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Front Cover 1
Front Cover 2
Title Page 1
Title Page 2
Table of Contents
List of abbreviations
List of tables and figures
II. Status and distribution of sea turtles in Suriname
III. Stresses on sea turtles in Suriname
IV. Solutions to stresses on marine turtles in Suriname
V. Literature cited
Tables and figures
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Caribbean Environment Programme
UNEP United Nations Environment Programme
Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan
Henri A. Reichart 1
1 Senior Technical Advisor, Surinam Forest Service
World Wildlife Fund The Netherlands
2 Campaign Officer, World Wide Fund for Nature France
Karen L. Eckert, Editor
Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network
CEP Technical Report No. 24
Suriname Sea Turtles...
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 seagrass 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 Strategy for the Development of the
Caribbean Environment Programme (1990-1995) calls for "the development of specific management
plans for economically and ecologically important species", making particular reference to endangered,
threatened, or vulnerable species of sea turtle. This is consistent with Article 10 of the Cartagena
Convention (1983), which states that Contracting Parties shall "individually or jointly take all appropriate
measures to protect ... the habitat of depleted, threatened or endangered species in the Convention area."
Article 10 of the 1991 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 seventh in a series of Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plans
prepared by the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Recovery Team and Conservation Network (WIDECAST),
an organization comprised of a regional team of sea turtle experts, local Country Co-ordinators, and an
extensive network of interested citizens. The objective of the recovery action plan series is to assist
Caribbean governments in the discharge of their obligations under the SPAW Protocol, and to promote a
regional capability to implement scientifically sound sea turtle conservation programs by developing a
technical understanding of sea turtle biology and management among local individuals and institutions.
Each recovery action plan summarizes the distribution of sea turtles, discusses major causes of mortality,
evaluates the effectiveness of existing conservation laws, and priorities implementing measures for stock
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 Resources Conser-
vation 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.
CEP Technical Report No. 24
The basic framework for sea turtle conservation in Suriname was laid down in the late
1940's, and to give proper recognition to all the people who have since then, directly or
indirectly, contributed to this Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan for Suriname would be an impos-
sible task. Suffice to say that I (HAR) can express my gratitude and appreciation only to those
people that I am, or have been, in close contact with during my work in Suriname over the past
20 years. First of all I want to acknowledge the contribution of Joop Schulz. He has been the
major force behind the development of the country's sea turtle conservation program. The
information derived from his pioneering work can be found throughout this document.
Then there are the field workers, those all-too-often forgotten and unsung heroes who go
plodding along the beaches night after night, collecting data for us. Without their dedication and
hard work (under often deplorable field conditions) much of the information presented in this
Action Plan would not have become available. First among these is Louis Autar, for many years
the coordinator of all marine turtle field work in Suriname -- and still going strong. I also want
to thank his assistants Eddie Moese, Katidjo Loor, the Karamantanas, Takoer, Tedjo, Kiba, and
many other field workers with whom I have had the pleasure to work on the beaches over the
years. Finally, I must not forget the foreign researchers who have made perhaps indirect, but
nevertheless significant contributions to this Action Plan through their field work in Suriname.
To name just a few: Derek Green, Richard Hill, Peter Dutton, Nicholas Mrosovsky, Peter
Pritchard, and Clare Whitmore.
The Foundation for Nature Preservation in Suriname (STINASU) is the Government-
designated agency charged with implementing the marine turtle conservation program. I want to
thank its former Director, Kris Mohadin and its current Director, Muriel Held for their help and
steadfast support in the program. I also want to express my appreciation to Ferdinand Baal,
Head of the Nature Conservation Department of the Surinam Forest Service for the work he has
done on behalf of marine turtle conservation in Suriname. For many years, the World Wildlife
Fund-The Netherlands has been a major supporter of the marine turtle program in Suriname,
including facilitating the developing of this Recovery Action Plan by permitting the senior
author the time and freedom to work on it. For this, our sincere gratitude.
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 MTSG (Dr. Karen A. Bjomdal, 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
Resources), and the U. S. State Department (Bureau of Oceans and Intl. Environmental and Scientific
Affairs/Office of Ocean Affairs). The Chelonia Institute provided travel assistance to Dr. K. L. Eckert
and Dr. J. I. Richardson in 1993. Special appreciation is due Milton Kaufmann (President of Monitor
International and Founder of WIDECAST) for his unwavering personal commitment to the project.
Suriname Sea Turtles...
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Table of Contents iii
List of Tables and Figures vi
Abstract (English, Dutch, Spanish, French) vii
I. INTRODUCTION 1
II. STATUS AND DISTRIBUTION OF SEA TURTLES IN SURNAME 3
2.1 Caretta caretta, Loggerhead Sea Turtle 3
2.2 Chelonia mydas, Green Sea Turtle 4
2.3 Dermochelys coriacea, Leatherback Sea Turtle 5
2.4 Eretmochelys imbricata, Hawksbill Sea Turtle 6
2.5 Lepidochelvs kempi, Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle 6
2.6 Lepidochelvs olivacea, Olive Ridley Sea Turtle 7
III. STRESSES ON SEA TURTLES IN SURNAME 7
3.1 Destruction or Modification of Habitat 7
3.2 Disease or Predation 9
3.3 Over-utilization 10
3.4 Inadequate Regulatory Mechanisms 12
3.5 Other Natural or Man-made Factors 12
IV. SOLUTIONS TO STRESSES ON SEA TURTLES IN SURNAME 13
4.1 Manage and Protect Habitat 13
4.11 Identify essential habitat 13
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 16
4.122 Develop regulatory guidelines 17
4.123 Provide for enforcement of guidelines 17
4.124 Develop educational materials 18
4.13 Prevent or mitigate degradation of nesting beaches 18
4.131 Sand mining 18
4.132 Lights 19
4.133 Beach stabilization structures 20
4.134 Beach cleaning equipment and vehicular use of beaches 20
4.135 Beach rebuilding projects 21
CEP Technical Report No. 24
4.14 Prevent or mitigate degradation of marine habitat 21
4.141 Dynamiting reefs 21
4.142 Chemical fishing 21
4.143 Industrial discharges 21
4.144 At-sea dumping of garbage 22
4.145 Oil exploration, production, refining, transport 22
4.146 Agricultural runoff and sewage 23
4.147 Others (anchoring, land reclamation, dredging) 24
4.2 Manage and Protect all Life Stages 24
4.21 Review existing local laws and regulations 24
4.22 Evaluate the effectiveness of law enforcement 25
4.23 Propose new regulations where needed 26
4.231 Eggs 26
4.232 Immature turtles 27
4.233 Nesting females 27
4.234 Unprotected species 27
4.24 Augment existing law enforcement efforts 27
4.25 Make fines commensurate with product value 28
4.26 Investigate alternative livelihoods for turtle fishermen 28
4.27 Determine incidental catch and promote the use of TEDs 28
4.28 Supplement reduced populations using management techniques 30
4.29 Monitor stocks 32
4.291 Nests 33
4.292 Hatchlings 33
4.293 Immature and adult turtles 34
4.3 Encourage and Support International Legislation 34
4.31 CITES 34
4.32 Regional treaties 35
4.33 Subregional sea turtle management 36
4.4 Develop Public Education 37
4.41 Residents 37
4.42 Fishermen 37
4.43 Tourists 37
4.44 Non-consumptive activities that generate revenue 38
4.5 Increase Information Exchange 39
4.51 Marine Turtle Newsletter 39
4.52 Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium (WATS) 39
4.53 WIDECAST 39
4.54 IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group 40
4.55 Workshops on research and management 41
4.56 Exchange of information among local groups 41
Suriname Sea Turtles...
4.6 Implement a National Sea Turtle Conservation Project 41
4.61 Rationale 41
4.62 Activities 43
4.63 Budget 44
V. LITERATURE CITED 46
APPENDIX A 65
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
CEP ................................. ....................... UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme
CITES ................................ Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
EEZ ........................................ ......... ...... ................. Exclusive Economic Zone
IUCN ....................................... ......... .. ............. ............ W world Conservation Union
LBB ............ ............... Dienst's Lands Bosbeheer (Surinam Forest Service)
SAIL ........................................................ .......... Surinam Am erican Industries, Ltd.
SSC ............................................. .... ...... IUCN Species Survival Commission
SPAW Protocol ........................ Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife
STINASU .................................. .. .................... Stichting Natuurbehoud Suriname
(Foundation for Nature Preservation in Suriname)
TED ........... ......... ... .......... .............. Turtle Excluder Device
UNEP ........... ........................................ United Nations Environment Programme
U.S. FWS ........................................... United States Fish and Wildlife Service
W ATS .............. ...................... ......... .......... W western Atlantic Turtle Symposium
WIDECAST ................................... Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network
CEP Technical Report No. 24
LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES
TABLE 1 52
Annual numbers of sea turtle nests laid in Suriname, 1967-1992.
TABLE 2 53
Seasonality of sea turtle nesting in Suriname.
TABLE 3 54
Annual numbers of sea turtle nests in the Galibi Nature Reserve,
TABLE 4 55
The nature reserves of Suriname.
FIGURE 1 56
Location of the Republic of Suriname in South America.
FIGURE 2 57
Existing and proposed protected areas in Suriname.
FIGURE 3 58
Map of northern Suriname.
FIGURE 4 59
An identification guide to sea turtles in Suriname.
FIGURE 5 60
Sea turtle nesting beaches in the Galibi Nature Reserve.
FIGURE 6 61
Sea turtle nesting beaches between the Wia-Wia Nature Reserve and
the Suriname River.
FIGURE 7 62
The shifting of the Bigi Santi nesting beach out of the Wia-Wia Na-
FIGURE 8 63
Recovery locations of olive ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea)
tagged at Eilanti Beach in Suriname.
FIGURE 9 64
Recovery locations of green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) tagged at
Bigi Santi and Galibi beaches in Suriname.
Suriname Sea Turtles...
Suriname is the centermost of the three Guianas, which are located along the Atlantic
coast of northern South America. The four species of sea turtle nesting in Suriname are the
leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), the green (Chelonia mydas), the olive ridley (Lepidochelys
olivacea), and the hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata). Only once has a loggerhead sea turtle
(Caretta caretta) been seen on a Surinam beach and for all practical purposes the loggerhead can
be ignored as a species nesting in Suriname. The most common species nesting are the
leatherback and the green turtle. Olive ridley nesting was relatively abundant in the 1960's and
1970's, but the Surinam nesting population (the most important in the Western Atlantic) now
appears to be in danger of extinction. Hawksbills nest only occasionally, rarely more than 30
nests per year. The nesting season is generally from February through August, with peak season
varying slightly depending on the species. The leatherback and green turtle populations appear
to be healthy and stable. They may even be increasing, although this could be caused by a shift
from French Guiana, where some nesting beaches are eroding. Local foraging is most likely
limited to the olive ridley. Tagging studies show that green turtles migrate to distant foraging
pastures, primarily in Brazil, and leatherbacks return to temperate latitudes after nesting.
Presently, the only exploitation of sea turtles in Suriname is the use of eggs. Except for
an occasional incident, no adults are slaughtered for food. The Government has set strict limits
on the egg harvest, and the collecting is to be done only in the Galibi Nature Reserve by local
Amerindians under supervision of the semi-Government foundation STINASU (Foundation for
Nature Preservation in Suriname). Each year STINASU is given a permit to collect 200,000 -
250,000 eggs for sale on local markets. Only eggs from "doomed nests" (those nests otherwise
expected to be lost to shoreline erosion) are collected for sale. STINASU engages egg collectors
from the local Amerindian communities. A portion of the income STINASU derives from the
sale of the eggs is deposited in the Amerindian village treasury, and STINASU uses its share to
hire extra guards to protect the other nesting beaches. Because of conservation measures in place
for several decades, only one local species is seriously threatened and that is the olive ridley.
The reasons for the decrease could be several, most prominent among these are (a) the over-
harvesting by local Amerindians up to about 1969 and (b) the lack of enforcement in using turtle
excluder devices (TEDs) on shrimp vessels operating off the coast of the Guianas. Incidental
catch and drowning in shrimp trawls and driftnets is the most severe and unresolved sea turtle
conservation issue in Suriname.
Suriname has an excellent set of nature protection legislation dating back nearly a half
century. Nevertheless, there is room for improvement in the regulatory framework; specifically,
provisions for the full protection of sea turtles at sea (to the edge of the country's 200 mile
economic zone) are vague in current legislation and penalties (including fines) are inadequate to
act as reasonable deterrents to illegal activity. In addition, enforcement is marginal because of
lack of personnel. A critical need exists to build up the infrastructure of the various agencies
concerned with marine turtle protection and management. Equipment is lacking for even the few
guards or field workers to perform their tasks satisfactorily. Recent armed rebellion in the
interior and the illegal occupation by Amerindians of the Galibi Nature Reserve (both peacefully
settled in 1993) have been serious setbacks to population monitoring and conservation efforts
CEP Technical Report No. 24
formerly directed toward sea turtles. Several recent reports, including this one, recommend
greater participation and economic benefit for Amerindians living near the Galibi Nature
Reserve. In addition, we have recommended that an infusion of conservation funds be secured
and used to hire and train additional personnel, develop educational materials, and compose a
bilingual (Dutch/English) manual entitled: Sea Turtle Conservation Techniques and Procedures
It is abundantly clear that marine turtle populations nesting throughout the Guianas
should be protected through a framework of regional regulations. This will require unequivocal
cooperation between Suriname, Guyana, French Guiana, Brazil, and Venezuela. To attain this
cooperation through country-to-country negotiations would be difficult, but here is where
WIDECAST could play an essential role in bringing it about. Each country should have its
national policy, of course, but for marine turtle conservation they should also work with a
comprehensive set of regional regulations. Also to this end, we recommend that the Cartagena
Convention with its Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW
Protocol) be ratified as soon as possible.
Suriname Sea Turtles...
Suriname is het middelste land van de drie Guiana's en ligt langs de Atlantische kust in
het noorden van Zuid Amerika. De vier soorten zeeschildpadden die op de stranden van
Suriname hun eieren leggen zijn de lederschildpad, die in de Surinaamse volkstaal Sranan Tongo
aitkanti of soms siksikanti genoemd wordt, (Dermochelys coriacea); de soepschildpad, krape,
(Chelonia mydas); warana (Lepidochelys olivacea) en de karetschildpad, karet (Eretmochelys
imbricata). Er is slechts eenmaal een dikkop, onechte karet (Caretta caretta) op een Surinaams
strand waargenomen en deze zeeschildpad moet derhalve niet als een in Suriname nestende soort
beschouwd worden. De meest voorkomende zeeschildpadden die in Suriname hun nesten maken
zijn de aitkanti en de krape. Gedurende de jaren zestig en zeventig waren er nog redelijk veel
warana's in de in Suriname nestende populatie (de belangrijkste in de West Atlantische Oceaan),
maar deze populatie blijkt nu met uitroeiing bedreigd te zijn. Er komen maar weinig Karet's naar
Surinaamse stranden, er worden zelden meer dan 30 nesten per jaar gelegd. Het algemene
legseizoen voor de vier soorten is van februari tot en met augustus, met hoogtepunten van
nestactiviteiten die per soort iets van elkaar verschillen. De aitkanti en krape populaties blijken
gezond en stabiel te zijn. Het is zelfs mogelijk dat hun aantallen nog toenemen maar dit kan
veroorzaakt worden door de verplaatsing van aitkanti's en krape's uit Frans Guiana waar enkele
legstranden aan erosie onderhevig zijn. Studies door middel van het merken van
zeeschildpadden ("tagging studies") hebben aangetoond dat, na in Suriname hun eieren gelegd te
hebben, krape's naar ver afgelegen zeegrasvelden, die vooral langs de kust van Brazilie liggen,
migreren om daar te foerageren. Aitkanti's reizen naar de gematigde breedtegraden in de
Atlantische Oceaan na op Surinaamse stranden eieren gelegd te hebben. Warana's foerageren
voornamelijk langs de kusten van de Guiana's en Venezuela.
De enige vorm van exploitatie van zeeschildpadden in Suriname is de consumptie van
eieren. Behoudens een incidenteel voorkomend geval, worden volwassen zeeschildpadden niet
geslacht voor gebruik als voedsel. De Overheid heeft strenge beperkingen gezet voor het rapen
van eieren. In het Galibi Natuurreservaat mag dit alleen door ter plaatse wonende indianen
gedaan worden, wonder toezicht van de parastatale Stichting Natuurbehoud Suriname, STINASU.
STINASU krijgt elk jaar een vergunning om zo'n 200.000-250.000 eieren te verzamelen voor de
verkoop. Slechts eieren van z.g. "doomed nests" (nesten, die vanwege strandafslag toch verloren
zullen gaan) worden geoogst. STINASU contracteert eierenrapers uit de lokale indiaanse
bevolking en koopt de eieren ter plaatse van hen. De eieren worden dan door STINASU op de
market gebracht. Een deel van de inkomsten, die STINASU met deze verkoop verdient, wordt in
het Indiaanse dorpsfonds gestort terwijl STINASU haar aandeel gebruikt voor het aannemen van
seizoenarbeiders voor de bewaking van alle legstranden in Suriname. Vanwege de goede
natuurbeheerswetgeving, die reeds geruime tijd bestaat, is er maar een bedreigde soort in
Suriname en dat is de warana.
De oorzaken van de teruggang van de waranapopulatie kunnen meerdere zijn maar de
belangrijkste daarvan zijn: a) een te grote oogst van warana eieren door lokale indianen (dit kon
pas in 1969 gestopt worden); b) het niet gebruiken van de z.g. turtle excluder devices (TED's) op
de gamalenboten die langs de kusten van de Guiana's opereren; c) het toenemende gebruik van
drijfnetten in de kustvisserij. Het verdrinken van zeeschildpadden, als gevolg van incidentele
CEP Technical Report No. 24
vangst in netten van gamalenboten en drijfnetten, is het grootste problem voor de
instandhouding van zeeschildpadden in Suriname.
Suriname heeft een uitstekende natuurbeschermingswetgeving, die reeds zo'n halve eeuw
geleden van kracht werd. Desondanks is er verbetering mogelijk. Met name de wetgeving om
zeeschildpadden ook op zee volledig te beschermen (tot de grens van Suriname's 200 mijl
Economische Zone) is vaag in de huidige artikelen en straffen (inclusief boetes) zijn
onvoldoende om als redelijke afschrikking te dienen tegen onwettige handelingen. Bovendien is
de uitvoering van de wetgeving niet optimaal door gebrek aan personnel. Het is noodzakelijk om
de infrastructuur van de verschillende organisaties belast met het uitvoeren van
zeeschildpaddenbescherming en -beheer op te bouwen. Er is een schrijnend tekort aan zowel
personnel als uitrusting; de weinige bewakers of veldassistenten die er nu zijn kunnen hun taken
niet optimaal uitvoeren. De spanningen in het binnenland en de illegal bezetting van het Galibi
Natuurreservaat door indianen (beiden vreedzaam beeindigd in 1993) hebben zeer schadelijke
gevolgen gehad voor het monitoren and beschermen van de zeeschildpadden in het reservaat.
Recent rapporten, inclusief dit recovery action plan, bevelen een grotere samenwerking aan met
de indiaanse bevolking die rond het Galibi Natuurreservaat woont. Er wordt ook aanbevolen, dat
er een infusie van beschermingfondsen komt om het personeelskader uit te breiden en te trainen,
educate material te ontwikkelen en een tweetalige (Nederlands/Engels) handleiding getiteld:
"Technieken en Procedures voor het beheer van zeeschildpadden in Suriname" samen te stellen.
Het is overduidelijk, dat de zeeschildpaddenpopulaties van de Guiana's beschermd
moeten worden door middel van een raamwerk van regional verordeningen. Dit zal een
volledige samenwerking tussen Suriname, Guiana, Frans Guiana, Brazilie en Venezuela
vereisen. Het is moeilijk deze samenwerking tot stand te brengen door middel van individuele
onderhandelingen, maar WIDECAST zou een belangrijke rol kunnen spelen in het
bewerkstelligen hiervan. Elk van betrokken landen moet natuurlijk zijn eigen national
wetgeving hebben, maar voor de optimale bescherming van zeeschildpadden moeten deze landen
ook een toepasselijk raamwerk van regional regels hebben. Wat dit betreft bevelen wij aan dat
de Cartagena Convention, met zijn Protocol betreffende Speciaal Beschermde Gebieden en Flora
en Fauna (SPAW Protocol), zo spoedig mogelijk geratificeerd wordt.
Suriname Sea Turtles...
Surinam es el pais mas central entire las tres Guayanas, las cuales se encuentran
localizadas en la costa Atlantica del norte de America del Sur. Las cuatro species de tortugas
marinas que anidan en Surinam son la Laud o la Tora (Dermochelys coricea), la Tortuga Verde
del Atlantico (Chelonia mydas), la Golfina (Lepidochelys olivacea), y la Carey (Eretmochelys
imbricata). Solamente una vez se ha visto una Caguama (o una Cabezona Caretta caretta) en las
playas de Surinam y para todo efecto practice se puede decir que las Caguamas no son una
especie que anida en Surinam. Las species que mas comunmente anidan en Surinam son la
Laud y la Tortuga Verde del Atlantico. La anidaci6n de la Golfina fue relativamente abundante
en los afios sesentas y setentas, pero la poblaci6n anidante en Surinam (la mas important en el
Atlantico Occidental) ahora parece estar en peligro de extinci6n. Las Careys solo anidan oca-
sionalmente, y raramente mas de treinta nidos por afio. La epoca de anidaci6n es generalmente
de febrero a agosto, con el period de mayor intensidad que varia ligeramente dependiendo de la
especie. Las poblaciones de la Laud y la Tortuga Verde del Atlantico parecen estables y salu-
dables. Estas inclusive podrian estar aumentando, aunque puede ser tambien un movimiento de
las poblaciones de la Guayana Francesa, donde se estan erosionando las playas de anidaci6n. El
forraje local mas que todo lo realize la Golfina. Estudios donde los animals son etiquetados
demuestran que las Tortugas Verdes del Atlantico migran hacia pastizales de forraje muy
alejados, principalmente en Brasil, y las Lauds regresan a latitudes templadas despues de anidar.
La unica explotaci6n de las tortugas marinas en Surinam actualmente es por sus huevos.
Excepto algunos incidents ocasionales, no son capturadas por su care. El Gobierno ha
establecido limits estrictos para la recolecci6n de huevos, la cual debe hacerse por los Amer-
indios locales en la Reserva Natural Galibi bajo la supervision de la fundaci6n semi-gubema-
mental STINASU (Fundaci6n para la Preservaci6n de la Naturaleza en Surinam). Cada afio se le
otorga a STINASU un permiso para recolectar de 200.000 a 250.000 huevos para la venta en los
mercados locales. Unicamente se recogen para la venta los huevos de "nidos perdidos" (aquellos
nidos que se anticipa se perderan por la erosion). STINASU contrata a los recolectores de
huevos de las comunidades locales de Amerindios. Una porci6n de los ingresos que STINASU
deriva de la venta de los huevos es depositada en la tesoreria de la aldea Amerindia, y STINASU
utiliza su porci6n para contratar guards adicionales para proteger las otras playas de anidaci6n.
Debido a que se han implementado medidas de conservaci6n por varias decadas, solamente una
especie local, la Golfina se encuentra seriamente amenazada. Las razones de su disminuci6n
pueden ser muchas, dentro de las mas importantes se encuentran: (a) la sobre-recolecci6n por los
Amerindios locales hasta 1969 y (b) el no poner en vigor la utilizaci6n de aparatos que excluyen
tortugas (TEDs) en los barcos camaroneros que operan en las costas de las Guayanas. La capture
y ahogamiento accidental en las redes camaroneras y de arrastre es el problema mas important y
aun por resolver para la conservaci6n de las tortugas marinas en Surinam.
Surinam tiene una excelente legislaci6n sobre protecci6n de la naturaleza que data desde
hace casi medio siglo. Sin embargo, existe campo para mejorar el marco regulador, especifica-
mente, son vagos los dispositivos para la protecci6n total de las tortugas marinas en el mar (hasta
la franja de las 200 millas de la zona econ6mica del pais) en la legislaci6n actual y las
penalidades (incluidas multas) son inadecuadas para servir como freno a cualquier actividad ileg-
CEP Technical Report No. 24
al. Adicionalmente, el cumplimiento de la ley es marginal debido a la falta de personal. Existe
la necesidad critical de mejorar la infraestructura de varias agencies involucradas con el manejo y
protecci6n de las tortugas marinas. Hace falta equipo para que los pocos guards y empleados de
campo realicen sus tareas satisfactoriamente. Una reciente rebeli6n armada en el interior y la
ocupaci6n illegal por los Amerindios de la Reserva Natural Galibi (ambas resueltas pacificamente
en 1993) han ocasionado series atrasos a los esfuerzos de vigilancia y conservaci6n de la
poblaci6n que anteriormente se dirigian hacia las tortugas marinas. Varios informes recientes,
incluido este, recomiendan una mayor participaci6n y beneficio econ6mico para los Amerindios
que habitan en las cercanias de la Reserva Natural Galibi. Adicionalmente, se ha recomendado
que se asegure la entrada de fondos para la conservaci6n y que estos se utilicen para contratar y
capacitar personal, desarrollar material educativo y preparar un manual bilinguie (holandes/
ingles) titulado: "Tecnicas y Procedimientos para la Conservaci6n de la Tortuga Marina en
Es perfectamente claro que las poblaciones de tortugas marinas que anidan a lo largo de
las Guayanas deben ser protegidas a traves de un marco de regulaciones regionales. Esto
requerira la cooperaci6n inequivoca entire Surinam, Guayana, Guayana Francesa, Brasil y Vene-
zuela. Lograr esta cooperaci6n a traves de negociaciones de pais a pais sera muy dificil, pero es
alli donde WIDECAST puede jugar un papel esencial en acelerar este process. Cada pais, por
supuesto, debe tener su propia political national, pero para la conservaci6n de las tortugas
marinas tambien se debe trabajar en un marco de regulaciones regionales. En este sentido
tambien recomendamos, que el Convenio de Cartagena con su Protocolo Relativo a las Areas y
Flora y Fauna Silvestres Especialmente Protegidas (Protocolo de SPAW) sea ratificado lo antes
Suriname Sea Turtles...
Le Suriname est situe au centre des trois guyanes du long de la c6te Atlantique au nord de
l'Amerique du Sud. Les quatre especes de tortues de mer qui pondent au Suriname sont la tortue
luth (Dermochelys coriacea), la tortue verte (Chelonia mydas), la tortue olivatre (Lepidochelys
olivacea) et la tortue imbriquee (Eretmochelys imbricata). Du fait de n'avoir vu qu'une fois la
tortue caouanne (Caretta caretta) sur une plage du Suriname, on ne peut done en tenir compete
dans la determination des especes pondant au Suriname. Les especes les plus communes qui
pondent sont la tortue luth et la tortue verte. Alors que la ponte de la tortue olivatre etait
relativement abondante dans les annees 60-70, la population pondante de Suriname (la plus
important dans l'Atlantique occidentale) s'avere actuellement 6tre en voie de disparition. La
frequence de ponte de la tortue imbriquee est tries peu levee (jamais plus de 30 pontes par an).
La saison de ponte dure generalement du mois de fevrier au mois d'aoft avec bien sfr quelques
variantes en function de l'espece. Les populations de tortues luths et de tortues vertes restent
stables et en bonne sante. Leur nombre peut meme augmenter, bien que cela pourrait provenir
du deplacement de leurs populations de la Guyane francaise, ou quelques plages de ponte s'ero-
dent. Les fourrages locaux sont vraisemblablement limits a la tortue olivatre. Des etudes de
contr6le montrent que les tortues vertes emigrent vers des paturages fourragers lointains,
principalement au Bresil; et les tortues luths retournent aux latitudes temperees apres la ponte.
Aujourd'hui, exploitation des tortues de mer se fait seulement au niveau du ramassage
des oeufs. Exceptionnellement, sont-elles capturees pour leur chair. Le Gouvernement a etabli
des regles strictes quant a la recolte des oeufs. En effet, ceux-ci ne peuvent 6tre collects que
dans le Galibi Natural Reserve par les Amerindiens locaux sous la supervision de la foundation
semi-gouvernementale STINASU (Fondation pour la conservation de la nature au Suriname).
Chaque annee on accord a STINASU un permis pour collector 200.000 a 250.000 oeufs pour
vente sur les marches locaux. Seulement seront recueillis pour la vente les oeufs de "doomed-
nests" (les nids qui apparemment seront perdus a cause de l'erosion). STINASU emploie des
gens pour recueillir les oeufs des communautes amerindiennes locales. Une portion des revenues
de STINASU provenant de la vente des oeufs est deposee dans la caisse du village Amerindien,
et STINASU utilise sa part pour employer des gardens additionnels pour proteger les autres
plages de ponte. A cause des measures de conservation en place depuis plusieurs annees, seule-
ment une espece locale est serieusement menacee et c'est la tortue olivatre. La reduction de cette
espece peut avoir plusieurs causes. Parmi les plus vraisemblables on peut citer: (a) la trop
grande recolte faite par les Amerindiens jusqu'en 1969 approximativement; (b) le manque de
enforcement de la defense d'utiliser des instruments d'elimination des tortues (TEDs) sur les
bateaux de crevettes operant pres de la c6te des guyanes. Des prises et noyades accidentelles et
le noyage de trainees et de bandes de crevettes sont le problem le plus severe et non resolu en ce
qui concern la conservation de tortues de mer au Suriname.
Suriname a une excellent game de reglements sur la protection de la nature datant de
pres d'un demi-siecle. Cependant des ameliorations demeurent necessaires dans le cadre
regulateur. Notamment, les provisions pour la protection total des tortues marines de mer
(jusqu'au bord des 200 miles de la zone economique du pays) sont vagues dans les reglements
actuels et les penalites (y compris les amendes) sont inadequates et ne peuvent done constituer
CEP Technical Report No. 24
une action preventive contre les activities illegales. De plus, leur application est marginale a
cause du manque de personnel. Un besoin critique existe pour creer l'infrastructure de plusieurs
agencies s'interessant a la protection et a la gestion des tortues marines. Le besoin de personnel et
de materiel se fait sentir meme au niveau des quelques gardes et de travailleurs des champs dans
l'execution de leurs tdches avec satisfaction. Une recent rebellion armee interne et l'occupation
illegal par les amerindiens du Galibi Nature Reserve (les deux ont paisiblement cesse en 1993)
ont retarded serieusement les efforts de surveillance et de conservation de la population qui
auparavant se concentraient sur les tortues de mer. Plusieurs rapports recent, y compris celui-ci,
recommandent une plus grande participation et le benefice economique pour les amerindiens
vivant pres du Galibi Nature Reserve. De plus, nous avons recommande qu'une infusion de
fonds pour la conservation soit assuree et utilisee pour le recrutement et la formation de
personnel supplementaire, le developpement de materiel educatif, et la preparation d'un ouvrage
bilingue (anglais/dutch) titre: "Techniques et procedures pour la conservation des tortues de mers
II est tries clair que les populations de tortues marines pondant a travers les guyanes
doivent 6tre protegees dans le cadre des reglements regionaux. Ceci demandera cooperation non
equivoque entire le Suriname, le Guyana, la Guyane francaise, le Bresil et le Venezuela. I1 serait
difficile d'atteindre cette cooperation par des negotiations de pays en pays, mais c'est ici que
WIDECAST pourrait jouer un r6le essential. Chaque pays doit avoir sa police national, bien
stir, mais pour la conservation des tortues marines ils doivent aussi travailler avec une vaste
game de reglements regionaux. Aussi a cette fin, nous recommandons que la Convention de
Carthagene avec son Protocole relatif aux zones et a la vie sauvage specialement protegees
(Protocole SPAW) soit ratifiee au plus vite possible.
Suriname Sea Turtles...
The Republic of Suriname is situated on the northeast coast of South America, between
20 and 60 North latitude at about 540 West longitude (Figure 1). The country borders the Atlantic
Ocean to the north, Guyana to the west, French Guiana to the east, and Brazil to the south.
Suriname, with its size of about 164,000 km2 and total population of about 380,000, is one of the
more thinly populated countries in South America. The warmest month is October, averaging
28.30C; the coolest month is January, averaging 26.10C (Reichart, 1992). The annual rainfall
varies from 1,500 mm in the coastal region to about 3,000 mm in the more mountainous interior.
Heavy rains usually fall from May to mid-August. A relatively dry season characterizes the
periods February through April and mid-August through November, especially the latter. The
average daily wind velocity along the coast is 5 km per hour. In general, winds are strongest
during the short dry season (February-April), and weakest during the long rainy season (May to
mid-August). The roughest seas occur in February and March; this is also the time when the
most dramatic changes in the coastline occur. The difference in air temperature above land and
sea creates an air circulation where during the day there is a wind from the sea to land, and at
night a wind from land to sea. This wind circulation determines to a great extent the weather in
the coastal region (Reichart, 1992). About 80% of the country is virtually uninhabited and
covered with undisturbed Neotropical rain forest. In the north and the extreme south there are a
variety of savanna types. Suriname has set a number of these ecosystems aside as protected
areas (Figure 2). Along almost the entire coast mangrove forests occur, but these are punctuated
with sandy beaches where four species of sea turtle lay their eggs.
Nesting by sea turtles in Suriname has been documented for more than three centuries
(Anonymous, 1686; Stedman, 1796; Kappler, 1881), but Diemont (1941) and Geijskes (1945)
were the first to record precise observations on this topic. Prior to 1940, green (Chelonia mydas)
and olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) sea turtles were caught for export (Geijskes, 1945).
Geijskes estimated that for the period from 1933-1940, an average of 1,000 green turtles and
1,500 ridleys were killed per year by local Amerindians. These were sold in the Surinam border
town of Albina (Figure 3) to a Mr. Berkeley who controlled the export business. From
1938-1939, approximately 3,000 green turtles were killed (Geijskes, 1945). Thirty years later, in
1968, a year in which more green turtles nested in Suriname than in previous years, only about
1,000 green turtles came ashore (Schulz, 1975). Schulz (1975) explains that after 1940 the
slaughter of turtles for export almost came to an end, but that many turtles were still being killed
on the beach by, among others, fishermen (from Geijskes' remarks). The "Jachtverordening
1954" (Game Law of 1954) and the subsequent "Jachtbesluit 1970" (Game Resolution of 1970)
provided all sea turtle species (but not their eggs) with complete protection (section 4.21).
Historically, egg collection was excessive, and this has taken its toll on the sea turtles of
Suriname. The harvesting of turtle eggs has long been a tradition of coastal Amerindians,
especially the Caribs inhabiting the Marowijne estuary. [N.B. Throughout this Action Plan, the
terms "Amerindians", "Caribs" and "Galibi Indians" will be used interchangeably. They will all
refer to the Carib Indians living near the Galibi Nature Reserve.] According to Geijskes (1945),
the taking of eggs in the 1940's was more intensive than in the previous century due to the
increased demand by Chinese and other people of Asiatic origin (especially Javanese). The
egg-takers kept the eggs in their camps until enough were collected (which could be anywhere
CEP Technical Report No. 24
from 17,000 to 100,000) to load a boat. These were taken to Paramaribo, in the Commewijne
District of Suriname, and also to St. Laurent, French Guiana. Yearly harvest levels were not
In 1963, a research and protection program for marine turtles was initiated by personnel
of the Surinam Forest Service (LBB) under the direction of J. P. Schulz. The results from this
remarkable program were published in "Sea Turtles Nesting in Surinam" (Schulz, 1975). In
1969, the responsibility for the sea turtle conservation program was assigned to the Foundation
for Nature Preservation in Suriname (STINASU), a semi-governmental agency entrusted with
promoting and facilitating conservation research, nature education, and tourism in Suriname's
nature reserves. After Schulz retired, H. A. Reichart became Director of STINASU and con-
tinued the program. On Reichart's departure, K. Mohadin became Director. Today STINASU is
directed by M. M. Held with L. Autar serving as field project coordinator of the marine turtle
conservation program. Reichart, funded by World Wildlife Fund-Netherlands, currently serves
as Senior Technical Advisor to the LBB and STINASU, which includes providing technical
support for the marine turtle conservation program in Suriname. Although currently faced with
an acute shortage of funds, materials, and personnel, STINASU continues to protect the turtles
and nesting beaches to the best of its ability. Assistance is sometimes given by artisanal fisher-
men, a few of whom are allowed to operate in the nature reserves with a special permit from the
Forest Service. Their permits can be revoked if they are involved in poaching or harassing sea
turtles, or any other protected wildlife species.
As part of Suriname's conservation strategy, which includes the harvest for human
consumption of otherwise doomed eggs from the nation's spatially dynamic beaches, 200,000-
250,000 eggs were legally harvested per year during the 1970's. This egg harvest was agreed
upon to ensure public acceptance of Suriname's marine turtle conservation program. In the
mid-1980's, the harvest was temporarily increased to about 400,000 eggs. It is currently at the
original level, and the open season is limited to March-May. Only the eggs of leatherbacks
(Dermochelys coriacea) and green turtles are allowed to be collected. The exact number to be
harvested is based on the number of eggs laid the previous year (Mohadin, 1987) and, as a rule,
only nests obviously doomed by natural forces (such as tidal inundation or erosion) are
harvested. If manpower is available, other doomed nests are relocated to safer places for
hatching. An illegal harvest also occurs, but has not yet been fully quantified (section 3.3). The
major Surinam nesting beaches are located in the Galibi Nature Reserve and are fully protected.
The legal quota of turtle eggs on these beaches is collected by Amerindians under the
supervision of STINASU. Some other nesting beaches which, because of continual erosion and
accretion cannot be fixed in a nature reserve, are protected by annual decrees. Only a few,
marginal nesting sites are open for egg collecting by the public.
The objectives of this Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan are to (a) provide the most
current and comprehensive information on the distribution and status of sea turtles in Suriname,
(b) review the national and international legal responsibilities of the Government toward sea
turtles, (c) discuss contemporary threats to the continued survival of sea turtles in Suriname, and
(d) make recommendations for their conservation and management. Our recommendations
include designation of protected areas, enhancement of law enforcement capabilities, and
upgrading of personnel capabilities. It is anticipated that the document will provide information
Suriname Sea Turtles...
and impetus to all those interested in improving the plight of sea turtles in this country. The Plan
has also been designed to support fund-raising initiatives and includes a draft budget for rehabil-
itating the Surinam marine turtle conservation program.
II. STATUS AND DISTRIBUTION OF SEA TURTLES IN SURNAME
Five species of sea turtle are recognized as Endangered in the Western Atlantic region
and a sixth, the loggerhead turtle, is classified as Vulnerable by the World Conservation Union
(IUCN) (Groombridge, 1982). Sea turtles are still harvested in many areas for meat, shell, oil,
and eggs. They are also accidentally captured in active or abandoned fishing gear, resulting in
the deaths of tens of thousands of turtles each year. Oil spills, chemical waste and persistent
plastic debris, as well as the ongoing degradation of important nesting beaches and feeding
grounds, also threaten the continued existence of Western Atlantic populations. Five species of
sea turtle are recorded from Suriname. As summarized below (and see Table 1), nesting by
Chelonia mydas and Dermochelys coriacea is quite heavy (and the latter is increasing
dramatically), Lepidochelys olivacea shows wide fluctuations but is declining, Eretmochelys
imbricata reaches perhaps 30 nests per year, and Caretta caretta occurs in Surinam waters but has
been observed nesting only once. The distribution and abundance of feeding sea turtles has not
been quantified, but may be largely restricted to L. olivacea preying on invertebrates in river
delta areas. Incidental catch, particularly of L. olivacea, occurs at a high but uncertain level in
offshore waters (section 4.27).
2.1 Caretta caretta, Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Loggerheads are rare in Suriname. The local name is Onechte Karet. Although their
presence in coastal waters has long been known from specimens in the collection of The
Netherlands' Leiden Museum (Brongersma, 1968), only one nesting has been reported and that in
1969 (Schulz, 1975). Important foraging areas, if present, have not been determined. There are
no data available as to which age/size classes are present in Surinam waters, or whether these
individuals are migratory or resident. Adult loggerheads are recognized by a large head, thick
and somewhat tapered carapace, and five pairs of lateral scutes. The large head and strong jaws,
for which the species was named, are necessary adaptations to a diet of mollusks and
hard-shelled crabs; tunicates, fishes, and plants are also eaten (Dodd, 1988). Nesting females in
Florida, USA, average 92 cm in shell length (straight line, nuchal notch to posterior tip) (range
81-110 cm; n=194) and 116 kg (255 lb) (range 71.7-180.7 kg; n=261) (Ehrhart and Yoder,
1978). Pritchard et al. (1983) suggest that adults can weigh as much as 200 kg (440 lb). Color is
red-brown to brown; hatchlings are sometimes gray.
In general, this species has a wide oceanic distribution. Individuals have been sighted as
far north as Newfoundland (Squires, 1954) and northern Europe (Brongersma, 1972) and as far
south as Argentina (Frazier, 1984). Nesting grounds are often located in temperate latitudes,
with the greatest numbers of nesting females recorded along the Atlantic coast of Florida and at
Masirah Island (Oman). In the Wider Caribbean, nesting is reported on the Caribbean coasts of
Mexico and Central America, the Atlantic coast from Venezuela to Brazil, and occasionally in
the eastern Caribbean (summarized by Dodd, 1988). According to the existing paradigm, hatch-
CEP Technical Report No. 24
lings 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, 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 at ages closer to 30 years (Frazer and Ehrhart, 1985).
2.2 Chelonia mydas, Green Sea Turtle
The local name for this species is Krape. The green turtle is recognized by a round, blunt
beak with serrated cutting edges, one pair of enlarged scales between the eyes, and four pairs of
lateral carapace scutes that do not overlap as they do on the hawksbill (cf section 2.4) (Figure 4).
The shell color is light to dark brown, sometimes shaded with olive, with radiating wavy or
mottled markings of darker color or with large blotches of dark brown. The plastron (=belly
plate) is whitish or light yellow (Carr, 1952). Green turtles nesting in Suriname are among the
largest in the world. Fifty individuals, measured in the Galibi Nature Reserve and on the no
longer existing nesting beach of Bigisanti in the Wia-Wia Nature Reserve, ranged from 130-235
kg (average 182 kg). In 1970, 291 females nesting at Baboensanti beach (in the Galibi Nature
Reserve) measured some 97-125 cm straight line carapace length (average: 109 cm) and had a
straight line carapace width of 70-96 cm (average: 84 cm) (Schulz, 1975). Green turtles in the
Caribbean feed primarily on the sea grass Thalassia testudinum (Bjomdal, 1982). At least some
green turtles nesting in Suriname forage on the algal fields off the Brazilian coast (Schulz, 1975)
(see section 4.111).
The nesting population of this species is relatively stable and is estimated to be between
3,700 and 7,200 females (Schulz, 1975; Mohadin and Reichart, 1984). The peak of the nesting
period for green turtles extends from March through May, though nesting is recorded from
January through August (Table 2). Green turtles nest mainly on the beaches of Baboensanti and
Galibi in the Galibi Nature Reserve (Figure 5); they nest to a lesser extent at Matapica, Katkreek
and Diana (Figure 6). During January-March copulating pairs can be seen floating "for days" at
the ocean surface near the mouth of the Marowijne River (Kappler, 1881). From his tagging
studies, Schulz (1975) has found that a female nests about 2-3 times per season, and that she
returns every two to three years, with the biennial cycle predominating. Nesting is nocturnal,
and clutches are laid 12-14 days apart (perhaps with some correlation between moon and/or tidal
phases). An average of 138 eggs are laid per nest (Schulz, 1975). In 1987, of the 6,324 green
turtle nests laid, 1,381 (21.8%) were harvested and 111 (1.7%) were poached (Mohadin, 1987).
Of 6,776 nests laid in 1988, 642 (9.5%) were harvested and 456 (6.7%) were poached (H.
Reichart, unpubl. data). In 1989, green turtles made 7,046 nests (Reichart, 1992). After the
1989 nesting season, armed Galibi Amerindians forced STINASU and LBB personnel out of the
Galibi Nature Reserve, and for all practical purposes sea turtle conservation activities in this
reserve have come to a standstill since that time. The nesting data for 1990 through 1992 (see
Table 1) therefore pertain only to the beaches west of the Wia-Wia Nature Reserve.
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
Suriname Sea Turtles...
and also harbor a diverse, specialized fauna, including many kinds of little fishes, crustaceans,
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 years) before taking up residence in continental shelf habitats. Upon
leaving the open sea existence that characterizes their earliest years, green turtles become
herbivores and remain so for the rest of their lives (Bjorndal, 1985). Juveniles 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 throughout the Western Atlantic
before the urge to reproduce impels them to migrate to mating and nesting grounds, the latter
presumed to be their natal (=birth) beach. Sexual maturity is reached at an estimated 18-36 years
of age (reviewed by Frazer and Ladner, 1986).
2.3 Dermochelys coriacea, Leatherback Sea Turtle
The leatherback turtle is the largest (adults often weighing 300-500 kg, or 660-1100 lb)
of the sea turtles. The Galibi Indians sometimes refer to this species as Kawana, but the more
common name is Aitkanti. In addition, some fishermen recognize a smaller leatherback that they
call Siksikanti. They claim that Siksikanti nests at a different time, exhibits different nesting
behavior, and is a distinct species (Schulz, 1975; Reichart, 1992). Their contention has yet to be
examined scientifically and at the present time the leatherback is believed to be monotypic.
Leatherbacks lack a bony shell and the smooth black skin is spotted with grey-white blotches.
The carapace is strongly tapered, measuring 130-165 cm in length (straight line, nuchal notch to
posterior tip), and is raised into seven prominent ridges (Figure 4). Powerful front flippers
extend nearly the length of the body. The upper mandible is deeply notched. The species is a
seasonal visitor to Suriname, migrating from temperate foraging areas to nesting beaches in the
Guianas. Nesting is from April through June, at times as early as January (Table 2). Eggs
average 5.3 cm in diameter and each clutch contains an average of 85 yolked eggs, with a
variable number of markedly undersized "yolkless" eggs also present (Schulz, 1975).
Studies elsewhere in the Wider Caribbean region have shown that leatherbacks typically
nest six or seven times per season and return to the nesting beach on multiple year intervals, with
the biennial cycle predominating. In 1991, 11 nests were laid by one tagged individual at Sandy
Point National Wildlife Refuge (St. Croix, USVI) (Dutton et al., 1992). Since leatherbacks
prefer high energy beaches with unobstructed and often deep offshore access, rookery sites are
often spatially unpredictable (Mrosovsky, 1983a; Eckert, 1987). This is the situation in the
Guianas where, due to natural erosion, the reduction in beaches suitable for nesting by
leatherbacks in French Guiana has caused the females to come in greater numbers to the coast of
Suriname. Consequently, over the last 16 years leatherback nesting frequency has more than
doubled. Although nesting takes place between January and August, the nesting peak for this
species occurs from March to July in Suriname. Of the 9,816 nests laid in 1987 (nationwide, see
Table 1), some 838 (8.5%) were harvested and 214 (2.2%) were poached (Mohadin, 1987). In
1988, 11,436 leatherback nests were laid, of which 454 (4.0%) were harvested and only 60
(0.05%) were poached (H. Reichart, unpubl. data). A secondary peak in leatherback nesting has
recently been noted in December. That could possibly be a different nesting population, but
supporting data have not yet been collected (L. Autar, pers. comm.).
CEP Technical Report No. 24
Leatherbacks are rarely seen offshore during the nesting season, but recent studies
deploying time-depth recorders on gravid females nesting in the West Indies have shown that
individuals spend the inter-nesting interval diving continuously and can attain depths greater than
1,000 m (Eckert et al., 1986, 1989). Leatherbacks feed predominantly on jellyfish and other
soft-bodied prey (Den Hartog and Van Nierop, 1984; Davenport and Balazs, 1991). The impetus
behind the diving behavior may be to feed on deep water siphonophores in the "deep scattering
layer" (DSL); that is, to feed within the strata of plankton that migrate to the surface of the ocean
at night and descend to just below the depth of light penetration during the day. The diving may
also represent thermoregulation behavior or predator escape. Preferred offshore habitats for this
species have not been defined in Suriname, but tagging studies have shown that after nesting the
animals disperse widely across the Atlantic Ocean (Schulz, 1975). Tag returns from females
marked on Surinam nesting beaches have come from as far north as Nova Scotia, as far south as
Argentina, and as far east as Ghana in West Africa (e.g., Pritchard, 1976). Age at ma-turity is
2.4 Eretmochelvs imbricata, Hawksbill Sea Turtle
The local name is Karet. The species is distinguished by a narrow, pointed beak with
which it pries sponges and other soft-bodied organisms from coral reefs and other hard bottom
habitats. The carapace is often posteriorly serrated and, particularly as the animal matures, the
carapace scutes overlap one another (Figure 4). Adults rarely exceed 80 kg (175 lb) in weight
and seldom have a carapace length of more than 90 cm (straight line, nuchal notch to posterior
tip). Amber coloration with red-brown (to black-brown) and yellow markings is common
(Schulz, 1975). Hatchlings are uniformly brown or grey. 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). Surinam waters are turbid and coral reefs are not known to occur.
Thus, it is not likely that Suriname provides important foraging grounds for this species.
Hawksbills are difficult to study and little is known about Caribbean/Atlantic
populations. Individuals are migratory, high-density nesting is rare, and the relatively few
tagging programs 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). Nesting
often takes place on isolated beaches which are difficult to monitor on a consistent basis. Gravid
females generally retreat into supralittoral vegetation before nesting, leaving little evidence of
the nest site aside from a faint asymmetrical crawl (about 0.7 m wide) to and from the ocean.
Data collected in Antigua, West Indies, indicate that the average female deposits five clutches of
eggs per year, each separated by intervals of 13-18 days (cf. Corliss et al., 1989). Neither intra-
nor inter-seasonal nesting frequency is known for Suriname, but Schulz (1975) reports that an
average of 146 eggs are laid per nest. A low level of nesting (perhaps 30 nests per year) takes
place in Suriname approximately between April and August.
2.5 Lepidochelvs kempi, Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtles
There are no records of Kemp's ridleys in Suriname, nor would the species be expected to
occur. The diminutive Kemp's ridley is gray in color as an immature and primarily olive green
Suriname Sea Turtles...
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 (Manzella et al.,
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
almost exclusively in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico.
2.6 Lepidochelvs olivacea, Olive Ridley Sea Turtle
Olive ridleys, referred to as Warana, 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 color of olive
green or brown dorsally and yellow-white ventrally. Pores are visible in the inframarginal scales.
Each front flipper bears a single claw, the horny beak may be finely serrated, and carapace scutes
do not overlap one another. The lateral scutes (those to either side of the median on the shell) are
divided into 5-9 pairs (Figure 4), considerably more than other sea turtles which typically have
4-5 pairs. Adults average about 35 kg (77 lb) and rarely exceed 50 kg (Reichart, 1993). At
Eilanti, the average straightline carapace length is 68.5 cm (range 63-75 cm, n=500) (Schulz,
1975). The species is carnivorous, preferring crabs, shrimps, clams, snails and fish; plant
material is occasionally taken. Specific foraging areas have not yet been identified in Suriname.
Tag returns indicate that, after nesting, most of the olive ridleys remain in the offshore waters of
the Guianas. A smaller group forages in the Orinoco estuary in Venezuela, and a few have been
recorded off the Brazilian coast (P. C. H. Pritchard in Schulz, 1975).
Most nesting takes place from mid-May through July with some nests being laid before
and after this period (Table 2). In Suriname, olive ridleys nest 1-2 times per season and most,
but not all, return the next year; some return to nest every other year. Clutch size over a
five-year period averaged 116 eggs (Schulz, 1975). It is generally accepted that Suriname has
the most important nesting beaches in the Atlantic for this species, but the number of females
arriving each year is declining (Table 1 and Reichart, 1989). The number of olive ridley nests
counted on all Surinam beaches in 1968 was 3,290 (Schulz, 1975). By 1989, the number of nests
had fallen by more than 80% to only 585 (Table 1). The concomitant disappearance of this
species in French Guiana during the same period reinforces the hypothesis that nesting
populations may be declining in the entire region. Olive ridleys are captured and often drown in
shrimp trawls (P. Pritchard, pers. comm.; C. Tambiah, unpubl. data; H. Reichart, unpubl data)
(see also sections 3.3 and 4.27), and this is undoubtedly a significant source of mortality.
III. STRESSES ON SEA TURTLES IN SURNAME
3.1 Destruction or Modification of Habitat
The slow, westward-directed North Equatorial Current (or Guiana Current) carries a large
volume of mud (presumably of Andean origin and transported to the Atlantic by the Amazon
CEP Technical Report No. 24
River) to the Guianas. A good portion of this settles on and near the coast of Suriname. Because
of a combination of strong environmental forces, including the Guiana Current and the northeast
trade winds, the entire Surinam coast is characterized by sequential phases of erosion and
accretion. The combined effects of sea current and wave action result in erosion on the east side
of mud banks and beaches, and siltation on their west side. This causes an apparent movement
of the beaches in a westerly direction at a rate of 1-2 km per year, with the result that the location
of the nesting beaches continually changes. This erosion/accretion cycle is estimated to take
about 35 years (Augustinus, 1978). In spite of the transient nature of suitable beaches in
Suriname, important marine turtle nesting sites are always found in two general areas: (a) the
beaches in the estuary of the Marowijne River in and near the Galibi Nature Reserve (Figure 5)
and (b) the ocean-facing beaches between the Marowijne River and the Suriname River (Figure
6). Only rarely is a turtle nest found anywhere west of the Suriname River. Hence, that part of
the coast is monitored only occasionally.
The destruction or modification of important sea turtle nesting beaches by man (e.g.,
coastal construction and development) is not a serious problem in Suriname. With the exception
of fishermen's camps and some minor tourist impact, the beaches are virtually untouched by
human development (Mohadin, 1987). Nonetheless, some other human activities on the nesting
beaches may present an indirect disturbance for some sea turtle species, and this should be
evaluated. For instance, people hunting in the coastal swamps often build overnight shelters on
the beaches to avoid mosquitoes. These camp sites are sometimes (unintentionally) located on
top of nests and, after the hunters leave, camp remnants (construction materials and garbage)
have been known to block hatchling emergence.
At this time, only the nesting beaches in the estuary of the Marowijne River have nature
reserve status. The nesting beaches in the Wia-Wia Nature Reserve disappeared from the area in
the early 1970's (Figure 7), and this reserve no longer has any nesting beaches within its
confines. Because of their impermanent characteristic, some nesting beaches cannot be
incorporated in fixed-boundary nature reserves. The turtles and nests on those beaches, however,
are protected by annual decrees during the nesting season. A proposed multiple-use management
plan for the entire Surinam coast will include provision for the permanent protection of all sea
turtle nesting beaches. Such protection is strongly supported by this Recovery Action Plan.
Oil exploitation takes place near the coast in the Saramacca District, but it is far removed
and "downstream" with the prevalent ocean current from the nesting beaches. There has been
offshore exploration in the past and there will undoubtedly be some in the near future, but there
are no known offshore drilling sites at this time. It would be useful to have environmental guide-
lines already in place when that time comes. There is some sand mining along the coast, but it is
minor and does not take place on the nesting beaches. The Government is keeping close watch
on the mining activity, but primarily from the point of view of how it affects protection of the
fragile coastline and the shipping channels.
Pollution from agricultural activities, particularly in northwestern Suriname where there
are extensive rice fields, is a potentially serious problem. Fertilizer and pesticide run-offs enter
the estuary with the effluent eventually discharging into the ocean. Although this type of
pollution does not affect the nesting turtles directly (because the area is also "downstream" from
Suriname Sea Turtles...
The nesting beaches), it could affect turtles at sea. Coastal water samples should be collected
periodically to test for a pollution gradient and the effects of pollution on turtles frequenting the
area should be monitored.
Physical damage from fisheries activities that affect the sea bed is unknown. Artisanal
fishermen use mostly gill nets and lines; shrimp are caught by trawling. Most of the sea bed is
muddy and anchorage appears to do no damage to habitat important to marine turtles.
3.2 Disease or Predation
It is known that marine turtles harbor a variety of parasites and commensals, both
external and internal, but there are no data available regarding sea turtle diseases in Suriname.
Turtles of all species nesting in Suriname appear healthy and fit, but admittedly, there has never
been a study on the subject. Fibropapilloma has not yet been seen on any of the sea turtle species
nesting in Suriname (H. Reichart, pers. obs.; L. Autar, pers. comm.). Fibropapilloma disease is a
herpesvirus-like infection which has been documented extensively in Florida (Ehrhart, 1991) and
has more recently been found in Curacao (Jacobson, 1990) and Venezuela (Guada et al., 1991).
Visible symptoms include external tumors of varying sizes. The tumors can result in blindness
and debilitation; in several cases, internal tumors have been seen in the lungs, intestinal surface,
and kidneys (Jacobson, 1990). The cause of this potentially fatal disease is not known. If turtles
with visible tumors are captured they should be released. Under no circumstances should
diseased turtles be eaten.
Predators on nesting turtles include jaguars (Panthera onca), and sharks which patrol
close to the coasts in May and June at the height of the nesting season (Schulz, 1975). The
jaguar is the most important predator of adult females on the beach. In 1980, a single jaguar
killed 13 nesting green turtles on the Baboensanti Beach in the Galibi Nature Reserve within a
period of two weeks (H. Reichart, pers. obs.). On 4 July 1987, a jaguar killed a tagged olive
ridley nesting on Eilanti beach (Mohadin, 1987). Another important predator, and one that can
be controlled, is the dog. Dogs harass nesting females to the point that these turtles sometimes
abandon their nesting efforts. Just prior to the nesting season in Suriname, game wardens alert
villagers and fishermen to tie up their dogs when they are on the nesting beaches. There are also
a number of feral dogs along the coast. These are usually lost hunting dogs or animals that have
been purposely abandoned by their owners. Dogs seen harassing turtles are shot. This drastic
measure has to be taken, because dogs have a considerable negative impact on the nesting suc-
cess of endangered marine turtles.
Eggs and emerging hatchlings are threatened by a large number of enemies, including
dogs, raccoons (Procyon cancrivorous), birds (especially the black vulture, Coragyps atratus),
and crabs. The ghost crab (Ocypode quadrata) probably presents the greatest danger to the eggs
as well as to the newly emerged hatchlings on the beach (Hill and Green, 1971; Schulz, 1975).
Mole crickets (Gryllotalpa sp., Scapteriscus sp.) also attack eggs (J. Fretey, unpubl. data).
Finally, illegal egg predation by humans can be a serious problem (see section 3.3).
At sea, birds, sharks, catfish, and a number of other species of fish are a threat to the
CEP Technical Report No. 24
According to Schulz (1975), the earliest account of sea turtle nesting in Suriname is
found in the narrative of a Labbadist expedition (Anonymous, 1686; Knappert, 1926). In
Stedman's narrative (1796), comments about the consumption of turtle meat in the colony are
found; he also reported having observed off the Cayenne coast on 30 January 1773 one or two
large turtles floating past the ship's side. Stedman stated further that in Suriname "the turtles are
generally distinguished by the names of calipee or green turtle, and carett." Nevertheless, it
seemed that, except for a short period before the Second World War, sea turtles on the Surinam
coast were never killed for food on a large scale. At the time of Schulz's writing, sea turtle meat
was not used by the Caribs living near the principal nesting places. Capture of hawksbill turtles
for tortoiseshell was probably never important, presumably because this species is not numerous
here and, according to Kappler, because American tortoiseshell was worth less than that from
Geijskes (1945) records the following about the use of green turtle meat. Before 1940,
green turtles were caught for export. This business was in the hands of a Mr. Berkeley at Albina.
How long this trade had already been going on, and to what scale, was not mentioned and no
information was given about method of capture. Information obtained from the Caribs indicates
that the turtles were caught as they came ashore to nest. The late Mr. Lijkwan, who for many
years worked for 'the Honourable Mr. Berkeley', mentions an average of approximately 600
female turtles killed by the Indians for Berkeley for export during the period 1933 to 1940.
According to Geijskes, this is an underestimate. He mentions a figure of 1,000 green turtles and
1,500 ridleys each year. In 1938 and 1939, for example, he had caught at least 3,000 green
turtles. In 1968, a year in which more green turtles nested than in previous years, only about
1,000 came ashore in this region. This means that 30 years ago, many green turtles and ridleys
nested on the beaches near the mouth of the Marowijne River.
After 1940 the slaughter of turtles for export almost came to an end. Yet many turtles
were still being killed on the beach by, among others, the fishermen, as appears from Geijskes'
remarks. About the hawksbill, Geijskes (1945) reported that people in Suriname mostly did not
recognize this species and killed the turtle only for the meat which, however, cannot be
particularly tasty as the Caribs considered it to be poisonous. Collecting of eggs, mostly from
the green turtle and olive ridley, seems to have been quite important. This was a tradition of the
coastal Caribs at least during the last century -- chiefly in and near the Marowijne estuary.
According to Geijskes' (1945) report, egg taking in the 1940's was more intensive than in the
previous century, due to the increased demand by Chinese and other people of Asiatic origin,
especially Javanese. The egg takers kept the daily proceeds of eggs in their camps until enough
were collected to load a boat (17,000 to 100,000 eggs). In those days, the eggs were taken to
Paramaribo, the Commewijne district, and also to St. Laurent (French Guiana). No data are
available detailed the total number of eggs collected each year. [N.B. The three paragraphs
above were derived from Mohadin, 1987.]
In 1967, egg collection for local market sale by the Carib Indians living in the Galibi area
reached 90% of the total eggs laid. It was this excessive harvest that prompted the Surinam
Forest Service to take protective measures by banning the taking of sea turtle eggs. Eventually a
Suriname Sea Turtles...
legal annual harvest was allowed under close supervision of STINASU. Eggs are collected from
those nests laid below the high tide waterline, or from doomed nests on eroding beach sections.
The legal harvest, confined to leatherback and green turtle eggs, is more or less controlled and
represents an effort to (a) rationally exploit eggs on a sustainable-yield basis, (b) promote a
cheap source of protein for coastal people, (c) foster goodwill toward local villagers, and (d)
generate revenue for STINASU for conservation. The annual quota is currently about 20% of
the Chelonia eggs laid per season and about 10% of Dermochelys eggs. The quota is designed to
be roughly proportional to the number of nests that would otherwise be lost to beach erosion had
STINASU not intervened. Based on data provided by Schulz (1975), Mrosovsky (1983a)
estimated that 37-46% of leatherback nests are laid below the high tide line in Suriname. Dutton
and Whitmore (1983) placed the figure at 31.6% for leatherbacks and 21% for green turtles. The
eggs of other sea turtle species are fully protected (section 4.21).
In addition to a legal harvest by Amerindians who apply for a permit to collect eggs in
the Galibi reserve, egg poaching occurs on both shores of the Marowijne River. Eggs from the
Galibi (Marowijne) beaches are often taken directly to Paramaribo by boat, or via the overland
route from Albina. STINASU estimates that poaching accounts for less than 5% of the annual
legal take. In view of the currently poor economic situation in Suriname and the potential access
to a "free" source of protein this may be an optimistic estimate. See section 4.231 for further
discussion on egg poaching. Poaching of turtles is also a problem in some areas, although it is
not viewed as a major threat. It has been illegal to hunt sea turtles (all species) in Suriname since
1954 (section 4.21), but a low level of poaching still occurs. Recently an increase in poaching
has been noticed on the Atlantic coast beaches (Matapica, Katkreek, Diana). This is attributable
to the currently bad economic situation in Suriname. Although still minor, it must nevertheless
not be ignored. According to Kappler (1881), oil was historically extracted from slaughtered
leatherback sea turtles. This no longer takes place, because they are neither used for oil extrac-
tion nor for food. Only leatherback eggs are taken by poachers -- and then only if there are no
olive ridley or green turtle eggs to be found. Although leatherback carcasses are seen on the
beaches, these are almost all stranded individuals; none shows signs of having been slaughtered
for oil or meat.
The species most affected by over-utilization in Suriname is the olive ridley. Schulz
(1975) states that up to 1967 more than 90% of the olive ridley eggs laid on the Galibi beaches
were harvested by the local Indians. Even though olive ridleys and their eggs are now fully
protected by law, the effects of this early over-utilization, combined with some current poaching
and the lack of TEDs on shrimp vessels operating in Surinam waters, may now be felt. Because
of these factors, the Surinam olive ridley population may not be able to recover. On the other
hand, in spite of the heavy harvesting of eggs as well as adults for food prior to 1964 (Schulz,
1975), the green turtle population has increased (Table 1), primarily as the result of protection
measures in the conservation program started in 1967.
At the present time, mortality due to the incidental catch from various fishing activities
(such as shrimp trawling and the use of long set nets) may be an example of indirect over-
exploitation. This is a problem throughout the Guianas and may be the largest unaddressed
problem in turtle conservation in the region. It is highly recommended that a comprehensive
survey of the incidental catch problem be undertaken as soon as possible (see also section 4.27).
CEP Technical Report No. 24
3.4 Inadequate Regulatory Mechanisms
Legislation for the protection and management of nesting sea turtles is quite good
(section 4.21), but protection at sea is vague and should be clarified (section 4.23) and fines are
considered inadequate to act as reasonable deterrents to illegal activity (section 4.25). It is
notable that the Forest Service and STINASU maintain field stations at Galibi, Eilanti, Matapica
and Braamspunt (Figures 5 and 6). During the entire nesting season, personnel on daily patrols
count newly laid nests and transfer nests considered "doomed" to safer locations. STINASU
controls the egg harvest (section 3.3), but it is difficult to be 100% effective in controlling illegal
activities. The Galibi area is a special problem, because local Amerindians claim traditional
rights to exploit the resources there as they see fit, including the unregulated harvest of sea
turtles. Although the Surinam Government has made some concessions to accommodate the
indigenous people's tenet of "Traditional Rights", the management and utilization of the marine
turtle resource cannot be left at the discretion of the local population alone. National laws must
be obeyed and international commitments complied with. Reichart (1991) makes recommenda-
tions for new negotiations between the local villagers and the Government in order to establish
and define their rights, but also to point out international obligations for the conservation of
Galibi lies directly across the Marowijne River from French Guiana (Figures 3 and 4).
Coordination of management procedures between Suriname and French Guiana is highly
advisable. Some informal agreements regarding cooperation on sea turtle management proce-
dures have been reached, but rebel activities in that part of Suriname have caused temporary
disruption in the implementation. The hostilities have ceased, and the various ethnic groups
inhabiting the remote regions of Suriname have expressed the desire for stability in their areas.
The Galibi Amerindians, likewise, have made overtures to cooperate with STINASU and LBB
regarding the management of the Galibi Nature Reserve. Three guards from the local population
have been hired to assist two Government workers in protecting the Galibi beaches. However,
funds to repair the destroyed facilities and to replace stolen equipment are lacking in order to run
what may be the most important marine turtle sanctuary in the western Atlantic region. Galibi
has only a portion of the marine turtle nesting beaches in the area (see Figure 3).
Coordination of conservation activities between Suriname and French Guiana is essential
to the protection of the nesting beaches on both sides of the mouth of the Marowijne River.
Mechanisms designed to make bilateral enforcement of existing regulations in both countries
more effective are needed (see sections 4.22 and 4.33).
3.5 Other Natural or Man-made Factors
Many nests are destroyed either by beach erosion, or by the sea because they are laid
below the high tide level. STINASU estimates that approximately 25-30% of the total number of
eggs laid is lost in this manner. Dutton and Whitmore (1983) report that some 21% of green
turtle eggs and 31.6% of leatherback eggs are laid below the high tide line. If not moved and
reburied by conservation personnel, these are subsequently lost through repeated inundation. In
addition, driftwood carried by currents and tides is regularly stranded on the beach. In general,
driftwood is a natural part of the habitat and should not be removed. It can be a hazard to nesting
Suriname Sea Turtles...
sea turtles, though. Each year, a few turtles are trapped in snags and die from exposure. Large
driftwood snags should therefore be cut up, removed or destroyed.
Fishermen's nets pose a real danger to sea turtles along the Surinam coast. Because of the
deteriorating economic situation in the country, Suriname is intensifying its fisheries activities,
both nearshore and offshore. The incidental catch of sea turtles, although based on
circumstantial evidence, appears to be on the increase, because more standings of drowned
turtles are seen on the beaches today than ten years ago. This is especially true for leatherbacks
in the Marowijne estuary. Whereas along the Atlantic Ocean beaches turtle carcasses may float
west-ward with the Guiana Current or seem to disappear into the extensive and inaccessible mud
flats, they are easily stranded, and quite visible, on the beaches of the Marowijne River. This
could make the observed strandings in the Galibi area seem higher than mortality observed on
ocean-front nesting beaches in Suriname. Relatively few olive ridley strandings are seen. There
could be several reasons for this: (a) most olive ridleys nest on Eilanti Beach, and dead indivi-
duals could easily disappear into the nearby mudflats along the Atlantic coast; (b) incidentally
caught specimens are usually kept aboard the trawlers and consumed on board, or surreptitiously
taken to port for domestic consumption. There are no reliable records on observed strandings.
On the Surinam side of the Marowijne River, motorized boat traffic is minimal because
the river is shallow here and not navigable for even medium-sized crafts. At low tides, extensive
sand banks impede any kind of boat travel. Propeller strikes on turtles are rare. Some larger
ships, traveling to St. Laurent in French Guiana, use the ship's channel, located very close to the
shoreline of French Guiana; however, there are no reports from French Guiana of turtles having
being struck by propellers. Finally, the Guianas are blessed with a lack of natural disasters.
There are no hurricanes, thunderstorms are rare, and earth tremors are even more so. Suriname
has not known a natural disaster, which could affect turtles or for that matter the country, in
IV. SOLUTIONS TO STRESSES ON MARINE TURTLES IN SURNAME
4.1 Manage and Protect Habitat
4.11 Identify essential habitat
It is obvious that protecting and managing sea turtles and their eggs is only the first step
in assuring the long term survival of Surinam populations. Habitats essential for breeding and
foraging must be identified and given some measure of protection. Foraging areas are poorly
known for all species (section 4.111) and a survey of foraging (or at least inter-nesting) habitats
must receive a high priority in view of potentially hazardous levels of incidental catch by various
forms of fishing gear (section 4.27). Much more is known about the distribution of nesting
beaches (section 4.112). As a result, most nesting beaches have been consolidated in nature
reserves. Because of dramatic changes of some beaches, it is necessary to monitor beach con-
ditions continually, and to ensure that action is undertaken to rescue doomed eggs.
CEP Technical Report No. 24
4.111 Survey foraging areas
The Guiana Current carries a large volume of mud, part of which is deposited in Suri-
name, creating, among other things, extensive mud flats in front of the nesting beaches. But
20-30 km off the coast, the brown hue of the muddy water suddenly changes into a clear, blue-
green color. At 50-70 km offshore, the water is blue. Because Surinam nearshore waters are
very muddy and photosynthesis is virtually nil, marine vegetation appropriate as sea turtle food
does not occur. According to Schulz (1975), the population of green turtles nesting in Suriname
migrates to algal pastures situated off the coast of Brazil. Several females tagged while nesting
in Suriname have subsequently been recovered offshore near the Brazilian states of Alagoas and
Rio Grande do Norte. Some others were captured near the villages of Itapipoca, Acarau,
Timbauba in the state of Ceara (Pritchard, 1973, 1976; Schulz, 1975). [N.B. Tagging stopped in
1973 and recent recaptures of tagged turtles have not been reported.] Some individuals may also
feed in sea grass meadows around Iles du Salut (Devil's Island) in French Guiana. If so, it
reinforces the need for coordination of protection efforts throughout the western Atlantic Region
(in particular between French Guiana, Suriname, and Brazil) for these migratory species (section
4.33). There are currently no ongoing tagging studies in Suriname.
Very little is known about the feeding habits of olive ridleys in the Guianas. Schulz
(1975) reports that recoveries of olive ridleys tagged while nesting in Suriname span roughly
4,500 km of coastline, extending from Natal (Brazil) to the Gulf of Venezuela. Most remain
offshore in the vicinity of the Guianas, but there is a secondary concentration in the area around
the Island of Margarita and in the Gulf of Paria (Schulz, 1975). It could be that females feed
along the mouths of the larger rivers in the region and which are rich in crustaceans and inverte-
brates (Pritchard and Trebbau, 1984). Even less is understood about the feeding habits (if any)
of leatherbacks during the nesting season off the South American coast. Recent studies
deploying time-depth recorders on leatherbacks nesting in the northeastern Caribbean have
shown that they routinely spend the inter-nesting interval diving to an average depth of about 60
m, and have attained maximum depths >1000 m (Eckert et al., 1986, 1989). Eckert et al. (1989)
pro-pose that the impetus behind the diving may be to feed on deep water prey. Gravid
leatherbacks may spend the inter-nesting period in blue water offshore. Nothing is known about
foraging areas important to the rarer species, hawksbills and loggerheads, in the Guianas.
It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that, in the absence of the financial
and human resources necessary to conduct a systematic survey of potential or actual foraging
areas for marine turtles in Surinam waters, STINASU interview fishermen and other informed
observers to gain insight into the distribution of sea turtles in offshore waters. Coupling
distribution information with a knowledge of habitat types, a general picture of the habitats most
frequently visited by turtles will emerge. More detailed follow-up studies may result in
recommendations to establish protected zones encompassing important feeding areas. Data
gained from remote sensing techniques can alert managers to areas most frequented by turtles,
and suggest delineation of restricted fishing zones in order to curb entanglement and death in
fishing gear. Finally, cooperative turtle tagging programs between the Guianas, Brazil, and
Venezuela, including studies in the islands and coastal lagoons of these countries, may help
identify presently unknown feeding and/or juvenile developmental habitats.
Suriname Sea Turtles...
4.112 Survey nesting habitat
An inventory of nesting sites was completed by Schulz (1975), who also noted and
mapped physical changes from erosion and accretion of the beaches in various years. The
beaches east of the Suriname River, including Diana, Katkreek, Walapakreek, Matapica,
Baboensanti, Eilanti, and Galibi (Figure 5 and 6) are important for green turtles and leatherbacks
Although some olive ridley nesting also takes place in this area, most nesting by this species
occurs on Eilanti. The few hawksbills that nest in Suriname are dispersed over all beaches.
With the exception of Matapica, which has some tourism and several fishermen's camps, these
beaches are virtually untouched by human development (Mohadin, 1987). The extensive
Bigisanti Beach of the 1960's, which was situated inside the Wia-Wia Nature Reserve, has
moved west-ward and out of the reserve's boundaries (Figure 7). This beach first became
Motkreek Beach, then Krofajapasi Beach, and after moving farther west, became the current
Matapica area beaches (Figure 6). Several important nesting beaches are located inside the
Galibi Nature Reserve: Galibi, Baboensanti, Eilanti (Figure 5); these are relatively stable
(Reichart, 1992) and surveillance is done from fixed camps established by STINASU (although
depending on sea state it can be difficult to reach the camps). Surveillance on the nesting
beaches is done from rather primitive beach huts. Beaches where the temporary camps are
located pose significant logistical challenges.
There is a very marked tidal difference along the coast which clearly has an influence on
the nesting periodicity of sea turtles, and in contrast with conditions in French Guiana, some of
the beaches in the Galibi Nature Reserve are narrow with various combinations of herbaceous
vegetation, low shrubs and a thin line of trees. This type of beach appears to favor female green
turtles, which are also able to negotiate the shallow ocean approaches better than leatherbacks,
particularly at low tide. Some of the beaches in the Galibi Nature Reserve are separated from
each other by swampy areas, often densely covered by mangroves; for instance, between
Baboensanti and Eilanti. Green turtles often make their nests on small sandy patches under the
stiltroots of mangrove trees or under the branches. They frequently get entrapped there and die.
At Eilanti, the main olive ridley nesting site, a broad mud bank lies right in front of the beach,
and the tide generally determines accessibility. Leatherbacks and green turtles avoid such
beaches, but for the relatively small olive ridley, this mud bank is not a great problem (Reichart,
1992). The beaches at Matapica, and farther west, are wider and mostly devoid of trees; they
usually have only some sparse herbaceous ground cover. In some sections, the approach to the
beach platform is quite steep, often culminating in an almost vertical wall, some 1-1.5 m high,
caused by tidal erosion. Olive ridleys are unable to negotiate this obstacle, and are rarely seen
here. These beaches are frequented primarily by leatherbacks and some green turtles.
It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that the Forest Service and
STINASU establish as a priority the monitoring of long-term changes in the beaches, either by
regular aerial surveys (as conducted for WATS I and II) or by ground surveys from the camps
mentioned above. Better facilities should be established for personnel on the more remote
beaches. For patrolling the longer beach sections, suitable vehicles should be provided in order
to ease the workload. Both aspects will go a long way to increase morale, and thus the worker's
efficiency. Acquisition of an "ultra-light" aircraft would provide for better surveys. A two-seat
"ultra-light" aircraft would be a versatile and effective management tool for marine turtle conser-
CEP Technical Report No. 24
vation work in Suriname. Many of the nesting beaches are accessible only over sea, and then
only at high tides. These beaches are often also separated by mud flats or swamps. Ground
patrols are arduous and time-consuming in just getting there. Because an "ultra-light" can land
in these areas, more intense patrolling of the isolated nesting beaches is possible. An "ultra-
light" is also eminently suited to conduct a wide variety of habitat surveys. These vehicles are
relatively cheap to acquire, operate and maintain when compared to the standard, fixed wing
aircraft usually used.
4.12 Develop area-specific management plans
On all marine turtle nesting beaches, whether in nature reserves or in annually protected
areas, the management program includes at least four activities: (a) protection of adult females,
(b) beach surveys to prevent egg poaching, (c) relocation of nests doomed by environmental
factors, and (d) conducting nest counts per species per beach per season. In spite of the (now
ended) armed conflict of the past few years, and the serious lack of personnel and financial re-
sources, this program has regularly been implemented. It is a recommendation of this Recovery
Action Plan that greater emphasis be placed on management and conservation efforts at Eilanti.
Eilanti is currently the main nesting site for olive ridleys in the Atlantic Ocean, but it is subject to
strong, natural erosive forces. Here, tagging of nesting females should have priority and should
be coordinated with the countries where this population forages (i.e., Brazil, French Gui-ana,
Guyana, Venezuela, Trinidad). A management plan for the Galibi Nature Reserve, emphasizing
sea turtle protection and management on Eilanti, has already been made (Reichart, 1992), but its
implementation is slow in getting started because of lack of funds, and residual resistance of the
4.121 Involve local coastal zone authorities
At the present time there is no commercial development of the beaches. The entire coast
of Suriname consists of shoreline mangrove forests and tidal mud flats fringed in places with
sandy beaches. As long as the beaches are unstable (see section 3.1) the prospects for develop-
ment will remain low. Suriname understood, before its neighboring countries, the importance of
protecting the nesting beaches and preventing marine turtle exploitation in the coastal areas. The
basic structure of the research and protection put in place by the Surinam Government is
exemplary and it has served as a model to initiate similar action in French Guiana. On the other
hand, the resentment some local people have shown towards the presence of the Galibi Nature
Reserve in their traditionally held area has been the result of misunderstandings between Gov-
ernment and village negotiators. Several Amerindians from the villages near the Galibi Nature
Reserve are employed at the field stations in the reserve, but there is disagreement concerning
the Government's authority in the area. The local population considers the area theirs, because of
the concept of "Traditional Rights" (see section 3.4 and Reichart, 1991). The Government
should renew efforts to come to an equitable arrangement regarding the management of the area's
natural resources, especially marine turtles. Reichart (1991, 1992) discusses these problems and
gives recommendations on possible ways to resolve them.
It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that local Amerindians become
more involved in the process of managing the Galibi Nature Reserve's natural resources, includ-
Suriname Sea Turtles...
ing marine turtles. It is desirable to appoint a community-nominated person to work closely with
Government marine turtle specialists, and be in charge of a local team that will deal with marine
turtle related conservation issues, and disseminate such information to the local population.
Another task of this team will be to involve fishermen in trying to find solutions to the problems
of entanglement in nets, incidental catch mortality, and resuscitation techniques. Finally, we
recommend that the practice of relocating doomed nests and, where needed, the establishment of
central egg hatcheries be maintained and improved on all Surinam nesting beaches.
4.122 Develop regulatory guidelines
When areas are defined as especially critical for remaining sea turtle stocks, it is a
recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that regulatory guidelines be established to pro-
vide a framework within which appropriate land use can occur. Coastal development on or near
important nesting beaches should include the requirement that beachfront lighting be designed to
prevent the disorientation of nesting adults and hatchlings. Activities such as sand mining,
dredging, construction of jetties and sea walls, and the siting of fishing camps should be regula-
ted so that they do not degrade nesting sites or foraging areas. Although neither mining nor
commercial construction is currently taking place on Surinam nesting beaches, it is prudent to
have such guidelines prepared in order to stave off potential future problems. A more detailed
discussion, with solutions proposed, is presented in sections 4.13 and 4.14.
Some important and pertinent regulatory guidelines regarding habitat conservation
already exist in Suriname. For example, the "Natuurbeschermingsverordening 1954" (Nature
Protection Law of 1954) gives the legal basis for the establishment of nature reserves, assigning
their management to the Surinam Forest Service. The Galibi Nature Reserve, incorporating
4,000 hectares of coastal terrain within the estuary of the Marowijne River, was established in
1969 with the "Natuurbeschermingsbesluit Galibi" (Nature Protection Ordinance Galibi). It
includes some major marine turtle nesting beaches, such as Galibi, Baboensanti, and Eilanti
The Wia-Wia Nature Reserve, established in 1961, begins 25 km west of the Galibi
Nature Reserve and covers an area of approximately 36,000 hectares (Figure 2). Its main
purpose was to protect the Bigisanti nesting beach but, because of erosion and accretion seem-
ingly moving this beach westward, there no longer are any nesting beaches within the reserve.
The Wia-Wia Nature Reserve now serves as an important sanctuary for nesting and foraging
shorebirds -- resident as well as migratory birds from North America. An approximately 6 km
long sand beach has appeared along the Atlantic coast, just west of the Galibi Nature Reserve. In
addition, at the west end of Eilanti Beach, some large offshore sand plates have appeared that are
exposed at low tides. With the dynamic characteristics of the Surinam coast, as described by
Augustinus (1978), these could well be the precursors of a new Bigisanti Beach. This would
make the Wia-Wia Nature Reserve once again an important turtle sanctuary.
4.123 Provide for enforcement of guidelines
It is essential that management guidelines for protected areas include favorable
provisions for the needs and aspirations of the indigenous populations. The Galibi Amerindians
CEP Technical Report No. 24
consider the region theirs and consider the presence of the Galibi Nature Reserve an infringe-
ment of their rights. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that a reserve
management team be installed, with equitable participation from representatives of the local
population. This could serve as a model for other protected areas. When the Galibi Nature
Reserve was gazetted in 1969, the Surinam Government, with great foresight for those days,
allowed continuation of subsistence use of the reserve by the local people (food gardens, hunting,
fishing, and gathering of plant material). The reserve's main goal was to give full protection to
all sea turtles species nesting on the Galibi beaches; the local Amerindians had been
over-harvesting the eggs of green turtles and olive ridleys for many years, and continuation of
this practice would have been disastrous. The problem is a rather complex social issue, because
the Caribs resent any government interference in their activities. Reichart (1991) gives a
historical overview of the problems at Galibi and makes suggestions for improving compliance
with resource management laws, keeping the needs and aspirations of the local people in
4.124 Develop educational materials
Public cooperation and acceptance of conservation measures are crucial to the survival of
endangered species. Education plays an especially important role in this. STINASU has a
department which conducted an education program in the schools and which occasionally took
schoolchildren on field trips to nature reserves. During the armed conflict of 1986-1992, funding
and access became problems, and the program had to be interrupted. It is a recommendation of
this Recovery Action Plan that this program be revitalized. There are various education
materials, such as brochures, posters and stickers both in Dutch (the country's official language)
and Sranan Tongo (Surinam's lingua franca). These are available from STINASU and should be
more widely distributed, but the supplies are dwindling, and funds for reprinting are lacking.
With specific reference to critical habitat, we recommend that information panels be installed at
beach access points to alert visitors about marine turtle conservation activities taking place and
on protective regulations for visitors to comply with while on the nesting beaches.
4.13 Prevent or mitigate degradation of nesting beaches
4.131 Sand mining
It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that commercial beach sand mining
be prohibited in Suriname. The persistent removal of sand from nesting beaches accelerates
erosion and can degrade and sometimes destroy stabilizing beach vegetation. In severe cases the
beach is lost entirely and saline ponds are formed in unsightly pits left by mining operations.
Indirect consequences also accrue, as in situations where the mining activity has a detrimental
effect on ocean approaches to the nesting beaches. Finally, offshore sand mining and extraction
of sediments at river mouths can have disastrous effects on "downstream" beaches which are
deprived of renourishing sediments to replace natural processes of erosion. At the mouth of the
Suriname River, some commercial sand mining takes place. It is a recommendation of this
Recovery Action Plan that this activity be closely monitored because it is not known whether
nearby nesting beaches, or access to them, are being adversely affected.
Suriname Sea Turtles...
After emergence, sea turtle hatchlings scramble towards the sea, presumably using the
relative brightness at the open ocean horizon as their primary cue. When light sources are
present landward of the beach, hatchlings often orient toward those instead of the ocean horizon.
Under these circumstances, they have been known to crawl towards campfires, residential lights,
recreational lights, etc. As such, hatchlings have been known to wander into fishing camps,
often to be crushed, eaten by dogs, or die from exposure in the morning sun. Nesting females are
also known to be easily disoriented by artificial lights. Examples are found throughout the
Caribbean of adult females that were confused by beach-front lighting and then wandered inland.
When daylight comes, they usually die from exposure to the sun.
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 (a) time restrictions (lights extinguished during evening hours when hatching is most
likely to occur; e.g., 1900-2300 hrs), (b) 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), (c) 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), (d) 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), (e)
alternative light sources (low pressure sodium vapor lighting is known to be less attractive to
hatchlings than full-spectrum white light).
It is fortunate for sea turtles that the cyclic movements of the Surinam shoreline are the
reason for the low human population density in the coastal zone. Permanent human-made
structures would not last long. The largest concentration of people living near marine turtle
nesting beaches is found along the mouth of the Marowijne River, and this amounts to fewer
than 1,000 Amerindians living in two villages (Figure 4). The beaches at these two villages are
stable and suitable for permanent dwellings. The few artificial night lights in these villages
should not be a great disturbance for the turtles nesting at Galibi, located only a few kilometers
north along the river, but no specific study has been done on this subject. Lights from camps of
artisanal fishermen living on the sand spit near the mouth of the Matapica Canal are potentially
detrimental to the turtles nesting there. Because of the prevalent winds, however, the entrances
of these camps are always facing away from the sea. The ocean-facing sides of the camps are
usually fully enclosed, which implies few lights beaming towards the ocean. In addition,
fishermen have generally complied with STINASU's request to keep light sources directed
towards the ocean to a minimum.
While disorientation by ill-directed artificial lights seems to be a minor problem in
Suriname at this time, it is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that a study assessing
the negative influence of lighting associated with the villages of Christiaankondre and
Langaman-kondre in the Galibi area be undertaken. If lighting there is found to be a problem,
the solution may lie in switching to low pressure sodium vapor light bulbs. Mercury vapor lights
should be avoided in all cases. Light fixtures can also be lowered and/or shielded to block the
CEP Technical Report No. 24
light rays from shining towards the beach. A line of vegetation planted as a buffer may work
well in some countries, but is not practical in Suriname. We also recommend that the program to
educate fishermen regarding the problems of marine turtle disorientation as a result of incidental
lights be continued and intensified. Problems associated with artificial lighting, and some po-
tential solutions, are summarized by Raymond (1984) and an updated book is being prepared by
Blair Witherington, Florida Department of Environmental Protection (K. Eckert, pers. comm.).
4.133 Beach stabilization structures
Most beaches are naturally dynamic. In order to protect commercial investments such as
beach-front hotels, beach stabilization typically involves the use of breakwaters, jetties, imperm-
eable groynes and/or seawalls. These structures are expensive and rarely effective in the long-
term. Furthermore, because they interfere with the natural longshore transport of sediment, the
armoring of one beach segment can result in the "starvation" and eventual loss of other beach
segments "downcurrent". Finally, the armoring of beaches can sometimes limit access to nesting
turtles or prevent hatchlings from reaching the sea. This is a serious concern in some countries,
but we are fortunate in that this activity does not occur in Suriname. Most beaches in Suriname
are highly dynamic, so much so that no attempt can reasonably be made to stabilize them.
The alternating of beaches and mud flats between the Marowijne River and the Suriname
River is cyclical, and of long standing. This natural phenomenon plays a large role in the nesting
process of marine turtles in this region. In contrast, beaches in the estuary of the Marowijne
River are relatively stable; in spite of some minor erosion and accretion, they may have been in
existence since the Holocene period (Schulz, 1975). When an important nesting beach disap-
pears in Suriname or in French Guiana, the turtles move to other nearby beaches which corre-
spond to their criteria for nesting. In fact, there is little true nest site fidelity in the Guianas.
Tagging studies of nesting females have shown that individuals (at least of leatherbacks) may
nest several times per season on various beaches in the region, both in Suriname and in French
Guiana (Pritchard, 1973, 1976). With this in mind, it is a recommendation of this Recovery
Action Plan that no action be (or for that matter can be) taken to stabilize nesting beaches in
Suriname. Efforts should instead be concentrated on identifying and saving nests threatened by
erosion. These efforts must be closely supervised and be based on the latest management
techniques, which Suriname is already using.
4.134 Beach cleaning equipment and vehicular use of beaches
Driftwood, discarded fish line, pieces of fish nets, and plastic sheets accumulate on the
beaches and are a hazard to sea turtles. Other dangers, such as plastic bottles or boat wrecks are
negligible. In general, the Surinam beaches are relatively clean and have no visible pollution
from oil or chemicals. Commercial beach cleaning equipment is a luxury that Suriname cannot
afford, and at any rate can easily do without at this time. On nesting beaches where there
sometimes is heavy accumulation of driftwood, field workers manually eliminate the most
obstructive pieces to prevent turtle entrapment and subsequent death in snags, keeping in mind
that drift-wood is a normal feature of marine turtle nesting beach habitat in Suriname and should
only be eliminated when it presents a lethal obstacle for nesting turtles or their offspring. There
are no motorized vehicles used on any of the Surinam beaches; all work (by turtle workers and
fishermen alike) is done on foot. There are also no recreational vehicles or beasts of burden used
Suriname Sea Turtles...
on beaches. In some nations, vehicles and/or horses compact nests and crush developing
It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that an assessment of the debris
situation during the nesting season be routinely undertaken using ground or aerial surveillance.
In cases of hazardous accumulations, clean-up should be initiated only after careful assessment
and consideration of the situation [N.B. selective clean-up may be particularly useful for
leatherbacks, which are extremely large and lack the ability to take even a single step to reverse
out of entrapment]. It must be reiterated that driftwood on the beaches is part of the natural
habitat and its removal is only justified if it is a lethal barrier for sea turtles. Reichart (1992)
recommends several clean-up tasks to be done on the Galibi beaches to mitigate driftwood and
general debris problems for nesting sea turtles. Mechanized beach cleaning equipment can crush
or puncture incubating sea turtle eggs and its use should be avoided.
4.135 Beach rebuilding projects
In general, beach rebuilding has been a source of controversy in the USA for many years,
mainly because the replacement sand rarely has the same characteristics (e.g., organic content,
grain size) as the original sand. As a consequence, the "new" beach can become hardened and
unusable to nesting sea turtles. Furthermore, dredging and replenishment done during nesting or
hatching seasons can discourage nesting, crush existing nests, and/or bury incubating eggs under
an extra layer of new sand, possibly preventing hatchlings from emerging. Fortunately there are
no plans for beach rebuilding projects in Suriname. It would be unwise to even contemplate it,
because the natural forces at work along the coast are insurmountable.
4.14 Prevent or mitigate degradation of marine habitat
4.141 Dynamiting reefs
There are no coral reefs along the Surinam coast. The physical destruction of reef eco-
systems, which are potentially important as feeding areas for marine turtles and nursery grounds
for local fisheries resources, is not a problem applicable to Suriname.
4.142 Chemical fishing
There are no coral reefs along the Surinam coast. Consequently, the degradation of coral
reefs by the use of chlorine or other noxious chemicals to obtain reef fish is not a relevant
problem for a Surinam marine turtle management plan.
4.143 Industrial discharges
There are no industrial discharges into the ocean between the Marowijne River and the
Suriname River that originate in Suriname. Spent chemical and other industrial waste products
are known to be indiscriminately dumped into the Suriname River, however, and the same is true
for domestic waste, including septic tank effluents. There is virtually no government control
over this activity. While industrial waste coming from the Suriname River flows westward, away
CEP Technical Report No. 24
from the nesting beaches (Figure 3), it could affect foraging and migrating turtles traveling in
that direction. On the other hand, it is not known if any industrial waste originating in French
Guiana flows down the Marowijne River or the Mana River. If this is the case, it could affect the
beaches at Galibi. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that in cooperation with
personnel from the turtle project in Les Hattes, French Guiana, a comprehensive survey be made
regarding industrial discharges along both these rivers. A monitoring station should be estab-
lished at a suitable place to assess water quality in the region.
4.144 At-sea dumping of garbage
The dumping of waste at sea is recognized as a growing problem throughout the world.
Death to marine organisms as a result of ingestion or entanglement is widespread (e.g., O'Hara et
al., 1986; Laist, 1987; CEE, 1987). Several years ago, Mrosovsky (1981) summarized data
showing that 44% of adult non-breeding leatherbacks had plastic in their stomachs. In Suri-
name, there are 100 to 200 Surinam-based trawlers operating offshore and an unknown number
of foreign-based fishing vessels (some quite large), large cargo ships, small Brazilian cargo
schooners (which travel regularly between Belem in Brazil, and Paramaribo), and artisanal
fishing boats. All these vessels are known to dump their garbage overboard. Plastic, netting, and
other debris washes ashore. In November 1993, the Galibi beach was heavily littered with plas-
tic, mostly bottles with French writing. The problem is less severe elsewhere in the country and
does not appear to pose a priority threat to sea turtles in Suriname at this time. There is no
known regulatory mechanism to counteract ocean dumping in Surinam waters.
4.145 Oil exploration, production, refining, transport
An oil-contaminated environment can be lethal to sea turtles and incubating eggs.
Behavioral experiments indicate that green and loggerhead 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 signifi-
cantly 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. Hawksbills
(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 standings. 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) re-ported
juvenile hawksbills (to 20 cm) "stranded [in Florida] with tar smeared sargassum"; some
individuals had ingested tar.
In 1980, the Government-owned "Staatsolie Maatschappij Suriname" (Staatsolie) was
established to explore and exploit the country's oil resources. So far, there is only a relatively
small oil field, the Tambaredjo Field (about 50 km west of Paramaribo, in the Saramacca
District), which produces a heavy type oil with low sulfur and metal content. In 1984, the oil
re-serves in this field were estimated at 200 million barrels (Anonymous, 1988). The various
wells are only a few kilometers inland from the coast but they are west, and "downstream" from
the nesting beaches. The crude oil is transported to Paramaribo through inland waterways and is
shipped overseas for refining. A refinery is being planned for Suriname, to be completed in the
Suriname Sea Turtles...
mid-1990's. The inland waterways show general pollution from industrial waste and oil
transport, but pollution from domestic oil production is not evident at sea or on the beaches.
Despite ongoing exploration activities, there are currently no producing offshore wells. Ocean
pollution from oil exploration activities is not quantified, but at the present time there is no oil
pollution noticeable on the nesting beaches.
Since oil spills know no national boundaries, it is important that Suriname be prepared to
respond to any oil-related disaster that threatens national territory regardless of its geographic
origin. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that an Oil Spill Contingency Plan
be developed and implemented, and that Government proceed with the acquisition of emergency
equipment and personnel training. We further recommend that Suriname ratify the UNEP Car-
tagena Convention with its Protocol concerning Cooperation in Combating Oil Spills in the
Wider Caribbean Region. Article 3 of the Protocol states:
a. The contracting Parties shall, within their capabilities, cooperate in
taking all necessary measures, both preventive and remedial, for
the protection of the marine and coastal environment of the Wider
Caribbean, particularly the coastal areas of the islands of the
region, from oil spill incidents.
b. The contracting Parties shall, within their capabilities, establish
and maintain, or ensure the establishment and maintenance of, the
means of responding to oil spill incidents and shall endeavor to
reduce the risk thereof. Such means shall include the enactment,
as necessary, of relevant legislation, the 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 protocol.
4.146 Agricultural runoff and sewage
Insecticides and herbicides are applied in large quantities on rice fields in Suriname. This
most certainly include harmful substances, but it is almost impossible to get specific information
on this from pertinent agencies. Vermeer et al. (1974) have documented the harmful effects of
these products, and in particular of pentachlorophenol, on the birds and fishes in the estuarine
zone. These chemical discharges, although assumed to be quite heavy, occur in the western part
of the country, far removed from important nesting areas in Suriname. Nonetheless, the potential
contamination of the marine habitats for sea turtles and commercial fishes is a serious issue and
should not be overlooked. The Guiana Current will no doubt transport any harmful substance
westward, possibly to the nesting beaches in Guyana. The Surinam rice fields and the Guyanese
cultivated areas form a large, nearly continuous agricultural region. The combined discharge of
harmful waste products may be substantial. Suriname has no sewage disposal or sewage treat-
ment facilities. When septic tanks are cleaned, the discharges are dumped in the river. Some
buildings near canals or rivers route their sewer discharge pipes directly into these waters.
CEP Technical Report No. 24
In Suriname it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Public Health to monitor pollution,
but more attention needs to be given to pollution control. Almost all industrial activities take
place in the coastal region. Because of its small population size, meager industrial base, and
minor oil exploitation activities, the estuarine system has been able to absorb and mitigate most
of any resultant pollution -- so far. But as industrial and agricultural activities in the coastal zone
increase, this type of pollution, if uncontrolled, may become an environmental problem in the
near future. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that stricter control of (toxic)
products used in industry as well as in agriculture be initiated. The existing Surinam Pesticide
Commission should have a greater voice in regulating the import and the use of toxic products.
The Commission should also have a greater mandate to ban certain products whose use is
already forbidden in other countries. Suriname must not become a dumping ground for the inter-
national chemical industry. It will require considerable lobbying to overcome commercial
As an immediate step, monitoring stations should be installed throughout the coastal re-
gion to measure degrees and trends in environmental pollution. The results could then be used to
support the need for greater control and spur government decision-makers to quicker action. It is
also a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that ocean water quality in the western part
of Suriname, as well as in Guyana, be monitored for pollution emanating from these two agri-
4.147 Others (anchoring, land reclamation, dredging)
Only small artisanal boats anchor offshore from the nesting beaches, and then only spor-
adically. Any damage caused by this type of anchoring is negligible. The coast of Suriname is
unsuitable for land reclamation, and none is taking place. The coast near the village of Totness
in the Coronie District is sometimes worked on, but this is a matter of protection and not of rec-
lamation. Virtually no dredging occurs in Suriname. The Suriname River is only occasionally
dredged to keep the shipping channel to the harbor in Paramaribo open. It is minor, and not a
factor for marine turtle management in Suriname.
4.2 Manage and Protect all Life Stages
4.21 Review existing local laws and regulations
De Jachtwet 1954, Gouvernementsblad van Suriname No. 25 (the Game Law of 1954,
Government Publication of Suriname No. 25) gives full protection to all mammals, birds and sea
turtles, except those designated by Resolution as game species, "cage" animals (birds) or
predominantly harmful species. The law also authorizes protection of other species specifically
designated by Resolution. The status of any species may be changed by Resolution upon
recommendation of a scientific advisory committee, De Natuurbeschermingscommissie (Nature
Protection Commission). As part of Resolution No. 104 of October 1970, the five species of sea
turtle occurring in Suriname were classified as game species in order to provide a legal basis for
a limited, seasonal egg harvest. In principle, the harvest season is open from 1 March 31 May,
but it can be shortened by annual decrees for greater conservation of eggs if needed. A total of
about 200,000-250,000 eggs (exclusively those of green turtles and leatherbacks) are legally col-
Suriname Sea Turtles...
elected annually under the control of STINASU. Other life stages remain fully protected; that is,
it is illegal to collect, possess, kill, sell or offer for sale all or any portion of any sea turtle
species. Implementation of the Law since 1 February 1985 has been the responsibility of the
Forest Service (Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy).
De Landsverordening van 3 April 1954, Gouvernementsblad No. 26 van Suriname (the
Nature Protection Law, Government Publication No. 26, extends protection to Suriname's wild
lands. It is the fundamental nature protection law in Suriname and is the basis for, among other
things, gazetting nature reserves. An area can be designated a reserve on the basis of "diversity
of natural communities and/or because of the presence of scientifically or culturally important
objects of flora, fauna, and geology." The Galibi Nature Reserve was gazetted on 23 May 1969
and includes almost all nesting beaches in the Marowijne estuary, meaning that the public cannot
collect eggs there at any time. Galibi Amerindians, supervised by STINASU, harvest about 25%
of the nests laid in the reserve, which are then sold under the supervision of STINASU (see
section 3.3). The official egg harvest by STINASU takes place only in the Galibi Nature
Reserve; doomed eggs in the Matapica area and west are always translocated. Only during the
temporary occupation of the Galibi Nature Reserve by the local Amerindians (fall of 1989 to
spring of 1992) were eggs for market sale collected at Matapica. In addition to the STINASU-
supervised harvest from the reserve, Galibi Indians are allowed to collect eggs during the brief
open season on the few nesting beaches outside the reserve. Egg poaching during the entire
nesting season between the Marowijne River and the Suriname River is estimated to be less than
5% but there admittedly is no accurate, quantitative information.
In 1961, the Wia-Wia Nature Reserve was set aside, primarily for the protection of some
marine turtle nesting beaches there (e.g., Bigisanti). In 1969, the reserve was enlarged in an un-
successful attempt to keep the westward shifting Bigisanti Beach within its boundaries. Now all
nesting beaches in the reserve have eroded and, since 1974, there are no nesting beaches inside
the Wia-Wia reserve. The reserve nevertheless serves an extremely useful function by being a
major staging and over-wintering site for millions of migratory shore birds from North America.
Because most of the coast between the Wia-Wia Nature Reserve and the Suriname River is
subject to erosion and accretion, nesting beaches in that area cannot be protected by consoli-
dating them in a nature reserve. Therefore, the beaches between the west border of the Wia-Wia
Nature Reserve and the mouth of the Suriname River are protected by annual decree, almost like
a "floating" nature reserve. To accommodate the general public, a few minor nesting beaches
near the mouth of the Suriname River are left for harvesting of eggs during the open season.
In an attempt to reduce incidental capture and drowning of sea turtles in shrimp trawls
plying Surinam waters, the Government recently published a new law, "Beschikking van 6 juli
1992" (Decree of 6 July 1992) making the use of turtle excluder devices (TEDs) on fishing
vessels mandatory. Enforcement of this law, however, is non-existent (for further discussion, see
4.22 Evaluate the effectiveness of law enforcement
Illegal trade is mostly related to egg poaching. The sale of legally collected sea turtle
eggs is supervised by STINASU. This organization tries to sell no more than 100 eggs to one
CEP Technical Report No. 24
family in order to avoid illegal resale. Nonetheless, improvements in law enforcement and
procedures are necessary. Up to the mid-1980's, it was extremely rare to find evidence of a turtle
having been slaughtered on the beach. Turtle meat was not seen in public, although there were
occasional rumors of turtle meat being available in some restaurants [N.B. subsequent
investigations were unable to confirm the rumors]. Due to the worsening economic situation in
Suriname and the resulting financial difficulties at STINASU (which are limiting effective
patrols), an increase in egg poaching has been observed. There is also evidence of a few nesting
green turtles being killed for meat. Although a matter of concern, this amount of poaching is
negligible when compared to that which takes place in other countries of the region.
The effectiveness of law enforcement is hindered by limited facilities and personnel.
Fortunately, the exploitation which does occur is on a small, generally non-commercial, scale. In
order to make protection efforts more effective, it is a recommendation of this Recovery Action
Plan that additional personnel be hired to patrol the beaches. This will require an infusion of
financial support to STINASU and the Nature Conservation Department of the Forest Service so
that additional field stations can be established, in particular on Eilanti Beach, Walapa Beach,
and Diana Beach (all rather remote places). Shallow draft, ocean-going boats should be acquired
and kept in good repair in order to patrol the beaches by sea and to inspect fishing boats for
illegally caught turtles and eggs. Each field station should have at least one resident game
warden empowered to arrest poachers.
4.23 Propose new legislation where needed
Suriname has a comprehensive set of conservation laws. The conservation of marine tur-
tles while on the nesting beaches is well covered in this legislation, and no new laws are
necessary in this regard. In contrast, legislation pertaining to turtles at sea (i.e., when they are
within the territorial waters of Suriname) is somewhat vague. The Game Law does not apply at
sea; it goes only as far as the low tide line. The sea near the Surinam coast is very rich in
fisheries resources, and ships of several nations fish in Surinam waters both legally and illegally.
There is considerable, circumstantial evidence that marine turtles (especially olive ridleys, see
section 4.27) are caught incidentally in trawl and drift nets but, except for shrimp trawlers having
to use TEDs (see section 4.21), there is no legislation compelling fishermen to take any
conservation action. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that the Game Law of
1954 be modified to clearly include the oceanic ecosystems of the country's 200 mile economical
zone. And the law must apply to all vessels operating in Surinam waters.
In order to allow for a legal egg harvest using existing laws, sea turtles have been
designated as "game animals". The egg harvest appears sustainable and we do not recommend
terminating it. Admittedly the system is somewhat haphazard in that it relies on nesting
information from the previous year; nevertheless, there are no clear alternatives and no evidence
that the present system is failing in its conservation goals. The harvest has been ongoing for
nearly a quarter century, and declines in recruitment to green turtle and leatherback populations
are not evident (Table 1). The proportion of eggs doomed by environmental factors (pre-
dominantly erosion) is relatively constant, but the absolute numbers vary as nesting frequencies
Suriname Sea Turtles...
vary per season. Doomed nests amount to roughly 25% of the nests laid, and this percentage is
used as a basis to establish the harvest quota -- which is well below this figure. Public
acceptance of the sea turtle conservation program is in large measure based on the Government's
concession for the egg harvest. It is clear, however, that our unique circumstances (large,
relatively unstressed populations with predictable natural egg wastage) invite a sustainable egg
harvest and we would not recommend the program to other countries.
4.232 Immature turtles
As part of the Game Law of 1954, immature turtles are fully protected (section 4.21).
There is no need to propose new legislation prohibiting the harvest of juvenile age classes, but
the pertinent laws should be clarified so that the area of protection includes the 200 mile, oce-
anic economic zone of Suriname (section 4.23). Incidental catch of immature turtles, especially
of olive ridleys, in fishing operations appears to be a very serious problem. The problem should
be mitigated by the widespread and mandatory use of trawl-inserted "turtle excluder devices"
(TEDs), but this does not mean that other efforts to protect immature turtles should be ignored.
Information should be made available to fishermen on the subjects of resuscitating comatose sea
turtles and on alternative, more turtle-friendly, fishing technologies.
4.233 Nesting females
Nesting females of all five marine turtle species known to occur in Suriname are fully
protected (section 4.21). New legislation on this subject is not necessary, but the existing
legislation should be clarified so that the area of protection includes the 200 mile oceanic,
economic zone of Suriname (section 4.23).
4.234 Unprotected species
None of the marine turtle species known to occur in Surinam waters is unprotected.
4.24 Augment existing law enforcement efforts
Law enforcement is severely hindered by a shortage of trained personnel, facilities, and a
lack of appropriate transportation. Enforcement would be more effective with the addition of
qualified personnel, more comfortable facilities, and suitable means of transportation. Fishing
vessels operating along the nesting beaches on the Marowijne estuary and along the entire coast
between the Marowijne and Suriname rivers must be checked by means of regular patrols. Many
of these vessels operate illegally in Surinam waters and probably take more turtles and/or eggs
than is assumed.
Game wardens, empowered to make arrests, should be on board patrol vessels. Between
the Marowijne River and the Suriname River, the only other access to the ocean-facing beaches
is via the Matapica Canal (Figure 3). It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that
checkpoints be established at some point along the canal and along the major rivers to inspect
boats returning from the beach for turtle products. Occasional spot-checks could act as a
deterrent. Again, certified game wardens, empowered to make arrests must be part of the team.
CEP Technical Report No. 24
An ultra-light aircraft would be invaluable in patrolling remote, hard to get to, nesting beaches
4.25 Makes fines commensurate with product value
At this time, enforcement of the Game Law is rather ineffective. This can in part be
attributed to a lack of enforcement personnel (section 4.22), but another reason is that fines and
other penalties are inadequate. Fines should be a strong deterrent against poaching and this is
currently not the case. The fines levied against egg poachers amount to roughly Sf. 1.25 (Sf. =
Surinam Guilders) per egg, or about one cent US$. That is about the market price of an egg in
Suriname. All the poacher has to do is go out again, not get caught, and his fine will be more
than covered by his next sale. The Game Law sets a maximum penalty of a Sf. 1,000.- fine or
three months in jail. Confiscation of equipment used in the illegal act can also be included in the
penalty. The maximum fine is never invoked, however, and confiscation of equipment (means
of transport are specifically excluded from confiscation in the law) is rare.
It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that penalties for violations of the
Game Law significantly transcend product value, and that violators be prosecuted to the fullest
extent of the law. Most commercially oriented violators are well-to-do, and a fine is of minor
concern. Penalties should consist of stiff jail sentences, the confiscation of vehicles used in the
transgression, and long-term community work.
4.26 Investigate alternative livelihoods for turtle fishermen
There are no sea turtle fishery activities in Suriname, but seasonal income derived from
the sale of eggs can be considerable. This has been the primary reason that the Galibi Amerin-
dians resent the presence of the Galibi Nature Reserve. The Indians claim the sole rights over
this food resource, but the Government contends that it is responsible for the management of the
turtles. As a concession to their "Traditional Rights", the Galibi Amerindians are allowed to
collect the eggs in the reserve, but only under the following conditions: (a) STINASU determines
which nests can be harvested (ensuring that only doomed eggs are collected), (b) STINASU, in
agreement with the village council, establishes the price paid per egg to the Amerindian egg
collectors, (c) STINASU arranges for transport of the eggs to population centers and for their
sale there, and (d) STINASU deposits a mutually agreed-upon amount of money derived from
the sale of the eggs in the village treasury. If the turtle egg harvest were eliminated it would be
necessary to provide some other source of income to the egg collectors, as well as to the village
itself. The management plan for the Galibi Nature Reserve (Reichart, 1992) proposes greater
participation (and therefore economic benefit) of local people in the management of the reserve.
The plan also proposes that indigenous people participate in tourism to the reserve, agroforestry
activities in its buffer zones, and a fishing cooperative.
4.27 Determine incidental catch and promote the use of TEDs
Sea turtles must surface to breathe and can drown during forced submergence, as when
trapped in active or abandoned fishing gear. Mortality which results from capture in shrimp
trawls continues at a high but unquantified level in Suriname. There are some 150 Surinam-
Suriname Sea Turtles...
based Korean and Japanese trawlers operating in Surinam waters (Surinam Fisheries Department
(Visserijdienst) data). The Surinam American Industries, Ltd. (SAIL) controls most of the
shrimp trawling fleet in Suriname. All vessels report that the incidental catch of marine turtles --
mostly olive ridleys -- occurs, but numerical estimates vary considerably. The incidental catch is
mostly reported during the turtle nesting season which, although it varies somewhat per species,
starts in February, peaks in March-May for green turtles and leatherbacks, and ends around July
or August. Some fishermen report that each trawler catches about one turtle per week (since
there is no closed season and trawlers operate year-around, this suggests some 52 turtles/boat/yr)
(H. Reichart, pers. data). Others report an incidental catch of 16-25 turtles per boat per year (C.
Tambiah, pers. comm.). In contrast, deep water fishing boats report only about one turtle per
boat per year. In general, no attempts are made to resuscitate comatose turtles; they are either
tossed overboard or eaten by the crew. There are also some 30 Venezuelan trawlers operating
legally in Suriname waters at any given time (Y. Bap, pers. comm.). These vessels are not
providing data. Furthermore, illegal fishing is done by an undetermined number of mostly
Guyanese and Venezuelan vessels; this number may equal the number of legally operating
vessels (Surinam Fisheries Dept., pers. comm.).
It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that highest priority be given to (a)
mandating and enforcing the use of "turtle excluder devices" (TEDs) in all trawlers plying Suri-
nam waters and (b) reliably determining the extent to which sea turtles are included in trawl
by-catch. Shrimp fishermen should also be educated and encouraged to attempt resuscitation of
turtles caught incidentally, before returning them to the ocean. STINASU is preparing brochures
and a demonstration for the proper techniques to be used. Incidental catch by shrimp vessels is a
serious issue because it has the potential to undermine all other conservation efforts on behalf of
endangered turtles in Suriname. The U. S. National Academy of Sciences has concluded that
shrimp trawling results in more sea turtle deaths in U. S. waters than all other human activities
combined and is an important factor in the continuing decline of nesting populations of
loggerhead turtles (National Research Council, 1990). Shrimp vessels operating in U. S. waters
are required to install TEDs in their trawls during all times of the year (Crouse, 1993). Olive
ridleys are the only sea turtles nesting in Suriname to remain in the waters off the Guianas, and
the dramatic decline in olive ridley turtles (while all other species are stable or increasing) has
been partly attributed to offshore trawling.
A 1989 law passed by the U. S. Congress bans the importation of shrimp or shrimp
products into the U. S. unless (a) the government of the harvesting nation provides documentary
evidence of the adoption of a regulatory program governing the incidental taking of sea turtles in
the course of such harvesting that is comparable to that of the United States, (b) the average rate
of that incidental taking by the vessels of the harvesting nation is comparable to the average rate
of incidental taking of sea turtles by United States vessels in the course of such harvesting, or (c)
the particular fishing environment of the harvesting nation does not pose a threat of the
incidental taking of sea turtles in the course of such harvesting (Appendix A). Because Suri-
name failed to provide by 1 May 1991 the necessary commitment that it would develop and
implement a program consistent with U. S. guidelines, shrimp imports from Suriname were pro-
hibited. The ban was lifted in October 1991 once the necessary commitment was received (U. S.
Department of State, 1991).
CEP Technical Report No. 24
In March 1992, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs submitted a preliminary progress report to
the U. S. Embassy on the subject of implementing its sea turtle conservation program. The
report noted that jointly with STINASU, the Fisheries Department had provided forms to the
shrimp trawlers regarding the incidental catch of sea turtles; these forms were to be completed,
signed, and returned to the Head of the Fisheries Department within three days of the discharge
of the catch (and this condition was mentioned in the finfish and shrimp license of 1992). The
Government of Suriname also organized and sponsored (with technical support from the U. S.
National Marine Fisheries Service) a training session and TED demonstration in Paramaribo in
May 1992 for captains, fleet managers, and government officials. The Ministry noted that regu-
lations requiring licensed shrimp trawlers to carry out fishing operations with nets fitted with
TEDs would be drafted, and provisions for monitoring compliance would be adopted. Finally,
the Ministry assured the Embassy that regulations would also be considered to prohibit retention
of turtles on board commercial shrimp vessels and require that turtles brought on board in a
comatose state be resuscitated and returned to the sea. Unfortunately, this program has not been
fully implemented. No evidence of TED use was provided to the U. S. Government in 1993, and
Surinam-caught shrimp has been embargoed again by the U. S. since 1 May 1993.
In addition to the incidental catch by shrimpers, coastal net fisheries also ensnare sea tur-
tles. Coastal Indians and Fisheries personnel are unanimous in claiming that the use of driftnets
is increasing in Surinam waters, and that more turtles die in these nets than in trawls. With re-
gard to the use of driftnets and setnets in coastal fisheries, it is a recommendation of this
Recovery Action Plan that better regulations and a better information campaign toward the
fishermen are needed to reduce the numbers of turtles caught during their approach to the nesting
beaches. Since the nesting seasons are well-established, Government might consider regulating
the use of setnets and driftnets in coastal waters offshore the nesting beaches during the nesting
season. A radio-tracking study may be useful to delineate the areas) most frequented by the
turtles. Many leatherback turtles are accidentally captured in fishermen's nets, especially near
Galibi (Fretey, 1984; H. Reichart, pers. obs.). Fishermen do not like to catch turtles in their nets
because they cause considerable damage. In past years, STINASU was able to compensate
Galibi fishermen for such damage, but financial problems caused this practice to be
discontinued. Solutions which could save the life of turtles, while avoiding damage to the fisher-
men's nets, demand high priority. A partial solution may be for fishermen to raise their nets
above the water surface at night when they are not fishing. It is a recommendation of this
Recovery Action Plan that all incidents of sea turtle capture be reported to STINASU and/or the
Fisheries Department, allowing the extent of incidental catch to be determined and mitigating
4.28 Supplement reduced populations using management techniques
Between 1978 and 1985, attempts at supplementing green turtle populations included
periodic releases of several thousand juveniles (yearlings) from a sea turtle ranching facility at
Matapica. According to information derived from tag returns of these immature animals, it
appears that they rejoin the natural population and that they follow the migration routes to the
feeding areas (Schulz and Reichart, 1980). The initial results must not be misconstrued as proof
of the hypothesis that with the release of captive-reared green turtles natural populations can be
enhanced, but they are promising enough to consider continuation of experimental "head-
starting" procedures in places where the natural populations are severely depleted. Unfortunately,
Suriname Sea Turtles...
problems in obtaining verifiable results are many. For instance, cohorts of several generations
must be followed for many years and a marking system for hatchlings (that can still be identified
at adulthood), are only some of them. For these and other reasons, including doubts that the
yearlings were imprinting properly (a necessary prerequisite to hypothesized natal homing), the
15-year old Kemp's ridley sea turtle head-starting project in the USA was recently terminated
(Byles, 1993; Williams, 1993). At the present time, neither the green turtle nor the leatherback
nesting population is considered "endangered" in Suriname, and there is no need to attempt to
enhance them through head-starting.
The number of olive ridleys nesting in Suriname has decreased considerably over the past
twenty years (Table 1). This nesting population (the most important one known in the Atlantic)
has declined from a few thousand in 1968 to only a few hundred in 1989. Regretfully, the lack
of access to the Galibi beaches during the 1990-1993 seasons have caused a serious hiatus for an
accurate analysis of the decline in the olive ridley nesting population in Suriname. Incidental
reports from this area, though, indicate a continuing decline in olive ridleys. Drastic measures
are necessary in an attempt to save this species population in the western Atlantic. The first step
must be to equip Surinam-based shrimp trawlers with TEDs (section 4.27). This would signifi-
cantly reduce the incidental mortality of olive ridleys. Concomitant with this must be an
enhanced ability to provide surveillance of our territorial sea to ensure that all shrimp vessels
plying Surinam waters are equipped with TEDs. "Beschikking van 6 juli 1992" (Decree of 6
July 1992) makes the use of TEDs mandatory. Enforcement of this new law, however, is
lacking. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that TED use be a requirement for
trawling in Surinam's EEZ, and that a team of inspectors be designated to ensure compliance.
French Guiana is presently not mandating the use of TEDs, a decision which is under-mining
efforts of adjoining nations to control the incidental catch and drowning of endangered sea
turtles. International pressure from the IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group and
WIDECAST should be directed at countries fishing in the region that do not yet require TEDs.
In view of the dramatic decline of Surinam's olive ridley nesting population, head-
starting a percentage of hatchlings of this species each year may be a viable means to enhance
the natural population. It is well known that the captive rearing of Kemp's ridleys is fraught with
problems because of intraspecific aggression; but a captive rearing test of olive ridley hatchlings
in Suriname in 1990 showed that there is no such aggression between individuals of this species
(H. Reichart, unpubl. data). Monitoring the released yearlings (or older age classes) may be
somewhat easier than for green turtles, because from tag return data collected by Schulz (1975)
the vast majority of them do not migrate far; most olive ridleys remain in the waters off the coast
of the three Guianas (Figure 8). Certain questions could perhaps then also be answered, such as:
is there a problem of adaptation for these turtles when fed from birth by high protein foods? do
the young females, once mature, find nesting beaches? do captive-reared, and subsequently
released, animals integrate well with the natural population? Head-starting, however, is a
controversial issue and fraught with potential problems; it should only be used as a last-ditch
effort and should occur in concert with proven conservation measures, such as beach protection
and enforced TED regulations.
It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that the best way to protect and
enhance olive ridley populations in the Guianas is to ensure (a) use of TEDs on all shrimp trawl-
CEP Technical Report No. 24
ers belonging to, or fishing in, the seas off coasts of Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French
Guiana, and Brazil; (b) strict enforcement of TED regulations by all the pertinent nations in the
region; (c) education programs aimed especially at the local people, regarding the plight of the
olive ridley populations in the region, emphasizing the need to eliminate all exploitation of the
species; (d) elimination of the use of any kind of fishing net in front of olive ridley nesting
beaches; and (e) greater cooperative conservation and coordination efforts between the countries
in the region, specifically directed at enhancing the shared olive ridley populations.
With regard to supplementing populations by enhancing hatch success, STINASU
initially adopted styrofoam boxes as standard incubators for the hatcheries in the Galibi Nature
Reserve (after a few experiments in 1971 and 1972, and following the example of the turtle farm
on Grand Cayman Island). The primary species involved were the green turtle and the olive
ridley, although some leatherback eggs were also incubated. Due to concerns over possible sex
ratio biasing in the styrofoam boxes, STINASU initiated research to evaluate this hatchery
practice in the early 1980's and, when there were indications that incubation in styrofoam cool-
boxes produced a significant male bias among the resulting hatchlings (Dutton et al., 1985;
Mrosovsky et al., 1984; Whitmore and Dutton, 1985), abandoned styrofoam boxes in favor of re-
burying clutches in beach hatcheries or at "safe" locations higher up on the beach. The Matapica
beaches, and those farther west, are well suited for in situ relocation or beach hatcheries. On the
Galibi Beach and Eilanti Beach, however, there is a shortage of suitable, natural sites for reburial
of the eggs, and an above-ground hatchery must sometimes be used as a last resort there.
Even for natural nests, the problem of temperature-triggered sex bias is far from re-
solved. For example, the majority of nests laid at Galibi are under dense vegetation (P. Dutton,
pers. obs.) and the resulting natural sex ratio may be less female-biased than that reported for
Krofajapasi by Mrosovsky et al. (1984) where shading effect is almost non-existent (Whitmore
and Dutton, 1985). This hypothesis remains to be tested, and it is a recommendation of this
Recovery Action Plan that further study is needed. STINASU employees stationed at Galibi,
Baboensanti, Eilanti, and Matapica patrol the beaches, not only to guard against egg poaching,
but also to relocate nests that are obviously endangered by the next high tide, coastal erosion, or
other environmental dangers.
4.29 Monitor stocks
Since 1967, and on all the nesting beaches (such as Galibi, Baboensanti, Eilanti, Krofaja-
pasi, Matapica, Diana), nests have been counted regularly throughout the nesting season by field
workers from STINASU and the Conservation Department of the Surinam Forest Service as well
as by occasional volunteers and seasonal workers. Nest data from the Galibi Nature Reserve are
summarized in Table 3. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that sea turtle
populations, at least breeding populations, continue to be closely monitored for long-term fluctu-
ations in numbers that will reveal the success or failure of historic and ongoing conservation
efforts. If monitoring all the nation's nesting beaches becomes impractical or impossible, Index
Beaches (or zones on beaches) should be selected for long-term intensive monitoring. Index
Beaches should encompass areas of primary importance to sea turtles; sites where long-term
databases have already been established are preferred. Ongoing research to provide statistical
estimates of stocks is important and is encouraged by this Recovery Action Plan.
Suriname Sea Turtles...
Historically, erosion and nests laid below the high tide line have been the most important
problems of marine turtle conservation in Suriname. If unattended, they can lead to the
destruction of many nests, affecting hundreds of thousand of eggs. Over the years, the major sea
turtle management effort in Suriname has therefore been aimed at saving as many of these nests
as possible by translocating them to safer nearby areas. Many such "doomed" nests are moved to
a higher level on the same beach or, if predation could become a factor, they are carried back to
the field station for reburial in a protected hatchery. No matter what precautions are taken, trans-
planting doomed nests is likely to lower the hatch success rate. Whereas the average hatch
success rate of natural green turtle nests is 83-85%, it is 53-63% for replanted nests; for olive
ridleys the average hatch success of natural nests is 59%, for replanted nests 17-36% (Schulz,
1875). For leatherbacks it is worse: 20-50% for natural nests vs. 6-39% for replanted nests.
When eggs have to be carried some distance to a central hatchery, the hatching success rate for
all these species is even lower (Schulz, 1975). Central hatcheries should, therefore, be
constructed only if absolutely necessary. The artificial incubation of eggs in styrofoam boxes or
other containers, and the improper handling of eggs and hatchlings can be disastrous. Incubation
temperature is largely responsible for determining hatchling sex, so any attempt to artificially
incubate eggs may skew the normal sex ratio of the nest.
Because of its policy to facilitate research whenever it can contribute to marine turtle
conservation, Suriname has attracted a number of foreign researchers to do field projects on the
country's beaches. Much of what is known now about marine turtles has come from pioneering
studies done in Suriname from the mid-1960's up until the early 1980's. Starting around 1983,
however, an armed, internal conflict in the country limited access to certain areas, causing a
lapse in field research opportunities. As of August 1992, all such hostilities have ended, and for
the 1993 nesting season, all beaches should be available again for field studies. Because of the
currently poor economic situation, Suriname lacks funds and personnel to conduct its own
research. Foreign researchers with projects that have bearing on the conservation of sea turtles,
especially olive ridleys, should consider the excellent opportunities the Surinam nesting beaches
offer for fieldwork. A number of issues raised by our national monitoring effort warrant further
study. For instance, malformed embryos are very common in the hatcheries and an examination
should be undertaken of possible causess. Further information about the seasonal pattern in
natural sex ratios (Mrosovsky et al., 1984) would also be very useful.
Any successful management program must be based upon credible estimates of
reproductive success. Thus, data regarding nest loss to erosion, predators, and poachers should
be obtained. Other threats should also be evaluated, such as entrapment in beach debris. Much
of this information is already known in Suriname. Our priority need is funding to protect olive
ridley hatchlings from terrestrial predators by installing chicken wire cages just prior to
emergence. Avian predators are generally minor problems for screened nests, but black vultures
are a menace in some areas. Thus, project personnel should be equipped to provide the circular
cages with tops. The caged nests will be regularly checked for hatchling emergence. The hatch-
lings will be released as soon as they emerge by placing them on the beach and watching them
CEP Technical Report No. 24
until they safely reach the sea. Central hatcheries should be constructed only if absolutely nec-
essary (see section 4.291).
4.293 Immature and adult turtles
By daily beach patrols during the nesting season, the numbers of adult females nesting on
Surinam beaches have been monitored since 1967, but there are no programs designed to assess
populations of immature sea turtles. Tagging started in 1966 with students from the University
of Florida, led by Peter C. H. Pritchard. Some of the turtles were weighed and measured.
Pritchard continued to tag green turtles, ridleys and leatherbacks until 1969. From 1969 through
1973, J. P. Schulz and his field assistants tagged some 4,500 turtles, giving a total of 5,676 tur-
tles of various species having been tagged on Surinam beaches since 1966 (Schulz, 1975). The
data derived from tagged turtles captured at sea, and from tagged turtles returning to the Suri-
name nesting beaches, allowed him to establish the migratory patterns of olive ridley turtles and
green turtles nesting in Suriname (Figures 8 and 9) (see also Pritchard, 1973, 1976).
Long-term tagging 100% of the nesting turtles is very labor-intensive, and may even be
counter-productive. Most of the data that could be obtained from a tagging program in Suri-
name was obtained over a period of eight years (1966-1973). There is no need to continue a
tagging program for olive ridley, leatherback, and green turtles to determine, among other things:
nesting periodicity, nesting intervals, and where they go after leaving the nesting beaches in
Suriname. Suriname does not plan to partake in the "Tagging Reflex" so aptly named by
Mrosovsky (1983b). We believe that in our situation, continuing the tagging program would
constitute undo harassment. Comprehensive, well-designed tagging programs to address long-
term demographic questions are ongoing at other sites and are not deemed necessary in Suriname
at this time. A certain amount of tagging equipment should be kept on hand, though, in order to
replace corroded tags, engage in short-term tagging studies to answer specific questions, etc.
4.3 Encourage and Support International Legislation
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 recognizable parts or 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;
Appendix III lists species that any Party wishes to regulate and requires international cooperation
to control trade; Appendix IV contains model permits. Permits are required for species listed in
appendices I and II stating that export/import will not be detrimental to the survival of the spe-
cies. CITES is one of the most widely supported wildlife treaties of all time. With the recent
accession of Korea, the Convention has 120 Parties (S. Lieberman, U.S. FWS, pers. comm.,
Suriname Sea Turtles...
Although most nations in the region have taken CITES very seriously, some have been
unable to make much progress in maintaining the level of Customs surveillance required to
enforce the treaty. Even though CITES has ameliorated the traffic in threatened species
products, it has by no means ended it. The Wider Caribbean region continues to export large
quantities of threatened species products, including those of sea turtles (e.g., Milliken and
Tokunaga, 1987; Canin, 1991). In an effort to enhance both membership and treaty
implementation in the region, the CITES Secretariat hosted the "Caribbean CITES Implementa-
tion Training Seminar" in September 1992 in Trinidad and Tobago. The Seminar was attended
by Radjinder Kumar Hiralall (Wildlife Officer, Surinam Forest Service) and Rudi V. Mangal
(Chief of Customs at International Airport Zanderij). Surinam officials take CITES seriously.
Rules and regulations set by CITES are scrupulously adhered to and there is no evidence of
corruption or illicit practices with regard to use of CITES permits.
In November 1980, the Republic of Suriname ratified CITES, but took exemptions for C.
mydas and D. coriacea, both Appendix I species. With regard to the exemption of D. coriacea,
Suriname does not consider its leatherback nesting population as being endangered, but the
exemption is mostly a matter of principle. Suriname's position is that CITES is an international
trade treaty, not an endangered species act. There is hardly, if any, international trade in leather-
backs nor in their products. Prior to Suriname ratifying CITES, a proposal to down-list the Suri-
nam C. mydas nesting population to CITES Appendix II was submitted. Because the proposal
was not accepted by the Parties, Suriname acceded to the treaty with an exemption on C. mydas
in order to provide eggs or hatchlings for a planned green turtle ranching pilot project at Mata-
pica. The pilot project (which was never undertaken) would not have required CITES approval
but, if successful and approved by CITES, a commercial "turtle ranch" would have followed,
enabling Suriname to sell ranched turtle products on international markets. The rationale for this
commercialization and suggested conservation benefits are discussed by Reichart (1982).
4.32 Regional treaties
In 1940, the Convention on Nature Protection and Wildlife Preservation in the Western
Hemisphere was negotiated under the auspices of the Pan American Union. Twelve of the par-
ties to the Western Hemisphere Convention are in the wider Caribbean region, including Suri-
name (date of entry into force: 30 July 1985). A shortfall of this Convention is that it contains no
mechanism for reaching decisions binding upon the parties, but leaves each party to implement
the treaty's provisions as it find "appropriate". The Bonn Convention for the Conservation of
Migratory Wild Animals, if ratified by enough nations in the Wider Caribbean region, could be
an effective tool in the conservation of migratory species, such as sea turtles. It was developed
to deal with all threats to migratory species, including habitat destruction and taking for domestic
consumption. Suriname has been a party to the Bonn Convention since 1985, but few other
Western Atlantic nations have joined (UNEP, 1989).
A relatively recent regional environmental Convention that shows great promise is the
United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) Regional Seas Convention in the Caribbean,
known as the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the
Wider Caribbean Region (or, the "Cartagena Convention"). The Convention is coupled with an
Action Plan, known as the Action Plan for the Caribbean Environment Programme (APCEP).
CEP Technical Report No. 24
The First Intergovernmental Meeting on APCEP was convened by UNEP in cooperation with the
Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA) in Montego Bay, Jamaica, 6-8 April 1981.
The representatives of Governments from 22 States in the region, including Suriname, adopted
APCEP at this meeting and established the Caribbean Trust Fund to support common costs and
activities associated with the implementation of the Action Plan.
In March, 1983, a Conference of Plenipotentiaries met in Cartagena, Colombia to
negotiate the "Cartagena Convention". Representatives from 16 States participated (Suriname
was not represented). 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 "prevent, reduce and control" pollution from a variety of sources (i.e.,
pollution from ships, from at-sea dumping of waste, from land-based sources, from sea bed
activities, and from airborne sources). Article 10 is of special interest in that it addresses the re-
sponsibilities of Contracting Parties to "individually or jointly, take all appropriate measures to
protect and preserve rare or fragile ecosystems, as well as the habitat of depleted, threatened or
endangered species, in the Convention area." The Cartagena Convention entered into force on
11 October 1986.
In January 1990, a Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW)
to the Cartagena Convention was adopted by a Conference of Plenipotentiaries, providing a
mechanism whereby species of wild fauna and flora could be protected on a regional scale. The
landmark Protocol grants explicit protection to species listed in three categories, or annexes.
Annex I includes species of flora exempt from all forms of destruction or disturbance. Annex II
ensures total protection and recovery to listed species of fauna, with minor exceptions.
Specifically, Annex II listing prohibits (a) the taking, possession or killing (including, to the
extent possible, the incidental taking, possession or killing) or commercial trade in such species,
their eggs, parts or products, and (b) to the extent possible, the disturbance of such species,
particularly during periods of breeding, incubation, estivation or migration, as well as other
periods of biological stress. Annex III denotes species in need of "protection and recovery", but
subject to a regulated harvest.
On 11 June 1991, Plenipotentiaries again met in Kingston, Jamaica, to formally adopt the
Annexes. The Conference voted unanimously to include all six species of sea turtle inhabiting
the Wider Caribbean (i.e., Caretta caretta, Chelonia mydas, Eretmochelys imbricata,
Dermochelys coriacea, Lepidochelys kempi, 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.
Having already established itself as a leader in sea turtle conservation in the Western Atlantic
region, it is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that Suriname ratify the Cartagena
Convention and its Protocols as soon as possible.
4.33 Subregional sea turtle management
For many years now, marine turtle conservationists in Suriname have proposed the
establishment of a multilateral agreement between Suriname, French Guiana and Brazil for the
protection and joint management of the green turtle populations they share. Up until now such
Suriname Sea Turtles...
attempts have been futile. Especially with regard to protecting depleted populations of olive
ridleys, it is an urgent recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that a regional agreement
be made between Venezuela, Brazil, and the three Guianas (see also section 4.28). WIDECAST
could play an important role in this by lobbying at high Government levels.
4.4 Develop Public Education
Since the late 1960's, STINASU has been involved in providing the general public as
well as local villagers with information regarding the need to manage and protect marine turtles.
It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that greater emphasis be placed on
developing up-to-date educational materials for dissemination to schools and the public media.
Amerindians from the two villages of Christiaankondre and Langamankondre on the
Sur-inam side of the Marowijne River (Figure 4) have always resented the presence of the Galibi
Nature Reserve in what they consider their area. The education and information activities of the
Surinam Government and STINASU have not been very successful in explaining the rationale of
the reserve. The villagers claim their "Traditional Rights" to the region, including unrestricted
use of the marine turtle resources; they have even undertaken armed hostilities to force the issue.
Admittedly, the Surinam Government has made mistakes in the gazetting of the reserve, mostly
by not including more Amerindian representation in the management of the reserve. Reichart
(1991) provides a review of the conflict, and suggests solutions for its remedy. It is a
recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that a new start be made in arriving at a just set-
tlement of these issues. The Amerindians are an integral part of the area, and they should derive
economic benefit from the reserve. Marine turtle management is an international responsibility
and, as such, must remain under control of the Government, although more local people should
be included in the management team. In the Management Plan for the Galibi Nature Reserve
(Reichart, 1992) several recommendations are made which may be acceptable to the villagers.
It is important that shrimp fishermen be adequately informed about the need and merit of
turtle excluder devices (TEDs). SAIL is the agency having the responsibility to implement the
use of TEDs on Surinam-based foreign fishing vessels (see section 4.27). As far as the artisanal
fishermen are concerned, many, but not all, are already aware of the need to protect marine
turtles. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that education and information
activities should continue in the villages with the support and help of the village chiefs
(kapiteins) in the form of public meetings, slide shows, and a continuing dialogue between villa-
gers, nature reserve management personnel, and the Government.
It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that notices be placed in the arrival
and departure halls of Suriname's international airport at Zanderij to alert travelers about national
CEP Technical Report No. 24
as well as international regulations concerning possession and transport of protected wildlife
species, including all species of sea turtles. Efforts are already made to provide tourists with
educational materials. For example, STINASU provides stenciled brochures for tourists visiting
the nesting beaches on its guided tours. Visitors can also purchase various informative booklets
on marine turtle conservation published by STINASU or the Surinam Forest Service.
Visiting the nesting beaches at Galibi Nature Reserve is also an educational option for
tourists, although access is not easy. There is no direct road connection, nor is there an airstrip
present in or near the reserve. From Paramaribo, the reserve can be reached in several ways (see
Figure 3): (a) by car and boat (take the Paramaribo-Meerzorg ferry across the Suriname River,
drive east to Albina at the Marowijne River, obtain boat transport down the Marowijne River to
the reserve headquarters at Baboensanti), (b) by boat down the Suriname River, up the
Commewijne River, through the Matapica Canal to the ocean, then eastward over sea to the
Marowijne River, up the Marowijne River to Baboensanti, or (c) by boat down the Suriname
River to the ocean, then eastward over sea to the Marowijne River, up the Marowijne River to
Baboensanti. The first option is the easiest and quickest way to reach the reserve.
The Galibi nesting beaches can also be reached from French Guiana in about 40 minutes
by driving to the Amerindian village of Ya:lima:po, near the town of Les Hattes in the northwest
corner of the country, and crossing the Marowijne River by boat. All boat travel should be done
in a seaworthy vessel equipped with survival gear. For reserve access, travel arrangements and
accommodations, including those at other nesting beaches, contact the Foundation for Nature
Preservation in Suriname (STINASU). The address is:
Cornelis Jongbawstraat 14
P. O. Box 436
Telephone: 471856 (country code 597)
It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that on the nesting beaches visited
by tourists, information boards should be placed to inform visitors about the rules and
regulations pertaining to observing marine turtles. Brochures, describing the attractions of the
reserve and an overview of the marine turtle species nesting in Suriname, should be readily
available at all field stations. Nature tourism in Suriname, which declined considerably during
the civil strife of the late 1980's, is now being revitalized. The infrastructure of the Galibi Nature
Reserve will have to be rebuilt, and indigenous people from the area must be included in this
development process. STINASU as well as local people can derive economic benefit from
nature tourism to the reserve. STINASU has brochures available in Dutch and English to inform
tourists on aspects of marine turtle biology. In order to attract more tourism from French
Guiana, documentation in French and Portuguese would be helpful.
4.44 Non-consumptive activities that generate revenue
The challenge is to convince local people to use sea turtles, and other wildlife resources,
in a non-consumptive way to generate revenue, and that, by maintaining viable populations, there
is great potential for a well managed tourism industry. STINASU currently organizes trips for
Suriname Sea Turtles...
tourists to the Brownsberg Nature Park in the interior and to the nesting beaches at Matapica.
Because of recent civil strife in the area, the Galibi Nature Reserve is still closed for the public,
but the reserve is expected to be open for tourism again in 1994. On the beaches, tourists can
stay in simple housing or in primitive camps. Prior to walking the nesting beaches at night,
tourists are instructed by field personnel on the proper way to behave when observing a nesting
turtle. During the turtle nesting season, the use of flashlights on Surinam beaches is strongly
discouraged. There is no specific law to that effect, but information brochures and familiari-
zation talks by field personnel inform the public about the dangers of disorientation from
artificial lights. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that comprehensive guide-
lines be developed for nature tourism on nesting beaches, including beach etiquette, tour guide
training, impact monitoring (e.g., harassment, erosion, litter), etc.
4.5 Increase Information Exchange
4.51 Marine Turtle Newsletter
STINASU currently receives the Marine Turtle Newsletter (MTN), which is available at
no charge from the Editors: Scott and Karen Eckert, c/o Hubbs Sea World Research Institute,
1700 South Shores Road, San Diego, California 92109 USA. Other interested parties are
encouraged to contact the Editors and request to be placed on the mailing list. When pertinent
and of local value, certain articles from the MTN should be translated into Dutch and distributed
to tourists, local newspapers, radio, TV (giving proper credit to the source) or posted in the field
stations and/or the facilities at Paramaribo.
4.52 Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium (WATS)
Suriname participated in both WATS I (in San Jose, Costa Rica, in 1983) and WATS II
(in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, in 1987). As a country with major nesting sites for several species of
sea turtle and long-term conservation work, including some 25 years of record-keeping,
Suriname provided important data to these symposia (Mohadin and Reichart, 1984; Mohadin,
1987). Suriname is encouraged to continue to participate fully in this important regional data
base for sea turtles. The WATS manual (Pritchard et al., 1983) is available in English and
Spanish and can be used as a reference and guide for implementing various sea turtle conserva-
tion and management programs, such as aerial surveys, turtle tagging, and hatchery techniques.
The Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) consists of a re-
gional Recovery Team of sea turtle experts which works closely with local Country Coordina-
tors, who in turn enlist the support and participation of citizens in and out of government who
have an interest in sea turtle conservation. The primary project outputs are Sea Turtle Recovery
Action Plans (STRAPs) for each of 39 government regions, including Suriname, in the Wider
Caribbean. Each STRAP is tailored specifically to local circumstances and provides the
1. The local status and distribution of nesting and feeding sea turtles.
CEP Technical Report No. 24
2. The major causes of mortality to sea turtles.
3. The effectiveness of existing national and international laws protecting sea
4. The present and historical role of sea turtles in local culture and economy.
5. Local, national, and multi-lateral implementing measures for scientifically
sound sea turtle conservation.
The short-term objectives of WIDECAST are to provide Wider Caribbean governments
with updated information on the status of sea turtles in the region, to provide specific
recommendations for the management and recovery of endangered, threatened, and vulnerable
sea turtle stocks, and to assist Wider Caribbean governments in the discharge of their obligations
under the Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) in the Wider
Caribbean Region (see section 4.32). The longer-term objectives are to promote a regional
capability to implement scientifically sound sea turtle conservation programmes by developing
and supporting a technical understanding of sea turtle biology and management among local
individuals and organizations. These objectives are accomplished 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
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 groups with the implementa-
tion of effective management and conservation programmes for turtles.
Beyond supporting the local and national efforts of governments and non-governmental
organizations, WIDECAST works to integrate these efforts into a collective regional response to
a common problem, the disappearance of sea turtles. WIDECAST is supported by the Caribbe-
an Trust Fund of the UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme, as well as by a wide variety of
government and non-government agencies and groups. Government and non-government
personnel, biologists, fishermen, educators, developers, and other interested persons are encour-
aged to join WIDECAST's efforts. Locally, WIDECAST is implemented through the Director of
STINASU (Comelis Jongbawstraat 14, P. O. Box 436, Paramaribo; Tel (597) 471856).
WIDECAST is seen as an innovative and effective regional conservation program, and we hope
to continue our involvement and participation.
4.54 IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group
The Marine Turtle Specialist Group is responsible for tracking the status of sea turtle
populations for the Species Survival Commission (SSC) of the World Conservation Union
(IUCN). The group is a valuable source of information and technical advice on local projects. It
is highly desirable that, as in the past, STINASU maintains close contact with the IUCN in order
to remain up-to-date on developments around the world in matters of sea turtle conservation.
Suriname Sea Turtles...
4.55 Workshops on research and management
STINASU and other relevant agencies are encouraged to provide training sessions for
employees and volunteers who will assist in the collection of sea turtle life history data, and be
involved in conservation projects. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that such
workshops extend to local fishermen and include sea turtle resuscitation and/or (where
appropriate) other techniques such as tagging.
4.56 Exchange of information among local groups
Sea turtles are listed in the Game Law of 1954 as "game animals", but only to provide a
legal basis for a limited egg harvest; all other life stages are protected. Enforcement is
administered by Game Wardens of the Nature Conservation Division of the Surinam Forest
Service. Other sea turtle conservation activities, such as nest counts, transfer of doomed nests,
basic research, study of population dynamics, and public education have been delegated to
STINASU. Although an independent conservation agency, STINASU is closely associated with
the Surinam Forest Service. It participates in international meetings concerning marine turtle
conservation, such as the Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium (WATS), and it receives various
publications that are pertinent to this subject.
STINASU publishes information and education materials for handouts at schools and in
the reserves and regularly visits schools in the accessible northern part of the country to show
nature films and/or give nature-oriented talks. There are no specific, local groups concerned
with sea turtle conservation in Suriname, but STINASU regularly announces news items of
interest regarding sea turtles in the public media. Several booklets, in Dutch (Schulz, 1980) as
well as stencils in Dutch and English, have also been published. Because of these activities,
there is a considerable awareness regarding the need for sea turtle conservation in the country,
and the mention of the word STINASU is synonymous with sea turtle conservation in Suriname.
4.6 Implement a National Sea Turtle Conservation Project
Suriname has an excellent and longstanding marine turtle conservation program and, with
publication of this document, has laid the foundation for a national conservation action plan.
Techniques for marine turtle conservation activities, which started in the mid 1960's, have
evolved over many years. From visiting scientists, from published research findings in other
countries, and from fieldwork in Suriname, new ideas and procedures became known. If these
were deemed applicable for Suriname, they were integrated in the program. Consequently, the
Surinam marine turtle conservation program has been a dynamic one, using the latest informa-
tion and techniques available.
The military coup of 1980, and the subsequent political turmoil of the 1980's, caused a
considerable setback in the program. Key staff members and fieldworkers left and could not be
replaced; equipment and materials deteriorated to the point where the project began to suffer,
causing, among other things, a loss of morale among the remaining workers. Furthermore, when
CEP Technical Report No. 24
Amerindians occupied the Galibi Nature Reserve in 1989, the few basic management tasks that
were still being carried out there had to be abandoned.
Since 1990, Suriname once again has a democratically elected government, and the
various rebellious ethnic groups in the interior of the country have signed a peace treaty, which
includes their pledge to cooperate in healing the wounds of the past conflict. The repercussions
of events over the past decade will not magically disappear, however. Among other things, the
infrastructure of the Galibi Nature Reserve has, by and large, been destroyed, and facilities on
the other nesting beaches are extremely precarious. Only the dedication of the few remaining
workers makes it possible that any nesting data at all are being recorded.
The legacy of the problems of the 1980s is that Suriname now has serious economic
problems, and marine turtle management does not rank very high on the country's list of
priori-ties at this time. Funding for much-needed personnel, equipment and materials will
therefore have to come from private sources. To restore the Surinam marine turtle conservation
program to its former level of excellence will require action on the following items.
An academically-trained manager to coordinate the program (and to train local
counterparts) is a prime prerequisite. At this time there is no one available, nor
qualified, to do so in Suriname.
Because of the geographic separation of the beaches, two mid-level field co-
ordinators are necessary: one for the Galibi area and one for the Matapica
Canal-Suriname River beaches.
Several additional fieldworkers are needed to patrol the beaches, record data, and
perform the necessary conservation tasks (e.g., transplant doomed nests).
Housing for personnel is a perennial problem on Surinam beaches. Beach
personnel have always had to work under deplorable living conditions. Because
of continually shifting beaches, permanent structures are not practical. Prefabri-
cated, modular units would be quite suitable, however. When the beach erodes
after a few years, these buildings would not have to be abandoned and left to the
elements, but could be disassembled for erection farther west.
There are no more boats, outboard motors, and communication equipment to
adequately perform the field tasks. The standard, sea-worthy boat generally used
in Suriname (called a piaka) has been a very effective tool over the years. These
can be constructed and purchased locally.
Suriname Sea Turtles...
Beach personnel have to walk many kilometers every day to patrol the beaches.
This is tiring and monotonous -- possibly causing inaccurate data collection.
Mechanized beach transport, such as a suitable dune buggy, would be a valuable
Communications between the beach stations is non-existent; the distance between
them is too far for the use of "walkie-talkies". A VHF system would be useful for
coordination between the various nesting areas. An 18 VDC solar panel, in
conjunction with a battery, at each station can be used to run the radio and provide
enough additional power for some lights at night.
Data processing still occurs by hand. A Paramaribo-based data bank on a per-
sonal computer would be appropriate. A laptop computer, although not essential,
would certainly be a convenience for the program manager when in the field.
An assortment of materials is needed to facilitate the beach work, including
measuring equipment, tagging tools and supplies, screening for nest or hatchery
enclosures, and flagging material.
A new approach will have to be made in bringing the marine turtle conservation
issues to the public. To accomplish this, a brand new set of education and
information material will have to be developed. Neither the know-how nor the
personnel for this is available in Suriname at this time.
What is most needed for the field is a standardized manual on techniques and
procedures. Current procedures have been developed over the years by scientific
staff and fieldworkers together, but they have not been written down in a
comprehensive document. If key persons leave, a precarious hiatus will be
created in information transfer. It is essential that a project be implemented to
develop a national marine turtle conservation manual to ensure that no expertise is
lost with the departure of key personnel.
The following activities should be undertaken in listed order:
1. obtain the necessary funding (see section 4.63),
2. compile all relevant national data regarding sea turtle legislation and
CEP Technical Report No. 24
3. compile all pertinent international data as they may pertain to sea turtle
legislation and conservation in Suriname,
4. produce a comprehensive, loose-leaf (for easy future updating) manual in
Dutch and English on sea turtle conservation techniques and procedures in
5. produce a comprehensive document (in Dutch and English) on the goals and
objectives of marine turtle conservation in Suriname, based on information
provided in this and other (e.g., Reichart, 1992) management plans,
6. rebuild the marine turtle conservation program's infrastructure, including
personnel, facilities, and equipment, and
7. conduct periodic workshops on marine turtle conservation in nearby
Amerindian communities and establish roundtable discussions on the
sustainable benefits to be derived through joint programs with STINASU.
The following is a draft budget intended to show the expected cost for rehabilitating the
Surinam marine turtle conservation program to an optimum level and for maintaining it there.
This is a one-time budget and, except for personnel costs, not an annual budget.
ITEM TOTAL COST (US$)
Program manager (per year) 20,000
Field coordinators (2) (per year) 15,000
Field workers (6) (per year) 7,500
Eilanti beach (2) 14,000
Matapica beach (2) 14,000
Walapa beach (1) 7,000
Katkreek beach (1) 7,000
Diana beach (1) 7,000
Braamspunt (1) 7,000
Storage sheds (3) 21,000
Suriname Sea Turtles...
ITEM TOTAL COST (US$)
Piaka (boat) (4) 6,000
40 HP outboard motor (4) 16,000
25 HP outboard motor (4) 10,000
Dune buggy (3) 24,000
VHF communication system (4) 3,200
Solar panels (6) 1,500
12 VDC batteries (6) 500
Personal computer and software (1) 3,500
Laptop computer (1) 3,500
Measuring equipment 1,000
Tagging tools and tags 500
Enclosure materials 4,500
Training materials 3,500
Education/Information brochures 4,500
Aerial survey time (3 yrs, "ultra-light") 7,500
TOTAL US$ 209,200
CEP Technical Report No. 24
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CEP Technical Report No. 24
Table 1. Annual number of sea turtle nests laid in Suriname, 1967-1989 (source: Reichart,
1992). Green turtle (krape), Chelonia mydas = C.m.; leatherback turtle (aitkanti), Dermochelys
coriacea = D.c.; olive ridley turtle (warana), Lepidochelys olivacea = L.o.; hawksbill turtle
(karet), Eretmochelys imbricata = E.i.
Year C.m. D.c. L.o. E.i.
* Note: Nest counts through 1989 are the yearly totals for all sea turtle nesting beaches in Suri-
name combined. For the period 1990-1993, access to the Galibi Nature Reserve was blocked by
rebellious Carib villagers, and the data presented for these years refer to beaches west of the
Wia-Wia Nature Reserve only. Nest counts for 1993 have not yet been completed.
Suriname Sea Turtles...
Table 2. Seasonality of sea turtle nesting in Suriname (sources: Schulz, 1975 and Reichart,
unpubl. data). Green turtle (krape), Chelonia mydas = C.m.; leatherback turtle (aitkanti),
Dermochelys coriacea = D.c.; olive ridley turtle (warana), Lepidochelys olivacea = L.o.;
hawksbill turtle (karet), Eretmochelys imbricata = E.i.
Nesting season (peak)
CEP Technical Report No. 24
Table 3. Annual numbers of sea turtle nests in the Galibi Nature Reserve, 1984-1989 (source:
Reichart, 1992). Green turtle (krape), Chelonia mydas = C.m.; leatherback turtle (aitkanti),
Dermochelys coriacea = D.c.; olive ridley turtle (warana), Lepidochelys olivacea = L.o.
Year Beach Numbers of nests laid per species
C.m. D.c. L.o.
Note: Because of the illegal occupation
could not be conducted during the period
cently concluded peace agreement, it is
beaches in 1994.
of the reserve by armed Carib villagers, nest counts
1990-1993 in the Galibi Nature Reserve. With the re-
expected that nest counts will start again on Galibi
Suriname Sea Turtles...
Table 4. The nature reserves of Suriname. FR = Forest Reserve, MA = Multiple-Use
Management Area; NP = Nature Park; NR = Nature Reserve. Hectares (ha) listed are estimates
of land surface only (source: Reichart, 1993). For map, see Figure 2.
Protected Area Hectares
Existing Protected Areas
1. Hertenrits NR 100
2. Coppename Monding NR 12,000
3. Wia-Wia NR 36,000
4. GalibiNR 4,000
5. Brinck-heuvel NR 6,000
6. Brownsberg NP 8,400
7. Raleighvallen-Voltzberg NR 78,170
8. TafelbergNR 140,000
9. Eilerts de Haan NR 220,000
10. Sipaliwini NR 100,000
13. Peruvia NR 31,000
14. Boven-Coesewijne NR 27,000
15. Copi NR 28,000
16. Wanekreek NR 45,000
19a.Bigi Pan MA 68,000 1/
Proposed Protected Areas
11. Kaboeri kreek NR 68,000
12. Nani NR 54,000
17. Mac Clemen FR 6,000
18. Snake Creek FR 4,000
19. Estuarine Zone MA 310,000
1/ excludes adjacent sea area
CEP Technical Report No. 24
Figure 1. Location of the Republic of Suriname in South America (source: adapted from UNEP,
Suriname Sea Turtles...
EXISTING & PROPOSED PROTECTED AREAS IN SURINAME
(200 miles minus 12 miles territorial sea)
19 3 19 .
' .I Existing Protected Areas (1-10, 13-16, and 19A)
Proposed Protected Areas (11, 12, 17, and 18)
Proposed Multiple Use Management Areas (19)
...-.*.' Game Law Resolution Boundary
Figure 2. Existing and proposed protected areas in Suriname (source: Mittermeier et al., 1990).
Numbers correspond to reserves listed in Table 4.
CEP Technical Report No. 24
Figure 3. Map of Northern Suriname (source: Reichart, 1992).
Suriname Sea Turtles...
Green turtle (Clonia ryda)
olive brown shell. often streaked; undersid pale
yellow; plate on ihe shell do not overlap one
mother; I pir of large scales between the eyes;
adults 95-125 cm shall length; to 230 kg; rounded,
slightly serrated jaw feeds o sea grades
Hawksbill turtle (Eramochelys imbricata)
oval shell mottled brown, orange, yellow; plates
on the shell overlap one another and ar pointed
posteriorly; 2 pair of scales between the eyes;
adults 70-95 cm shall length; to 85 kg; pointed
face and jaw; feeds in coral reefs
Olive Ridley turtle (Lepidodchely oliwwcea)
nearly round shall is olive green or brown; under-
side is yellow-white: lateral plates can number 5-9
pairs and do not overlap one another; adults 65-75
cm shell length; rarely exceed 50 kg; carnivorous
diet (crustaceans, mollusks); jaw slightly aerrated
Latherback turtle (Delrmdoelys wriacea)
lcks boy 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 4. An identification guide to sea turtles in Suriname.
CEP Technical Report No. 24
Figure 5. Sea turtle nesting beaches in the Galibi Nature Reserve (no. 4 in Figure 2) (source:
Suriname Sea Turtles...
Figure 6. Sea turtle nesting beaches between the Wia-Wia Nature Reserve and the Suriname
CEP Technical Report No. 24
Figure 7. The shifting of the Bigi Santi nesting beach out of the Wia-Wia Nature Reserve
(source: Schulz, 1975).
Suriname Sea Turtles...
Figure 8. Recovery locations of olive ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) tagged at Eilanti
Beach in Suriname (source: Schulz, 1975).
CEP Technical Report No. 24
Figure 9. Recovery locations of green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) tagged at Bigi Santi and
Galibi beaches in Suriname (source: Schulz, 1975).
Suriname Sea Turtles...
U.S. Public Law 101-162 was passed by Congress in November 1989 and reads, in part:
Sec. 609. (a) The Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Commerce, shall, with respect to
those species of sea turtles the conservation of which is the subject of regulations promulgated by the Secretary of
Commerce on June 29, 1987 --
(1) initiate negotiations as soon as possible for the development of bilateral or multilateral agreements with
other nations for the protection and conservation of such species of sea turtles;
(2) initiate negotiations as soon as possible with all foreign governments which are engaged in, or which
have persons or companies engaged in, commercial fishing operations which, as determined by the Secretary of
Commerce, may affect adversely such species of sea turtles, for the purpose of entering into bilateral and
multilateral treaties with such countries to protect such species of sea turtles;
(3) encourage such other agreements to promote the purposes of this section with other nations for the
protection of specific ocean and land regions which are of special significance to the health and stability of such
species of sea turtles;
(4) initiate the amendment of any existing international treaty for the protection and conservation of such
species of sea turtles to which the United States is a party in order to make such treaty consistent with the purposes
and policies of this section; and
(5) provide to the Congress by not later than one year after the date of enactment of this section-
(A) a list of each nation which conducts commercial shrimp fishing operations within the
geographic range of distribution of such sea turtles;
(B) a list of each nation which conducts commercial shrimp fishing operations which may affect
adversely such species of sea turtles; and
(C) a full report on--
(i) the results of his efforts under this section; and
(ii) the status of measures taken by each nation listed pursuant to paragraph (A) or (B) to
protect and conserve such sea turtles.
(b)(1) IN GENERAL.-- The importation of shrimp or products from shrimp which have been harvested
with commercial fishing technology which may affect adversely such species of sea turtles shall be prohibited not
later than May 1, 1991, except as provided in paragraph (2).
(2) CERTIFICATION PROCEDURE.-- The ban on importation of shrimp or products from shrimp
pursuant to paragraph (1) shall not apply if the President shall determine and certify to the Congress not later than
May 1, 1991, and annually thereafter that-
(A) the government of the harvesting nation has provided documentary evidence of the adoption
of a regulatory program governing the incidental taking of such sea turtles in the course of such
harvesting that is comparable to that of the United States; and
(B) the average rate of that incidental taking by the vessels of the harvesting nation is comparable
to the average rate of incidental taking of sea turtles by United States vessels in the course of such
(C) the particular fishing environment of the harvesting nation does not pose a threat of the
incidental taking of such sea turtles in the course of such harvesting.