 as high as 25, although this figure may be inflated due to inadvertent
double-reporting. It is almost certain that at least 10 turtles were killed in 1993, not only at
Grande Anse but also on the neighboring beach at Petit Anse, and that this number represents a
majority of the nesting population that year (based on an informal nest count).

Page 11

CEP Technical Report No. 26

Finally, trade has played a role in the depletion of St. Lucia's turtles. According to
Japanese Customs statistics, 2,997 kg of hawksbill shell was received from St. Lucia between
1973-1983; import volumes ranged from 143 kg in 1980 to a high of 489 kg in 1977. Based on
an estimated 1.34 kg of shell scutes [the average yield from Caribbean hawksbills; Milliken and
Tokunaga, 1987] per animal, we conclude that about 2,240 hawksbills have been killed for
export to Japan since 1970. In addition, a total of 434 kg of green turtle shell was received from
St. Lucia in 1979 and 1980, according to Japanese Customs data (Milliken and Tokunaga, 1987).
St. Lucia ratified CITES in 1982 and the absence of trade in recent years is likely attributable to
the strict local implementation of CITES controls. Hawksbill shell jewelry and other items were
once commonly sold to tourists visiting St. Lucia, but an educational campaign appears to have
been successful in removing these items from local boutiques. An informal survey of shops in
Castries (including Pointe Seraphine) and Rodney Bay in June 1993 failed to find any such
items. In October 1993, two hawksbill shells (about 20 and 25 cm) and one green turtle shell
(about 35 cm) were found for sale at the Central Craft Center in Victoria (north of Choiseul) for
EC$ 60, 100 and 300, respectively. The owner indicated that the turtles had been local-caught
and had been in the store for several years. They were not prominently displayed and he was not
interested in selling them unless someone was "really interested"; he was aware of the
endangered status of turtles and said that he had long ago stopped buying turtle products from
local fishermen (pers. comm. to K. Eckert, 1993).

3.4 Inadequate Regulatory Mechanisms

The Fisheries Regulations (No. 9 of 1994) declare it illegal to catch, sell, purchase or
hold turtles eggs at any time, or to interfere with turtle nests or nesting turtles. The same applies
for undersized turtles. The minimum allowable sizes are 27.22 kg for hawksbills, 34.02 kg for
green and loggerhead turtles, and 294.84 kg for leatherbacks. It is also illegal to set nets within
100 m of the shore for the purpose of catching turtles or to catch any species of turtle during the
closed season (1 March-30 September). A person who contravenes any of these regulations is
liable upon summary conviction to a fine not exceeding EC$ 5000.

The regulations as proposed (which are expected to come into force in early 1994) are
sorely inadequate to promote the recovery of depleted sea turtle stocks in St. Lucia. A morator-
ium on sea turtle harvest is necessary, as repeatedly acknowledged by member OECS states
(including St. Lucia) and mandated by the SPAW Protocol to the UNEP Cartagena Convention
(see section 4.32). If an interim harvest period pending full protection is unavoidable, then the
harvest should be limited to green and loggerhead turtles smaller than 60 cm shell length during
the five-month open season (see section 4.23 for details). The Fisheries Act of 1984 empowers
the Minister to make or change regulations as required, including declaring an indefinite closed

Additional resources are needed to support law enforcement activities. Poaching
typically occurs in isolated areas, often at night, and is difficult to control. Turtle meat and eggs
are easily sold without being displayed in the open market; hence it is impossible to quantify
closed-season violations. While there is a Marine Unit in the Police Force, the Unit lacks the
manpower and resources (especially boats) to fully patrol the coastline. In addition, Fisheries
personnel have no powers of arrest. Enforcement might be enhanced if Fisheries personnel were

Page 12

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

deputised and empowered with greater enforcement capabilities (see section 4.123). The public
should be encouraged to become more active in reporting violations.

With regard to protected areas, there is at present no single conservation authority in the
country, or something akin to a national parks framework to administer all protected areas under
one management agency. CCA/IRF (1991) emphasizes the importance of cooperation among the
various institutions (government and non-government) responsible for "conservation of the
nation's heritage". Financial resources are needed to administer and protect designated protected
areas, and a coordinated and multi-disciplinary approach to the establishment of protected areas,
including a national land use policy which identifies areas of particular concern and defines
management criteria for each, is needed (CCA/IRF, 1991).

3.5 Other Natural or Man-made Factors

On at least one beach (Grande Anse), erosion is documented and nests are sometimes lost
to wave action. It is also reasonable to assume that heavy swells accompanying cyclones may
destroy nests from time to time. During the summer of 1992, a gravid leatherback was struck by
a boat, as evidenced by deep abrasions along the length of her carapace which were recorded by
observers at Grande Anse when she came ashore to nest. An informal investigation of the
incident revealed that she had been struck by a local sailboat. Mortality resulting from
entanglement in abandoned netting has not been recorded, but in May 1993 a green turtle died
after becoming entangled in the buoy line of fish pot in the area of Labrelotte Bay (V. Charles,
ENCORE, pers. comm.). Horse and vehicle traffic is degrading some beaches, but has not been
reported from important nesting beaches. Public awareness is low on the issue of horses and
vehicles as potential threats to incubating sea turtle eggs; for example, the October 1993 issue of
St. Lucia's Tropical Traveler boasts "there's no better place for an invigorating canter than along
our beaches"! To avoid crushing eggs and embryos, horse riding should be restricted to zones
below the high tide line.


4.1 Manage and Protect Habitat

It is intuitive that in order to conserve depleted species such as sea turtles, the habitats
upon which they depend must be protected. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways,
including setting aside areas as Nature or Marine Reserves (under the Wildlife Protection Act or
the Fisheries Act, respectively) or as National Parks (National Parks legislation has not yet been
enacted). Where protected area status is not feasible, regulatory guidelines must be enforced to
restrict potentially harmful activities. In the marine environment, harmful activities include
indiscriminate anchoring, chemical pollution, and other damage to coral reefs and sea grass. On
land, the protection of nesting beaches requires strict controls on sand mining, coastal lighting,
beach armouring, etc. The first step in the effective management of habitat is to identify critical
areas (section 4.11); then, specific management plans can be designed and zoning or other regu-
lations implemented (section 4.12). The protection of habitat important to the survival of sea
turtles should occur within a larger coastal zone management framework.

Page 13

CEP Technical Report No. 26

It is noteworthy that a healthy coastal environment is essential to the economy, and not
just to endangered turtles. According to Mitchell and Gold (1982 in CCA/IRF, 1991), an estima-
ted 33% of St. Lucia's GDP in 1978 was derived from coastal and marine-related industries. The
proportion is surely greater today. The nearshore habitats upon which turtles depend also have
enormous recreational potential, as clearly shown by the concentration of tourist facilities along
the coast and emphasis on water-related activities (e.g., diving, nature excursions, sport fishing,
boating, sun bathing) in promotional advertising. Many of these activities are not inherently
extractive of natural resources and can actually complement resource management objectives if,
for example, the added value (business income and tax revenues) associated with recreational
tourism is viewed as an incentive for sound resource management (CCA/IRF, 1991). Care must
be taken not to over-use sensitive areas, however. Popular dive sites (e.g., Anse Chastanet)
frequently suffer damage from careless divers and indiscriminate anchoring.

4.11 Identify essential habitat

Sea turtles forage predominantly on sea grass and in coral reef communities. In addition,
adult females depend on St. Lucia's sandy beaches for egg-laying. Some nesting beaches are
known (Table 1, Figure 2); others remain unidentified and undocumented. Preliminary resource
data maps were published by ECNAMP (1980), but further research is needed to compile a
comprehensive inventory. Surveys to identify essential habitat are a recognized priority and a
goal of the proposed national Sea Turtle Conservation Programme (section 4.6).

4.111 Survey foraging areas

Sea grasses in St. Lucia include Thalassia testudinum ("turtle grass"), Syringodium fili-
forme ("manatee grass"), and Halodule wrightii ("shoal grass"). Major sea grass beds occur in
close proximity to coral reefs along the north, south, and southeast coasts at Laborie, Anse
Epouge, and from Burgot Point to Saltibus Point. Sea grasses are characterized by an extensive
root and rhizome system, dense leaf cover, high growth rates, and high organic productivity that
rivals some of the most intensive agricultural crops. Sea grasses exert considerable influence
over their environment. Their exceptionally high productivity is supplemented by that of associ-
ated epiphytic algae and benthic and planktonic micro-algae, which together provide food for a
wide variety of marine animals; they are also vital nursery areas for commercially important
fishes and invertebrates (queen conch, spiny lobster). Extensive root systems prevent the
suspension of sediments (thus stabilising sand and other sediments) and the leafy canopy slows
water movement and filters the water column.

As summarised by CCA/IRF (1991), coral reefs and coral veneers are found on all of St.
Lucia's coasts (Roberts, 1972), but there is considerable variation among these areas in terms of
species diversity and overall structure. Available information on the status of St. Lucian coral
reefs is summarised by Wells (1987). Many areas identified as "reefs" are actually veneers of
coral and associated organisms on volcanic rock substrates. Reefs that have been largely pro-
duced by corals are found primarily on the south and east coasts. These are patch reefs or small
fringing reefs; large barrier reefs are not present. Coral reefs provide shelter to all sea turtles,
except the giant leatherback. The reef is also a source of food for hawksbill turtles, which con-
sume mainly reef-associated sponges (see section 2.4). Healthy reef systems reduce incoming

Page 14

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

wave energy, provide a source of beach sand, and are critical habitat for many invertebrates and
the majority of bottom-dwelling or demersal fish living in nearshore areas of the Caribbean.

At the present time, the reefs and most of the sea grass beds which have been identified
(see Figure 2) have not been accurately mapped. Most of these habitats are not regularly moni-
tored although some are known to have been affected by siltation and other factors. The Choc
Bay and Anse des Pitons (Jalousie) reefs, for example, have been degraded by siltation due to
dredging and excavation, respectively. The Department of Fisheries has an ongoing Coral Reef
Programme, involving inter-alia the execution of quantitative surveys and regular monitoring of
a number of reef systems. It is therefore possible that this programme could be expanded to
allow for the occasional monitoring of some additional reefs, as well as selected sea grass sys-
tems. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that turtle sightings also be docu-
mented as part of this programme. Standard sea turtle sightings forms are needed. Aerial photo-
graphs could play a useful role in mapping and monitoring. Fishermen and dive tour operators
should be encouraged to provide the Department with information about the extent and distribu-
tion of foraging activity.

4.112 Survey nesting habitats

A large number of actual and potential nesting beaches have been identified by the
Department of Fisheries (Table 1, Figure 2), but there are many obstacles to obtaining a
systematic determination of nesting activity. It is not feasible to survey all of those beaches on a
regular basis because many of them are isolated and/or not readily accessible. In addition, the
frequency of nesting on some beaches is so low that little may be learnt from occasional spot-
checks. Finally, on beaches frequently used by man, tracks and other signs are easily obliterat-
ed. The Department of Fisheries plans to solicit assistance from residents proximal to potential
nesting habitat and ask them to watch for evidence of sea turtle nesting. School groups could al-
so become involved in survey initiatives. With technical support from WIDECAST, informal
workshops will be convened to show residents what to look for and what to report.

Since 1982, the Department of Fisheries and the SLNS have carried out night watches
and beach treks at Grande Anse Beach, although occasional treks are also carried out in other
areas. Data have been collected on leatherback turtle nesting (d'Auvergne et al., 1989) and on
occasional green and hawksbill nestings. These surveys should be extended to other beaches
such as Fond d'Or where nesting is sufficiently frequent and where access is easy enough to
allow regular surveys. Less accessible sites, such as Louvet and Marquis, should also be consi-
dered. In many cases, useful information can be collected from the public. For example, beach-
bathers sometimes report turtles in nearshore waters and hoteliers have called in to report
nestings. This sort of communication should be encouraged (see also section 4.41).

At the present time, the SLNS continues to carry out weekly night-patrol watches at
Grande Anse Beach during the leatherback nesting season (March-July). In addition, the volun-
teer efforts of Presley James in surveying nesting beaches on the east coast have been invaluable.
Twice weekly from mid-June to the first week of October 1993, James day-patrolled the east
coast from Donkey Beach (Cap Estate) on the north tip of the island (see Figure 2) south to
Dennery, and then examined Anse Sable, Point Sable, and Maria Island on the southeast coast.

Page 15

CEP Technical Report No. 26

Vigie Beach (Castries) was patrolled irregularly during this time. Notes were made regarding
sea turtle nesting, hatching, and/or harvest (see Table 1). The Society hopes to secure funding to
continue these efforts in 1994 and beyond. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan
that the SLNS continue and, to the extent possible, extend these monitoring activities, ideally
with institutional and manpower support from the Department of Fisheries and other relevant

At some cost, aerial photography could also be employed to survey nesting beaches. The
cost of aerial surveying for three years is included in the proposed Sea Turtle Conservation
Programme (section 4.65). Whether by land and/or air, a three-year island-wide beach survey is
sorely needed in order to identify which habitats still support significant numbers of nesting tur-
tles. Only in this way can management plans be developed for long-term protection and moni-
toring of critically important areas.

It is noteworthy that in 1990 the Department of Fisheries began beach profile surveys of a
number of beaches islandwide under the aegis of a UNESCO beach monitoring programme.
Monitored beaches included Fond d'Or, Grande Anse, Anse Ger, Anse Sable, Anse Cochon,
Vigie (Choc Bay), R,duit (Rodney Bay) and Pigeon Point. These activities were discontinued in
1991. The Department of Fisheries hopes to resume this programme in the near future. Profile
data are important to the long-term monitoring of sea turtle nesting beaches.

4.12 Develop area-specific management plans

The Department of Fisheries has long recognized the need for a complete and
comprehensive plan for the management of sea turtles and their habitats in St. Lucia. Thus, the
opportunity presented by WIDECAST for assistance in developing a plan to focus and prioritise
conservation activities was both timely and greatly appreciated. An important thrust of this
Action Plan is an emphasis on area-specific management (zoning and protective measures)
within important foraging and nesting areas. Some meaningful initiatives are already in place in
protected areas, including irregular nocturnal monitoring of Grande Anse beach during the
nesting season and the patrol of other beaches where possible. Flipper tags were sometimes
applied during the years 1982-1990, both on night watches and occasionally when turtles were
caught at sea. However, record-keeping has not been rigorous and details could not be compiled
for this Action Plan. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that in-house data
(e.g., tag records, catch statistics) be assembled and computerized by the Department of Fisheries
and that the results of more than a decade of informal field work at Grande Anse be formalised
by the SLNS and submitted with management recommendations to the Department of Fisheries.

In addition to the serious and immediate need to draft and enact a management plan to
protect leatherbacks nesting at Grande Anse beach, it is a recommendation of this Recovery
Action Plan that management plans be developed for other specific areas critical to the survival
of sea turtles in St. Lucia. A System of Protected Areas (Hudson et al., 1992), when implement-
ed, will greatly assist the planning effort. Many National Park and Protected Landscape sites
proposed by Hudson et al. (1992) encompass sea turtle nesting beaches. Grande Anse would be
the most suitable location for the establishment of a pilot project since conservation work is on-
going at this important nesting site and experience gained there could be applied to other areas.

Page 16

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

In any case, sand mining (section 4.131), artificial lighting (section 4.132), the construction of
seawalls and jetties (section 4.133), vehicle use on the beach (section 4.134), and sewage and
other waste disposal (sections 4.143, 4.144) should be closely evaluated in zones proximal to
nesting beaches. Zoning of specific areas by the Development Control Authority can help in the
protection of habitat. An annotated summary of recommended guidelines can be found in
section 4.122.

In addition to safeguarding nesting beaches, management plans should be constructed for
important foraging grounds. A number of Marine Reserves have already been created under the
provision of the Fisheries Act to protect coral reefs, beaches, and mangroves (Figure 4). Some
of these reserves encompass important sea turtle foraging areas and nesting beaches; at least two
(Grande Anse and Fond d'Or) were instituted specifically with reference to sea turtles. Hudson
et al. (1992) envisage Nature Reserves encompassing "land or sea or both designated for the
protection of habitat for plants and animals, especially those which are endangered or threat-
ened." Unfortunately, sea turtles do not confine themselves to a limited area and as such they are
vulnerable to pressures outside reserve boundaries. Therefore, general guidelines for protection
of our entire marine zone need to be adopted. These should include prohibiting indiscriminate
anchoring in sea grass or coral areas and banning the nearshore disposal of chemical or solid
waste. A national system of mooring buoys would be very useful (see section 4.147). Enforce-
ment of regulations will be needed (see section 4.123).

4.121 Involve local coastal zone authorities

Consultation should be initiated to include all bodies involved in development of the
coastal zone. These include the Development Control Authority, the Ministry of the Environ-
ment, the Parks and Beaches Commission, the Air and Sea Ports Authority, and the Department
of Fisheries. The police should also be involved, as they are responsible for law enforcement.
Cooperation is absolutely essential if area-specific management plans are to achieve their
objective. At present there is no legal mandate for concerned agencies to work together. How-
ever, a number of crucial matters have been discussed recently. It is hoped that consultation will
continue, and that the harmonisation of legislation can be achieved to provide a framework for
efficient management.

4.122 Develop regulatory guidelines

When areas are defined as especially critical to remaining sea turtle stocks, such as
Grande Anse beach, regulatory guidelines should be drafted and implemented to establish a
framework within which appropriate land use and development (commercial, recreational,
residential) can occur. The Fisheries Act of 1984 allows for the creation of such regulations. In
terms of coastal development the relevant authorities will have to design a system of zoning to
protect sensitive areas. The lead organization would almost certainly be the Ministry of Plan-
ning, with input and participation from the Department of Fisheries, St. Lucia Tourist Board, St.
Lucia National Trust, St. Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority, and others. Any regulations, in
order to be effective, must be enforceable. Standard guidelines for the conservation of sea turtle
habitat are summarised below and are discussed in further detail in sections 4.13 and 4.14.

Page 17

CEP Technical Report No. 26

1) Sand mining: Commercial mining of beach sand should not be permitted under any
circumstances (section 4.131). The persistent removal of beach sand disrupts stabilising vegeta-
tion, exacerbates erosion, and can eliminate nesting habitat. Mining pits invite injury to humans
and livestock, and accumulate water to serve as breeding areas for mosquitoes and other unwant-
ed insects. Mining sediments offshore should be carefully evaluated for potential effects on
coastal beaches, since offshore material is essential for beach maintenance. Preferred extraction
sites should be confined to ghauts (ravines) and interior sites.

2) Artificial lighting: Sea turtles, especially hatchlings, are profoundly influenced by
light. Baby sea turtles, freshly emerged from the nest, 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 hatchlings 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 and does not directly illuminate areas of the beach; if lighting must be seen from
the beach, it should emit wavelengths (560-620 nm) which are least attractive to sea turtles
(Witherington, 1990). Low pressure sodium lights should be used to the maximum extent
possible. Low intensity, ground-level lighting is encouraged. Nighttime and security lighting
should be mounted not more than 5 m above the ground and should not directly illuminate areas
seaward of the primary dune or line of permanent vegetation. No lighting, regardless of wave-
length, should be placed between turtle nests and the sea.

Natural or artificial structures rising above the ground should be used to the maximum
extent possible to prevent lighting from directly illuminating the beach/dune system and to buffer
noise and conceal human activity from the beach. Improving dune height in areas of low dune
profile, planting native or ornamental vegetation, or using hedges and/or privacy fences is
encouraged. Barriers between 76-85 cm high are generally sufficient to block visual cues from
artificial lights (Ehrenfeld, 1968; Mrosovsky, 1970). Ferris (1986) showed that a simple "fence"
of black polyester material stretched between three posts and positioned between the nest and a
lighthouse resulted in the hatchlings orienting correctly to the sea. Balcony lights should be
shielded from the beach, decorative lighting (especially spotlights or floodlights) within line-of-
sight of the beach should be prohibited, and safety/security lights should be limited to the
minimum number required to achieve their functional roles (section 4.132).

3) Beach stabilisation structures: Hard engineering options to beach protection, including
impermeable breakwaters, jetties, groynes and seawalls positioned on the beach or in the
nearshore zone, should be considered only as a last resort. Throughout the Caribbean region
there are numerous examples of beaches lost, rather than secured, as a result of armouring; St.
Lucia is no exception (section 4.133). Sandy beaches are naturally dynamic. The physical char-
acteristics of the coastline should be taken into account prior to coastal construction so that
adequate setbacks, rather than expensive and often counter-productive armouring, can be used to
provide for the long-term conservation of the beach resource.

4) Design setbacks: If development of land adjoining a sandy beach is planned, setback
limits should 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 charac-
teristics. Setbacks should provide for vegetated areas including lawns and dunes between hotels,

Page 18

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

homes and similar structures, and the beach proper. Setbacks of 30-40 m and 80-120 m from the
line of permanent vegetation are reasonable guidelines for upland coast development and
lowland beach coast development, respectively (section 4.133). Setbacks not only help to protect
coastal properties from storm damage, but also reduce over-crowding 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.

5) Access: The use of motorised vehicles should be prohibited on beaches at all times and
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. Driving on the
beach creates unsightly ruts, exacerbates erosion, and lowers sea turtle hatch success by
compacting nests (section 4.134). Tyre ruts also present a significant hazard to hatchlings
crossing the beach. Where vehicles are needed to transport heavy fishing or recreational
equipment, multiple access points should be provided and vehicles parked landward of the line
of permanent vegetation. Pedestrian access to beaches should be confined to specific locations
and strictly regulated so as to minimise destruction of the beach, including vegetation, by

6) Waste disposal: No dumping should be permitted within the nearshore, beach, dune, or
wetland environment of the shorezone. Such dumping as has already occurred should be subject
to immediate cleanup. The fouling of beaches runs counter to the economic interests of both
residents and commercial landowners. Litter can obstruct hatchlings on their journey to the sea,
discarded glass and metal can injure turtles, and larger objects on the beach can prevent females
from finding a nest site. Visitors should be required to take with them any garbage or other
waste brought to or generated at the beach. Trash cans and regular pickup should be provided at
all beaches. To the extent that beach cleanup is necessary, it should be done using hand tools
(section 4.134).

7) Vegetation cover andfires: All attempts should be made to preserve vegetation above
the mean high tide mark. Creeping and standing vegetation stabilises the beach and offers
protection against destructive erosion by wind and waves. The beach forest provides important
nesting habitat for the hawksbill turtle and offers natural shielding for the beach from the
artificial lighting of shoreline development (section 4.132). Fires, either for recreation or
charcoal production, should be prohibited on beaches. Fires are a hazard to the surrounding dry
forest, create unsightly scars, may scorch sea turtle eggs and hatchlings beneath the surface of
the sand, and can disorient hatchlings. Cooking fires should be restricted to designated grill

8) Marine pollution: The dumping of solid or chemical wastes into the sea should be
prohibited under all circumstances. In addition to degrading the environment for residents and
visitors alike, sea turtles often ingest tar, plastic, rope, and other substances (e.g., Mrosovsky,
1981; Balazs, 1985; Lutz and Alfaro-Schulman, 1991), presumably mistaking these for food, and
become weakened or die. It is commonplace for sea turtles to confuse plastic bags with jellyfish
and eat them. Polluted effluent, including sewage, from land-based sources should be centrally
treated before its discharge into the sea. See sections 4.143 to 4.146.

Page 19

CEP Technical Report No. 26

9) Anchoring and dredging: Anchor damage is a leading cause of destruction to sea grass
meadows and coral reefs throughout the Wider Caribbean. It is essential that yachts and other
boats be required to either anchor in designated sand bottom areas, or tie in at approved
moorings in coral reef areas. Alternatively, vessels should be required to remain offshore,
beyond the zone of living coral and sea grass. Dredging activities should be planned to minimize
damage (i.e., sedimentation) to down current coral and sea grass. Severe disruption of the sea
bed, especially in living sea grass and coral communities, can ruin actual or potential foraging
areas for sea turtles, negatively affect the natural dynamics of the marine environment, and result
in the loss of beach sand. See also section 4.147.

10) Physical destruction of coral and sea grass: In the absence of the sheltering influence
of offshore reefs, shorelines are often severely altered, resulting in great economic and
environmental losses. Neither coral reefs nor algal ridges should be dynamited or dragged with
chains in order to provide boat access. Anchoring should not occur in reef or sea grass areas (see
above, and section 4.147). Divers should be thoroughly coached on diving etiquette so as to
preclude trampling, collecting, and touching living coral. The practices of using chemicals or
dynamite (sections 4.141, 4.142) for the purpose of stunning fish for harvest are prohibited under
all circumstances. The destruction of coral reefs resulting from these practices can be
irreversible in our lifetime.

4.123 Provide for enforcement of guidelines

In order to effect compliance with rules and regulations concerning the protection of hab-
itat, institutional and governmental support for law enforcement cannot be over-emphasised.
Most Reserves are inadequately policed. Grande Anse Beach is one of the few Reserves where
part-time (seasonal) Wardens have been employed. As a direct result, 1989 was the first year
turtles were not reported killed on this beach (budgetary shortfalls have since terminated the
Warden programme). It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that a team of
Conservation Officers, Wardens, or other enforcement personnel be responsible for monitoring
compliance in protected areas. In Marine Reserves, Wardens are authorised under section 22(c)
of the Fisheries Act. With regard to conditions imposed on beach-front construction projects,
such as setbacks and lighting restrictions, a registered architect, professional engineer, or other
authority designated by the Government should conduct a site inspection, including a night
survey with all beach-front lights turned on.

4.124 Develop educational materials

It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that educational material on the
importance of protected areas and special management zones be developed for distribution to
schools, fishermen, hoteliers, dive operators, and the general public. Where possible, interested
and sensitised school teachers should be used as a medium for passing on information.
Educational materials should be supplemented by talks and audio-visual presentations. The
Department of Fisheries has over the years carried out some of these activities, but they should
be stepped up and regularised. Assistance could be sought from organizations such as the St.
Lucia National Trust, SLNS, and the Forestry Department. In addition, sign boards or other
outdoor public displays would be useful to educate persons visiting protected areas. Visible

Page 20

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

displays of information that include rules and restrictions on behaviour while in protected areas
are crucial to compliance.

4.13 Prevent or mitigate degradation of nesting beaches

4.131 Sand mining

As is clearly seen in St. Lucia, the chronic removal of sand from beaches accelerates
erosion and can destroy stabilising beach vegetation. In severe cases saline ponds are formed in
unsightly pits left by mining operations, shoreline trees are lost to the sea, and entire beach hab-
itats are eliminated. With their loss is lost the coast's potential for supporting recreation,
wildlife, tourism and commercial development. The Beach Protection (Amendment) Act 1984
reads, "4.(1) No person shall, (a) dig, stockpile, take or carry away or aid or assist in digging,
stockpiling, taking, or carrying away any sand, stone, shingle or gravel from any beach, seashore
or floor of the sea of St. Lucia . except under and in accordance with a written permit from the
Director of Public Works or an authorised officer and subject to such terms and conditions as are
specified in the permit." Permits are granted for a maximum period of three months, and only if
the Director of Public Works is "satisfied that the removal or such sand, stone, shingle or gravel
is not likely to adversely affect the beach, the seashore or the floor of the sea."

Several sea turtle nesting beaches were being seriously affected by sand mining until the
1984 declaration. These include Grande Anse and Comerette (Anse Lavoutte area), both of
which have been seriously compromised as nesting habitat; indeed, Comerette has all but been
destroyed. Both beaches are now closed to mining, although extraction still takes place behind
Grande Anse beach. The Ministry has promised to seek alternative sources of aggregate, such as
local pumice, in order to safeguard the nation's beaches. Greater surveillance is needed to curb
the illegal removal of sand from beaches island-wide. The Department of Fisheries has been
working with the police and the Ministry of Works to this end. It is a recommendation of this
Recovery Action Plan that every effort be made to wholly and effectively prohibit the practice of
beach sand mining throughout St. Lucia. The loss of sandy beaches not only reduces the
reproductive success of sea turtles, but endangers beach-front investment (e.g., piers, hotels,
houses) and has serious economic implications for the future of vital industries (e.g., tourism).

Historically, it was not until World War II, with construction of the Vigie Airport runway
and of U. S. military bases, that demand for sand increased significantly. Vigie and Choc
beaches were once sea turtle nesting beaches but were mined extensively from 1942 until 1969
when both beaches collapsed under the impact of normal winter swells. By 1969-1970, mining
activities had shifted to Reduit, Anse La Raye, Dennery, and Black Bay, which together
contributed 96% of the total. Attention subsequently shifted away from weakened beaches at
Vigie, Choc and Reduit, but sand mining persisted (despite implementation of the Beach
Protection Act) in response to the demands of an expanding construction industry, notably at
Dennery (both Fond d'Or and the Dennery Village), Anse La Raye, and Vieux-Fort (Black
Bay/Pointe Sable). Major new sources were also developed in the north, including Anse
Lavoutte, Esperance, and Grand Anse.

According to data summarised by CCA/IRF (1991), 17,810 tons of cement were imported
and used in concrete that consumed an average of 110,000 cubic yards of sand extracted from

Page 21

CEP Technical Report No. 26

local sources for the period 1969-1970. In 1984, cement imports had increased to 21,713 tons,
requiring 134,000 cubic yards of sand. Largely as a consequence of decades of commercial
mining, several beaches are eroding and showing signs of increasing instability. Grand Anse
beach, the largest in St. Lucia and an important nesting site for endangered leatherback sea tur-
tles, has an unnaturally low profile as a result of heavy mining activity. The beach is described
as having "severe structural instability" (Devaux, 1987 in CCA/IRF, 1991) and turtles are often
forced to abandon their nesting attempts after digging into the water table. It is crucial that
alternative sources of aggregate be found to sustain the construction industry. These should be
inland deposits. The mining of river mouths should be considered only as a last resort. Sand
from rivers also contributes to maintenance of beaches, and its removal means that less is
available to replenish losses to erosion.

4.132 Lights

On the beaches where lighting is a problem, lights should be shielded or extinguished to
prevent the disorientation of hatchlings and to preclude the possibility that nesting turtles will be
dissuaded from coming ashore. Sea turtles, particularly hatchlings but also gravid females, are
profoundly influenced by light. Hatchlings, freshly emerged from the nest, depend largely on a
visual response to natural seaward light to guide them to the ocean. Consequently, in zones of
coastal development, sources of artificial light distract the little turtles so that they turn away
from the sea and crawl landward. Having done so, they are eaten by crabs, birds and dogs, or die
in the morning sun. They never reach the sea. This problem and some potential solutions are
discussed by Raymond (1984). Recent research has shown that low-pressure sodium vapor
(LPS) luminaires, which emit light in the 590 nm range (yellow), do not attract hatchlings to the
extent that full-spectrum white light does and thus should be considered by coastal developers
(Witherington, 1990).

An absence of lighting is the best guarantee that hatchlings will safely find the sea.
Where this is not an option, Witherington (1990) proposes several "next-best" solutions,
including (1) time restrictions (lights extinguished during evening hours when hatching is most
likely to occur; e.g., 1900-2300 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, since
sources of light several km 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), (4) shielding and lowering light sources (low
intensity lighting at low elevations can be both attractive and adequate for most purposes; the
glow can be shielded from the beach by ornamental flowering hedges or other barriers), (5) al-
ternative light sources (e.g., LPS lighting is known to be less attractive to hatchlings than full-
spectrum white light).

In St. Lucia, hotel beach-front lighting has been known to disorientate emerging hatch-
lings. It is also likely that female turtles may be deterred from nesting. Some years ago hatch-
lings were found in the kitchen of a major hotel on the west coast (Yellow Sands Beach, La Toc).
In 1992 and 1993, hatchlings were found on the brightly lit highway along Choc Bay (Vigie
beach). In neighboring Barbados, 83% of hatchlings from monitored nests in 1990 were
disoriented by artificial lighting (Horrocks, 1992). The problem of lighting may become much
more significant with the expansion of the tourist industry and the concurrent increase in the

Page 22

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

number of beach hotels. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that owners of
existing hotels as well as developers of new resorts on nesting beaches be targeted for education
with regard to this potential problem. Letters should be mailed from the Department of Fisheries
to all beach-front restaurants and hotels asking that lights be appropriately modified to take sea
turtles into account, nesting and hatching be reported, and the grounds be checked each morning
to "rescue" hatchlings misoriented landward.

4.133 Beach stabilisation structures

At present, very few beaches have installed stabilisation structures (e.g., Vigie, Pigeon
Point). Groynes and gabion baskets have been used mostly to protect beaches which have been
created or altered by dredging and similar activities. Such structures have been largely unsuc-
cessful and at times have even been washed away. This is because stabilisation structures such
as breakwaters, groynes, and solid jetties constructed perpendicular to the shoreline can actually
exacerbate beach erosion, especially downcurrent. Beach stabilisation structures constructed
parallel to the shore can also provoke erosion, especially if they armour the zone of fore dunes,
and can hinder natural beach regeneration. 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 the loss of sandy
beach (and the need for stabilising structures) is minimised. Prior to any construction, an envir-
onmental impact assessment (EIA) should be required by a competent independent consultant
approved by the Government and construction permits granted based on the results of the EIA.

Setback limits are especially important to the conservation of nesting beaches. If devel-
opment 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,
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 and vehicular use of beaches

Mechanised beach cleaning equipment can crush or puncture incubating sea turtle eggs.
Fortunately, this equipment is not currently in use in St. Lucia. Every effort should be made to
provide alternatives to the disposal of garbage on sandy beaches and to educate St. Lucians about
the environmental hazards posed by indiscriminate waste disposal (section 4.144). Periodic
beach cleanup campaigns might be sponsored by local youth (or other civic) groups; this has
been successful elsewhere in the Caribbean [N.B. for details on participating in international
beach clean-up campaigns, contact the Center for Marine Conservation, 1725 DeSales Street NW
Washington D. C. 20036]. When removal of debris, litter, or accumulated seaweed is necessary,
it is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that hand rakes be used. Beach clean-up

Page 23

CEP Technical Report No. 26

should not include the removal of vegetative cover. The beach forest, including shrubbery,
provides hawksbills with important nesting habitat (e.g., Ryder et al., 1989). Even the raking
and removal of leaves and grasses above the high tide line can increase the probability of wind
erosion and degrade nesting habitat.

Driving cars and trucks on the beach compacts the sand, damages beach vegetation, and
can cause or exacerbate erosion. Erosion exposes eggs to wave action and reduces the amount of
beach available for sea turtles to nest on. Compaction adversely affects sea turtles by crushing
eggs and killing hatchlings. After breaking free from their eggs, hatchlings work together with
their siblings to reach the surface of the beach and then remain just below the sand until night-
fall. When the sun sets and the beach cools, they are cued by the change in temperature to
emerge fully and crawl to the sea. If vehicles run over the unseen hatchlings waiting below the
surface, they can be fatally crushed. In addition, tyre ruts left in the sand can trap hatchlings and
prevent them from reaching the sea (Hosier et al., 1981). Vehicles can also strike and kill
hatchlings crawling to the sea, or frighten females away from nesting. It is a recommendation of
this Recovery Action Plan that vehicles not be allowed to drive on sandy beaches. Unfortun-
ately, regulations recently promulgated under the authority of the Parks and Beaches Com-
mission Act (No. 4 of 1983) do not include such a prohibition.

4.135 Beach rebuilding projects

Artificial beach rebuilding is not considered a priority. When it has been attempted (e.g.,
dredge spoils were deposited at Vigie, sand was removed from Grande Anse to renourish Lab-
rellotte), the investment has been all but lost when the new sand eroded away. The biggest need
is to allow beaches to recover naturally (wherever possible) from the effects of sand mining. In
some cases this could be assisted by the re-establishment of beach vegetation. When unavoida-
ble, rebuilding should proceed carefully. Sand brought to a beach from inland or offshore de-
posits is often of a different constitution (e.g., grain size, organic content). Experience in Florida
USA and elsewhere suggests that this sediment is easily compacted and can become useless for
sea turtle nesting. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that replacement sand be
similar to that which was eroded, thereby maintaining the suitability of the beach for the
incubation of sea turtle eggs. Rebuilding should not be undertaken during nesting and hatching
seasons (primarily April-December) when heavy equipment and activity can deter nesting and
crush eggs, and the new overburden can prevent hatchlings from successfully emerging.

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 upcurrent solid jetty or pier that is literally "starv-
ing" the downcurrent 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
[N.B. the Parks and Beaches Commission Act, 1983, prohibits "willful damage" to any tree,
shrub or grass on a beach] or when nearshore pollution retards the productivity of calcareous
(coralline) algae and other sand sources. 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, the likelihood of committing the owners to repetitive and increasingly expensive
rebuilding is heightened. Useful information regarding beach rebuilding in sea turtle nesting

Page 24

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

habitat can be obtained from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, 19100 SE
Federal Hwy, Tequesta, Florida 33469-1712 USA.

4.14 Prevent or mitigate degradation of marine habitat

4.141 Dynamiting reefs

Dynamiting is an extremely short-sighted and destructive form of fishing. Many fish
killed by dynamiting are non-target species, others do not float to the surface and therefore are
not collected. Moreover, the habitat destruction accompanying dynamiting reduces the fish
carrying capacity of the system. Dynamite fishing has also been implicated in "the destruction of
significant numbers of turtles in St. Lucia waters" (L. Stephen in Cato et al., 1978). In St. Lucia
the use of dynamite for fishing is prohibited.

The Fisheries Act of 1984 states: 24.(1) 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 (b)
carries or has in his possession or control any explosive, poison or other noxious substance in
circumstances indicating an intention of using such explo-sive, poison or other noxious
substance for any of the purposes referred to in the preceding para-graph, is guilty of an offence
and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars.

The Fisheries Act notwithstanding, the use of dynamite for the purpose of catching fish
(mainly reef fish) until recently occurred frequently in some places, especially along the north-
eastern and western coasts. Today this clandestine activity has lessened, but informed observers
report that Dennery fishermen regularly blast in the Louvette area. Increased surveillance would
reduce this problem, as would successful prosecution of offenders. Other uses of dynamite in
reef areas (e.g., localised blasting to improve fishing boat navigation channels) also pose
dangers. The long term effects of these actions are not clearly known. In Barbados it appears
that the exposed coral and coral rubble created by such blasts are very susceptible to erosion;
beaches parallel to reef cut channels may also be more prone to erosion (Horrocks, 1992).

It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that enforcement of the relevant
Fisheries Act provisions be strict and consistent.

4.142 Chemical fishing

The application of chlorine bleach for the purpose of catching fish results in the death of
coral reef organisms and can poison important nursery areas for commercial fishes. As is the
case with fishing using explosives, the destruction of coral reefs seriously compromises hawks-
bill turtle foraging habitat. In St. Lucia, the use of bleach and other noxious substances for
fishing is illegal under section 24 of the Fisheries Act of 1984 (see section 4.141 of this
Recovery Action Plan). The practice is not common, and is typically carried out in rivers (rather
than at sea) by persons fishing for crayfish (=prawns). It is a recommendation of this Recovery
Action Plan that enforcement of the relevant Fisheries Act provisions be strict and consistent.

Page 25

CEP Technical Report No. 26

4.143 Industrial discharges

Archer (1984) estimated that 534,500 cubic metres of waste and waste water are
discharged annually from distillery, brewery, soft drink, dairy products, edible oil and margarine,
soap, coconut meal, and meat products operations. The primary effects of these water-borne
wastes is to increase biochemical oxygen demand and suspended and dissolved solids, rendering
the receiving water murky and prone to excessive algal growth (CCA/IRF, 1991). There is some
discharge of detergent from hotels on the northwest coast. Perhaps the greatest risk is that of an
oil spill in the Castries or Cul-de-Sac harbours (section 4.145). Stiffer legislation concerning the
discharge of effluent is needed, as it is well known from the experience of other countries that
marine pollution can seriously disturb the integrity of the marine environment. All that is
necessary should be done to determine to what extent pollution is affecting St. Lucia's marine
ecosystems and the stocks and fishermen they support. The Caribbean Environmental Health
Institute (CEHI) has carried out water quality surveys in St. Lucia for several years and could
play a major role in this regard.

It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that (1) existing pollution laws be
reviewed for completeness and enforceability, providing Government with recommendations for
changes where needed, (2) industries be monitored to confirm that discharges are duly registered
with Government and properly identified as to content, and (3) fish and other marine life in
suspected polluted areas be tested for the presence of toxins.

4.144 At sea dumping of garbage

The dumping of sewage, plastics and other waste from the yachting/cruise industry, from
military vessels, and from fishing boats is a problem throughout the region. Worldwide, the
death or debilitation of tens of thousands of marine animals, including sea turtles, occurs each
year as a result of entanglement in or ingestion of marine debris. In St. Lucia, beaches on the
windward coast are "chronically strewn with a variety of plastic debris and heavy fishing nets
washed ashore" (CCA/IRF, 1991). Dumping violations are difficult to monitor. A solution to
this growing problem will demand a concentrated effort at public education, a requirement that
vessels retain their waste pending safe disposal, convenient places to safely dispose of refuse on
shore, and stiff penalties for offenders. Most of the relevant legislation is in place. The Air and
Sea Ports Authority (Seaport) Regulations of 1985 state: "rubbish of any sort whatsoever shall
not be thrown or allowed to fall or drift into the water at a port". Nevertheless, enforcement is

A related problem is the dumping of garbage in ravines or on the coast. This is signifi-
cant in some coastal communities and is aggravated by the washing into the sea of domestic gar-
bage from inland areas by rivers. Some beaches and bays such as Tapion and Grande Anse are
badly affected, and this in turn discourages sea turtle nesting and foraging activity. Plastic bags
used in the banana industry are frequently found close to and on shore. Balazs (1985) summar-
ized worldwide records of ingestion of oceanic debris by sea turtles and listed a wide variety of
items consumed, including banana bags ingested by green turtles in Costa Rica. Leatherbacks
frequently ingest plastic bags, mistaking them for jellyfish (Mrosovsky, 1981). According to
CCA/IRF (1991), solid waste management is for St. Lucia "a serious, unresolved, and growing

Page 26

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

environmental problem in nearly all coastal areas where tourism, residential housing, industry,
commerce, and recreation are all concentrated." It is noteworthy that the Parks and Beaches
Commission Act (No. 4 of 1983) states that "any person who, without authority or excuse, . .
deposits any waste paper, waste matter, rubbish or litter in any public park or garden or on a
beach is guilty of an offence." Penalties include a fine of EC$ 500 or six months in prison, or

It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that all advantage should be taken of
relevant national and international legislation to curb both at-sea and land-based sources of litter
on nesting beaches and that a campaign of public awareness be undertaken.

4.145 Oil exploitation, production, refining, transport

An oil-contaminated environment can be lethal to sea turtles and incubating eggs.
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
(1987b) reported juvenile hawksbills (to 20 cm) "stranded [in Florida] with tar smeared
sargassum"; some individuals had ingested tar. Fortunately, there are as yet no records to date of
the oil-fouling of turtles or their eggs in St. Lucia.

There are no known problems at the present time concerning oil exploitation, production
or refining in St. Lucia. However, tanker traffic and the Hess Oil Storage Terminal at Grande
Cul-de-Sac Bay "offer the potential for catastrophic pollution through a major spill or accident"
(CCA/IRF, 1991). Other suppliers of petroleum products operate smaller terminals in the Cas-
tries harbour where spills have been known to occur in the recent past (one of these suppliers has
since moved to Cul-de-Sac). Tar is a problem on some beaches, particularly east coast beaches
including Grande Anse, Cas-en-Bas, and Anse Sable. This problem is being monitored by the
Caribbean Environmental Health Institute as part of CARIPOL. The Air and Sea Ports Authority
(Seaport) Regulations of 1985 prohibit the discharge of "oil or any similar substances" into a port
and the pumping/cleaning of tanks or bilges within 200 nautical miles of St. Lucia. At present an
Oil Spill Contingency Plan is being prepared for St. Lucia. It is a recommendation of this
Recovery Action Plan that the relevant authorities place the onus on operators to minimise
spillage and to be responsible for cleanup, and that the Oil Spill Contingency Plan be completed
and implemented as soon as possible.

St. Lucia is a signatory to the Cartagena Convention (section 4.32) and its Protocol
Concerning Cooperation in Combating Oil Spills in the Wider Caribbean Region. Article 3 of
the Protocol states:

Page 27

CEP Technical Report No. 26

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 preparation of contingency plans, the identification and
development of the capability to respond to an oil spill incident and the
designation of an authority responsible for the implementation of this

4.146 Agricultural run-off and sewage discharges

St. Lucia's economy is based largely on agriculture. The backbone of this industry is the
cultivation of bananas in which many chemical inputs (including fertilisers, pesticides and
herbicides) are used. In addition, much of the island's agricultural activity is carried out on steep
slopes. Consequently, with abundant rainfall (2000 mm p.a.) there is a heavy runoff of silt and
agrochemicals into the sea. Some reefs, such as those in Choc Bay, appear to have suffered
considerably from sedimentation but virtually no baseline research has been done on the effects
of agrochemicals on marine systems. The problems outlined above have far-reaching implica-
tions, and not only for the marine environment. Soil conservation, reforestation, and more
prudent use of economical agrochemicals would also have long-term benefits for terrestrial

At present, sewage is disposed mainly into septic tanks and pits. In some rural areas,
night soil (raw sewage) enters the ocean. Most large hotels operate their own sewage plants,
although these do not always function effectively. A treatment plant located at the St. Lucian
Hotel services both the hotel and the developed housing areas of Rodney Bay. The treated
effluent is discharged through on outfall pipe into Rodney Bay. CEHI monitors selected sewage
treatment facilities and especially their discharge areas. The impact of sewage from yachts in
marinas is unstudied. While fecal coliform counts are "relatively high" at Rodney Bay lagoon,
the primary source is from housing developments upstream (CCA/IRF, 1991). A sewage
treatment plant to serve the Rodney Bay/Gros Islet residential-tourism-industrial zone is
presently under construction.

It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that strong environmental protection
laws be developed to address the threat of coastal and ground water contamination resulting from
run-off and indiscriminate disposal of agro-chemicals and untreated or incompletely treated
sewage. Further, it is recommended that investment in infrastructure to treat and properly
dispose of raw sewage be a priority for both Government and industry and that the Pesticide
Control Act (1985) be rigorously enforced. Routine monitoring for compliance with environ-
mental standards is essential.

Page 28

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

4.147 Others (anchoring, dredging, sedimentation)

Extensive damage has been caused to reefs by yachts anchoring on them. The systematic
demolition of coral by heavy anchors severely degrades potentially important sea turtle foraging
and resting habitats. Under the Fisheries Regulations of 1987 the practice of dropping anchor on
living coral is illegal. Anchor damage is most noticeable at Anse Cochon which is frequently
used by dive boats and day charter vessels. Yacht anchor damage is noticeable at Malgretoute
(SoufriSre area) and Turtle Reef, Anse Chastanet. In the latter case the problem has been re-
duced due to increased awareness and monitoring on the part of hotel staff

It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that relevant legislation be fully
enforced, a public awareness campaign be undertaken, and a national system of moorings be
developed. In some areas (e.g., SoufriSre), permanent moorings are already under consideration.
Inexpensive and effective mooring systems are currently available (see Halas, 1985). In the
British Virgin Islands, Eckert et al. (1992) describe how local dive operators raised the money
necessary to install more than 200 Halas-type moorings, donated time and labour toward the
installation, and took the lead in drafting supporting legislation. User fees are paid directly to the
BVI National Parks Trust and are earmarked for mooring maintenance, as well as conservation
and law enforcement in sensitive marine areas. Moorings are not only vital to the protection of
coral reef habitat, but can also provide much-needed revenue in support of protected areas.

According to CCA/IRF (1991), sedimentation due to coastal erosion caused by sand
mining and to a lesser extent dredging is "one of the most pervasive threats" to St. Lucia's near-
shore marine environments [N.B. sand mining is discussed in section 4.131]. In the past, major
dredging projects such as the Pigeon Island Causeway caused significant damage to coral reefs
and sea grass. There have been no such projects in the last few years. It is a recommendation of
this Recovery Action Plan that careful consideration be given in the future before such activities
are carried out. EIA recommendations should be followed to minimise adverse affects to the
dredge site and to downstream communities (coral, sea grass) potentially important to turtles.

Heavy sediment loading has been reported at a number of reefs along the west coast.
Reefs in the vicinity of river mouths are particularly vulnerable to increased sediment loads due
to upland construction as well as run-off containing agricultural chemicals (see section 4.146).
At Rodney Bay, siltation has reduced the average lagoon depth by about 1 m in 12 years (Archer,
1985). Nearshore sedimentation indirectly affects endangered sea turtles by reducing the
productivity of foraging grounds. When suspended particles settle, they can stress reef corals,
slow feeding and photosynthesis, and may ultimately kill both coral species and sea grass. It is a
recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that all possible measures be taken to minimise
watershed erosion and the run-off of sediments to the sea.

4.2 Manage and Protect all Life Stages

4.21 Review existing local laws and regulations

The Turtle, Lobster and Fish Protection Act (No. 13 of 1971) was repealed by the Fish-
eries Act (No. 10 of 1984). According to the Fisheries Regulations of 1994, which are promul-

Page 29

CEP Technical Report No. 26

gated under the authority of the Fisheries Act (39.(2)(q) prescribing measures for the protection
of turtles, lobsters and conchs):

33. (1) No person shall -

(a) disturb, remove from the fishery waters, expose for sale, sell,
purchase, or at any time have in his possession any turtle eggs;
(b) interfere with any turtle nest, or turtle that is nesting;
(c) remove from the fishery waters, expose for sale, sell, purchase, or at
any time have in his possession any undersized turtle;
(d) set within 100 metres of the shores of Saint Lucia any net or seine
or any other artifice for the purpose of or with the intention of
fishing for, catching or taking any turtle; or
(e) fish for, remove from the fishery waters, or at any time have in his
possession, expose for sale, sell, or purchase any turtle between the
28th day of February to the 1st day of October in every year or as
otherwise stated by the Minister by notice published in the Gazette
and in a newspaper which is printed or circulated in the State.

(2) In this Regulation -

(a) "Turtle" includes the whole or any part of any turtle;
(b) "undersized" means a weight less than --
(i) 27.22 kg for Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata);
(ii) 34.02 kg for Green (Chelonia mydas) and Loggerhead
(Caretta caretta); or
(iii) 294.84 kg for Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea).

4.22 Evaluate the effectiveness of law enforcement

The nation as a whole has yet to 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,
throughout the law enforcement system, there is a reluctance to take the law seriously. Entrench-
ed cultural traditions further complicate the situation. It is well known that green and hawksbill
turtles are harvested during the closed season and that eggs and gravid females of all species are
removed illegally from nesting beaches. Yet few persons have been prosecuted (and all unsuc-
cessfully) for violating sea turtle protection laws. Other significant hindrances include the fact
that (1) the Marine Police Unit is not sufficiently staffed or equipped to effectively patrol St.
Lucia's territorial waters, (2) many east coast nesting beaches are almost inaccessible by land or
sea, and (3) Police are too often unfamiliar and/or unsympathetic to the provisions of conserva-
tion law. Recommendations to improve the current situation are found in section 4.24.

4.23 Propose new regulations where needed

Wildlife management laws and regulations pertaining to sea turtles must reflect biologi-
cal realities. The Fisheries Regulations of 1994 do not reflect the current understanding of sea
turtle ecology, nor do they respond to the critical situation of diminishing sea turtle numbers in

Page 30

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

St. Lucia. It is an urgent recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that a moratorium be
implemented on the capture and sale of all sea turtles, their eggs and products until such time as
there is sufficient information to show that a regulated harvest will not compromise the sustaina-
ble recovery of depleted stocks. Specifically, we recommend that a closed season be declared
for an indefinite period of time commencing 1 March 1995. In the interim, Fisheries personnel
should be preparing the fishing community for a ban. Technically, the Minister can enable a
moratorium by declaring a non-existent open season for a number of consecutive years (1984
Fisheries Act 43.(2)).

4.231 Eggs

The removal, sale and/or purchase of turtle eggs is prohibited at all times. No new regu-
lations are necessary. However, given that the illegal collection of eggs continues, it is a rec-
ommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that a concentrated effort be made to inform the
public that the harvest of sea turtle eggs is prohibited. Reports to the Fisheries Department or
Police of violations should be encouraged. Penalties upon conviction should be strict in order to
set an example for others who may consider contravening the regulations. It is unambiguous that
the unchecked harvest of eggs will ultimately 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
recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that a moratorium on the harvest of sea turtles of
all sizes be enacted, as has been urged by the OECS for several years. In the event and only in
the event that a complete ban is politically impossible in the immediate term, the Department of
Fisheries should, at a minimum, consider imposing maximum rather than minimum size limits
and extending the closed season to encompass the peak breeding season (1 April-30 November).

To this end, Section 33 of the Fisheries Regulations would need to be revised to extend
the closed season and to confine the legal harvest to green and loggerhead turtles with a curved
carapace length less than 24 inches (60 cm). Small juveniles are completing a period of rapid
growth. If turtles must be harvested, this size class is theoretically more capable of being
replaced than the adult class (Crouse et al., 1987; Frazer, 1989). The harvest of olive ridleys,
hawksbills, and leatherbacks of any size should be forbidden. Olive ridleys and hawksbills are
seriously depleted in the Western Atlantic and no amount of harvest can be justified, even on an
interim basis. Since only adult leatherbacks are encountered, there is no opportunity to harvest
immatures of this species. Revised text (Section 33, Fisheries Regulations) is herein proposed:

33. (1) No person shall -
(a) disturb, remove from the fishery waters, expose for sale, sell,
purchase, or at any time have in his possession any turtle eggs;
(b) interfere with any turtle nest, or turtle that is nesting;
(c) remove from the fishery waters, expose for sale, sell, purchase, or
at any time have in his possession any oversized turtle;

Page 31

CEP Technical Report No. 26

(d) set within 100 metres of the shores of Saint Lucia any net or seine
or any other artifice for the purpose of or with the intention of
fishing for, catching or taking any turtle; or
(e) fish for, remove from the fishery waters, or at any time have in his
possession, expose for sale, sell, or purchase any turtle between the
1st day of April to the 30th day of November in every year or as
otherwise stated by the Minister by notice published in the Gazette
and in a newspaper which is printed or circulated in the State.

(2) In this Regulation --
(a) "Turtle" includes the whole or any part of any Loggerhead
(Caretta caretta) or Green (Chelonia mydas) Turtle;
(b) "oversized" means a curved shell length greater than 24 inches
(60 cm).

(3) By this Regulation --
(a) Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), Hawksbill (Eretmochelys
imbricata) and Olive Ridley (Lepidochelvs olivacea) Turtles of all
sizes are protected at all times of the year in Saint Lucia.

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

The taking of nesting females of all species is prohibited at all times; thus no new
regulations are necessary, only the diligent enforcement of existing law.

4.234 Unprotected Species

All species of sea turtles known or believed to occur in St. Lucia's waters are covered
under the Fisheries Regulations (1994) and will be included in any revised legislation.

4.24 Augment existing law enforcement efforts

Additional personnel and supporting resources are greatly needed in the area of law
enforcement. As has been suggested elsewhere in this document, the deputising of Fisheries
Officers would ease the strain on Police who must also see to general law and order (at the
present time, Fisheries Officers have only the powers of search and seizure). Deputising
Fisheries personnel may result in strained relations between the Fisheries Department and the
fishing community, however, and thus it is highly desirable that Government secure personnel
specifically as game and fisheries Wardens through the Fisheries and Forestry Departments or
the St. Lucia National Trust.

Page 32

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

Recognising that environmental law is becoming increasingly important and increasingly
technical in St. Lucia, as is the case throughout the Eastern Caribbean, it is a recommendation of
this Recovery Action Plan that a Division of Environmental Enforcement be created within an
appropriate Ministry. Such consolidation of resources and expertise has proven effective
elsewhere in the region. Division 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,
coastal zone permits and compliance, etc. Officers would logically coordinate closely with
wardens having enforcement responsibility for conservation zones and other protected areas.

As an alternative to creating a new Division, four officers could be selected from within
the Royal St. Lucia Police Force. These officers would remain part of the general police force,
but would be trained as focal points for the investigation of crimes against environmental
statutes. Another alternative might be for Government to hire older, respected fishermen to serve
as conservation wardens in their communities [N.B. similar recommendations have been put for-
ward to strengthen community enforcement in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (Scott and
Horrocks, 1993)]. In order to facilitate enforcement of environmental legislation by Police, Cus-
toms, Immigation, and other relevant agencies, it is a recommendation of this Recovery Action
Plan that a concise yet comprehensive manual of existing environmental legislation should be
developed for public distribution. Finally, divers, fishermen, and other residents should be
encouraged to participate in law enforcement.

In rare cases it has been possible to provide adequate resources to protect nesting
populations. For example, the number of gravid leatherbacks killed on Grande Anse beach
declined in 1989-1992 when two Wardens were paid by the Fisheries Department to patrol the
area. Unfortunately, funding expired and the Wardens are no longer on site. It is a recommenda-
tion of this Recovery Action Plan that a mechanism for deputising Voluntary Wardens be imple-
mented in St. Lucia. This has been very successful in Trinidad where the most recent training
session graduated more than 200 Voluntary Wardens for the Fisheries Act (K. Fournillier,
Wildlife Section-Forestry Division, Trinidad, pers. comm.). Further, it is hoped that an educa-
tional effort in schools and communities will serve both to reduce the need for surveillance (be-
cause of greater understanding and awareness on the part of the public) and to enhance the
prospects for successful prosecution in court.

An inter-agency workshop to explain and discuss the provisions of the Fisheries Act of
1984 was convened in 1991 under the aegis of the Department of Fisheries. Enforcement
officials from Forestry, Customs, the Police, and other relevant authorities attended. Many par-
ticipants, even those in senior positions, were unfamiliar with the details of the Act and the ses-
sion was very well received. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that a follow-
up workshop be convened as soon as practicable with the twin objectives of (1) explaining and
discussing environmental and conservation law in general (including rules of search, seizure, and
the handling of evidence since cases are often dismissed on technicalities) and (2) making it clear
to the enforcement community that these laws must be enforced fully and consistently through-
out the nation.

Page 33

CEP Technical Report No. 26

4.25 Make fines commensurate with product value

The maximum fine of EC$ 5000 allowed under the Fisheries Act of 1984 is deemed
adequate for the present time. Also, vessels and gear can be impounded.

4.26 Investigate alternative livelihoods for turtle fishermen

We estimate that 10-15 men rely on turtles as a means of seasonal subsistence. It is a
recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that fair compensation be offered to fishermen
who turn over their turtle nets to the Department of Fisheries and that without further delay a
moratorium be declared on the capture of sea turtles (see section 4.23). It is not considered nec-
essary to provide alternative livelihoods; however, funds are needed to purchase turtle nets. The
Department of Fisheries has requested money for the purchase of gear expected to become
obsolete under the new Fisheries Regulations, but the amount allotted (EC$ 25,000) by the FY
1993 budget is wholly insufficient for the task. Trammel nets, for example, will be banned, as
will selected mesh sizes in seines. A single seine can cost EC$ 35,000 or more. Turtle nets are
handmade and vary in value from EC$ 500 for very simple styles (e.g., Vieux-Fort area) to EC$
1000 for more elaborate styles (e.g., Choiseul area) (source: Fisheries Department data). An
estimated 10-15 men operate 15-20 turtle nets.

To discourage poachers who kill nesting turtles, incentives might be considered such as
hiring these individuals as Wardens or paying them to participate in turtle watches and related
activities on a part-time basis. It is conceivable that if some of these men are given the oppor-
tunity to sensitise their friends about the need to protect sea turtles, positive changes in attitude
may be achieved. To discourage poachers from taking eggs, the Department of Fisheries has
suggested that people who report and protect nests be paid EC$ 1 for every hatchling success-
fully making it to the sea. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that a series of
Town Meetings be convened to discuss the issue of protecting endangered sea turtles. During
these gatherings, the complex life history of sea turtles should be explained, as well as their
precarious status region-wide (see section 4.42 for discussion points). As part of the CFRAMP
initiative, a number of Fisheries Management Workshops will be convened in St. Lucia in 1994,
including one focused on sea turtles. This would be an excellent opportunity to solicit feedback
from the fishing community on how best to phase-in and enforce full protection for sea turtles.

4.27 Determine incidental catch and promote the use of TEDs

Migratory pelagic fishes harvested by hand trolling from outboard powered canoes
account for about 70% of annual landings. Other technologies used in St. Lucia, especially dur-
ing the "low season" for the pelagic stocks (i.e., July-December), include fish traps, bottom gill
nets, and bottom longlines (CCA/IRF, 1991). Some anecdotal data regarding incidental capture
are available. For instance, turtles are occasionally caught in beach seines or gill nets set for fish,
and in May 1993 a green turtle drowned after becoming entangled in the buoy line of a fish pot.
The full extent of incidental capture is not known. It is a recommendation of this Recovery
Action Plan that all cases of sea turtle capture, as well as the fate of the animal, be reported to the
Fisheries Officer (Tel: 26172). Mitigating measures should be imposed where necessary (e.g.
closed seasons and areas, gear modification, requirements that nets not be left unattended).

Page 34

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

In some parts of the Wider Caribbean, the incidental catch and subsequent drowning of
sea turtles in longlines is a growing concern. There is no longline industry in St. Lucia. So-
called "bottom longlines" (branched lines from a single vertical line anchored at the bottom,
floated at the top, and hauled by hand) are common, but do not appear to catch sea turtles. The
Department of Fisheries operates the only vessel equipped to engage in mechanised longlining
for tuna and billfish. There is no commercial use of this technology at the present time, but the
Department is developing the technology for local industry. Fisheries personnel should be aware
that the longlining industry has the potential to accidentally catch and kill sea turtles during
normal operations. The capture of leatherbacks by longlines is documented in the northeastern
Caribbean Sea (Cambers and Lima, 1990; Tobias, 1991), Gulf of Mexico (Hildebrand, 1987),
and southeast U. S. (Witzell, 1984). Leatherbacks and loggerheads are captured on longlines in
Antigua (Fuller et al., 1992).

Trawls are not used in St. Lucia and thus trawl-inserted "turtle excluder devices" (TEDs)
are not relevant to local fishing operations. TED technology is crucial to sea turtle survival in
the region, however, because shrimping fleets operating off continental coastlines (South and
Central America, Gulf of Mexico, eastern seaboard of the USA) drown tens of thousands of sea
turtles every year (National Research Council, 1990) and are partly or largely responsible for
dramatic declines in olive ridleys in Suriname (Reichart and Fretey, 1992), Kemp's ridleys in
Mexico (Ross et al., 1989), and loggerheads in the USA (e.g., Hopkins-Murphy and Murphy,
1988). It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that the Government of St. Lucia
support the use of TEDs throughout the Western Atlantic.

4.28 Supplement reduced populations using management techniques

Methods described in the Manual of Sea Turtle Research and Conservation Techniques
(Pritchard et al., 1983), the scientific support of WIDECAST personnel, and the knowledge and
contacts obtained by St. Lucia being represented at the Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle
Biology and Conservation (convened each year in the USA) have to date been very useful in
formulating management strategies. Our present management priorities are to (1) revise legisla-
tion, (2) improve enforcement, (3) designate protected areas, and (4) undertake nightly beach
watches. To this end, we have also found very useful the knowledge gained from the Western
Atlantic Turtle Symposia (WATS) and from our own field experience. In order to enhance hatch
success on east coast beaches where leatherback nests are regularly lost to erosion, we have
proposed a programme of nest relocation and protection. SLNS has requested the necessary per-
mits from the Department of Fisheries and has asked WIDECAST to sponsor a local workshop
specifically focused on tagging, nest relocation, and data analysis. Tagging as a management
technique is viewed as useful since virtually nothing is known about intra- and inter-seasonal
nesting frequency.

Fenced egg hatcheries should be used only if absolutely necessary. The artificial incuba-
tion of eggs and the improper handling of eggs and hatchlings can be disastrous. The decision
to move eggs should be made at the time of laying. If eggs are moved after the first 24 hours, 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

Page 35

CEP Technical Report No. 26

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 incuba-
tion (which determines the sex of the hatchlings) is not altered. Hatchlings should always be al-
lowed to emerge from the nest naturally and traverse the beach unaided as soon as they emerge.

4.29 Monitor stocks

Sea turtle populations, at least local breeding stocks, should be closely monitored for
long-term fluctuations in numbers that will reveal the success or failure of conservation efforts.
Since it is neither practical nor necessary (at least from a data collection perspective) to monitor
all breeding areas, it is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that Index Beaches be
selected for long-term study. Volunteers will likely be needed to participate in the monitoring
effort and training workshops should be convened as needed (see section 4.55). Research to
provide statistical estimates of stocks will be encouraged and a long-term stock assessment
programme to identify trends over a period of decades will be developed [N.B. population
monitoring should continue for at least one sea turtle generation; that is, about 25 years]. A Lead
Organisation, logically the Department of Fisheries, should be designated to function as a reposi-
tory for statistical data. Since it is likely that both the Department and the SLNS will continue to
participate substantively in the monitoring effort, we recommend that the SLNS provide yearly
reports to the Department of Fisheries summarising their turtle conservation activities, data
collected, and recommendations.

The following subsections articulate standard guidelines for monitoring nests, hatchlings,
and the larger size classes of turtles. A preliminary time-table and budget for the monitoring
effort are presented in section 4.6.

4.291 Nests

Monitoring the deposition of eggs provides a wealth of useful information, including the
distribution and timing of the breeding effort, the species involved, the location of the most im-
portant breeding habitats, and nest fate. Any successful management programme must be based
on accurate estimates of productivity (the number of nests laid) and mortality (losses due to ero-
sion, feral animals, crabs, birds, mongooses, poachers, etc.). Monitoring nests will also provide
baseline data with which to evaluate the success of nest and habitat protection efforts. Positive
results may not be seen right away, however, since eggs protected today are not likely to mature
into breeding adults for two decades or more.

The Department of Fisheries and the SLNS (with students of various Secondary Schools
and other volunteers) have been monitoring nesting at Grande Anse since 1983. In addition, a
number of beaches on the east coast (Donkey Beach to Point Sable; Figure 2) were monitored
irregularly in 1992 and twice-weekly in 1993 (June-October) by Presley James of the SLNS. We
hope that resources will become available for the aerial survey of some of the more isolated
beaches. The assistance of hotel staff, dive clubs, and pleasure-boat operators will also be sought
to complete the monitoring effort.

Page 36

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

An island-wide survey, as recommended in section 4.112, is needed to determine with
confidence which areas are most used by green and hawksbill turtles. At least two beaches with
the most nesting activity should be carefully protected from activities that will compromise the
suitability of the habitat to support sea turtle nesting. Since these beaches represent the most
important nesting areas for endangered sea turtles in St. Lucia, it is vital to preserve them as
focal points for conservation, management, and monitoring. These beaches will be referred to as
"Index Beaches" and it is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that they be targeted
for comprehensive study. Grande Anse is the logical choice for leatherback turtles. Data
collected from these will enable the Fisheries Department to evaluate the success of conservation
and recovery measures implemented on behalf of sea turtles. These beaches should be monitored
for nest and hatch success, by species, during the full breeding season (at least 1 April-30
November). The data should be centrally compiled. Field workers should receive preparatory
instruction prior to their survey efforts (see section 4.55).

Nest monitoring efforts to date have relied on reports from residents and crawl counts
obtained by Fisheries personnel, local volunteers, or visiting biologists. The number of crawls
counted has formed the basis for comparison among beaches and among years. With the possi-
ble exception of Grand Anse, it cannot be said that there has been reliable differentiation
between successful egg-laying (a nesting crawl) and unsuccessful egg-laying (a "false crawl").
Such a determination is problematic after the fact. Whether or not eggs are deposited depends on
obstacles (erosion bluffs, fallen trees, beach lagoons) encountered by the female during the
course of her time on the beach, disturbance (human activity, dogs, lighting), the physical
condition of the site chosen (she may encounter impenetrable roots or water or the sand may be
too dry to hold a nest cavity), and injuries such as a missing flipper. A nest:false crawl ratio is
best determined from all-night patrols and will permit an estimate of nest density from crawl
tallies obtained during day census efforts. Pending financial support for comprehensive
surveying, full advantage should be taken of the willingness of volunteers to walk beaches and
collect data on nest distribution and abundance.

While it is usually difficult to confirm eggs during day surveys, in some cases the out-
come is obvious. For example, sometimes it is clear that a turtle returned to the sea without
attempting to dig. This is a "false crawl" and should be reported as such. Alternatively, when a
poacher or predator has exposed eggs, or hatchlings are observed, nesting can be confirmed.
When the activity site includes both a crawl and an associated disturbance which may or may not
contain eggs, distinguishing a true nest from an unsuccessful attempt is challenging even for an
experienced worker. Probing for the eggs with a sharp stick will sometimes confirm the
presence of a nest, but this is strongly discouraged because subsequent bacterial invasion of the
broken eggs may destroy the entire nest. In the case of hawksbill nests in dense vegetation, ev-
en finding a site suitable for probing can be difficult. Hence the logic that crawls, rather than
nests, be the basis 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 to species is easy 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 zip-

Page 37

CEP Technical Report No. 26

per, a result of the turtle moving her front flippers in an alternating rhythm. Leatherbacks leave a
deep, symmetrical crawl about 2 m in width. Green turtles also leave a symmetrical crawl, but it
is only about 1-1.2 m in width and the nest site is often characterized by a deep, solitary pit
sometimes measuring 1 m or more more in depth and breadth. Hawksbills and loggerheads leave
an asymmetrical crawl, the hawksbill about 0.7 m in width and the loggerhead about 1-1.2 m in
width. The hawksbill crawl is often faint 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). Hawksbills prefer
to nest in the shelter of Coccoloba or other beach vegetation. [N.B. Loggerhead nesting has
never been verified in St. Lucia.]

Once the nest:false crawl ratio has been determined for a beach and the number of nests
laid (per species) is known, a knowledge of the average number of clutches laid per female
(which varies slightly amongst species and can be gleaned from well-studied populations else-
where in the region) can be used to estimate the number of breeding females at that site. As a
general rule, leatherbacks average 6-7 nests per summer, hawksbills 5 nests, and green turtles 4-5
nests. Sixty leatherback tracks on a beach may represent only 48 actual nests, which in turn
represent only six adult females. 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.

Turtle tagging is not something to be undertaken lightly. It is time-consuming and can be
expensive. Most importantly, not much is learned about nesting dynamics from tagging for a
year or two. A long term research commitment is requisite to gain knowledge beyond that
obtained from daily nest counts. It is imperative, too, that accurate records be kept. Despite the
fact that tags were sometimes applied to turtles in St. Lucia during the years 1982-1990, these
records appear to have been lost. It seems that turtles were tagged both on night watches (17
leatherbacks and 1 green turtle were tagged at Grande Anse) and occasionally when juvenile
green (n = 8) or hawksbill (n = 1) turtles were caught at sea, primarily in the Micoud area, but
details are sparse. In the absence of a registry of applied tag numbers, recapture information
lacks meaning.

4.292 Hatchlings

Any successful management programme must be based upon credible estimates of repro-
ductive success. Thus, while nest counts are vital (see above), follow-up at the hatchling stage is
also important. Estimates of mortality, including losses due to erosion or high seas, domestic or
feral animals (dogs, pigs), natural predators (crabs, mongooses, birds) and poachers should be
obtained. Dogs appear to be a particular threat to eggs and hatchlings at Vigie Beach in Castries
(P. James, pers. comm., 1993). Other threats should also be watched for and reported. These
might include entrapment in debris or tyre ruts, entanglement in beach vines, disorientation by
artificial lighting, and/or harassment by onlookers. Some information can be collected on an
opportunistic basis, such as disorientation, depredation, or the spilling of eggs from a bluff
created during a storm. In addition, it is useful if some nests are marked for study. It is not
recommended that the nest site per se be marked, but rather the distance from the nest site to two

Page 38

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

proximal objects, such as trees or other landmarks, should be recorded so that the site can be
precisely located by triangulation prior to hatching two months later. Photographs taken in three
directions while standing over the nest are a useful reference.

Hatchlings can be expected after about 55-72 days of incubation. Hatchling emergence at
the beach surface usually occurs at dusk. Predators, disorientation, and/or entanglement at the
time of emergence should be noted. If the emergence is missed, the hatch can be confirmed by
the presence of dozens of little tracks leading from the nest site to the sea. After a day or two has
passed, the nest can be excavated and the number of hatchlings roughly estimated from the
remains of broken egg shells. In addition, unhatched (whole) eggs can be counted to determine
the proportion of eggs which did not produce hatchlings. These eggs can be opened for an
analysis of embryo stage death. If a particular problem recurs, such as nest flooding, then a con-
servation programme to move eggs either at the time of laying or early the next morning to
higher ground should be considered. In this case, it is crucial that nest dimensions (depth and
width) reflect the original so that incubation temperature and hence hatchling sex is not distort-
ed. An in-depth evaluation of hatch success should be undertaken by trained personnel at select-
ed important nesting beaches as soon as resources permit. Hatchlings should not be retained in

4.293 Immature and adult turtles

The monitoring of juvenile and adult turtles at sea requires special preparation and can be
considerably more difficult than counting nests or evaluating hatchling mortality. In order to
monitor foraging juveniles, systematic surveys of specific foraging grounds must be undertaken.
If such survey work is undertaken in conjunction with a tagging programme, it is possible to
evaluate both the foraging periodicities of individuals and their movements (should a tagged tur-
tle turn up at some point distant from where it was tagged, for instance). It is not necessary,
however, to tag individual turtles. Valuable information can be gained by repeated observation
of foraging areas and reporting the number of turtles seen. Resources are not available at the
present time to initiate population surveys at sea, nor is this seen as a top priority in St. Lucia. It
is sufficient at this time to work toward full (and enforced) protection of sea turtles and a long-
term commitment to the preservation of nesting beaches, coral reefs, and sea grass.

4.3 Encourage and Support International Cooperation

4.31 CITES

The 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and
Flora (CITES) was established to protect certain endangered species from over-exploitation by
means of a system of import/export permits. The Convention regulates international commerce
in animals and plants whether dead or alive, and any recognisable parts of derivatives thereof.
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; Ap-
pendix 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 ap-
pendices I and II stating that export/import will not be detrimental to the survival of the species.

Page 39

CEP Technical Report No. 26

CITES is one of the most widely supported wildlife treaties of all time. With the recent acces-
sion of Korea, the Convention has 120 Parties.

St. Lucia ratified the Convention in December 1982 (Br,,utigam, 1987) and no imports of
hawksbill shell to Japan were recorded after 1983 (Milliken and Tokunaga, 1987) (see also
section 3.3). Some nations in the region have taken CITES very seriously, others have been
largely unable to maintain the level of Customs surveillance necessary to enforce the treaty, still
others do not yet belong. Thus the Caribbean continues to export large quantities of threatened
and depleted species products, including sea turtles (Milliken and Tokunaga, 1987). In 1988,
Japan imported from the Wider Caribbean the tortoiseshell from nearly 12,000 adult hawksbill
turtles (Canin, 1989). Many thousands of sea turtles would be saved each year if all Caribbean
nations would ratify CITES and enforce its trade restrictions. CITES has no effect on habitat
restriction or the harvest of sea turtles for subsistence or internal markets; these activities must be
regulated at the national level.

St. Lucia (represented by Martha Biscette of the Customs and Excise Department and
Brian James of the Department of Forestry) attended the Caribbean CITES Implementation
Training Seminar held in Trinidad, 14-18 September 1992. This comprehensive seminar, host-
ed by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and the CITES Secretariat, was convened to
familiarise Eastern Caribbean governments, especially non-CITES parties, with the Convention.
It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that Customs officials and other relevant
parties be fully supported at all levels of Government in their important and difficult task of
implementing the provisions of the CITES treaty.

4.32 Regional treaties

In March, 1983, a Conference of Plenipotentiaries met in Cartagena, Colombia, to
negotiate a UNEP Regional Seas Convention in the Caribbean -- the Convention for the
Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region
(Cartagena Convention). Representatives from 16 States participated, including St. Lucia. The
Conference adopted both the Convention and a Protocol concerning cooperation in combating oil
spills in the region. The Convention describes the responsibilities of Contracting Parties to "pre-
vent, reduce and control" pollution from a variety of sources (i.e., ships, at-sea dumping, land-
based sources, sea-bed activities, and airborne sources). Article 10 is of special interest in that it
addresses the responsibilities of Contracting Parties to "individually or jointly, take all appro-
priate measures to protect and preserve rare or fragile ecosystems, as well as the habitat of
depleted, threatened or endangered species, in the Convention area." St. Lucia ratified the
Convention on 30 September 1984.

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 me-
chanism 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. Specifi-
cally, Annex II listing prohibits (a) the taking, possession or killing (including, to the extent pos-

Page 40

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

sible, 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 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 (UNEP, 1991; Eckert, 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. It is a recommendation of this
Recovery Action Plan that St. Lucia ratify the SPAW Protocol with its Annexes at the earliest
possible opportunity. Finally, St. Lucia should attempt whenever possible to ratify other regional
conventions in order to strengthen the drive to protect sea turtles, as well as other living

The 1973 MARPOL treaty (with 1978 Protocol) is important to the survival of sea tur-
tles. This 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 envir-
onment in case of accidents, and also norms and technical requirements to minimize operational
discharges. The five Annexes are for oil, chemicals 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 accepted, but will only come into force when the nations
have put in place the facilities to receive garbage on shore. It is a recommendation of this
Recovery Action Plan that St. Lucia ratify MARPOL as soon as practicable.

4.33 Subregional sea turtle management

It is well known that sea turtles are highly migratory. Information on the movement of
tagged turtles includes a report in Carr et al. (1982) that a green turtle originally tagged while
nesting on Aves Island (Venezuela) was subsequently captured near Vieux-Fort, St. Lucia.
Leatherbacks migrate over especially long distances; there are many accounts of females tagged
during nesting in the Caribbean and subsequently found in the Gulf of Mexico, New England,
and even west Africa. Studies of barnacle colonization on leatherbacks nesting on St. Croix
(USVI) indicate that gravid females depart from and later return to north temperate latitudes
(Eckert and Eckert, 1988). It is therefore quite obvious that "our" leatherbacks, and other spe-
cies as well, swim through the waters of many nations on their way to nest on the beaches of St.

Tagging turtles, as well as watching for tagged turtles on our beaches and in our waters,
is a necessary prerequisite to more fully documenting the extent of shared sea turtle stocks. A
cooperative tagging and monitoring programme that includes at least St. Lucia, St. Vincent and
the Grenadines, Barbados, and Grenada would be most useful. This is proposed in the WIDE-
CAST Sea Turtle Recovery Plan for Barbados (Horrocks, 1992) and is supported in St. Lucia.

Page 41

CEP Technical Report No. 26

When it is established that nations share sea turtle stocks in common, it will be necessary
to discuss ways and means of jointly managing and conserving the shared resource. The fact that
all nations of the Wider Caribbean are participating in the sea turtle conservation planning
activities of WIDECAST speaks well of the region's willingness to work co-operatively to re-
cover depleted populations. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that St. Lucia
fully support region-wide sea turtle conservation initiatives by ratifying the SPAW Protocol to
the Cartagena Convention (section 4.32) and urging neighboring countries to enact moratoria
on the capture and sale of sea turtles year-around.

4.4 Develop public education

In order to create among people an awareness of the biology and endangered status of sea
turtles, it is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that a national education programme
be implemented. Various media should be used to achieve maximum results. Ongoing and
anticipated initiatives are discussed below.

4.41 Residents

Laws designed to protect sea turtles in St. Lucia are widely ignored, fueling an entirely
unacceptable level of exploitation of all species and their eggs. It is an urgent recommendation
of this Recovery Action Plan that efforts to educate the national citizenry be a top priority. Since
1983, the Department of Fisheries has implemented an outreach programme consisting primarily
of slide presentations, lectures, and the distribution of printed matter. The Department is hoping
to step up its activities to include public schools and some of the more isolated fishing communi-

The SLNS has also been very involved in public education efforts, providing slide shows,
media articles, and highlighting sea turtle conservation activities in their newsletter, News and
Views. Time and resources permitting, the SLNS should become even more involved in making
presentations to schools, since the children are the future resource users and managers. Civic
and youth groups will be encouraged to join the SLNS in incorporating conservation messages,
and especially information about endangered species such as sea turtles, in their community
outreach activities.

We hope that video documentaries will become available in the near future and we fully
support the efforts of WIDECAST to produce a video for use throughout the region. Ideally,
coastal residents should be encouraged to become involved in monitoring nesting habitat and
protecting sea turtles, eggs, and hatchlings. The assistance of WIDECAST has been solicited in
the design, printing, and distribution of a brochure and posters on the subject of sea turtle

4.42 Fishermen

There is a need for specific extension work on the subject of sea turtle conservation. We
recommend that informal Town Meetings be planned in key communities to focus on the subject
of sea turtle biology and the need for an indefinite moratorium on the harvest of turtles and their

Page 42

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

eggs. In this way, fishermen would learn why late-maturing, long-lived species such as turtles
must be managed very differently from the way most fishes are managed, they would have an
opportunity to see that the Government is serious about the protection of sea turtles, and they
would have a chance to discuss ways in which the transition to a zero quota could be eased. It is
a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that all efforts be made using Extension person-
nel of the Department of Fisheries to inform fishermen about the plight of sea turtles, to discour-
age fishermen from breaching regulations, and to encourage reporting of violations. Fishermen
should be invited to participate in surveys and to provide relevant information (i.e., turtle
sightings) to the Department.

The following points should be emphasised to turtle fishermen and their colleagues:

1. Sea turtles are long-lived, reaching sexual maturity in 20-35 years.
2. Mortality is high in young juveniles, but very low for fully armoured large
juveniles and adults.
3. Adult females average five clutches of eggs per year and nest every 2-5
years; under natural conditions females live for many years and lay thou-
sands of eggs to ensure population stability.
4. Unfortunately, large turtles have historically been targeted because they
provide the most meat; Fisheries laws usually protect only small turtles.
5. Egg-bearing adult females are taken in disproportionate numbers because
they are easily obtained from the nesting beach.
6. Over-harvesting large turtles, especially gravid females, is a sure way to
invite population collapse (this has been observed at rookeries throughout
the world and is easily shown mathematically).
7. Sea turtle populations cannot sustain the persistent harvest of large juven-
ile and adult animals.
8. Nesting populations have been greatly reduced or exterminated all over
the Caribbean, including St. Lucia, because adults are not surviving long
enough to produce the next generation (the widespread harvest of eggs
only exacerbates this problem).
9. The fact that nesting populations are crashing but juvenile turtles are still
seen in local waters is not surprising -- the two stocks are unrelated.
10. Juveniles travel widely during the many years prior to maturity local
juveniles are not residents, they are a shared regional resource.
11. Nesting females, which return to St. Lucia at regular intervals to lay their
eggs on beaches where they were born many years ago, leave St. Lucia at
the end of the nesting season and return to resident feeding areas which
are most likely located in distant countries.
12. All nations must work together if this shared and endangered natural
resource is to survive.

4.43 Tourists

It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that the Department of Fisheries, as
part of its ongoing education programme, make brochures concerning the marine environment in

Page 43

CEP Technical Report No. 26

general and the endangered status of sea turtles in particular available at hotels and ports of
entry. Colourful posters should be placed in strategic locations. Hotels have already been
provided with notices to solicit information from visitors and hotel staff regarding any turtle
sightings. In the past, tourists have accompanied members of the Department of Fisheries and
the SLNS on "turtle watches" after paying a fee. This has proven to be a useful and educational
exercise and we recommend that it be resumed in the future if beaches can be located where suf-
ficient turtles are still nesting to warrant the exercise.

4.44 Non-consumptive use of sea turtles to generate revenue

At one time it would have been possible to design a programme where tourists paid local
guides to lead them to the Grande Anse nesting beach to witness the leatherback turtles. This has
been a significant source of community income in other areas (e.g., Trinidad) and has proven an
excellent lure for guests at selected hotels that sponsor sea turtle conservation programmes on
their beaches (e.g., Long Island, Antigua). However, field surveys conducted by the SLNS since
1991 indicate that virtually every female coming ashore to nest on Grande Anse has been killed.
This lawless behaviour on the part of a small band of poachers has effectively eliminated the
opportunity for local villages to capitalize on sea turtle eco-tourism. It is unlikely that there are
other beaches in St. Lucia where eco-tourism is possible, but in the event that such initiatives are
undertaken, it is vital that a trained Guide or Warden supervise the beach walks and that appro-
priate beach etiquette be maintained (e.g., no flash pictures of nesting females). WIDECAST is
currently designing a techniques manual for use in designing sea turtle eco-tour-ism ventures.

4.5 Increase Information Exchange

4.51 Marine Turtle Newsletter

This Newsletter is regularly received by the Fisheries Department, Forest and Lands De-
partment, Castries Central Library, Ministry of Planning's Documentation Centre, St. Lucia
National Trust, and members of the SLNS. It is viewed as an invaluable source of information.
The Newsletter is distributed free of charge to interested readers in more than 100 countries and
focuses on sea turtle research and conservation issues around the world. It is available from the
Editors upon request: Marine Turtle Newsletter (Attn: Karen and Scott Eckert, Editors), Hubbs-
Sea World Research Institute, 2595 Ingraham Street, San Diego, California 92109 USA.

4.52 Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium (WATS)

St. Lucia participated in both the first (Murray, 1984) and second (Charles, 1987)
Western Atlantic Turtle Symposia (WATS). The Government intends to continue to participate
in this valuable regional database. The WATS Manual of Sea Turtle Research and Conserva-
tion Techniques (Pritchard et al., 1983) has been distributed to all concerned organizations.


The Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Recovery Team and Conservation Network (WIDE-
CAST) consists of a regional team of sea turtle experts who work closely with in-country Coor-

Page 44

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

dinators. National Coordinators 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 St.
Lucia, in the Wider Caribbean. Each STRAP is tailored specifically to local circumstances 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
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 recom-
mendations for the management and recovery of endangered, threatened, and vulnerable sea tur-
tle 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 Caribbe-
an 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, with
the assistance of regional sea turtle experts, locally appropriate sea turtle
management recommendations.
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 bi-
ology and management.
5. Assisting governments and non-government organizations with the imple-
mentation of effective management and conservation programmes for sea

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 Caribbe-
an 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 WIDE-
CAST's efforts. The WIDECAST Coordinator in St. Lucia is Mr. Crispin d'Auvergne, former
Conservation Fisheries Officer and now National Coordinator for the ENCORE project (Ministry
of Planning). The Lead Organizations for implementation are the Fisheries Department (tel:

Page 45

CEP Technical Report No. 26

452-6172, 452-3987) and the SLNS (Crispin d'Auvergne, Chairman; tel: 451-6957). WIDE-
CAST is viewed as an important mechanism for cooperation and the exchange of information, as
well as for support in conservation planning and programme implementation on behalf of en-
dangered sea turtles.

4.54 IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group

The Marine Turtle Specialist Group (Dr. Karen Bjornal, Chair) is responsible for track-
ing 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 advise on conservation projects. Contact Dr. Karen Bjomdal, Archie Carr Center for
Sea Turtle Research, c/o Department of Zoology, 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 would logical-
ly include the identification of sea turtle species, whether the evidence available was a live tur-
tle, a hatchling, an egg, or a crawl on the beach. Additional detail, provided as needed, should
include the proper way to conduct beach patrols, tag turtles, move eggs, survey by air, etc. The
Department of Fisheries presently trains persons involved with sea turtle field work in St. Lucia.
Support and expertise will be sought from WIDECAST. Also useful would be formal field in-
struction at the annual sea turtle training course in Tortuguero, Costa Rica (Caribbean Conserva-
tion Corporation, P. O. Box 2866, Gainesville, Florida 32602 USA). Finally, WIDECAST has
offered to provide members of the sea turtle conservation community in St. Lucia with oppor-
tunities to work for short periods on specific field projects elsewhere in the Wider Caribbean.

4.56 Exchange of information among local groups

The Department of Fisheries, the SLNS, the St. Lucia National Trust, and the Forestry
Division work co-operatively on sea turtle conservation issues. This is encouraged as a way to
maximise the expertise and resources that can be brought to bear on a particular conservation
problem or activity. We recommend that the national media become more involved in stressing
the importance and immediacy of sea turtle conservation.

4.6 Implement a National Sea Turtle Conservation Programme

4.61 Rational

It is clear from the information provided in this Recovery Action Plan that three species
of sea turtle nest on beaches in St. Lucia. A fourth, the loggerhead, is believed to occur in
coastal waters from time to time. At least two species (green and hawksbill turtles) feed and take
refuge in coastal coral reefs and sea grass meadows. Turtles have been hunted on a subsistence
basis for centuries and harvested commercially for many years. Today there are two main fac-

Page 46

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

tions within the hunting community, (1) fishermen who catch turtles at sea, generally green
turtles and hawksbills, on a part-time or opportunistic basis (this occurs both legally and illegal-
ly) and (2) poachers who remove turtles wholly illegally from the nesting beach in contravention
both of the closed season and regulations prohibiting the disturbance of nesting turtles and their
eggs. In the latter case, leatherback carcasses are often left to spoil after the eggs and sometimes
the heart and liver have been removed. Sustained exploitation and the destruction of critical
habitat has led to serious population declines. St. Lucia is not alone in this regard, for sea turtles
are endangered worldwide and significant resources are being expended by many nations to
promote their conservation.

Co-ordinated efforts at sea turtle conservation in St. Lucia began in 1983 when the
Department of Fisheries (hereafter the Department) began night patrols on the east coast beach of
Grande Anse in order to quantify the extent of nesting there. Since then, weekend patrols have
continued at Grande Anse during the leatherback nesting season (March-July). Much assistance
has been received from the St. Lucia Naturalists' Society (hereafter the SLNS) and the general
public in this regard. In addition, the Department has made every effort to determine the extent
of nesting island wide. Several reports, both published and unpublished, on the subject of sea
turtles have been prepared (e.g., d'Auvergne, 1984; d'Auvergne et al., 1989; numerous in-house
Department of Fisheries reports). At this time the survival of sea turtles in St. Lucia is jeopar-
dised by two main factors, (1) the legal and illegal harvesting of animals and eggs and (2) the
destruction of habitats, especially sandy beaches. Turtle conservation efforts in turn have been
hampered by a number of problems. These include:

1. Turtle watches, even at Grande Anse (the major nesting beach), have been
sporadic because volunteers are available only on weekends and reliable
transport is a chronic problem. At present, it is not possible to employ
persons to carry out watches throughout a season.

2. Most of the major turtle beaches are on the northeast coast and are very
remote. The Department owns four-wheel drive vehicles, but they are
often needed for other purposes and it is not always possible to obtain
transportation to carry out patrols or surveys, especially at night.

3. The lack of vehicles and manpower restricts the Department and the SLNS
to carrying out patrols mainly at Grande Anse. It would be highly desira-
ble to work in other areas without neglecting Grande Anse.

4. Due to the infrequency and irregularity of watches, poachers and sand
miners are often able to kill turtles or dig nests without being caught. Two
dozen or more leatherbacks have been killed in one season at Grande
Anse, with an unknown level of mortality at other beaches.

5. Because of the informal disposal of turtle meat and eggs it is usually diffi-
cult to determine levels of exploitation. This situation is made worse by
the fact that most poaching occurs in isolated areas and law enforcement is

Page 47

CEP Technical Report No. 26

6. The coastline of St. Lucia is possessed of many beaches (about 70). It is
difficult to carry out regular and comprehensive field surveys of all these
often isolated beaches throughout the year.

7. A lack of funding prevents the Department from carrying out a number of
important activities, such as: (a) buying turtle fishing nets from the fisher-
men, (b) purchasing turtles for tagging and release, (c) purchasing tags and
tagging equipment, (d) offering a reward for information about tagged
turtles, (e) conducting aerial surveys of remote areas, and (f) offering ef-
fecttive education programmes to fishermen and other resource users.

The inconsistent execution of conservation activities, for the many reasons outlined
above, has made it virtually impossible to arrive at accurate conclusions on such critical factors
as the size of breeding populations, nesting frequency and success, the size distribution and
abundance of turtles in our waters, and the levels of legal and illegal exploitation.

4.62 Goals and objectives

Two project goals have been identified and are as follows: (1) to obtain comprehensive
and accurate data on turtle nesting and distribution and (2) to promote the conservation and
recovery of remaining sea turtle stocks. These goals are reflected in the following objectives:

1. Provide comprehensive coverage of at least one major nesting beach (e.g.,
Grande Anse) and expanded coverage, by ground study or aerial survey,
of selected secondary beaches.

2. Reduce poaching of turtles and eggs.

3. Increase public awareness of the status of sea turtles, thereby enhancing
the effectiveness of conservation and law enforcement initiatives.

4. Increase availability of educational materials to schools, civic groups, ho-
teliers, government personnel, and others interested in sea turtles and their
habitat needs.

5. Provide consistent enforcement surveillance of at least two major nesting

6. Analyze data with a view to using information derived for future sea turtle
management decisions.

4.63 Activities

1. Hold watches or daylight patrols at Grande Anse every night (or day) dur-
ing three consecutive nesting seasons. Paid personnel will be assisted by
volunteers whenever possible.

Page 48

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

2. Carry out four or five aircraft island-wide surveys of beaches during the
nesting season for two consecutive years.

3. Provide a four-wheel drive vehicle (including fuel and maintenance) to ac-
cess remote areas.

4. Carry out turtle watches at beaches apart from Grande Anse. This will be
possible with the co-operation between the Department of Fisheries, the
SLNS, and resident (village) volunteers.

5. Train workers in turtle data collection methods. Where possible, persons
may attend programmes overseas, such as the one held at Tortuguero in
Costa Rica. Provide funds for persons to participate in workshops and
symposia overseas, such as the Annual Conference on Sea Turtle Biology
and Conservation convened in the southeastern USA each year.

6. Provide field and camping equipment for turtle watches, as well as data
collection materials (measuring tapes, tags, flashlights, etc.).

7. Provide funds for purchase (buy-back) of fishing gear, payment of rewards
for tag returns, and purchase of turtles for tagging and release.

8. Purchase audio-visual materials and literature on sea turtle biology and
conservation for research and education purposes. The Department has an
ongoing environmental education programme. WIDECAST will assist the
Department in the design and printing of a sea turtle brochure and will do-
nate a set of slides.

9. Produce or purchase brochures, leaflets, poster, and/or newspaper supple-
ments on sea turtles. Again, WIDECAST will assist.

10. Assign a Fisheries Department biologist or intern to co-ordinate sea turtle
programme activities. He/she will be assisted by Department staff when
and as necessary.

4.64 Results

From the activities (see section 4.63) which have been designed to carry out the goals and
objectives of the Sea Turtle Conservation Project, we anticipate that there will be several
tangible results at the end of a three-year period. These can be summarised as follows:

1. Daily coverage of Grande Anse beach for two full nesting seasons. All
three species of turtle known to nest on the island do so at Grande Anse,
making this beach the main nesting area on the island. As such, more
data will be collected per unit effort there than elsewhere.

Page 49

CEP Technical Report No. 26

2. Increased coverage of secondary nesting areas (at least two other beaches).

3. Significant improvement in the transportation situation. By acquiring a
vehicle, the Department can engage in consistent field work, respond
effectively to reports of nesting, hatching, poaching, stranding, and offer a
regular programme of public education.

4. Increased manpower capability through hiring and through training.

5. Increase public awareness of the status of sea turtle species in St. Lucia
and their conservation needs, including increased involvement by villagers
and other land owners (e.g., beach-front hotels).

6. Significant reduction in poaching.

7. Accurate estimate of the annual number of nesting females per species,
nest fate, and hatching success.

4.65 Budget

Budget Item D/G Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total EC$

Wages for Grande Anse D
Wardens (2 wardens G
at $700/mo for 8 mo/yr
for 3 years)

Wages for security guard D
at Grande Anse G

Fisheries Biologist salary D

Salaries and subsistence D
for other Fisheries staff G

Wages for patrol D
personnel (4 watchers at G
$500/mo for 8 mo/yr for 3 yr)

Vehicle (duty-free)

11200 11200

18000 18000

30000 30000

25000 25000

16000 16000


Page 50












St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

Budget, continued.

Budget Item D/G Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total EC$

Vehicle fuel and D 5000 2500 -- 7500
maintenance service G -- 2500 5000 7500

Helicopter/aeroplane D 16200 16200 -- 32400
flights (1/mo for 8 mo/yr G
for 2 years at $2025/one
hour flight)

Buy-back of nets D 60000 -- 60000

Purchase of turtles D 700 700 600 2000
for tagging and release G

Training/Workshops D 6000 6000 6000 18000

Audio-visuals, literature, D 6000 1500 1500 9000
educational materials G -- 2000 2000

Tags and pliers D 400 200 200 800
G 400 200 200 800

Field supplies D 400 200 200 800
(e.g., measuring tapes) G 400 200 200 800

Tents (3 at $600) D 1800 -- 1800

Stoves (2 at $350) D 700 -- 700

Communication radios D 2000 -- 2000

Rewards for tag return D 2000 -- 2000

Miscellaneous (maps, D 1000 1000 -- 2000
batteries, first aid, G -- 1000 1000
cooking gas, etc.)

Page 51

CEP Technical Report No. 26

Budget, continued.

Budget Item D/G Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total EC$

10% Contingencies D 17120 6230 4250 27600
G 6700 6910 7460 21070

Computer time ** 6000


Donor Contribution
Government Contribution
Private Sector Contribution

EC$ 541370

$303,600 (- US$ 114,600)
$ 6,000

D = Donor Contribution; G = Government Contribution
Computer time donated by Computer Power, St. Lucia

Page 52

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...


Archer, A. 1984. Report on land-based sources of pollution in coastal, marine and land areas of
CARICOM states. Prepared for UNEP/CARICOM/PAHO project for the protection of the
coastal and marine environment of Caribbean islands.

Archer, A. 1985. Rodney Bay water quality and sewerage study. Prepared for Caribbean
Development Bank, Bridgetown, Barbados.

Bacon, P. R. 1981. The Status of Sea Turtle Stocks Management in the Western Central Atlantic.
Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC).

Balazs, G. H. 1985. Impact of ocean debris on marine turtles: entanglement and ingestion, pp.
387-429. In: Proc. Workshop on the Fate and Impact of Marine Debris (R. S. Shomura and
H. O. Yoshida, Editors). NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-SWFC-54. U. S. Dept. Commerce.

Bjorndal, K. A. 1980. Nutrition and grazing behavior of the green turtle, Chelonia mydas. Mar.
Biol. 56:147-154.

Bjorndal, K. A. 1982. The consequences of herbivory for the life history pattern of the Caribbean
green turtle, Chelonia mydas, pp.111-116. In: Biology and Conservation of Sea Turtles (K.
A. Bjorndal, Editor). Smithsonian Inst. Press, Washington D. C.

Bjorndal, K. A. 1985. Nutritional ecology of sea turtles. Copeia 1985:736-751.

Brautigam, A. 1987. CITES: A Conservation Tool. IUCN/SSC Trade Specialist Group,
Washington D. C. 93 pp.

Brongersma, L. D. 1972. European Atlantic Turtles. Zool. Verh. (Leiden) No. 121. The

Caldwell, D. K. and M. C. Caldwell. 1969. Addition of the leatherback sea turtle to the known
prey of the killer whale, Orcinus orca. J. Mammalogy 50(3):636.

Cambers, G. and H. Lima. 1990. Leatherback turtles disappearing from the BVI. Marine Turtle
Newsletter 49:4-7.

Canin, J. 1989. International Trade in Sea Turtle Products, pp.27-29. In: Proc. Ninth Annual
Workshop on Sea Turtle Conservation and Biology (S. A. Eckert, K. L. Eckert and T. H.
Richardson, Compilers). NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-SEFC-232. U. S. Dept. Commerce.

Carr, A. F. 1987a. New perspectives on the pelagic stage of sea turtle development. Cons. Biol.

Carr, A. 1987b. Impact of nondegradable marine debris on the ecology and survival outlook of
sea turtles. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 18(6 PartB):352-356.

Page 53

CEP Technical Report No. 26

Carr, A., M. H. Carr, and A. B. Meylan. 1978. The ecology and migrations of sea turtles, 7. The
west Caribbean green turtle colony. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 162(1):1-46.

Carr A., A. Meylan, J. Mortimer, K. Bjorndal and T. Carr. 1982. Surveys of Sea Turtle
Populations and Habitats in the Western Atlantic. NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-SEFC-91. U.
S. Dept. Commerce.

Cato, J. C., F. J. Prochaska, and P. C. H. Pritchard. 1978. An Analysis of the Capture, Marketing
and Utilization of Marine Turtles. Purchase Order No. 01-7-042-11283, National Marine
Fisheries Service, St. Petersburg, Florida. 119 pp.

CCA/IRF. 1991. Country Environmental Profile for St. Lucia. Prepared on behalf of the
Government of St. Lucia by the Caribbean Conservation Association with the technical
support of the Island Resources Foundation. St. Michael, Barbados. 332 pp.

Charles, V. 1987. National Report to WATS II for St. Lucia. Second Western Atlantic Turtle
Symposium, October 1987, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. 9 pp. (Unpubl.)

Corliss, L. A., J. I. Richardson, C. Ryder, and R. Bell. 1989. The hawksbills of Jumby Bay,
Antigua, pp.33-35. In: Proc. Ninth Annual Workshop on Sea Turtle Conservation and Biolo-
gy (S. A. Eckert, K. L. Eckert and T. H. Richardson, Compilers). NOAA Tech. Memo.
NMFS-SEFC-232. U. S. Dept. Commerce.

Crouse, D. T., L. B. Crowder, and H. Caswell. 1987. A stage-based population model for
loggerhead sea turtles and implications for conservation. Ecology 68(5):1412-1423.

d'Auvergne, C. 1984. The Status of Sea Turtles in St. Lucia. Report to the Department of Fish-
eries, Castries. (Unpubl.)

d'Auvergne, C., P. Murray, and J. Sparks. 1989. Nesting of the leatherback turtle on Grande
Anse beach, St. Lucia: a preliminary look. Proc. Gulf Caribb. Fish. Instit. 39:244-247.

Devaux, R. 1987. Conservation of St. Lucia's national and cultural heritage. (Unpubl.)

Dodd, C. K., Jr. 1988. Synopsis of the biological data on the loggerhead sea turtle, Caretta
caretta (Linnaeus 1758). U. S. Fish Wildl. Serv. Biological Report 88(14): 1-110.

Eckert, K. L. 1991. Caribbean nations vote to protect sea turtles. Marine Turtle Newsl. 54:3-4.

Eckert, K. L. and S. A. Eckert. 1988. Pre-reproductive movements of leatherback sea turtles
(Dermochelys coriacea) nesting in the Caribbean. Copeia 1988:400-406.

Eckert, K. L., J. A. Overing, and B. B. Lettsome. 1992. WIDECAST Sea Turtle Recovery Action
Plan for the British Virgin Islands. CEP Technical Report No. 15. UNEP Caribbean Environ-
ment Programme, Kingston, Jamaica. xv + 116 pp.

Page 54

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

Eckert, S. A., D. W. Nellis, K. L. Eckert, and G. L. Kooyman. 1986. Diving patterns of two
leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) during interesting intervals at Sandy Point,
St. Croix, U. S. Virgin Islands. Herpetol. 42(3):381-388.

Eckert, S. A., K. L. Eckert, P. Ponganis, and G. L. Kooyman. 1989. Diving and foraging
behavior by leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea). Can. J. Zool. 67:2834-2840.

ECNAMP. 1980. St. Lucia Preliminary Data Atlas. Prepared by the Eastern Caribbean Natural
Area Management Program.

Ehrenfeld, D. W. 1968. The role of vision in sea-finding orientation of the green turtle (Chelonia
mydas) II: Orientation mechanism and range of spectral sensitivity. Anim. Behavior 16:281-

Ehrhart, L. M. 1989. Status Report of the Loggerhead Turtle, pp.122-139. In: Proc. Second
Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium, 12-16 October 1987, Mayagiuez, Puerto Rico (L. Ogren,
Editor-in-Chief). NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-SEFC-226. U. S. Dept. Commerce.

Ehrhart, L. M. and R. G. Yoder. 1978. Marine turtles of Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge,
Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Fla. Mar. Res. Publ. 33:25-30.

Ferris, J. S. 1986. Nest success and the survival and movement of hatchlings of the loggerhead
sea turtle (Caretta caretta) on Cape Lookout National Seashore. CPSU Tech. Rept. 19, U. S.
National Park Service. U. S. Dept. Interior. 40 pp.

Frazer, N. B. 1989. A philosophical approach to population models, pp.198-207. In: Proceedings,
Second Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium (L. Ogren, Editor-in-Chief). NOAA Tech.
Memo. NMFS-SEFC-226. U. S. Dept. Commerce.

Frazer, N. B. and L. M. Ehrhart. 1985. Preliminary growth models for green, Chelonia mydas,
and loggerhead, Caretta caretta, turtles in the wild. Copeia 1985:73-79.

Frazer, N. B. and R. C. Ladner. 1986. A growth curve for green sea turtles, Chelonia mydas, in
the U. S. Virgin Islands, 1913-14. Copeia 1986:798-802.

Frazier, J. 1984. Las Tortugas Marinas en el Oceano Atlantico Sur Occidental. Asoc. Herpetol.
Argentina 2:2-21.

Fuller, J. E., K. L. Eckert, and J. I. Richardson. 1992. WIDECAST Sea Turtle Recovery Action
Plan for Antigua and Barbuda (K. L. Eckert, Editor). CEP Technical Report No. 16. UNEP
Caribbean Environment Programme, Kingston, Jamaica. xii + 88 pp.

Government of St. Lucia. 1991. Annual Statistical Digest. Government Statistics Department,
Castries. 134 pp.

Page 55

CEP Technical Report No. 26

Groombridge, B. (Compiler). 1982. Red Data Book, Amphibia-Reptilia, Part I: Testudines,
Crocodylia, Rhynchocephalia. Intl. Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural
Resources (IUCN), Gland, Switzerland.

Groombridge, B. and R. Luxmoore. 1989. The Green Turtle and Hawksbill (Reptilia:
Cheloniidae): World Status, Exploitation and Trade. Secretariat of the Convention on Inter-
national Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Lausanne, Switzer-
land. 601 pp.

Halas, J. C. 1985. A unique mooring system for reef management in the Key Largo National
Marine Sanctuary, pp.237-242. In: Proc. Fifth International Coral Reef Congress (C. Gabrie
and B. Salvat, Editors). Vol. 4. Antenne Museum-Ephe, Moorea, French Polynesia.

Hildebrand, H. 1987. A reconnaissance of beaches and coastal waters from the border of Belize
to the Mississippi River as habitats for marine turtles. Final Report, NOAA/NMFS/SEFC
Panama City Lab (purchase order #NA-84-CF-A-134). 63 pp.

Hopkins-Murphy, S. R. and T. M. Murphy. 1988. Status of the loggerhead turtle in South
Carolina, pp.35-37. In: Proc. Eighth Annual Workshop on Sea Turtle Conservation and
Biology (B. A. Schroeder, Compiler). NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-SEFC-214. U. S. Dept.

Horrocks, J. 1992. WIDECAST Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan for Barbados (K. L. Eckert,
Editor). CEP Technical Report No. 12. UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme, King-
ston, Jamaica. xiv + 61 pp.

Hosier, P. E., M. Kochhar, and V. Thayer. 1981. Off-road vehicles and pedestrian track effects
on the sea-approach of hatchling loggerhead turtles. Environ. Conserv. 8:158-161.

Hoyle, M. and J. I. Richardson. 1993. The Jumby Bay Hawksbill Project, 1987-1992. Prepared
by the Georgia Sea Turtle Cooperative, Institute of Ecology, Univ. Georgia. 76 pp.

Hudson, L., Y. Renard, and G. Romulus. 1992. A System of Protected Areas for St. Lucia. St.
Lucia National Trust, Castries. 72 pp.

Jacobson, E. R. 1990. An update on green turtle fibropapilloma. Marine Turtle Newsl. 49:7-8.

Lutz, P. L. and A. A. Alfaro-Schulman. 1991. The effects of chronic plastic ingestion on green
sea turtles. Final Report for U. S. Dept. Commerce, NOAA SB21, WC H06134. 49 pp.

Manzella, S., K. Bjorndal, and C. Lagueux. 1991. Head-started Kemp's ridley recaptured in
Caribbean. Marine Turtle Newsletter 54:13-14.

McDonald, D., P. H. Dutton, and R. H. Boulon. 1991. Tagging and Nesting Research on
Leatherback Sea Turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) on Sandy Point, St. Croix, U. S. Virgin
Islands. Annl. Rept. U. S. Fish Wildl. Serv. 27 pp.

Page 56

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

Meylan, A. B. 1988. Spongivory in hawksbill turtles: a diet of glass. Science 239:393-395.

Milliken, T. and H. Tokunaga. 1987. The Japanese Sea Turtle Trade 1970-1986. Prepared by
TRAFFIC(JAPAN) for Center for Environmental Education, Washington D. C. 171 pp.

Mitchell, C. and E. Gold. 1982. The integration of marine space in national development
strategies of small island states: The case of the Caribbean states of Grenada and St. Lucia.
Halifax, Canada.

Morgan, P. J. 1989. Occurrence of leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) in the British
Islands in 1988 with reference to a record specimen, pp.119-120. In: Proc. Ninth Annual
Workshop on Sea Turtle Conservation and Biology (S. A. Eckert, K. L. Eckert, and T. H.
Richardson, Compilers). NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-SEFC-232.

Mrosovsky, N. 1970. The influence of the sun's position and elevated cues on the orientation of
hatchling sea turtles. Anim. Behav. 18:648-651.

Mrosovksy, N. 1981. Plastic jellyfish. Marine Turtle Newsletter 17:5-7.

Murphy, T. M. and S. R. Hopkins. 1984. Aerial and ground surveys of marine turtle nesting
beaches in the southeast region. Final Report to U. S. National Marine Fisheries Service,
Southeast Region. 73 pp.

Murray, P. A. 1984. National Report for the Country of St. Lucia, pp.370-380. In: Proc. First
Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium, Vol. 3, Appendix 7 (P. R. Bacon et al., Editors). Uni-
versity of Miami Press, Miami.

National Research Council. 1990. Decline of the Sea Turtles: Causes and Prevention. Committee
on Sea Turtle Conservation (J. J. Magnuson, Chair), Commission on Life Sciences, U. S.
Natl. Research Council. Natl. Academy Press, Washington D. C. 259 pp.

Nietschmann, G. 1972. The exploitation and conservation of hawksbill sea turtles, eastern
Nicaragua. Report to the Department of Geography, University of Michigan. 15 pp.

Ogden, J. C., S. Tighe, and S. Miller. 1980. Grazing of sea grasses by large herbivores in the
Caribbean. Amer. Zool. 20:949 (abstract).

Ogden, J. C., L. Robinson, K. Whitlock, H. Daganhardt, and R. Cebula. 1983. Diel foraging
patterns in juvenile green turtles (Chelonia mydas L.) in St. Croix, U. S. Virgin Islands. J.
Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 66:199-205.

Pritchard, P., P. Bacon, F. Berry, A. Carr, J. Fletemeyer, R. Gallagher, S. Hopkins, R. Lankford,
R. Marquez M., L. Ogren, W. Pringle, Jr., H. Reichart, and R. Witham. 1983. Manual of Sea
Turtle Research and Conservation Techniques (Second Edition). Center for Environmental
Education, Washington D. C. 126 pp.

Page 57

CEP Technical Report No. 26

Raymond, P. W. 1984. Sea Turtle Hatchling Disorientation and Artificial Beachfront Lighting: A
Review of the Problem and Potential Solutions. Center for Environmental Education,
Washington D. C. 72 pp.

Rebel, T. P. 1974. Sea Turtles and the Turtle Industry of the West Indies, Florida, and the Gulf of
Mexico. Univ. Miami Press. 250 pp.

Reichart, H. A. 1989. Status report on the olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), pp.175-
188. In: Proc. Second Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium (L. Ogren, Editor-in-Chief).
NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-SEFC-226. U. S. Dept. Commerce.

Reichart, H. A. and J. Fretey. 1993. WIDECAST Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan for Suriname
(K. L. Eckert, Editor). CEP Technical Report No. 24. UNEP Caribbean Environment
Programme, Kingston, Jamaica. xiv + 65 pp.

Roberts, R. 1972. Coral reefs of St. Lucia, West Indies. Carib. J. Sci. 12(3-4):179-190.

Ross, J. P., S. Beavers, D. Mundell, and M. Airth-Kindree. 1989. The Status of Kemp's Ridley.
A Report to the Center for Marine Conservation from the Caribbean Conservation Corpora-
tion. Washington D. C. 51 pp.

Ryder, C., J. I. Richardson, L. A. Corliss, and R. Bell. 1989. Habitat preferences and beach
management for nesting hawksbills, Jumby Bay, Antigua, West Indies, pp.263-266. In: S. A.
Eckert, K. L. Eckert, and T. H. Richardson (Compilers), Proc. 9th Annual Workshop on Sea
Turtle Conservation and Biology. NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-SEFC-232. U. S. Department
of Commerce.

Schulz, J. P. 1975. Sea Turtles Nesting in Suriname. Zool. Verh. (Leiden) No. 143. The Nether-

Scott, N. and J. A. Horrocks. 1993. WIDECAST Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan for St.
Vincent and the Grenadines (K. L. Eckert, Editor). CEP Technical Report No. 27. UNEP
Caribbean Environment Programme, Kingston, Jamaica. xiv + 80 pp.

Sparks, J. R. 1993. Small juvenile leatherback stranded in St. Lucia. Marine Turtle Newsletter

Squires, H. J. 1954. Records of marine turtles in the Newfoundland area. Copeia 1954:68.

Tobias, W. 1991. Turtles caught in Caribbean swordfish net fishery. Marine Turtle Newsletter

UNEP. 1991. Final Act. Conference of Plenipotentiaries for the Adoption of the Annexes to the
Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife in the Wider Caribbean Region.
UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme, Kingston, Jamaica.

Page 58

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

Vargo, S., P. Lutz, D. Odell, E. Van Vleet, and G. Bossart. 1986. Effects of oil on marine turtles.
Final Report, Vol. 2-Technical Report. Prepared for Minerals Management Service, U. S.
Dept. Interior. OCS Study MMS 86-0070.

Wells, S. 1987. Coral Reef Directory. Intl. Union for the Conservation of Nature, Gland,

Wing, E. S. and E. J. Reitz. 1982. Prehistoric fishing economies of the Caribbean. J. New World
Archaeology 5(2):13-32.

Witherington, B. E. 1990. Photopollution on sea turtle nesting beaches: problems and next-best
solutions, pp.43-45. In: Proc. Tenth Annual Workshop on Sea Turtle Biology and
Conservation (T. H. Richardson, J. I. Richardson, and M. Donnelly, Compilers). NOAA
Tech. Memo. NMFS-SEFC-278. U. S. Dept. Commerce.

Witzell, W. N. 1983. Synopsis of Biological Data on the Hawksbill Turtle, Eretmochelys
imbricata (Linnaeus, 1766). FAO Fish. Synopsis No. 137. 78 pp.

Witzell, W. N. 1984. The incidental capture of sea turtles in the Atlantic U. S. Fishery
Conservation Zone by the Japanese Tuna Longline Fleet, 1978-1981. Mar. Fish. Rev. 46(3):

Woody, J. B. 1991. Guest Editorial: It's time to stop head-starting Kemp's ridley. Marine Turtle
Newsletter 55:7-8.

Page 59

CEP Technical Report No. 26

Table 1. Recorded nestings of sea turtles in St. Lucia, 1983-1993, with literature records from
Bacon (1981), Carr et al. (1982), and Murray (1984). CM = green turtle (Chelonia mydas), El =
hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), DC = leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), CC =
loggerhead (Caretta caretta), and ?? = unidentified. The data are acknowledged to be frag-
mentary and preliminary; loggerhead records, in particular, are questionable. Green turtles may
nest in low numbers but, with the exception of Grande Anse beach, data are not available. Com-
prehensive field surveys are needed to verify the distribution and timing of the breeding effort.
"Personal observations" are those of the senior author, C. d'Auvergne.



1. Saline Point

2. Cariblue
3. Anse Becune
4. Pigeon Island

5. Reduit Beach
(Rodney Bay)
6. Labrelotte
7. Vigie Beach
(Choc Bay)




8. La Toc
9. Cul-de-Sac
10. Trou L'Oranger

11. Anse Galet
12. Anse Cochon

13. Anse Louvet
14. Anse Jambette
15. Anse Jambon
16. Anse Mamin
17. Anse Chastanet


Nest/eggs found
2 nests, 7/93; 1 poached
Infrequent nesting
Nests found

Nests found
Nests found
Hatchlings found, often
trying to cross road
Nesting female died (1993) after
falling in a ditch in front
of the New Vigie Beach Hotel
Resident reported that a turtle
"crawled into his garden and
uprooted his potato crop"
Adults/hatchlings seen
Eggs found, May
Nests found
Nests found
Nests found

No known records
No known records
Hatchlings found, 2/91


hotel staff
Bacon (-1981)
Murray (1984)
Bacon (1981)
Nat'l Trust staff
Bacon (1981)
Carr et al. (1982)

hotel staff

P. James

P. James

hotel staff
Murray (1984)
fishermen, Fisher-
ies staff
Bacon (1981)

Bacon (1981)
Bacon (1981)
Murray (1984)

Page 60

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

Table 1, continued.




Anse des Pitons
Anse L'Ivrogne


20. Laborie Bay Bch --
21. Maria Island ??

22. Anse Sable

23. Point Sable
24. Anse Ger
25. Anse Micoud
26. Praslin Bay

27. Dennery
28. Fond d'Or

29. Anse Louvette

Grande Anse

Petit Anse
Marquis Bay
Anse Lapins




37. Anse Commerette El
38. Cas-en-Bas ??
39. Donkey Beach ??

Nests found
Infrequent nesting
No known records
Nests found

Daylight nesting, 4/91
Nests found
Nest, 6/93
Tracks personal observe ,
Tracks personal observe ,
No known records
No known records
Tracks, nesting observed

Nest found
Tracks personal observ.

Eggs found, April

Infrequent nesting

fishermen, public
Carr et al. (1982)

fishermen, Fisher-
ies staff
Carr et al. (1982)
Fisheries staff
Murray (1984)
fishermen, public
Bacon (1981)
Murray (1984)
Bacon (1981)
P. James
Murray (1984)
Fisheries staff
Carr et al. (1982)
Murray (1984)
Fisheries staff
P. James

personal observe ,
Fisheries staff
Bacon (1981)

Murray (1984)
Murray (1984)
personal observ.
Carr et al. (1982)
Carr et al. (1982)
Bacon (1981)
P. James


Page 61

CEP Technical Report No. 26

Table 2. Leatherback turtle nesting records reported to the Second Western Atlantic Turtle
Symposium (Charles, 1987). Size measured as curved carapace length (CCL) and curved cara-
pace width (CCW). We assume that clutch size refers to the number of yolked eggs.

Location Date Time CCL CCW No. Eggs

Grande Anse
Fond d'Or
Fond d'Or
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse
Grande Anse

1983 26 Jul
1984 1 May
15 May
3 Jul
13 Jul
1985 20 Apr
1 May
1 May
1 May
1 May
1 May
2 May
4 May
4 May
8 Jun
9 Jun
9 Jun
9 Jun
21 Jul
21 Jul
1986 13 Apr
3 May
31 May
21 Jun
28 Jun
1987 April
2 May
9 May
10 May
21 Jun

Page 62














St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

700 650 60

Dominican Republic

Puerto Rico Tortola
... r Virgin Gorda
"4 St. John 0 Angullla
St. Thomas d St. Martin
r '4 St. MaRtin
a St. Barthelemy
J Saba
St. Croi Barbuda
St Crox St. Eustatlus
St. Kitts I
Nevis Antigua

Montserrat &

I Marie Galante

Dominica *


St. Lucia

St. Vincent Barbaaost
Baqula ,
Aruba The Grenadlnes
Curacao Bonaire Carriacou j

%V% l Grenada



0 50 100 150 200 250 300

Figure 1. Location of St. Lucia, West Indies (610W, 140N) (source: ECNAMP, 1980).

Page 63

CEP Technical Report No. 26

Figure 2. Sea turtle nesting beaches and important marine habitats in St. Lucia (refer to Table 1
for numbered nesting beaches). Stars indicate beach sand mining (map modified from CCA/
IRF, 1991).

Page 64

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...


Green turtle (Cheonia mydas)
olive brown shell, often streaked; underside pale
yellow; plates on the shell do not overlap one
another; I pir of large scales between the eyes;
adults 95-125 cm shell length; to 230 kg; rounded,
slightly serrated jaw; feeds on sea grasses

Loggerhead turtle (Carenta caretra)
color is red-brown to brown; bead 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

Hawksbdil turtle (Eremochelys imbricata)
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 (Dermochetys 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

Figure 3. An identification guide to sea turtles in St. Lucia.

Page 65

CEP Technical Report No. 26


-@ 0'3

Rof bIetwe An$ Gasl
mW An" Codan
And Cochan ArtifIclatl |rf
.l'e 5

00 #( la r'a Island R.ef

An&* WaIttte Artificial Reef

6l". )

Figure 4. St. Lucia Marine Reserves (modified from CCA/IRF, 1991).

Page 66

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...


Management Plan for St. Lucia's Sea Turtles: An Overview

Sea turtles nesting on St. Lucia's beaches and foraging in the island's coastal waters are
currently under threat. They suffer not only from direct harvesting, legal and illegal, but also
from destruction of critical habitat. Given the present trends, it is likely that sea turtles will
disappear from St. Lucia in the foreseeable future. It is therefore important that measures be
taken to reverse these trends.

The following is a management plan aimed at achieving sustainable management of St.
Lucia's turtle populations. While it does not go into fine detail, it provides the basis for an inte-
grated, broad-based and participatory process which will ultimately result in the recovery and
sustainable use of the sea turtle resource. The plan uses a three-point approach to redress the
problem, suggesting institutional, legislative and educational strategies which should be em-
ployed to achieve the desired goals.

Institutional Agenda

An ad hoc committee will be established under the aegis of the Department of Fisheries
to address issues pertaining to the management of sea turtles. This group shall meet as often as
circumstances require. The committee shall, at the very least, consist of representatives of the
following agencies: Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Planning, St. Lucia Naturalists' Soci-
ety, St. Lucia National Trust, Customs and Excise Department, and The Royal St. Lucia Police

The Department of Fisheries shall continue to carry sea turtle management as part of its
active work programme. This portfolio shall be reviewed periodically to assess its applicability
and effectiveness; among other criteria, the assessment should evaluate the extent to which the
Department is effectively pursuing the recommendations articulated in the Sea Turtle Recovery
Action Plan for St. Lucia. To the extent possible, the Department shall make available
manpower and other resources for sea turtle management. It shall continue to carry out research
on sea turtles which will in turn guide the management process.

The Department of Fisheries shall, whenever possible, access or provide training for it
staff and for the personnel of other agencies in the area of turtle management. The Royal St.
Lucia Police Force, for example, might benefit from training in fisheries legislation. The
Department of Fisheries shall also cooperate as necessary with relevant agencies to ensure that
the objectives of various management strategies are achieved. Where possible, the Department
will promote policies consistent with sea turtle management. For example, the Department
might choose to promote policies aimed at curbing beach sand mining which will in turn favour
the protection of nesting beaches.

Page 67

CEP Technical Report No. 26

Legislative Agenda

A moratorium shall be placed on the harvesting of all sea turtles and sea turtle eggs for at
least five years in the first instance. The moratorium shall be subject to review and extension.
The purpose of the moratorium will be to allow turtles to nest and forage without disturbance;
hopefully leading to the recovery of turtle populations over time. A programme of buying back
turtle fishing gear will be instituted in order to assist in the establishment of a moratorium.
Subsequent to this programme, the purchase, construction or use of any turtle fishing gear shall
be banned.
During the period of the moratorium, the Department of Fisheries will make a concerted
effort to monitor sea turtle activity (especially nesting) and determine the distribution and abun-
dance of the resource. The Department will also collaborate with the fishing community to
design and implement strategies to compensate fishermen for livelihood lost due to the closure of
the sea turtle fishery, and to provide alternatives. Recognizing that in order to be effective, a
moratorium should extend at least one turtle generation (a minimum of 25 years), the inclusion
and support of the fishing community is viewed as important to the achievement of long term
management goals.

Should circumstances mandate an interim period prior to enacting a moratorium on sea
turtle harvest, the Department of Fisheries shall, with the assistance of the Police and other rele-
vant agencies, rigidly enforce legislation concerning the harvesting of sea turtles. Regulations
pertaining to size limits and closed seasons will be reviewed based on the best available scientif-
ic data. Recommendations are provided in this Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan for St. Lucia
(section 4.23).

Important turtle nesting beaches shall be declared marine reserves under the Fisheries
Act, either separately or as part of larger reserves. Specific management plans shall be
developed and implemented for these reserves through a consultative process involving the
relevant government and non-government agencies, resource users and community groups. In
particular, activities such as beach sand mining and clearing of vegetation shall be strictly
controlled (see section 4.13 of this Action Plan). Grande Anse Beach shall be given urgent
attention in this regard.

Known foraging areas of importance shall be protected under the Fisheries Act. These
areas may include seagrass meadows and coral reefs. The protection of these areas may of
course be important for reasons other than turtle conservation. To the extent possible, important
resting (sleeping) areas and migratory corridors shall also be considered for protection.

The Department of Fisheries will endeavor (in collaboration with other relevant
Government agencies) to promote or support the enactment of legislation banning sand mining.
Policies will be promoted encouraging the use of alternatives such as the use of pumice. Sand
mining severely threatens sea turtle nesting habitat in St. Lucia, as explained in section 4.131 of
this Action Plan.

The Department of Fisheries shall periodically review and, if necessary, seek to amend,
existing legislation to ensure adequacy and effectiveness. Further, the Department shall liaise
with other agencies to ensure that other laws pertaining to activities which affect sea turtles are

Page 68

St. Lucia Sea Turtles...

adequate and are being enforced. Such laws would include the Beach Protection Act, regulates
sand mining.

Given the fact that sea turtles are highly migratory, the relevant national agencies will
collaborate whenever possible with other regional and international agencies to further the goals
of effective management of sea turtles. St. Lucia will also endeavour to ratify and/or honour bi-
lateral, regional and international agreements relating fully, or in part, to the proper management
of sea turtles.

Education agenda

The Department of Fisheries shall collaborate with other agencies such as the Department
of Forests and Lands and the St. Lucia Naturalists' Society to develop a comprehensive sea turtle
education and public awareness programme. The programme will be targeted both at schools
and at the general public. All necessary media will be utilised including radio, television, public
meetings and print. The specific goals of the programme will be to i) inform the public about the
ecology and status of sea turtles and ii) obtain assistance from the general public and resource
users in managing the sea turtle resource. A full color brochure has already been designed and
printed in collaboration with WIDECAST, and posters, books and slides have also been donated
by WIDECAST in support of this programme.

The Department of Fisheries shall continue to collaborate with the St. Lucia Naturalists'
Society and other groups to conduct sea turtle "watches" (beach patrols) and other participatory
activities. To date, turtle watches on Grande Anse Beach have been the main medium for pro-
moting public awareness of the status of sea turtles in St. Lucia.

The Department of Fisheries shall seek the assistance of the general public in obtaining
information on turtle harvesting, nesting, foraging, etc. This will not only expand the database
on sea turtles, but also assist in enforcement. It will also make members of the public feel that
they are contributing directly to the turtle management process.

Page 69