Annual Report 2005
Dr Emma Harrison
St Eustatius National Parks Foundation
Gallows Bay, St Eustatius
Table of Contents
SUM M A R Y................................................................................................................................................................... 5
IN TR OD UC TION .........................................................................................................................................................9
PARTICIPATING ORGANISATIONS................................................................................................................ 10
ST EUSTATIUS NATIONAL PARKS FOUNDATION (STENAPA) ........................................... .......................... 10
WIDER CARIBBEAN SEA TURTLE CONSERVATION NETWORK (WIDECAST)................................................. 11
DUTCH CARIBBEAN NATURE ALLIANCE (DCNA) ...................................................... 11
FUNDING AGENCIES AND DONORS ....... .... ................................................. ... 11
STUD Y SITE S.............................................................................................................................................................12
ST E U STA TIU S ... ....... .......................................................................................................... ..... ... ............... 12
SEA T U RTLE N ESTIN G B EA CH ES .............................................................................................................................. 12
P RE-SEA SO N P REPA RA TIO N S ...................................................................................................... ....................... 14
MONITORING AND RESEARCH ACTIVITIES ....... ................................................ .. 15
C O M M U N ITY O U TREA CH E V EN TS ............................................................................................................................ 23
R ESULTS ....................................................................................................................................................................24
P RE-SEA SO N P REPA RA TIO N S ...................................................................................................... ....................... 24
M ONITORING AND R ESEARCH A CTIVITIES .............................................................. ........................................... 25
COMMUNITY OUTREACH EVENTS ....... ..... ................................................. ... 38
DISCUSSION ........... ................................................................................................................................. 42
P RE-SEA SO N P REPA RA TIO N S ...................................................................................................... ....................... 42
M ONITORING AND R ESEARCH A CTIVITIES .............................................................. ........................................... 43
COMMUNITY OUTREACH EVENTS ....... ..... ................................................. ... 51
R ECOM M ENDATIONS FOR 2006 ..................... ........................................................................................................... 54
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .......................................................................................................................... 55
APPENDICES .............................................................................................................................................. 57
List of Tables
TABLE 1. SUMMARY OF TURTLE NESTING DATA COLLECTED DURING TRACK SURVEYS IN 2005 ................................ 26
TABLE 2. CARAPACE MEASUREMENTS OF ALL LEATHERBACK TURTLES ENCOUNTERED IN 2005. ............................... 29
TABLE 3. CARAPACE MEASUREMENTS OF ALL GREEN TURTLES ENCOUNTERED IN 2005 ............................................ 29
TABLE 4. SUMMARY OF NEST SURVIVAL DATA FOR EACH MARKED LEATHERBACK NEST. ......................................... 30
TABLE 5. SUMMARY OF NEST SURVIVAL DATA FOR EACH MARKED NEST OF HARD SHELL SPECIES........................... 31
TABLE 6. SUMMARY OF EXCAVATION DATA FROM 2005........................................................ ................................ 32
List of Figures
FIGURE 1. MAP SHOWING LOCATION OF ST EUSTATIUS IN THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN............................................... 12
FIGURE 2. MAP SHOWING LOCATION OF NESTING BEACHES ON ST EUSTATIUS ................................... ............ 13
FIGURE 3. TAGGING SITES FOR LEATHERBACKS .......................................................................... ............................ 19
FIGURE 4. TAGGING SITE FOR HARD SHELL SPECIES.............................................................. .......................... .... 19
FIGURE 5. CARAPACE LENGTH LEATHERBACK............................................................................... ................. 19
FIGURE 6. CARAPACE WIDTH -LEATHERBACK .................................................... ......................................... .... 19
FIGURE 7. CARAPACE LENGTH -HARD SHELL .................................................................... .....................................20
FIGURE 8. CARAPACE WIDTH HARD SHELL......... ..................................................................................................20
FIGURE 9. SATELLITE TRANSMITTER FITTED TO A TURTLE CARAPACE ................................................ 22
FIGURE 10. DISTRIBUTION OF NESTS ON ZEELANDIA BEACH AND TURTLE BEACH IN 2005....................................... 26
FIGURE 11. DISTRIBUTION OF FALSE CRAWLS ON ZEELANDIA BEACH AND TURTLE BEACH IN 2005 .......................... 27
FIGURE 12. FIRST CLIFF FALL RECORDED ON 16 JUNE, 2005...................................... ....................... 38
FIGURE 13. CLIFF FALL OBSERVED ON 21 JULY, 2005....................................................... ................................ 38
FIGURE 14. ROCK FROM FALL ON 6 AUGUST, 2005 ............................................................ ........................................... 38
FIGURE 15. PUPPET SHOW PERFORMED AT LOCAL SCHOOLS .................................................... 39
FIGURE 16. AFTER THE FIRST ZEELANDIA BEACH CLEAN-UP IN APRIL, 2005. .................................................. 40
List ofAcronyms andAbbreviations
ARGOS .......................................................................... ADVANCED RESEARCH AND GLOBAL OBSERVATION SATELLITE
AVID................................................................. ................. AMERICAN VETERINARY IDENTIFICATION DEVICES
CCL ................... .................................................... ............. CURVED CARAPACE LENGTH
CCL N-T ....... ..................... ................ ................. CURVED CARAPACE LENGTH (NOTCH TO TIP)
Ccw .................................................... ............... ............................... CURVED CARAPACE W IDTH
CM ................................................................ CHELONIA MYDAS
D C ...................................................................................................... ............................. D ERM OCHELYS CORIACEA
DcNA ........................................................ ................. DUTCH CARIBBEAN NATURE ALLIANCE FOUNDATION
El ......................................................................................... ............. .... ERETM OCHELYS IM BR CATA
GPS ............................................................... ... GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM
IUCN .................................. INTERNATIONAL UNION FOR THE CONSERVATION OF NATURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES
(WORLD CONSERVATION UNION)
KNAP............................................ KLEINE NATUUR PROJECTED FONDS, NEDERLANDSE ANTILLEN
(S' I .i i NATURE PROJECT FUNDS, NETHERLANDS ANTILLES)
M IN A ......................................................................................................... ................. A FDELIN G M ILIEU EN N ATUU R
(SECTION OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURE OF THE MINISTRY OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT)
NACRI ....... ............................................................................ NETHERLANDS ANTILLES CORAL REEF INITIATIVE
NOAA ................................. ...... ................. NATIONAL OCEANOGRAPHIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ASSOCIATION
PERS. COM M ........................................................ ........................................................ PERSONAL COM M UNICATION
PIT ..................................................... .......................................................... PASSIVE INTEGRATED TRANSPONDER
STENAPA ........................................................ .................. ST EUSTATIUS NATIONAL PARKS FOUNDATION
U SVI .................. .............................................................................. .............. ..... U NITED STATES V IRGIN ISLANDS
WIDECAST .................................. .... ................. WIDER CARIBBEAN SEA TURTLE CONSERVATION NETWORK
W TT .................... ..................................................................................W ORLD TURTLE TRUST, HAWAII
* The St Eustatius Sea Turtle Conservation Programme was initiated in 2001 due to concerns
that the island's sea turtle populations were being threatened due to habitat degradation and
destruction. The programme is managed by St Eustatius National Parks Foundation
(STENAPA), which is the main environmental non-governmental organization on the island.
* The Sea Turtle Conservation Programme is affiliated to the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle
Conservation Network (WIDECAST) and adopts its monitoring and tagging protocols.
* Since monitoring began three species of sea turtles have been confirmed nesting on the
island; leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill
(Eretmochelys imbricata). There was an unconfirmed nesting by a fourth species, the
loggerhead (Caretta caretta), in 2004.
* Five nesting beaches have been identified; Zeelandia Beach, Turtle Beach, Lynch Bay,
Oranje Bay and Kay Bay. Zeelandia Beach is the primary nesting beach, and the only place
where all three species nest regularly; the other beaches are used occasionally by green and
* Daily track surveys are carried out on Zeelandia Beach and Turtle Beach throughout the
nesting season; the other nesting beaches are monitored sporadically. Every track is
identified to species; categorised as a false crawl or a nest; all nest locations are recorded for
inclusion in the nest survival and hatching success study.
* In 2005:
o Track surveys were conducted from 5 April to 21 November; a total of 190 surveys
o Leatherback nesting activity occurred from 29 March 22 June; 11 nests and eight
false crawls were observed; all emergences were on Zeelandia Beach.
o Green turtles were recorded from 4 July 1 October; 15 nests and 52 false crawls
were encountered; nesting was on Zeelandia Beach, Turtle Beach and Kay Bay.
o Two hawksbill nests were observed on 27 May and 19 September; the first was on
Kay Bay, the second on Zeelandia Beach.
* Night patrols are only conducted on Zeelandia Beach due to limited personnel and minimal
nesting on other beaches; patrols run from 9.00pm 4.00am. Each turtle encountered is
identified to species; tagged with external flipper tags and an internal PIT tag leatherbackss
only); standard carapace length and width measurements are taken; nest locations are
recorded for inclusion in the nest survival and hatching success study.
* In 2005:
o Night patrols were conducted from 18 April 20 October; 165 patrols were
completed, totalling over 1,000 hours of monitoring.
o Three leatherbacks and five green turtles were encountered during patrols; all were
tagged by the Programme Co-ordinator.
o One of the green turtles was carrying a tag that had originally been applied in August
2002; this was the first record of a remigrant turtle for the project.
* Average carapace measurements for females nesting in 2005:
o Leatherback: Curved carapace length (CCL) = 148.2cm; Curved carapace width
o Green: CCL = 108.8cm; CCW = 100.0cm
o No hawksbill turtles were encountered during night patrols.
* All marked nests were included in a study of nest survival and hatching success. During
track surveys they are monitored for signs of disturbance or predation; close to the expected
hatching date observers record signs of hatchling emergence. Two days after tracks have
been recorded the nest is excavated to determine hatching and emerging success.
* In 2005:
o 28 nests were marked; 11 leatherback, 15 green and two hawksbill
o Two nests were lost during the incubation period; one leatherback nest was washed
away during high tides and one green turtle nest was buried underneath a cliff fall.
o Incubation period for leatherbacks was 60 days, for greens 58.6 days and for
hawksbills 63 days.
* Excavations were performed on 20 nests; eight leatherback, 10 green and 2 hawksbill.
o Average egg chamber depth varied greatly between the three species; leatherback =
73.5cm, green = 57.5cm and hawksbill = 44.5cm
o Mean clutch size for each species; leatherback = 77.8 yolked + 48 yolkless eggs;
green = 101.2 eggs and hawksbill = 147 eggs.
o Hatching success was greater for green nests than either hawksbill or leatherback;
76.8% compared to 41.1% and 3.5%, respectively.
o Emerging success was lower for leatherback nests than either hawksbill or greens;
2.1% compared to 41.1% and 70.1%, respectively.
o Very little predation was observed and few deformed embryos were recorded; one
albino green turtle hatchling was encountered, and one green turtle egg contained twin
o One green turtle nest was relocated 25 days after it was laid, due to the risk of erosion;
the eggs appeared relatively unaffected by the relocation, for when excavated the
hatching success was 76.4%.
o In future years the practise of relocating nests laid in erosion zones to safer sections of
the beach will continue.
* A satellite tracking project was initiated in 2005 by the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance.
This research was an inter-island collaboration of STENAPA and the Nature Foundation St
Maarten. Dr Robert van Dam was the lead biologist, providing expertise and training in
satellite telemetry methodology.
o Two transmitters were successfully deployed on nesting females; one on a green turtle
from St Eustatius in September, the second on a hawksbill from St Maarten in
o The green turtle returned to nest once more after the transmitter was attached; she then
remained in the near-shore waters of the island, less than 5km from the release site on
the Atlantic coast. This may be the first record of an adult green turtle female being
resident in her breeding area. Transmissions ended on 15 November, 2005.
o The hawksbill turtle migrated over 350km; she travelled to the British Virgin Islands,
before her transmissions stopped on 14 December, 2005.
o An extensive education programme was part of the project. Island schools were
visited by the Programme Co-ordinator and students aged 5 13 were taught about
satellite telemetry and its use in turtle conservation. Several newspaper articles were
published, and radio interviews given; in addition an exhibit was organised at the local
o Two competitions were organised for students; for the "Name the Turtle" Competition
students had to draw a picture of a turtle, write a story about a turtle or make a model
turtle out of recyclable materials. 106 entries were received; three winners were
chosen and they won various prizes, including the chance to pick the name of one of
the transmitter turtles. A similar competition was held on St Maarten. The green
turtle was given the name "Miss Shellie" and the hawksbill was called "Archy".
o The "Where's the Turtle?" Competition had students guessing where the turtles would
go on their migrations, and how far they would swim. The winners will be informed
early in 2006.
* Beach erosion continued on Zeelandia Beach in 2005:
o Many of the numbered marker stakes were lost from 2004, due to high tides.
o Over 20% were more than 2m from their 2004 location, suggesting extensive cliff
o Sand mining compounds the erosion problem at the northern end of Zeelandia Beach.
Despite being an illegal activity it occurred throughout 2005, in the gulley and on the
o Five major cliff falls were recorded; each month from June October.
o Monitoring of erosion will be a priority for 2006.
* Several different community activities were conducted in 2005:
o A puppet show was organised for local schools and the after school programme to
teach about several threats to turtles, and how they could be avoided.
o Presentations on turtles were given at the Auxiliary Home and the Methodist church.
o STENAPA participated in the School Vacation Programme; Antonio Flemming
assisted with night patrols in his second year of the project.
* Six beach clean-ups were conducted on Zeelandia Beach. A total of 12 trucks full of rubbish
bags were removed in addition to a fridge, large rope, fishing net and car batteries.
Unfortunately support from the local community in these events was disappointing.
* The Sea Turtle Conservation Programme was featured in regular articles in the local press
and on the radio. The STENAPA quarterly newsletter included two features about the
research activities conducted in 2005 and the website contains several pages dedicated to the
programme, with a focus on the Sea Turtle Satellite Tracking Project 2005.
* Staff participated in several regional and international meetings in 2005:
o The 2004 Programme Co-ordinator attended the 25th International Sea Turtle
Symposium in Savannah, Georgia, USA, 16 22 January 2005 and the WIDECAST
Annual General Meeting. A teacher from the high school and a student also travelled
to the symposium.
o The 2005 Programme Co-ordinator was invited to a workshop in Cuba; the focus of
this meeting was to discuss the role of community involvement in sea turtle
conservation projects. She gave a presentation about the programme on St Eustatius.
o In October the Programme Co-ordinator gave a lecture as part of the "Sea & Learn on
Saba" event; the work of the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme was presented to
international biologists, tourists and local residents.
*Several recommendations were made for the 2006 season:
o Continued participation of volunteers, from Working Abroad and the STENAPA
o Monitoring of nesting beaches to continue; daily track surveys on all beaches and
night patrols of the primary nesting beach.
o Further development of the research programme; expand the focus of the programme
by implementing an in-water survey of juvenile turtles and continue the satellite
tracking project, with the possible inclusion of leatherback turtles.
The St Eustatius National Parks Foundation (STENAPA) established the Sea Turtle Conservation
Programme following concerns that the island's sea turtle populations were being threatened by
anthropogenic disturbance and destruction of nesting beach habitats through sand mining, joy
riding and pollution.
A community outreach campaign was organised in 2001, to begin raising public awareness about
sea turtle conservation issues. Subsequent to this initiative, a beach monitoring programme was
started in 2002, in affiliation with the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network
(WIDECAST). The first year of the programme saw very limited and sporadic monitoring of the
primary nesting beach due to a lack of personnel; however, in 2003 regular night patrols were
made possible following the introduction of the Working Abroad Programme, which brings
groups of international volunteers to assist with STENAPA projects in the National and Marine
Parks. By 2004 the programme had expanded to include daily patrols on several of the island's
nesting beaches, with a dedicated vehicle and a full-time project co-ordinator during the nesting
Data from the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme have shown that three species of sea turtle
regularly nest on St Eustatius; the leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), the green (Chelonia
mydas) and the hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), all of which are classified as either
endangered or critically endangered by the IUCN. There has also been an unconfirmed report of
nesting by a fourth species, the loggerhead (Caretta caretta), which is classed as threatened by
The ultimate objective of the St Eustatius Sea Turtle Conservation Programme is to promote the
long-term survival of the sea turtle populations on and around the island. This goal is achieved
by safeguarding critical sea turtle habitats; conducting research to provide policy and decision
makers with current, relevant data on the status of sea turtles in the region, and limiting
environmental impacts on nesting beaches and in near-shore waters. One of the most important
factors to ensure the success of the project is the direct involvement of the local community in the
programme to promote a better understanding of the importance of long-term conservation, not
just for sea turtles but for other locally threatened species.
The aims of this Annual Report include the following:
Summarise the activities of the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme conducted in 2005
Review the accomplishments and deficiencies of the programme in 2005, and suggest
recommendations for 2006
Provide a summary of the data from 2005 research initiatives
Present information locally, regionally and internationally about the research and
monitoring programme on the island
Produce a progress report for the Island Government, programme funding organizations,
the local community and international volunteers.
St Eustatius National Parks Foundation (STENAPA)
The Sea Turtle Conservation Programme is co-ordinated by the St Eustatius National Parks
Foundation (STENAPA), which is the main non-governmental environmental organization on the
island of St Eustatius (known locally as Statia). In 1996 STENAPA was given a legal mandate
by the Island Government to administer a new Marine Park and, in 1998, for a new National
Park; STENAPA also manages the Miriam C. Schmidt Botanical Garden. The Marine Park
surrounds St Eustatius from the high water mark to the 30 metre depth contour; there are two
marine reserves within the Marine Park, which are designated no-take zones and are in place to
protect marine habitats and to reduce fishing pressures. The Marine Park maintains dive and
yacht moorings and conducts many educational programmes, such as the Snorkel Club and the
Junior Ranger Club, in addition to research activities such as the Sea Turtle Conservation
STENAPA is a not-for-profit foundation, relying on government subsidies, grants and minimal
income from divers and yachts to conduct its activities. STENAPA has only eight staff and is
reliant on volunteers to run projects such as the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme. The
organisation is supported by two international volunteer programmes; the STENAPA Internship
Programme and the Working Abroad Programme, which are discussed in more detail below.
STENAPA Internship Programme
Since the inception of the Internship Programme in September 2001 over 30 interns from various
countries including Great Britain, the USA, Canada, Holland, Germany and New Zealand have
helped accomplish projects at the Botanical Garden, in the Quill National Park, in the Marine
Park; they have also assisted with educational programmes in the local schools. Interns are
responsible for overseeing the daily activities of volunteers from the Working Abroad
Programme, in addition to managing and completing individual assignments.
Interns are provided with a small monthly stipend, basic accommodation and the use of a truck
during their six-month stay; however, they are personally responsible for all travel costs, and
living expenses while on the island. The internships allow students and professionals to gain
valuable practical experience in their chosen field. Without these dedicated volunteers,
STENAPA would not be able to conduct many of its projects, since the Foundation could not
afford such manpower or expertise.
Working Abroad Programme -Statia Conservation Project
Working Abroad is an international networking service based in the United Kingdom that, since
it was founded in 1997, has established volunteer projects in over 150 countries worldwide.
STENAPA started its collaboration with the Working Abroad Programme in January 2003, and
to date a total of 90 volunteers have been recruited via their organisation. On St Eustatius groups
of up to eight volunteers stay for two months and assist in the development of the Botanical
Garden, conduct maintenance of the National Park trails and, during turtle season, participate in
night-time beach patrols. For their stay each volunteer pays approximately US$1700 towards
food, water, lodging, truck hire, fuel and a project expenses fee (this does not include
international travelling costs or personal living expenses during their stay).
Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST)
The St Eustatius Sea Turtle Conservation Programme is affiliated to the Wider Caribbean Sea
Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST). Founded in 1981, WIDECAST represents the
largest network of sea turtle research and conservation projects in the world; with members in
over 30 Caribbean states and territories. Affiliation provides access to a collaborative framework
of organizations within the region, with a strong emphasis on information exchange, training and
active community participation. WIDECAST promotes interaction between different stakeholder
groups to ensure effective management and conservation of turtle populations in the Caribbean.
In June 2003, STENAPA Manager Nicole Esteban was appointed WIDECAST Country Co-
ordinator for St Eustatius, following completion of a training course in St Croix (US Virgin
Islands). Subsequent to this the St Eustatius Sea Turtle Conservation Programme implemented
WIDECAST-approved protocols for monitoring and data collection. The Sea Turtle Programme
Co-ordinator attended the WIDECAST Annual General Meetings in 2004 and 2005; with funding
and logistical assistance provided in part through WIDECAST.
Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA)
The DCNA was founded in 2005, and represents a formal coalition of the six nature conservation
management organizations of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, with representation from
international agencies, central government and financial experts. Their main goals are to
safeguard the biodiversity and promote sustainable management of the natural resources of the
islands, through the establishment of long-term, sustainable funding sources. The Manager of
STENAPA is currently the chairperson of the DCNA.
Funding agencies and donors
To effectively run the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme, the STENAPA Manager and Project
Co-ordinator allocate approximately 10 to 30 % of their time to raise funds to cover the annual
programme costs. Fundraising occurs both locally and internationally by soliciting specific
organizations, and by donation requests through newsletters and turtle awareness campaigns.
Organizations that have contributed to the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme in 2005 are:
Prince Bernhard Culture Fund, Netherlands Antilles
Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA)
Travel Committee of the International Sea Turtle Society
Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST), USA
World Turtle Trust (WTT), USA
Working Abroad Programme, France
We also acknowledge those individuals who have contributed to the success of the programme by
donating their time or providing financial assistance.
The island of St Eustatius is part of the Netherlands Antilles that includes Bonaire, Curacao, St
Maarten, Saba and St Eustatius. It lies in the North-eastern Caribbean, and is located in the
Windward Islands, lying within the longitude and latitude median of 1730 North and 62058
West; the sister islands of Saba and St Maarten stretch out 30km north-west and 63km north,
respectively (See Figure 1).
St Eustatius is 21km2 in size and is dominated by two volcanoes; an extinct volcano comprising
the "Northern Hills" (150 million years old) and a dormant volcano called the "Quill" in the
south, formed 22000 to 32000 years ago. As a result of its volcanic origin, the beaches of St
Eustatius all have dark sand.
Figure 1. Map showing location of St Eustatius in the Eastern Caribbean
Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches
Since the initiation of the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme in 2002 nesting activity has been
recorded at five beaches on St Eustatius; Zeelandia Beach, Turtle Beach and Lynch Bay on the
Atlantic side of the island, and Oranje Bay and Kay Bay on the Caribbean side (See Figure 2).
There follows a brief description of each of these beaches.
Figure 2. Map showing location of nesting beaches on St Eustatius
At over 1km this is the longest beach on St Eustatius; it is directly
linked to Turtle Beach at its southern end. It is quite a narrow beach
backed by cliffs, except in the northern 200m where these is a
relatively sparse border of Sea Grape trees (Coccoloba uvifera). In
this region there are also the remains of an abandoned hotel behind
the beach and the principal public access area. Ground vegetation is
not extensive, limited to small patches of Beach Morning Glory
(Ipomoea pes-caprae) and an unidentified succulent-type plant,
which are both grazed by cows that occasionally shelter under the sea grape trees. The beach is
very dynamic with considerable sand movement throughout the year; despite this it is still the
most stable, permanent beach on the island. Erosion is extensive close to the access area,
especially following heavy rains; the problem is exacerbated by sand removal in that region.
Close to the southern end of the beach is a large storm water gut which acts as the landfill for the
island's household waste. It is the primary turtle nesting beach hosting three species of turtle
(green, leatherback and hawksbill), and the only place on the island where leatherbacks have
been recorded nesting. It is the only beach monitored at night by the Sea Turtle Conservation
This is the second longest beach on the Atlantic side, measuring
approximately 400m. It links to Zeelandia Beach at its northern
point, and connects to Lynch Bay around a point to the south. It is a
steeply sloping bay, which is subject to considerable sand movement
especially during the hurricane season (June November). It is
backed by cliffs and there is virtually no vegetation except for
occasional Sea Grape trees on the cliffs. There is a storm water gut
in the middle of the beach which was formerly used as the land-fill
I (i.ug. B-
Ih'a- O -F-'
for the island; although not currently used this gut still contains a large amount of refuse and is
open to the beach. Nesting activity to date has been limited to green turtles. Unfortunately
access to this beach at night is often prohibited due to the tides, and therefore it is only patrolled
during the day except when conditions permit.
This very small, rocky beach is located around the point to the
south of Turtle Beach; it is approximately 200m long. There is
considerable ground vegetation cover, primarily Beach Morning
Glory and it is backed by a sloping cliff which provides the only
access when tides prohibit movement from Turtle Beach. Unlike
many of the other beaches on the island Lynch Bay is stable due to
the adjacent reef barrier that provides a natural shelter and also for
sand retention. Green and hawksbill nesting activity has been recorded at this beach, and it was
the site of an unconfirmed loggerhead nest (I. Berkel, Pers. Comm.). Due to access issues Lynch
Bay can only be monitored safely during the day.
This is a very dynamic sandy beach on the Caribbean side of the ...
island; it experiences considerable sand movement throughout
the year. It stretches for almost 2km and runs into the harbour at
its southern end. The beach is bordered by grass and the
occasional Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera) in addition to several
hotels and shops; there are also ruins of warehouses on the sand
and in the near-shore waters along its entire length. Very little ..
nesting of green and hawksbill turtles has been observed, due to
which fact it is not monitored regularly.
This is a short, rocky bay on the Caribbean side of the island;
approximately 200m long. It is backed by a high cliff, which has a
few Sea Grape trees; there is no other vegetation cover. Green and
hawksbill turtles have been recorded nesting on this beach. The
only access to Kay Bay is via private residential properties; the
owners of one property report any signs of turtle nesting activity to
STENAPA as this beach is not monitored on a regular basis.
The Sea Turtle Conservation Programme 2005 commenced with the following pre-season
Selection ofNew Programme Co-ordinator
Following the departure of the existing Programme Co-ordinator in January 2005, the position
was advertised locally through January and February in the local newspaper and on the radio. To
attract international applicants the job was also advertised at the 25th International Sea Turtle
Symposium and on the Internet via the Seaturtle.Org and WIDECAST websites, and the NACRI
(Netherlands Antilles Coral Reef Initiative) list server.
To prepare the primary nesting beach for patrols, numbered stakes were positioned at 20m
intervals along Zeelandia Beach; these stakes are used to mark the location of all nests or false
crawls recorded during day or night patrols. Each stake was placed as close as possible to the
vegetation or cliff behind the beach. Some stakes were remaining from the 2004 season, these
were repainted; any that were missing were replaced.
Updating of Data Collection Sheets and "Guidelines for Visitors" Information
Prior to the start of beach patrols, the new Programme Co-ordinator updated the data collection
sheets for the tagging and nest marking data, as well as creating a new data form for the nest
excavation data. In addition, the "Guidelines for Visitors" handout that is given to community
members or tourists wishing to join a night patrol was rewritten to improve the information given
to potential volunteers about protocols on the beach.
Training of Volunteers
The materials used for training volunteers about the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme were
reviewed before the first group from Working Abroad arrived in April 2005. Two short
presentations were created; the first was a basic introduction to sea turtles, their biology and
nesting behaviour; the second focused on beach monitoring protocols and the correct use of the
data collection sheets. Every volunteer received training before assisting with beach monitoring.
Monitoring and Research Activities
During the 2005 nesting season several different monitoring and research activities were
conducted as part of the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme:
Daily track surveys were conducted on the primary nesting beach (Zeelandia Beach) and Turtle
Beach; surveys of other beaches were performed periodically when deemed necessary. These
surveys provide data on the temporal and spatial utilisation of previously identified turtle nesting
beaches throughout the nesting season. For each track observed the following information is
recorded (See example of data collection sheet in Appendix 1):
Observer Name of observer recording data.
Weather Brief description of environmental conditions.
Moon phase Based on the previous night's moon; this information is recorded to
determine whether there is a relationship between moon phase and emergence.
Species If possible to determine from the track.
Track width Measured as the straight-line distance between the outer flipper edge
marks; taken to the nearest millimetre. For each track the width is measured at three
random locations and the average used in analyses.
GPS location Measured either at the centre of the nest or at the apex of a false crawl
Locale name Name of the beach.
Triangulation measurements to two landmarks Straight-line distance to the two nearest
numbered stakes; taken to the nearest centimetre. Measured either from the centre of the
nest or at the apex of a false crawl track.
Distance to vegetation Straight-line distance to the vegetation behind the beach or to the
cliff if no vegetation; taken to the nearest centimetre. Measured either from the centre of
the nest or at the apex of a false crawl track.
Distance to high tide line Straight-line distance to the most recent high-tide line; taken
to the nearest centimetre. Measured either from the centre of the nest or at the apex of a
false crawl track.
Number of unsuccessful nest cavities If the turtle made more than one attempt at nesting
during the same emergence.
Result of nesting attempt Recorded as either lay, probable lay, false crawl (when some
nesting activity observed) or track only (no nesting activity at all).
All marked nests were monitored daily and their status recorded; any disturbed or destroyed nests
were noted. After the data have been recorded a line is drawn in the sand through both tracks to
indicate that it has been registered, ensuring that data are not collected twice for the same track.
Surveys were conducted as early as possible in the morning to prevent tracks from being
disturbed or washed away. For continuity, and to increase the accuracy of data collection,
surveys were conducted by the Programme Co-ordinator or trained personnel in her absence.
Nightly beach patrols were conducted on Zeelandia Beach and, when tidal conditions permitted,
Turtle Beach; data from previous years show very low nesting densities at other beaches, making
it an inefficient use of resources to carry out night patrols at these other locations. Each patrol
consisted of a minimum of two people; including either the Programme Co-ordinator or a Marine
Park intern where possible, although occasionally two Working Abroad volunteers conducted a
patrol together. A stretch of beach approximately 1km in length was monitored on Zeelandia
Beach (up to 1.6km when Turtle Beach was included) from the cliffs at the northern end to just
south of Smith's Gut; hourly patrols of this section were conducted between 9.00pm 4.00am.
The primary objective of the beach patrols was to encounter as many nesting turtles as possible;
to tag them with flipper and/or internal tags as appropriate, collect carapace measurements, mark
the location of the nest for inclusion in a nesting success survey and relocate any nests laid in
designated erosion zones. For each turtle observed the following data were recorded (See
example of data collection sheet in Appendix 1):
Observer Name of observer recording data.
Date Patrols span two dates but to avoid confusion the first date is used throughout the
Time At the moment the turtle is first encountered
* Weather Brief description of environmental conditions.
* Moon phase This information is recorded to determine whether there is a relationship
between moon phase and nesting emergence.
* Species If the turtle is not observed the species is determined from the track, where
* Tag information See detailed description below of data recorded.
* Activity At the moment the turtle is first encountered. Classed as emerging, searching,
body pitting, digging egg chamber, laying, covering, disguising, gone (used if turtle has
returned to the sea).
* Carapace Length See detailed description below of measurements taken for each
* Carapace Width See detailed description below of measurements taken for each species.
* Parasites/Ectobiota The presence of any parasites on the turtle are recorded, with a brief
description of the parasite; its location is indicated on a diagram on the data collection
* Injuries Any injury to the turtle is described and the location indicated on a diagram on
the data collection sheet.
* Notes Any additional pertinent information about the turtle or their behaviour is
* Track width This is only recorded if the turtle is not observed during the patrol.
Measured as the straight-line distance between the outer flipper edge marks; taken to the
nearest millimetre. For each track the width is measured at three random locations and
the average used in analyses.
* GPS location Measured either at the centre of the nest or at the apex of a false crawl
track. When possible this is taken while the turtle is laying, when the egg chamber is
open and the exact location of the eggs is known.
* Locale name Name of the beach.
* Triangulation measurements to two landmarks Straight-line distance to the two nearest
numbered stakes; taken to the nearest centimetre. Measured either from the centre of the
nest or at the apex of a false crawl track. When possible these measurements are made
while the turtle is laying so that the exact location of the eggs is known.
* Distance to vegetation Straight-line distance to the vegetation behind the beach or to
the cliff if no vegetation; taken to the nearest centimetre. Measured either from the centre
of the nest or at the apex of a false crawl track. When possible this measurement is made
while the turtle is laying so that the exact location of the eggs is known.
* Distance to high tide line Straight-line distance to the most recent high-tide line; taken
to the nearest centimetre. Measured either from the centre of the nest or at the apex of a
false crawl track. When possible this measurement is made while the turtle is laying so
that the exact location of the eggs is known.
* Number of unsuccessful nest cavities If the turtle made more than one attempt at
nesting during the same emergence.
* Result of nesting attempt Recorded as either lay (when the turtle was seen laying),
probable lay (if the nest site suggests that the turtle laid but no eggs were seen), false
crawl (when some disturbed sand observed) or track only (no nesting activity at all, no
*Relocation data If the nest is deemed to have been laid in an unsuitable location which
is prone to erosion or flooding the eggs are relocated to a more secure section of the
beach. The following data are recorded for this new nest site.
o New GPS location Taken at the centre of the new egg chamber.
o Triangulation measurements to two landmarks Straight-line distance to the two
numbered stakes closest to the new nest location; taken from the centre of the
new egg chamber.
o Distance to vegetation Taken from the centre of the new egg chamber.
o Distance to high tide line Taken from the centre of the new egg chamber.
o The number of eggs The total number of eggs; also recorded separately are the
number of yolked and yolkless eggs.
o Time eggs laid The time the turtle began to lay eggs.
o Time eggs reburied The time the eggs were placed in the new egg chamber.
All data were collected either while the turtle was laying or immediately afterwards, when she
was covering the nest site; no turtle was touched before she had started laying.
Once the turtle had returned to the sea a line was drawn in the sand through both tracks to
indicate to the person conducting the track survey the following morning that data had been
collected, preventing data repetition for the same track or nest.
Metal flipper tags (National Band and Tag Company, MONEL Style #49: WC251 WC350 and
INCONEL Style #681: WE1 WE100) were donated by the Marine Turtle Tagging Centre,
Barbados, which is affiliated with WIDECAST. All tag applicators are inspected and cleaned on
a routine basis and replaced when they ceased to function properly.
Standard tagging methods are used, based on the protocols of the Turtle Monitoring Programme
in St Croix, USVI. For leatherbacks, external flipper tags are applied to the centre of the fleshy
skin located between the back flipper and the tail (See Figure 3). For hard shell species, tags are
applied adjacent to the first large scale on the proximal part of the front flipper (See Figure 4),
where the swimming stroke will cause minimal tag movement (Balazs, G. H, 1999). Tags are
applied while the turtle is covering her nest, immediately after she has finished laying eggs; this
is done so that the turtle is not disturbed prior to laying. Two metal tags are attached to each
turtle, both leatherbacks and hard-shelled species; this is to ensure that even if one tag is lost the
individual can still be recognized. External flipper tags were only applied by trained personnel,
either the Programme Co-ordinator or Marine Park intern.
Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) Tags
PIT tags were purchased by the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme with funding from KNAP
Fund, MINA. For leatherbacks only, in addition to the two external flipper tags, one PIT tag is
also applied to each individual. A PIT tag is a small microprocessor which transmits a unique
identification number when read using a hand-held scanner. While the turtle is laying a single
PIT tag is inserted under the skin in the front shoulder muscle of the turtle using an applicator
(See Figure 3). All leatherbacks encountered were scanned for the presence of PIT tags using an
AVID scanner before a PIT tag was inserted, to avoid double-tagging individuals. Only the
Programme Co-ordinator and STENAPA Manager were trained to apply PIT tags.
Figure 3. Tagging sites for leatherbacks
Figure 4. Tagging site for hard shell species
Standard carapace length and width measurements (as of Bolten, 1999) were taken of each
nesting turtle encountered, after she had finished laying. Measurements were made using a
flexible metal or fibreglass tape measure; each measurement was taken once, to the nearest
Curved carapace length (CCL) was measured from the nuchal notch
(the anterior edge of the carapace where it meets the skin) in a
straight line to the most posterior tip of the caudal projection (See
Figure 5). When the caudal projection is not symmetrical the
measurement is made to the longest point (any such irregularity
would be noted on the data collection sheet as influencing the
measurement). Measurements were taken just to the right of the
central ridge, not along its crest, to avoid errors associated with
carapace surface irregularities.
Figure 5. Carapace length leatherback
Curved carapace width (CCW) is measured at the widest point, but there are no
standard features delineating the end points (See Figure 6). The tape measure
passes over the ridges and does not follow their contours.
Figure 6. Carapace width leatherback
Hard shell species
For green and hawksbill turtles the curved carapace length notch
Sto tip (CCL n-t) was measured. It is measured in a straight line
Curved from the anterior point at the mid-line (where the carapace and
Carapace skin meet) to the posterior tip of the supracaudal scutes (See
Length Figure 7). As the supracaudals are often asymmetrical CCL n-t is
NTip taken to the longest tip.
Figure 7. Carapace length -hard shell
Curved carapace width (CCW) is measured in a straight line between the
widest points of the carapace (See Figure 8); there are no anatomical features
marking the end points.
Figure 8. Carapace width hard shell
Nest Survival and Hatching Success
All nests recorded were included in a study on nest survival and hatching success. Every day
during morning track surveys the status of each marked nest was observed; a record was made if
a nest was deemed disturbed, destroyed or washed away. Close to the predicted hatching dates
(at around 50 days) the triangulation data were used to mark the site of the egg chamber; to
prevent the surveyor having to re-measure the nest each day a small "V" of sticks was placed on
the sand behind the nest site. This area was closely monitored for evidence of hatching; a
depression, hatchling tracks or hatchlings. When any signs of hatching were observed the nest
was excavated after 48 hours; if no signs of hatching were recorded the nest was excavated after
at least 70 days from the date the eggs were laid. All excavations were conducted by the
Programme Co-ordinator or trained personnel to ensure accuracy of data collection.
If a depression or other sign of hatching was present the excavator carefully dug down at this
point until the first egg was encountered; if hatching had not been observed the triangulation data
were used to locate the expected site of the egg chamber where digging commenced. Using
gloves, the nest contents were carefully removed from the egg chamber and inventoried. The
following data were recorded for each excavated nest (See example of data collection sheet in
Nest code Each nest was given a unique identification number.
Observers Names of people present during excavation.
Date The date the nest was laid; when hatching was observed and the date the
excavation was conducted.
Number of empty shells Only shells corresponding to more than 50% of the egg were
counted; representing the number of hatched eggs.
Number of hatchlings Any hatchlings found in the egg chamber were recorded; dead or
Number of unhatched eggs Eggs were opened to search for the presence of embryos
and categorised as:
o No embryo No obvious embryo present.
o Embryo Embryo present; includes all stages of development.
o Full embryo Embryo in final stages of development and ready to hatch.
Number of pipped eggs Eggs where hatchling had broken the egg shell but failed to
hatch; characterized by triangular hole in the shell. Whether hatchling was alive or dead
was also recorded.
Number of predated eggs If possible the type of predator was noted; often characterized
by a circular hole in the shell.
Number of deformed embryos Any deformities were recorded such as missing flippers,
additional scutes on carapace, albinism or the presence of multiple embryos in a single
Number of yolkless eggs Small, yolkless eggs were counted separately.
Notes Any additional pertinent information was recorded.
Depth of nest To the top of the egg chamber (first egg encountered) and the bottom of
the egg chamber (after final egg removed); measure to nearest centimetre.
Any hatchlings found alive were released to the sea. When the inventory was complete the nest
contents were returned to the egg chamber and reburied.
In-water Turtle Sightings
To obtain information on in-water sightings of turtles, data collection forms were given to the
three dive centres on St Eustatius; Dive Statia, Golden Rock Dive Centre and Scubaqua (See
example of data sheet in Appendix 2). The following data were recorded for each sighting:
Name Name of observer.
Location Name of dive site or GPS location.
Time Time of sighting.
Species of turtle Green, hawksbill, loggerhead, leatherback, could not determine.
Length of shell Less than 10cm, 10 50cm, 50 100cm, more than 100cm.
Did the tail extend more than 15cm past the shell? Yes, no, don't know.
Status of the turtle Alive, dead, injured. If injury, a description of the injury.
Behaviour of the turtle Resting, mating, swimming or eating.
Depth of turtle In feet or metres.
Location of turtle On the surface, in the water column or at the bottom.
Environment Sand, sea grass, coral reef, rock or other (cave, wreck, etc.).
Any other comments
Divers were asked to complete the forms whenever they encountered a turtle while diving. The
Programme Co-ordinator visited the dive centres periodically throughout the 2005 season to
collect any completed forms.
Sea Turtle Satellite Tracking Project 2005
In June funding was confirmed from the DCNA to initiate a sea turtle tracking project in the
Netherlands Antilles. This project was an inter-island initiative between the DCNA, STENAPA
and the Nature Foundation Sint Maarten; led by sea turtle biologist Dr Robert van Dam. The
objective was to learn the geographical range of adult female green and hawksbill turtles nesting
on St Eustatius and St Maarten, by determining their migratory movements and the location of
their feeding grounds. Another important aspect of the project was as a forum to engage local
communities in sea turtle conservation issues, by showcasing turtle migratory behaviour from the
Preliminary visits to the two islands were scheduled in July; these were intended to locate the
primary nesting beaches and also discuss logistics for the research trip later in the season. In
addition training in transmitter attachment procedures was to be given by Dr van Dam to research
personnel. A tentative schedule was determined for the September visit and patrols arranged to
collect data on nesting emergences to calculate predicted nesting dates for individuals during that
time. It was planned to deploy five transmitters on green and hawksbill turtles; three on St
Eustatius and two on St Maarten.
Basic Satellite Telemetry
Satellite telemetry involves attaching a small transmitter to the carapace of a turtle; each time the
turtle surfaces to breathe a signal is sent to an ARGOS receiver on-board a polar orbiting NOAA
satellite. This signal provides information about the location of the turtle; the signal is classified
into one of five location classes depending on its accuracy. This will vary depending on several
factors including environmental conditions and relative location of transmitter and satellite.
Using satellite transmitters it is possible to follow individuals and gain detailed information about
turtle migration and migratory behaviour patterns. By knowing where turtles are going and the
routes they use between breeding and feeding areas, researchers can determine potential threats in
all areas frequented by turtles and so focus conservation efforts where most needed.
Satellite transmitters are small and
lightweight; the Telonics ST-18 used on
St Eustatius measured 12cm by 5cm and
weighed approximately 200g (See
Figure 9). Essentially they are
electronic components and a battery
housed inside a hard plastic casing, with
an external antenna at one end. They are STEUSTA rjs
designed to be hydrodynamic and so 1E1 WFuNE PAR
cause minimal disruption to a turtle's to f-a;.2
natural swimming and diving
behaviours. For hard shell species
transmitters lie on a layer of elastomer
that cushions between the transmitter
and the carapace; it is then secured using
layers of fibreglass resin.
Figure 9. Satellite transmitter fitted to a turtle carapace
The fibreglass creates a protective casing for the transmitter against damage on reefs or other
hard surfaces during its time in the ocean. Transmitters will normally last several months until
the battery fails, the antenna is broken, or it is dislodged from the carapace.
Education and Media Activities
Two school visits were planned; the first prior to the research visit in September, to provide
students with information about satellite telemetry and how it can assist turtle research and
conservation, the second after transmitters had been attached to give feedback on what had been
achieved and show the location of each turtle. Competitions were organised for local children to
choose the name of the turtles in the study, and to guess where the turtles might go on their
To raise public awareness of the project, different media events were arranged; these included
radio interviews, articles in the local newspaper and STENAPA newsletter, exhibits and features
on the STENAPA website.
When the numbered stakes were placed along Zeelandia Beach before the start of patrols the
distance from the stake to the cliff or vegetation was recorded to determine the extent of erosion
along the monitored section of beach since 2004.
If a significant landslide or cliff fall was encountered during a patrol on any nesting beach the
following data were recorded; the date, time (if known), amount of cliff affected and a
description of the damage, including a photograph whenever possible.
Community Outreach Events
Raising community awareness of the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme is a fundamental part
of the project. Various activities were arranged during 2005, which are described below:
Presentations in the local schools were organised in conjunction with Dominique Vissenberg, the
Turtle Education Outreach Co-ordinator for the Windward Islands, as part of the "Help Out or
Sea Turtles Miss Out" campaign being conducted on St Maarten, St Eustatius and Saba. In
addition, several schools were also visited as part of the education component of the Sea Turtle
Satellite Tracking Project 2005 (See above).
School Vacation Programme
This programme was implemented by the Island Government in 2004; recent graduates, who are
continuing their studies overseas, are given work placements with local businesses during their
summer vacation. STENAPA has participated in this scheme since its inception and accepts at
least one student each summer; they assist with many STENAPA programmes including the Sea
Turtle Conservation Programme, helping on night patrols, nest excavations and beach clean-ups.
Monthly beach clean-ups were scheduled on Zeelandia Beach; this site was chosen as it is the
primary turtle nesting beach on the island, and the beach where the majority of the turtle research
activities occur. These events were conducted with the aid of STENAPA staff, interns, Working
Abroad volunteers and members of the public. Each clean-up was advertised in advance to
encourage participation by the local community. A record was made on the number of
participants at each clean-up and the amount and type of rubbish collected. All rubbish was
disposed of at the Smith's Gut landfill site.
Media Exposure and Public Presentations
Whenever possible the events of the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme 2005 were publicised
in the local newspaper, STENAPA newsletter, on local radio or via the STENAPA website.
Public presentations were also given to different groups on the island.
Participation in Meetings, Workshops and Symposia
In an effort to broadcast the work of the St Eustatius Sea Turtle Conservation Programme to as
wide an audience as possible, the Programme Co-ordinator tried to attend any relevant meetings,
workshops or symposia relating to turtle biology, research or conservation issues. Such
gatherings create ideal opportunities to establish regional and international contacts within the sea
turtle community; these contacts may provide guidance or support to expand and develop the
programme on St Eustatius in the future.
Selection ofNew Programme Co-ordinator
Applications for the position of Programme Co-ordinator were accepted until the end of February
2005, with 30 applications received. Seven candidates were short-listed, of these three were
interviewed in March 2005. The successful applicant, Dr Emma Harrison, was informed on 18
March 2005 and appointed to start on 2 April, 2005; an application for a work permit was
submitted to the island authorities prior to her arrival on St Eustatius.
A total of 65 stakes were prepared by the Programme Co-ordinator; each stake had a number
engraved and then painted white. A band of reflective tape was applied to help locate them on
the beach at night using a flashlight. Stake 1 was located at the northern limit of Zeelandia Beach
and they ended at stake 65, half-way along Turtle Beach; they were positioned by the Programme
Co-ordinator and a group of Working Abroad volunteers. Only part of Turtle Beach was marked
in April as no leatherback nesting had been observed on that beach in previous years; in August
temporary stakes were placed on the remainder of Turtle Beach, when green turtle nesting
activity was recorded. Over the course of the nesting season some of the stakes were lost due to
high tides and beach erosion; these were replaced using temporary markers.
Updating of Data Collection Sheets and "Guidelines for Visitors" Information
The new data collection sheets for tagging and nest marking data included a section on PIT tags;
their presence, location and the number (See Appendix 1). Prior to 2005 there was no specific
data collection sheet for nest excavation data; the new form standardised the information
The "Guidelines for Visitors" fact-sheet is very important as it provides useful information to
anyone wanting to participate in a monitoring patrol. The new form (See Appendix 3) reflected
changes in beach protocols implemented in 2005. All visitors were required to sign the form
once they had read it acknowledging that they agreed to abide by the rules and regulations
mentioned. It was used as the basis of a brief orientation session that visitors received with the
Programme Co-ordinator prior to joining researchers on the beach.
Training of Volunteers
The Programme Co-ordinator conducted the first training session on 15 April 2005; present were
Working Abroad volunteers and Marine Park staff and interns. Each successive group of
Working Abroad volunteers received an identical orientation; in July, September and November.
In addition to the two theoretical presentations on sea turtle biology and data collection they
received practical training on nest marking methodology and carapace measurements.
Two Marine Park interns also received training in external flipper tagging protocols; it was hoped
that they could tag turtles encountered on nights when the Programme Co-ordinator was not
leading beach patrols. However, during the monitoring period all turtles requiring tags were
actually observed on patrols led by the Programme Co-ordinator.
Monitoring and Research Activities
The following is a summary of the data collected during the 2005 monitoring and nesting
activities of the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme.
Daily morning track surveys were conducted between 5 April and 21 November, 2005; a total of
190 surveys were completed. On 41 days surveys were not performed either due to inclement
weather conditions making surveying dangerous, training or lack of personnel. The Programme
Co-ordinator conducted 90% of the track surveys; trained volunteers carried out the surveys in
Zeelandia Beach was always included in the survey; Turtle Beach was surveyed on all but eight
days and Lynch Beach was only surveyed on 35 occasions during the season. For the last month
surveys were limited to Zeelandia Beach as nesting activity had ceased; morning surveys were
only conducted to monitor marked nests for hatching activity.
The first track was observed on 29 March, 2005; a leatherback nest was recorded on Zeelandia
Beach. This nest was reported to STENAPA by a member of the public as the Programme Co-
ordinator had not arrived on island and no surveys were being conducted at that time. The last
nesting activity was recorded on 2 October, 2005; a green turtle nest was laid on Zeelandia
Three species of turtle were recorded nesting in 2005; leatherback, green and hawksbill.
Leatherback nesting occurred between 29 March and 22 June, 2005; green turtle nesting activity
was recorded from 4 July 1 October, 2005; only two hawksbill nesting attempts were observed,
on 27 May and 19 September, 2005.
Very little nesting activity was observed in 2005 (See Table 1, Figure 10 and Figure 11); a total
of 28 nests and 60 false crawls for all three species. Zeelandia Beach was the primary nesting
beach, as observed in previous years; very few emergences were made on Turtle Beach or Kay
Table 1. Summary of turtle nesting data collected during track surveys in 2005
All Zeelandia Beach
13 Zeelandia Beach
1 Turtle Beach
1 Kay Bay
All Zeelandia Beach
46 Zeelandia Beach
6 Turtle Beach
1 Zeelandia Beach
1 Kay Bay
Zeelandia Beach Turtle Beach
7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27
29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49 51 53 55 57 59 61 63 65 67 69 71 73 75
Figure 10. Distribution of nests on Zeelandia Beach and Turtle Beach in 2005
1 3 5
Zeelandia Beach Turtle Beach
1 -d Hawksbill
1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49 51 53 55 57 59 61 63 65 67 69 71 73 75 77 79
Figure 11. Distribution of false crawls on Zeelandia Beach and Turtle Beach in 2005
All leatherback nesting activity occurred on Zeelandia Beach, and was almost exclusively limited
to a 300m stretch at the northern end (See Figures 10 and 11); only one nest and one false crawl
were south of this area. Green turtles were the only species using all three beaches; but most
emergences were on Zeelandia Beach. In contrast to leatherbacks, green turtle activity was
concentrated in a different section of the beach, south of stake number 32 (See Figures 10 and
11). Hawksbills showed no particular preference, nesting on Zeelandia Beach and Kay Bay.
Unlike previous years, in 2005 monitoring of Zeelandia Beach was increased from five to seven
nights per week, to include weekends. This decision was taken to maximise the possibility of
encountering a nesting female thus increasing the amount of data collected. Patrols commenced
at 9.00pm and ended around 3.00am; they were conducted along the entire length of Zeelandia
Beach and occasionally on Turtle Beach, when tidal conditions permitted.
Night patrols were conducted between 18 April and 20 October, 2005; patrols ended on this date
as no nesting activity had been observed for three weeks and it was assumed that the season had
finished. In total, 165 patrols were conducted; more than 1,000 hours of monitoring. If
insufficient personnel were available patrols were cancelled; on six nights patrols were cancelled
or terminated early due to bad weather causing dangerous conditions on the beach. The
Programme Co-ordinator led 59.4% of patrols, assisted by STENAPA interns and Working
Abroad volunteers; when not on patrol the Programme Co-ordinator was on radio stand-by to
assist the team on the beach if necessary.
Turtles were encountered on 29 separate nights; approximately 18% of patrols, or an encounter
rate of 1 turtle every 5.7 nights. The first leatherback was observed on 22 April, the last on 7
June; the first green turtle was encountered on 20 July and the last turtle of the 2005 season was a
green turtle seen on 1 October.
Eight individual females were encountered; three leatherbacks and five green turtles, no
hawksbills were observed during patrols. One leatherback was seen eight times, of which six
were successful nesting attempts; the average inter-nesting interval was 8.9 days (with a range of
8 10 days). Of the green turtles, three were observed more than once; one laid two nests and
made four false crawls; one laid two nests and made one false crawl; another nested successfully
five times. Average inter-nesting interval for green turtles, calculated from one individual, was
10.8 days (with a range of 10 1 days).
Visitors were always welcome on night patrols, both tourists and members of the local
community. However, very few people joined researchers in 2005; only 22 people in total,
comprising new STENAPA staff with their family, medical students, a journalist, tourists and
interested members of the public. In addition, on four nights, students from the Caribbean
Marine Reserves Programme (part of the Broachreach Programme) joined patrols; this
programme brings groups of high school students from the United States to study how marine
reserves are managed and also participate in hand-on field research. Due to the limited number
of local volunteers a flyer was produced in July advertising the Sea Turtle Conservation
Programme and inviting interested parties to contact the Programme Co-ordinator for more
information (See Appendix 4).
All of the eight individual females encountered on beach patrols during the 2005 nesting season
(See above) were tagged; three leatherbacks and five greens. None of the leatherback turtles had
tags when first encountered; all were given two external flipper tags in their rear flippers and a
single PIT tag in the right-hand shoulder muscle. Of the five greens, four had no tags when first
observed; one, however, had a single flipper tag in her right front flipper (Tag number WE25).
When the Programme Co-ordinator checked the data base from previous years it was found that
this turtle had originally been tagged on Zeelandia Beach on 7 August, 2002; this was the first
record of a returning turtle for the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme. All tagging of turtles
was performed by the Programme Co-ordinator.
Standard carapace measurements were taken for each female that was tagged; some individuals
were measured more than once, if they were encountered multiple times during the season. Table
2 & Table 3 show the curved carapace length (CCL) and width (CCW) measurements for each
leatherback and green turtle encountered, and the mean for each species.
As can be seen from Table 2, the three leatherback turtles encountered were similar in length;
CCL measurements ranged from 145.2cm to 151.7cm, with a mean of 148.2cm. Width
measurements showed similar variation between females; CCW = 108.5cm 114.6cm, with a
mean of 111.6cm. Only one leatherback was measured more than once (WC326); there was up
to 5cm variation in the CCL measurements taken (Range = 150.9cm 155.2cm), but CCW
measurements differed by only 1cm (Range = 111.3 cm 112.3cm).
Table 2. Carapace measurements of all leatherback turtles encountered in 2005.
Turtle Identification Curved Carapace Curved Carapace
Number Length1 (CCL) / cm Width1 (CCW) / cm
WC326 151.7 111.8
WC332 147.5 114.6
WC336 145.5 108.5
Species Mean 148.2 111.6
Table 3. Carapace measurements of all green turtles encountered in 2005.
Turtle Identification Curved Carapace Curved Carapace
Number Length1 (CCL n-t) / cm Width1 (CCW) / cm
WE7 100.6 93.4
WE15 106.6 95.3
WE22 113.5 106.8
WE24 112.0 106.0
WE26 111.5 98.4
Species Mean 108.8 100.0
Individual green turtles showed much more variation in both carapace length and width than
leatherbacks (See Table 3); CCL n-t ranged from 100.6cm 113.5cm, with a mean of 108.8cm;
CCW ranged from 93.4cm 106.8cm, mean = 100.0cm. For females observed more than once
the difference between successive CCL n-t measurements was less than for CCW measurements,
possibly due to clearer defined end points for length measurements than for width, which were
more subjective and open to greater observer bias.
Nest Survival and Hatching Success
Twenty-eight nests were marked for inclusion in the nest survival and hatching success study; 11
leatherback, 15 green and two hawksbill. Tables 4 and 5 provide a summary of the nest survival
data obtained from each marked nest of 2005; each table details, for leatherbacks and hard shell
species respectively, nest code, turtle identification number, location of the nest, fate of the nest,
incubation period in days (if known), and whether the nest was excavated or not.
1 If a turtle was encountered on more than one occasion the average of all measurements taken are shown
Table 4. Summary of nest survival data for each marked leatherback nest.
Nest Turtle Id F Incubation Nest
SLocation Fate of Nest 2
Code Number / days Excavated
DC1 Unknown3 Zeelandia Beach IPartly hatched 60 Yes
DC2 WC326 Zeelandia Beach IPartly hatched Unknown Yes
DC3 WC326 Zeelandia Beach Partly hatched Unknown Yes
DC4 WC326 Zeelandia Beach IPartly hatched Unknown Yes
DC5 WC326 Zeelandia Beach IPartly hatched Unknown Yes
DC6 WC332 Zeelandia Beach Washed away N/A No
DC7 WC326 Zeelandia Beach Unhatched N/A Yes
DC8 WC326 Zeelandia Beach Partly hatched Unknown Yes
DC9 WC337 Zeelandia Beach Unhatched N/A Yes
DC10 Unknown2 Zeelandia Beach Could not find4 N/A No
DC11 Unknown2 Zeelandia Beach Could not find3 N/A No
The survival of nests on Zeelandia Beach was very high, of 25 nests laid on that beach only two
did not survive; one leatherback nest was lost due to erosion before it could be relocated to a
safer location, and one green turtle nest was buried underneath a cliff fall. One green turtle nest
was relocated in the middle of the incubation period as high tides posed a serious threat to the
survival of the eggs if left in situ. Only one nest was laid on Turtle beach; that nest could not be
found when it was time to excavate; both nests laid on Kay Bay survived the entire incubation
period and hatched successfully.
Evidence of hatching was only observed for nine marked nests; either hatching tracks in the sand
or hatchlings on the beach, and therefore it was only possible to calculate the incubation period
for these nests. For both leatherbacks and hawksbills incubation period was determined from one
nest only; 60 days and 63 days, respectively. Seven green nests showed visible signs of hatching;
the mean incubation period for this species was 58.6 days, shorter than the two other species.
Excavations were conducted on 20 of the 28 marked nests; eight leatherback, 10 green and both
hawksbill nests. Six nests, two leatherback and four green, could not be found by researchers
when it was time to excavate the nest; on some occasions the nest was marked after the turtle had
left the beach, and so only an approximate location of the egg chamber was known. For all of
these nests no signs of hatching were observed, thus exacerbating this lack of information about
the exact location of the eggs; when excavating each nest several holes were dug in the vicinity of
2 "Unknown" indicates that no signs of hatching were observed and the hatching date was not known, so it was
impossible to calculate an incubation period.
3 Turtle not observed and so identity unknown.
4 Egg chamber was not located during excavation.
where the triangulation measurements crossed, to try to find the eggs. Only when this procedure
had been performed, and no eggs were encountered, was the attempt abandoned and the nest
classified as "Could not find".
Table 5. Summary of nest survival data for each marked nest of hard shell species.
Nest Turtle Id F Incubation Nest
SLocation Fate of Nest 5
Code Number / days Excavated
CM1 Unknown6 Turtle Beach Could not find7 N/A No
CM2 WE7 Zeelandia Beach Unhatched N/A Yes
CM3 WE24 Zeelandia Beach Hatched Unknown Yes
CM4 Unknown2 Zeelandia Beach Could not find3 N/A No
CM5 Unknown2 Zeelandia Beach Hatched 62 Yes
CM6 WE22 Zeelandia Beach Lost8 N/A No
CM7 WE7 Zeelandia Beach Relocated9 N/A N/A
CM8 WE24 Zeelandia Beach Hatched 57 Yes
CM9 WE22 Zeelandia Beach Hatched 50 Yes
CM10 WE26 Zeelandia Beach Could not find3 N/A No
CM11 WE22 Zeelandia Beach Hatched 58 Yes
CM12 WE22 Zeelandia Beach Hatched 62 Yes
CM13 WE22 Zeelandia Beach Could not find3 N/A No
CM14 Unknown2 Kay Bay Hatched 67 Yes
CM15 Unknown2 Zeelandia Beach Hatched 54 Yes
CMR14 WE7 Zeelandia Beach Hatched Unknown Yes
Ell Unknown2 Kay Bay Hatched Unknown Yes
EI2 Unknown2 Zeelandia Beach Hatched 63 Yes
The excavation data from all marked nests are detailed in Appendix 5; some of those data are
summarised in Table 6. The depth of nests differed considerably between the three species, with
5 "Unknown" indicates that no signs of hatching were observed and the hatching date was not known, so it was
impossible to calculate an incubation period.
6 Turtle not observed and so identity unknown.
SEgg chamber was not located during excavation.
8 This nest was buried under a large cliff fall which occurred on 12 October, 2005; it was impossible to find or
excavate the nest.
9 Nest CM7 was relocated on 18 September, 2005 due to the risk of being washed away because of high tides; given
new identification code CMR1.
leatherbacks digging much deeper nests than either greens or hawksbills; mean depth to bottom
of egg chamber was 73.5cm compared to 57.5cm for greens and 44.5cm for hawksbills.
Leatherbacks laid much fewer yolked eggs per nest than greens or hawksbills; range was 30 -
102 for leatherbacks, 32 136 for greens and 143 151 for hawksbills. Mean number of eggs
per nest for each species was 77.8 eggs for leatherbacks, 101.2 for greens and 147 for hawksbills,
although the sample size for this species was only n = 2 (See Table 6). All leatherback nests
excavated contained yolkless eggs (small-sized eggs which have no yolk); four greens and one
hawksbill nest also had a very small number of these yolkless eggs (See Appendix 5).
Table 6. Summary of excavation data from 2005
Mean Depth Mean # Eggs Mean % Mean %
to Bottom/cm / Nest Hatching Emergence
Leatherback 73.5 77.8 + 4810 3.5 2.1
Green 57.5 101.2 76.8 70.1
Hawksbill 44.5 147 41.1 41.1
The three species showed great variability in both hatching and emerging success; hatching
success was calculated as the number of hatchlings that made it out of the shell into the egg
chamber; emerging success was the number of hatchlings that made it out of the nest.
Leatherbacks showed very poor hatching and emerging success; only 3.5% of hatchlings made it
out of the shell and just 2.1% managed to leave the nest. Two leatherback nests contained only
unhatched eggs indicating that no hatchlings survived; one green nest was also completely
unhatched. Green and hawksbills were much more successful; hatching success was 76.8% and
41.1%, respectively; emerging success was 70.1% and 41.1%, respectively. All hawksbill
hatchlings that managed to leave their shells made it out of the nest successfully, no hatchlings
were found during excavations. During the excavation of two green turtle nests (CM5 and
CM12) a large number of dead hatchlings were found in the egg chamber (26 on both occasions),
which suggested that they encountered a major problem while trying to leave the nest that
prevented many of them emerging (See Appendix 5).
When the unhatched eggs were opened it was found that leatherbacks had fewer eggs with no
visible embryo present; these eggs were assumed not to have been fertilised properly and so no
embryo developed. The mean percentage of eggs with no embryo for each species was 49.5% for
leatherbacks, 67.6% for greens and 78.5% for hawksbills. One leatherback nest contained 30
eggs with full embryos and a further 29 with developed embryos; suggesting that the event which
happened was very late in the incubation period.
Several nests contained pipped eggs; two leatherbacks, seven greens and two hawksbills, with a
total of 31 eggs, all of which were dead. One hawksbill hatchling managed to break out of its
shell but entered another unhatched egg where it died. Very few eggs showed signs of predation;
only 12 in total from green and hawksbill nests; it was not possible to determine the type of
predator. Deformed embryos were rare; one green and one hawksbill hatchling had incompletely
10 Normal and yolkless eggs calculated separately for leatherbacks.
formed eyes but no shell or limb deformities were recorded. One green turtle egg contained twin
embryos, one significantly smaller than the other; they were brought back to the STENAPA
office for inclusion in the sea turtle display. One albino green turtle hatchling was also found.
Only one nest was relocated during 2005, due to the likelihood of it being washed away if left in
place; this green turtle nest was moved from stake 50 to stake 39, approximately 200m north.
The only nest lost to erosion was a leatherback nest laid at stake 56, just 120m away from the site
of the relocated nest. In future any nests laid in this area will be relocated as it appeared to be a
section of the beach particularly prone to erosion. The nest was relocated during a night patrol as
the eggs were visible in a bank of sand being eroded by waves. The eggs were moved 25 days
after they were laid, and it is possible that some of them had already been washed away as only
87 eggs were relocated. When excavated the nest had a hatching and emerging success of 76.4%,
higher than the mean value for this species, thus showing that the removal and relocation process
had not unduly harmed the eggs in any way.
In-Water Turtle Sightings
A total of 28 completed data forms were collected by the Programme Co-ordinator, or delivered
to the STENAPA office. Two of the three dive centres returned forms; Dive Statia and Golden
Rock Dive Centre. Forty-two turtles were recorded, 37 hawksbills and 5 green turtles; on two
occasions both species were observed during the same dive.
Turtles were reported from 11 dive sites within the Statia Marine Park; Anchor Point North,
Aquarium, Blair's Reef, Chien Tong, Double Wreck, Hangover, House Reef, Ledges, Old City
Pier, STENAPA Reef and Stingray. These sites ranged in depth from four 20m; the majority of
sightings were in water deeper than 15m. There appeared to be no particular time that turtles
were more likely to be seen; observations were recorded between 09:00 and 19:00 hours.
Hawksbill turtles were recorded in either the 10 50cm or 50 100cm size ranges; none were
reported as less than 10cm or greater than 100cm. The majority of hawksbills (28) were
categorised as 10 50cm. Green turtles were all recorded as being larger than 10cm; one was 10
- 50cm, one was 50 100cm and two were over 100cm in length.
Very few turtles showed obvious injuries; only three forms classed the individual as "injured". It
was possibly the same hawksbill turtle seen on three different occasions; all the observations
were at Anchor Point North, and the injury was described as "blind in the right eye" by each
observer. One other hawksbill showed limited use of movement in the left flippers; it was "only
using the right flippers to swim".
On all but one occasion turtles were on or close to the bottom substrate, not at the surface or in
the water column. The surrounding substrate was most frequently classified as coral reef,
although turtles were observed close to rocks, sand and around wrecks. Turtles were frequently
encountered either resting or swimming; on only seven occasions were they observed eating, and
no mating was recorded. Only three hawksbill turtles were recorded as having a tail that
protruded more than 15cm beyond the end of the shell (indicative of an adult male); many
observers answered "Don't Know" for that question.
Sea Turtle Satellite Trackingm Project 2005
The following is a summary of the research activities that were conducted as part of the Sea
Turtle Satellite Tracking Project 2005; see also Harrison (2005).
Sea turtle biologist Dr Robert van Dam came to St Eustatius 27 29 July, 2005 for a short
preliminary trip to visit the primary nesting beaches and discuss logistics for the research trip
scheduled for later in the nesting season; at this time he also visited St Maarten and liaised with
Dominique Vissenberg to co-ordinate logistics. He joined track surveys on Zeelandia Beach,
Turtle Beach and Lynch Bay with the Programme Co-ordinator, and discussed in detail how the
attachment of the transmitters would proceed. A short training session on the methods for
applying the transmitters was given to the Programme Co-ordinator and STENAPA manager, and
researchers in St Maarten. The preliminary schedule for attachments was organised for
September; with an initial plan for five transmitters to be deployed. Three were proposed for St
Eustatius, ideally on greens and hawksbills, and two on hawksbills on St Maarten. Dr van Dam
left instructions on equipment to purchase and the design of a wooden holding box that was to be
Data from the daily track surveys conducted in August were used to calculate potential
emergence dates for each turtle that had been encountered on St Eustatius; females usually nest
every 9 14 days depending on the species and are fairly predictable, thus it was hoped to
minimise the length of time that Dr van Dam would need to spend on each island to perform the
attachments. As night patrols are not conducted on St Maarten, track surveys of two nesting
beaches were organised to gather similar emergence information to use to predict when turtles
might be nesting.
Dr van Dam returned to St Eustatius on 20 September, 2005. A night patrol on Zeelandia Beach
was conducted with the Programme Co-ordinator and a Working Abroad volunteer, Hanna
Linner. A green turtle was encountered emerging from the seas at approximately 10.45pm; she
dug one unsuccessful nest cavity and then moved locations and nested successfully, just north of
Smith's Gut. When she had laid her eggs the Programme Co-ordinator checked for tags,
measured her carapace and marked the location of the nest for inclusion in the hatching success
study. She had been observed nesting on three previous occasions; she was first seen and tagged
on 19 August, then again on 30 August and 10 September. She was the biggest green turtle
encountered during the 2005 nesting season; CCL n-t = 113.5cm, CCW = 106.8cm (See Table 3).
On her return to the sea she was intercepted and had a restraining box placed over her to limit her
movements during the transmitter attachment; unfortunately due to her size she barely fit inside
the box and had to be restrained within it by the Working Abroad volunteer. When she was calm
the attachment process began; Dr van Dam, aided by the Programme Co-ordinator and
STENAPA Manager, first cleaned the carapace carefully with water, rubbed it with an abrasive
pad and removed excess grease and moisture with alcohol. Fortunately her carapace was free
from algae or barnacles that are sometimes present and so the cleaning was easy to accomplish.
The second phase was to mix the elastomer which acted as a cushioning layer between the
transmitter and the carapace; this was then poured on to the base of the transmitter and it was
positioned on the flat part of her carapace behind the nuchal notch (ARGOS ID number 60722).
The final stage was to fix the transmitter in place with fibreglass resin. Unfortunately as Dr van
Dam was mixing the resin a heavy rain storm began, hampering activities as we had to continue
with the attachment underneath a protective tarpaulin placed over the holding box. Despite this,
and the fact that the fibreglass resin did not set as quickly as expected, the attachment was
completed. After the resin was allowed to dry for a further 30 minutes, the turtle was released
back to the sea at 3.15am. Photographs of the attachment and release of this turtle can be seen in
Appendix 6. Location data were received the following day, indicating that the transmitter was
working correctly; the turtle was remaining close to Zeelandia Beach, suggesting that she may
return to nest again before starting her migration to feeding grounds.
Morning track surveys continued each day following the first successful transmitter attachment,
but no green or hawksbill tracks were recorded; daily night patrols were conducted throughout
the remainder of Dr van Dam's visit but no turtles were encountered. Prior to his departure from
St Eustatius on 28 September, 2005, Dr van Dam gave a detailed training session on transmitter
attachment procedures and potential problems to the Programme Co-ordinator and STENAPA
Manager; this would allow a transmitter to be deployed without the need for Dr van Dam to be
present on the island. Night patrols continued until 20 October, 2005, but no new turtles were
encountered; on 1 October, 11 days after her transmitter was attached the green turtle returned to
Zeelandia Beach and nested successfully. She was seen by the Programme Co-ordinator and a
STENAPA intern; the transmitter was examined and appeared to be in good condition.
Following her nesting emergence on 1 October it was assumed that the green turtle would leave
the vicinity of the island and travel to her feeding grounds. However, Dr van Dam and the
Programme Co-ordinator were surprised to see that the signals being received indicated that she
was remaining in the same general area off the nesting beach. A map showing some of the high
quality location points received from her transmitter during October is shown in Appendix 6. It
is evident from the data that this turtle did not make any long migration journey to a feeding
ground away from St Eustatius; the furthest distance recorded from the nesting beach was
approximately 5km from the release site at Zeelandia Beach, off the north-east coast of the island.
This is very unusual behaviour, and possibly the first time it has been recorded for an adult
female green turtle to remain at the nesting site after the end of the nesting season. The final
transmission from this turtle was on 15 November, 2005; almost two months after her release in
On St Maarten, following a report from Dominique Vissenberg of a hawksbill false crawl on a
monitored beach the night of 23 September, the Programme Co-ordinator and Dr van Dam
travelled to St Maarten to attach a transmitter should she return the following evening.
Unfortunately, upon their arrival they found that the turtle had in fact nested successfully the
previous evening; this did, however, provide a date for when she might be expected to nest again,
when Dr van Dam planned to try and intercept her for transmitter attachment. He returned to St
Maarten on 6 October and conducted night patrols on two monitored beaches with Dominique
Vissenberg and a volunteer. A hawksbill female was encountered making a false crawl on 9
October; researchers successfully attached her transmitter (ARGOS ID number 60726) (See
photographs in Appendix 7). The following day signals from the transmitter suggest that she
returned to nest, and then immediately began her migration to feeding grounds. Location data
were received from this turtle until 14 December, 2005 (See map in Appendix 7); her movements
suggest that she nested the night after her transmitter was attached and then started her migration.
Initially she passed around the island of Anguilla before heading towards the open ocean for
several days; she adjusted her course southwards when she was close to Anegada and her final
transmission was between St John Island (US Virgin Islands) and Norman Island (British Virgin
Islands). She swam approximately 330km, with a straight-line distance from her release site of
Education and Media Activities
A series of public awareness activities were organised in conjunction with the satellite tracking
project, to showcase turtle migratory behaviour as a means of increasing community interest in
their conservation. The primary focus was on the local schools; students had been introduced to
sea turtles during the "Help Out or Sea Turtles Miss Out" initiative and so this project was ideal
to extend their knowledge and further motivate them to become active in nature conservation.
Prior to the start of the research activities the Programme Co-ordinator visited five of the island
schools; Golden Rock School, Governor De Graff School, Seventh Day Adventist School, Statia
Terminal School and Gwendolyn van Putten High School. She gave presentations to students
from Cycle 1 through Grade 12 (ages five 13); the level of detail and complexity of the
presentation was varied depending on the age and comprehension of the student group. The main
aim of these presentations was to introduce the basic principles of satellite telemetry to the
students and show how researchers can use technology to learn more about turtle behaviour.
At the same time they were also given details about the "Name the Turtle" Competition;
depending on the age or grade of each student they were asked to either draw a picture of a turtle,
write an essay about the turtle's journey to her feeding ground, or construct a model of a turtle
using recyclable materials. Students also had to include a name for their turtle. All of the school
principals received a letter informing them of the competition and given a copy of the
competition details and deadline for entries.
Students had approximately two weeks to send in their entries; these were collected by the
Programme Co-ordinator on 19 September, 2005. A total of 106 entries were received, from
students in Grades 1 10; four of the five schools participated, no-one from the Gwendolyn van
Putten High School took part in the competition. The competition was judged by Dr van Dam
and the winners notified at school during the following week. The winners were:
Evan Hassell, Grade 3, Governor de Graff School for his picture of "Lisa" the turtle
Naomi Smith, Grade 4, Homeschool for her essay about "Grace"
Krystell Statie, Grade 7, Statia Terminal School for her model of "Miss Shellie"
The winner from each category was given the opportunity to name one of the three turtles that
was to have a transmitter attached. They also received a subscription to STENAPA's Snorkel
Club, a Marine Park t-shirt, a boat trip around the island and a certificate. As only one turtle
from St Eustatius had a transmitter attached only one of the names was used; the green turtle was
christened "Miss Shellie". The other two names will be used when the remaining transmitters
are deployed, hopefully during the 2006 nesting season. St Maarten held a similar contest to
select a name for their hawksbill turtle; she was called "Archy" by the winner of the competition.
Due to the quality of entries and the number of participants, runners-up were chosen from each
category. The runners-up were:
Faraha Ishmael, Grade 3, Statia Terminal School for her picture of "Elizabeth"
Edrieenna Brandao, Grade 5, Golden Rock School for her essay about "Lara Turtle"
Kimberly Statie, Grade 7, Statia Terminal School for her model of "Adventure"
Erick Espino, Grade 7, Statia Terminal School for his model of"Jose".
Each runner-up won a boat trip around the island and a certificate. Everyone who entered the
competition was given a badge featuring "Scout", the mascot of the "Help Out or Sea Turtles
Miss Out" campaign.
To inform the community in general about the satellite tracking project several media activities
were organised. An exhibit was installed at the local library; this featured information about
satellite telemetry and how it can be used to track sea turtle migration. All of the "Name the
Turtle" Competition entries were also displayed (See Appendix 8), as were details for a second
competition that was introduced after the turtles had started transmitting data. The concept of
this competition was to make students think about where turtles go once they leave St Eustatius
or St Maarten, and how far they travel. A map of the Caribbean was produced and marked with a
numbered grid; each student who wanted to participate picked a number that corresponded to one
of the grid squares. When the turtle had finished her migration the student with the square closest
to her final destination was the winner. Each entrant was also asked to guess how far they
thought the turtle would swim during her migration; the winner was the person whose guess was
closest to the actual distance travelled by the turtle, as calculated by Dr Robert van Dam.
Students from all five schools, aged five 13, took part in the competition; a total of 256 entries.
There were two winners for each turtle; one for the location at the end of the migration, the other
for the total distance travelled. The winners were:
For green turtle "Miss Shellie" who swam 56km around the island of St Eustatius:
o Michelle Ocana, Cycle 1, Golden Rock School for guessing 49km; this was
the closest guess to the actual distance travelled by "Miss Shellie".
o Jason Lall, Class 1C, Gwendolyn van Putten High School for selecting the
grid square on the map closest to St Eustatius, where "Miss Shellie" remained
during the entire tracking period.
For hawksbill turtle "Archy", who swam 330km from St Maarten to the Virgin Islands:
o Devlin Lake, Cycle 1, Seventh Day Adventist School for guessing 330km, the
exact distance that "Archy" travelled.
o Malaika Brown, Grade 5, Golden Rock School for choosing the grid square
closest to the Virgin Islands where "Archy" ended her migration.
The four winners were notified by the Programme Co-ordinator in March 2006; each received a
Marine Park t-shirt and a certificate.
Several newspaper articles were published that featured the satellite tracking project (See
Appendix 9). In September an interview with Dr van Dam and the Programme Co-ordinator was
printed, that explained the reason why the project was so important for researchers. Winners of
the "Name the Turtle" Competition were announced in October, and in November updates of the
location of the two turtles were published.
In addition to the newspaper articles two programmes on the local radio station in August and
September featured interviews with Dominique Vissenberg and the Programme Co-ordinator.
They discussed the project and informed people about the competitions, the library display and
how they could follow the turtles during their migration either on-line or via newspaper updates.
Of 52 stakes that had been placed in 2004 only 29 still remained at the start of 2005; 23 had been
lost. For the remaining 29 the distance between the stake and the cliff was measured as an
indicator of beach erosion along Zeelandia Beach. Six stakes were in exactly the same location
as 2004; 15 (20.7%) were less than Im from their 2004 location; eight (27.6%) were over lm
from their original site. Of these eight, six (20.7%) were more than 2m in front of where they
had been located in 2004. The mean distance between the stake and the cliff was 0.9m; the range
was Om 2.81m. Two areas of the beach seemed to show the most erosion; from stakes 12 14
and between stakes 25 27. The first of these areas is close to the public access at the northern
end of Zeelandia, the second is about half-way along the beach, before Smith's Gut.
During 2005 five major cliff falls were observed on Zeelandia Beach, in addition to one smaller
landslide. They occurred in June (Figure 12), July (Figure 13), August, September and October
and usually happened following periods of heavy rain; one was discovered while monitoring at
night, shortly after the patrol had passed by that area.
On each occasion the section of cliff which fell
was more than 10m in length; the largest (of 12
October, 2005) was approximately 35m long.
Sometimes very large boulders were found (See
Figure 14. Rock from fall on 6 August, 2005), and
the beach was impassable for several days
Figure 12. First cliff fall recorded on 16 June,
.. :. .... 2005.
Figure 13. Cliff fall observed on 21 July, 2005.
Figure 14. Rock from fall on 6 August, 2005
Community Outreach Events
In January, Dominique Vissenberg came to St Eustatius for an orientation visit. She went to four
schools; Governor de Graff, Golden Rock School, Seventh Day Adventist School and
Gwendolyn van Putten High School. The purpose of these initial visits was to distribute
questionnaires she had formulated to discover the local knowledge of young people about sea
turtles in the area.
In March, Dominique Vissenberg returned for her monthly visit to the island. She gave a
presentation about turtle conservation at five schools, the four previously visited in January and
the Statia Terminal School, and organised interactive activities for the students. In addition she
joined children participating in STENAPA's Snorkel Club.
In May 2005 the Programme Co-ordinator and
two STENAPA interns assisted Dominique
Vissenberg with a puppet show at three schools;
Governor de Graff School, Golden Rock School
and the Seventh Day Adventist School.
Students from Cycle 1 Grade 6 watched
performances of the show, which depicted a
tourist, local fisherman and a turtle discussing
how human activities can negatively impact
turtles on land and sea (See Figure 15). In
addition to the puppet show, students took part
in interactive games focusing on different types
of predation during the life cycle of a turtle.
Figure 15. Puppet show performed at local schools
The Programme Co-ordinator and two STENAPA interns were asked to lead an activity at the
library as part of the summer vacation activity programme in July, 2005. They worked with
groups of approximately 40 children of varying ages, teaching them about different turtle species
present in the Caribbean, their diet and basic biology (See Appendix 10).
School Vacation Programme
Antonio Flemming joined STENAPA for the month of July. He graduated from Gwendolyn van
Putten High School in June 2004 and participated in the School Vacation Programme in July of
that year prior to starting studies in Curagao; during his 2005 summer vacation he requested the
opportunity to work with STENAPA again. He participated in a variety of ranger tasks during
the month he worked, including several night patrols for the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme.
Six beach clean-ups were organised during the 2005 turtle nesting season; in April, May, June,
August, September and October. All clean-ups were conducted on Zeelandia Beach as this is the
primary turtle nesting beach on the island and the site of most research and monitoring.
Throughout the season a total of 12 truckloads of full rubbish bags were removed from the beach;
other items collected included a fridge, large rope, huge fishing net and five car batteries
(dumped on top of the cliff behind the beach).
Clean-ups were conducted by the
Programme Co-ordinator with the
assistance of STENAPA staff, interns
and Working Abroad volunteers (See
Figure 16. After the first Zeelandia
Beach clean-up in April, 2005.
To elicit support from the public flyers were posted to advertise the date and time of each event
(See Appendix 11). Unfortunately the response from the local community was disappointing; in
the six clean-ups only 18 volunteers participated, the majority were foreign students from the
island medical school.
On two occasions school children were involved with clean-up activities; a group of 17 students
and teachers from the island schools, and also a group of 13 students and staff from the United
States, who were working with STENAPA as part of the Broadreach Programme.
Media Exposure and Public Presentations
To ensure that the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme reaches as wide an audience as possible,
the Programme Co-ordinator tried to maintain regular exposure in the press and on local radio.
Many press releases were published in the local newspaper, the Daily Herald, during 2005; the
majority relating to the Sea Turtle Satellite Tracking Project (See Appendix 9). As mentioned
above, this project was also featured in radio interviews in August and September.
To maximise the exposure that the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme receives internationally
as well as locally the STENAPA newsletter also featured several articles about turtles in 2005
(See Appendix 12); this quarterly newsletter is sent electronically to interested parties and ex-
volunteers. The STENAPA website (www.statiapark.org) has several pages dedicated to the Sea
Turtle Conservation Programme activities, and focused on the Sea Turtle Satellite Tracking
Project in 2005, with links to location maps on www.seaturtle.org.
Dominique Vissenberg gave a presentation about sea turtles and conservation issues to the
residents of the Auxiliary Home in June and the Lion's Club in August, and the Programme Co-
ordinator spoke during the Creation Day service at the Methodist Church in October.
Participation in Meetings, Workshops and Symposia
Annual International Sea Turtle Symposium
The 2004 Programme Co-ordinator, Rozenn le Scao, and a teacher (Mr Etienne de Vries) and
student (Genilio Hassell) from the Gwendolyn van Putten High School attended the 25th
International Sea Turtle Symposium held in Savannah, Georgia, USA, 16 22 January 2005.
The 16-year old Exam Class student was selected following a competition held in the school.
They also participated in the WIDECAST Annual General Meeting, held prior to the main
The Programme Co-ordinator was invited to attend a workshop in Cuba entitled "Second
International Guanahacabibes Sea Turtle Conservation Workshop: Engaging Local Communities
in Conservation". This meeting was organised by the Ocean Conservancy as a follow up to the
first workshop that was held in 2002 to develop the Cuban sea turtle research programme.
International sea turtle biologists from the United States, Puerto Rico and Brazil were invited to
discuss the Cuban programme and suggest ways in which it could be developed in the future;
many Cuban biologists, students and members of government departments were also present. A
primary focus was community outreach in turtle conservation projects; several of the invited
speakers had specific experience in this field.
The workshop was originally scheduled for the 11 15 July, 2005; however, due to Hurricane
Dennis passing directly over Cuba the week before the workshop was rescheduled for the 12 16
September, 2005. The first two days were spent at the Institute for Marine Research in Havana,
whose staff co-ordinate turtle research on the island. Each person gave a short presentation about
their own turtle project; the Programme Co-ordinator gave a presentation entitled "Three Years of
Sea Turtle Conservation on the Island of St Eustatius, Netherlands Antilles". This included
information about the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme, with specific reference to our
community outreach activities. The presentation was extremely well received and highlighted the
importance of the project on St Eustatius, despite the fact that the population of turtles is very
small. Students from Havana University also gave papers on their individual undergraduate and
graduate research being conducted as part of the larger turtle conservation programme.
The remainder of the week was spent at the research site; Guanahacabibes National Park, on the
western tip of Cuba. We were due to visit the primary nesting beaches being monitored as part of
the project, and also visit the local community within the national park where researchers are
conducting public awareness activities. However, due to logistical problems obtaining entry
permits to the national park our itinerary had to be altered as none of the Cuban biologists were
given permission to enter the park, despite prior notification of this international event to the
authorities involved. A film crew from a major US network joined the workshop during this field
trip; to record US and Cuban collaboration through science.
This workshop was an ideal opportunity for the Programme Co-ordinator to meet other sea turtle
biologists working in the region, and establish a network of contacts for future research initiatives
as part of the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme. An informal invitation was extended by
Carlos Diez of Puerto Rico for the Programme Co-ordinator to participate in their annual in-water
survey and tagging of juvenile hawksbills; this opportunity would provide ideal training for in-
water methodologies, which could be modified for use in St Eustatius.
Sea &Learn on Saba
In October the Programme Co-ordinator was approached by the organizers of the "Sea & Learn
on Saba" programme. This is a month-long event of lectures and workshops led by prominent
international scientists in a range of different biological fields. The Programme Co-ordinator was
invited to give an evening lecture on the monitoring and research activities of the Sea Turtle
Conservation Programme on St Eustatius. The presentation was held at the Saba Eco-Lodge, and
was attended by tourists, visiting scientists and local residents. The Programme Co-ordinator
also took the opportunity to discuss with a dive centre owner the possibility of completing turtle
sighting forms for inclusion in the database with those collected from St Eustatius dive centres.
Selection ofNew Programme Co-ordinator
The new Programme Co-ordinator arrived on St Eustatius in time to organise the schedule of
activities for the 2005 research programme. Prior to the start of beach monitoring patrols she was
able to review the data collection methodology, assess the beach protocols and make necessary
amendments, such as extending the night patrol schedule to seven nights a week, not five, thus
maximising the chances of encountering any nesting females. Similarly, her previous experience
co-ordinating other turtle monitoring programmes and training volunteers was beneficial in
updating the data collection sheets and creating a new volunteer orientation session, with
theoretical and practical components.
The system of marking the primary nesting beach (Zeelandia Beach) with numbered wooden
stakes remains the most cost effective method, due to the high probability of losing the markers
as a result of high tides outside the nesting season. They are easy to replace or repaint at the start
of each season; the reflective tape is very beneficial at night and greatly facilitates finding the
stakes when measuring nests in the dark. A recommendation for 2006 is to extend the markers to
include all of Turtle Beach, as several green turtles used that beach during the 2005 season and
temporary stakes had to be positioned to mark nests.
Updating of Data Collection Sheets and "Guidelines for Visitors" Information
The updated data collection sheets for tagging and nest marking included PIT tag data, and so
that information is more likely to be recorded than on the old forms. The creation of a data
collection sheet for nest excavations helps standardise the data collected at each excavation; they
simplify the data collection procedure and ensure that observers record the same data for each
The revised "Guidelines for Visitors" flyers were a useful source of information for all visitors,
and formed a basis for the orientation they received from the Programme Co-ordinator prior to
participating in beach patrols. The regulations were formalised and provided a baseline of
expectations for visitors and researchers alike. In future years visitors should definitely be
required to read and sign these regulations, thus ensuring that they are adequately prepared before
undertaking a beach patrol.
Training of Volunteers
A thorough revision of the volunteer training materials was undertaken before the arrival of the
first group of Working Abroad volunteers in April, 2005. The Programme Co-ordinator wanted
to ensure that everyone involved in night patrol activities was given sufficient training in all
aspects of the data collection protocols, both theoretical and practical. Additional training in
tagging methods was provided for interns who were expected to lead patrols when the
Programme Co-ordinator was not available. The level of training given to all volunteers was
adequate for them to be able to collect the required data, as under normal circumstances they
were not expected to undertake patrols without the Programme Co-ordinator or an intern present.
It is suggested that the same training and orientation activities continue in 2006.
Monitoring and Research Activities
In 2005 it was not always possible to conduct track surveys every morning, due to schedule
conflicts and lack of personnel; however, surveys were completed for Zeelandia Beach most
morning throughout the nesting season. They are an effective method for surveying nesting
beaches not patrolled at night, to give an indication of spatial distribution of nesting around the
island. Similar to previous years, three species of turtle were recorded nesting on St Eustatius;
leatherback, green and hawksbill, no evidence of loggerhead turtles was found. As also observed
previously, Zeelandia Beach remains the primary nesting beach for all three species, indeed it is
the only beach where leatherback nesting was recorded. Very little nesting occurred elsewhere
on the island; Turtle Beach had only one nest and several false crawls, and no nesting attempts
were seen on either Lynch Bay or Oranje Bay, possibly due to the fact that neither of these
beaches was particularly stable during the 2005 nesting season. Kay Bay was the only other
beach where nesting was reported in 2005; these emergences were observed by residents living
close to the beach.
Fewer nests and false crawls were recorded for all three species in 2005 compared to 2004; 16
leatherback nests in 2005 compared to 16 in 2004; 15 green nests in 2005, 22 in 2004 and just
two hawksbill nests in 2005 compared to 12 in 2004. Nothing can be inferred from just two
years of data; continued long-term monitoring is essential before any assessments can be made
about population trends on the island. With the implementation of regular surveys throughout the
nesting season it will be possible to start between-year comparisons in the future.
As for many locations in the Caribbean, leatherbacks on St Eustatius nest earlier than either of the
hard shell species; between March and June, compared to June to October for greens and
hawksbills. In 2005 all three species were reported nesting earlier than in 2004, by up to a month
for hawksbills; in both years, however, nesting terminated in the middle of October. The earlier
start to the season may be the result of differing environmental conditions between the years; in
2005 water temperatures in the Caribbean were higher than normal, marked by extensive coral
bleaching in the region from August 2005(Esteban, Kooistra and Caballero, 2005). With just two
years of data, however, it is difficult to determine a "normal" nesting season for St Eustatius, and
so further monitoring is required.
With this in mind it is proposed that for 2006 more attention is given to morning track surveys;
they should be conducted as early as possible in the day to ensure that all tracks and nests are
undisturbed, and carried out as extensively as possible on all identified nesting beaches on the
island. They should only be conducted by the Programme Co-ordinator or trained personnel in
her absence, this reduces observer bias in the data and minimises data collection errors by
untrained observers. No unidentified tracks were recorded in 2005; all tracks could be identified
as a particular species, showing that sufficient training in track recognition had been received.
The expansion of the night patrol schedule to cover weekends proved successful as several
females were encountered on Friday and Saturday nights during the 2005 season; four
leatherbacks and 10 green turtles. In previous years these turtles would not have been observed
and the data assigned to "unknown" female. The Programme Co-ordinator offered to work the
weekend shifts and the Working Abroad volunteers accepted working occasional weekend nights,
as each volunteer only had to surrender one weekend during their two-month stay. Daily patrols
should be continued in future nesting seasons.
A similar number of turtles were encountered on night patrols in 2005 and 2004 (eight compared
to 12, respectively), despite an increase in the number of nights patrolled per week. This
indicates that fewer nesting females emerged in 2005 as it was unlikely that any turtles that
nested were missed by patrol crews.
The patrol schedule, of one patrol every hour between 9.00pm and 4.00am, remains feasible, and
almost guarantees that any turtle nesting during the patrol period will be encountered. For future
years, however, it might be worthwhile trying to determine hours of peak emergence activity, as
it may be possible to contract the duration of patrols if there are predictable periods of activity
and minimum likelihood of missing turtles emerging outside of these times. In 2005 the turtle
encounter rate was quite low, they were observed on only 17.6% of night patrols, comparable to
Another suggestion is to extend the section of beach patrolled at night; although tide conditions
often prohibit patrols along Turtle Beach, whenever possible, particularly during months when
green turtles and hawksbills are nesting, patrols should cover this beach in addition to Zeelandia
In 2005, the tagging protocol was changed slightly from 2004; all turtles, irrespective of species,
were double tagged with external flipper tags. This was to maximise the probability of being
able to positively identify the individual if she returned to nest and thus minimising the effect of
tag loss. If only one flipper tag is applied a turtle could be categorised as a new recruit in error if
that tag is lost. Leatherback turtles also had one internal PIT tag inserted, in addition to the two
flipper tags; to standardise the protocol, each PIT tag was placed in the right shoulder. No
previously tagged leatherbacks were encountered, and none of the females showed scars from old
tags. Only one green turtle had tags when first encountered; she carried a single flipper tag that
had been originally applied on Zeelandia Beach in 2002.
More females were tagged during night patrols in 2005 than in 2004; all turtles that were
encountered had tags when they left the beach, the majority were double tagged, although on one
occasion there was only time for a single flipper tag to be applied.
As leatherback turtles are often prone to high levels of flipper tag loss it is advisable to continue
double flipper tagging as well as using PIT tags which are less likely to be lost. Green turtles and
hawksbills should also have two flipper tags applied, proximal to the last scale on the trailing
edge of the front flippers; this tag location causes least drag and hence improved tag retention.
Only trained personnel should be allowed to apply tags, either flipper or PIT; this will usually be
the Programme Co-ordinator or a STENAPA intern. The procedure established in 2005 to cover
the nights when the Programme Co-ordinator was not scheduled for beach patrol was that she
would be on radio stand-by and could join the patrol crew to assist with tagging and data
collection if they encountered a turtle. This worked well for most patrols, but requires careful co-
ordination of equipment and radios to ensure that they are fully charged prior to the patrol. It is
recommended that this system continue to be implemented in future, particularly as the
Programme Co-ordinator plans to reduce the number of night patrols she conducts in order to
focus on other aspects of the monitoring and research programme, such as the daily track surveys
and education activities.
Leatherbacks encountered in 2005 were shorter than those observed in 2004; mean CCL was
1.48m in 2005 compared to 1.55m in 2004; however, CCW was almost identical both years
(1.13m in 2004 and 1.12m in 2005). The same situation was shown for green turtles; mean CCL
n-t in 2004 was 1.23m compared to 1.08m in 2005; mean CCW measurements were very similar
in both years 1.03m in 2004 and 1.00m in 2005.
This difference may be a result of observer bias, or a genuine difference in the size of turtles
observed; it will be interesting to compare these results with 2006, as the Programme Co-
ordinator will be a constant variable from 2005 and so should minimise observer bias. There was
also some minor confusion by the Programme Co-ordinator as to what CCL measurements had
actually been taken in 2004, as the description in the annual report did not correspond to the
actual measurements taken; this could account for the quite large differences observed between
the two years. Hopefully, this minor problem not affect measurements taken in the future, as the
current Programme Co-ordinator has considerable experience in carapace measurements and is
keen to minimise errors in data collection.
Great care must be taken when training volunteers how to take carapace measurements, as there
is scope for considerable variation in the placement of the tape measure, particularly for CCW
where there are no clearly defined end-points to measure between. Measurements of leatherback
turtles should be taken by two people, as it is impractical for one person to reach the front and
rear of the carapace. It is also important to carefully position the tape measure alongside the
central ridge, not along the top of it, as this can also greatly effect measurements.
Practical training with a real carapace was conducted with volunteers in 2005, to give them an
indication of the position of the tape measure on the carapace during measurements. This should
be repeated in future seasons to ensure accurate measurements are being taken. Another
recommendation for 2006 is to use fibreglass tape measures for carapace measurements, not the
metal tapes that have been used to date. Fibreglass tape measures are more flexible and therefore
fit better to the curve of the carapace and give a more accurate measurement. Also, they do not
rust as readily and hence are less likely to "stick" during measurements.
Nest Survival and Hatching Success
Nest survival for all species was good on Zeelandia Beach, with just two nests not surviving the
incubation period; one leatherback nest was washed away with exceptionally high tides and a
green turtle nest was buried under a cliff fall. However, hatching and emerging success showed
extreme differences between the species; mean hatching success for leatherbacks was 3.5%
compared to 76.8% for greens and 41.1% for hawksbills. Emerging success was lower still for
leatherbacks, just 2.1%, greens was still high, 70.1% and hawksbill was the same, 41.1%.
Although no figures were calculated for hatching and emerging success from the 2004 nest
excavation data, an examination of the raw data suggests that leatherback nests had a hatching
success much higher than that of 2005; green and hawksbill nests appeared to show similar
success in both years.
One possible reason that might explain both the poor hatching success for this species and the
reduced success when compared to the other two species is the depth of the egg chamber.
Leatherbacks have larger flippers and so dig a much deeper nest than either greens or hawksbills
(See Table 6. Summary of excavation data from 2005); it is possible that leatherback eggs are
therefore at a greater risk of inundation at this greater depth than those laid closer to the surface.
Many of the leatherback nest excavated had unhatched eggs containing embryos, so the eggs
were obviously fertile. Some major event must have occurred during incubation that killed the
embryo and prevented its complete development and hatching. Figure 10 clearly shows that all
leatherback nests were laid within a very small section of the beach and there was almost no
distributional overlap in nests between the species. This area of the beach was very prone to
flooding during 2005; following heavy rains there were two very large run-off channels flowing
in this stretch of the beach, which could have influenced the subterranean water levels. If this
rose to less than 75cm from the surface then it could affect any leatherback nests laid in that
region; they would be inundated and unhatched embryos will die if the sand around their eggs
becomes flooded with water. The nests of the other species, being laid closer to the surface,
would not be affected unless the water levels rose significantly. In future years it would be
beneficial to record precipitation levels throughout the nesting season, to determine if hatching
success is correlated to rainfall. In addition, it might also be worthwhile monitoring subterranean
water levels on the beach, particularly in areas prone to flooding, such as the northern 250m of
In-water Turtle Sightings
It was encouraging to receive a considerable number of diver turtle sighting forms from the dive
centres on St Eustatius; the support of the local community for the Sea Turtle Conservation
Programme is always appreciated. These forms provide important information about the turtles
using the near-shore waters around the island; such data collection has, to date, not been
incorporated into the monitoring schedule of the Programme. It is interesting to observe that at
several dive sites turtles are seen on a regular basis, indicating that they are possibly residing
within a relatively limited area. Some of the observations from 2005 were undoubtedly of the
same individual on different dates; the dive centres reported that it was possible to identify
individuals, or at least the locations were turtles were frequently found.
An important consideration when analysing these data is the fact that they are recorded by
untrained observers, thus the opportunity for error in, for example, species identification, is
relatively high. Also, it is easy to overestimate the size of turtles underwater; frequently people
will classify a turtle in a size range larger than its actual size. Despite these limitations valuable
data can be obtained, and the diver sighting surveys will be continued in 2006; it is also hoped to
include dive centres on Saba, to gain data from a wider area within the Netherlands Antilles.
These data do, however, indicate that turtle sightings are relatively common in the waters around
St Eustatius, and it is from these observations that it is planned to develop an in-water surveying
programme in 2006. Using the data from the diver sighting forms, locations will be chosen to
conduct regular dive surveys to collect data on species composition, size classes and habitat
utilisation. If feasible an in-water tagging programme of juvenile turtles will also be initiated; the
Programme Co-ordinator plans to participate in training with regional turtle projects to gain
experience of in-water protocols and capture techniques that could be adapted for the marine
conditions around St Eustatius.
Sea Turtle Satellite Tracking Project 2005
The implementation of a satellite tracking project in 2005 was a major development for the Sea
Turtle Conservation Programme on St Eustatius. This joint initiative with St Maarten, funded by
the DCNA, was planned to not only provide information on the feeding grounds and migratory
pathways of turtles that nest in the Netherlands Antilles, but also to engage the local communities
on both islands in sea turtle conservation issues.
Dr van Dam was asked to lead the project as he has considerable experience tracking turtles using
satellite telemetry; he trained researchers in Bonaire and they now run an extremely successful
tracking project from the island. On St Eustatius and St Maarten there were new challenges as
both islands have very small nesting populations of green and hawksbill turtles; the Programme
Co-ordinator had some experience of satellite telemetry with hard shell species, and so was at
least aware of the basic methodology.
The preliminary visits to the island were useful to determine the principal nesting sites and
organise logistics for the attachments; track surveys were arranged on St Maarten as they have no
established monitoring procedures in place. The data from these surveys were useful in
calculating expected emergence dates for green turtles on St Eustatius; the green turtle that was
encountered on 20 September had been predicted to nest on that date. None of the other four
turtles that had been observed nesting in August, and were due back during Dr van Dam's visit,
were encountered. This suggests that either they had finished nesting for the season, which is
doubtful as most of them were observed only once, or they were also nesting elsewhere. No
nesting was observed on Kay Bay or Turtle Beach during that time period, and it is therefore
unlikely that turtles were using other beaches on St Eustatius. Turtle projects on St Kitts and
Nevis record green turtle nesting on their beaches; the Programme Co-ordinator contacted
researchers on both islands to enquire if they had encountered any tagged turtles during their
patrols. Unfortunately, most of their efforts are during the leatherback nesting season, and they
only conduct morning track surveys later in the season, so identification of individuals would be
impossible to determine from those data. They did, however, inform the Programme Co-
ordinator that no green turtle nesting was recorded during the specified dates, indicating that the
turtles were probably not visiting those islands to nest.
The successful deployment of the first transmitter on a green turtle, on the first night of patrols
with Dr van Dam, gave the impression that it was going to be relatively easy to attach all three
transmitters on St Eustatius. However, this assumption was not fulfilled, as no other turtles were
encountered during Dr van Dam's visit, which was very disappointing for all those involved in
the project. On St Maarten, the 2005 season was very slow, with few nesting attempts reported;
hence the importance of trying to intercept the hawksbill female that had made the recorded false
crawl on 23 September, as she was possibly the only turtle that would be available for the study.
While it was frustrating to discover that she had nested the night of 23 September, it did highlight
the need for adequate training for all personnel, to be able to distinguish between false crawls and
successful nesting attempts.
The two turtles showed completely different migratory behaviours; the green turtle from St
Eustatius did not move far from the nesting beach in the two months following attachment of her
transmitter. Initially this was because she had not finished nesting for 2005, but after her final
nest on 1 October she would have been expected to leave the area almost immediately and begin
her migration to the feeding ground. It was most unexpected for her to remain close to Zeelandia
Beach well into November; this behaviour has not been documented previously and it may be the
first record of an adult female green turtle being resident in the area close to her nesting beach.
Presumably she was able to find sufficient food to sustain her near Zeelandia Beach and therefore
had no immediate need to search for a suitable feeding site away from St Eustatius. Most of the
high quality location points received all showed her off-shore from Venus Bay; a small bay to the
north of Zeelandia Beach. It was planned to visit the area to determine if there is suitable feeding
for green turtles at that location; this trip has been postponed until a later date due to inclement
sea conditions. She was moving very short distances, less than 5km from her release site; while
other turtles have been recorded swimming considerable distances each day while migrating. It
will be interesting, therefore, to see if she returns to nest in 2006; having invested very little
energy in migrating to a distant feeding ground she might be able to attain reproductive condition
faster than would be expected and so be ready to nest in consecutive years, which is unusual for
this species as the typical inter-nesting interval is two or three years.
The hawksbill from St Maarten, however, showed much more "typical" behaviour; her location
data suggest that she nested within a day of having the transmitter attached and then immediately
afterwards left the vicinity of the nesting beach and began her migration. Her journey at first
appeared to be heading out towards the open ocean, but she seemed to alter her path for a more
southerly direction close to Anegada. It is feasible that she was using this island as a visual cue
and was correcting her course in relation to this landmark. Her average speed was around 5km
per day (she travelled a total of 330km in 66 days); although she reached up to 60km per day
during her migration. Researchers in the Virgin Islands have informed Dr van Dam that the area
in which "Archy" is residing consist of coral reefs, algal plains and sea grass beds (R. Boulon,
Pers. Comm.). This supports the observed condition of her carapace; she had lots of barnacles
which suggest that she is residing in an area that is not exclusively composed of coral reef (R.
van Dam, Pers. Comm.).
In future years it may be advisable to try to attach transmitters slightly earlier in the nesting
season; it is not desirable to do so right at the beginning of the season, for they will be close to
the nesting beach for several months and will not be providing data on their migratory pathways.
However, to ensure that there are still sufficient turtles nesting it would be advantageous to start
searching for females at the beginning of September, a couple of weeks earlier than in 2005.
While this technology is being used primarily to determine migration pathways and foraging
grounds for turtles nesting on the Windward Islands, the unusual situation on St Eustatius of
possible resident breeding adults and females using different beaches to nest is worth
investigating by attaching a transmitter to a female who is known to be only mid-way through her
nesting season, to determine inter-nesting habitat use.
The three transmitters not used in 2005 will be available for deployment in 2006; the training
received by the Programme Co-ordinator will allow her to attach transmitters with the aid of the
STENAPA Manager and volunteers. If necessary she will also be able to assist Dominique
Vissenberg with the attachment of another transmitter on St Maarten, thus eliminating the need
for Dr van Dam to return to the island. Another satellite tracking project that has been proposed
for 2006 would be the attachment of transmitters to nesting leatherback turtles; as the
methodology for this is very different to that used for hard shell species another turtle biologist,
Dr Scott Eckert, will hopefully lead this research initiative, aided by Dr van Dam and the
Programme Co-ordinator. It is hoped that funding will be secured to conduct this research as it
will further develop the Sea Turtle Conservation Project here on St Eustatius and increase the
knowledge of turtle migration from the Netherlands Antilles islands.
The educational component of the Sea Turtle Satellite Tracking Project was incredibly
successful; all the schools involved in the activities were very supportive, and the students were
keen to participate in the competitions organised by STENAPA. The "Name the Turtle"
Competition received over 100 entrants, more than any contest held by STENAPA previously.
Some of the teachers even let their students complete their entries during class, or as homework;
this level of active participation was very encouraging for the Programme Co-ordinator and
demonstrates that there is genuine interest in sea turtle conservation issues. It is hoped that the
tremendous potential of the community outreach projects will be fulfilled as the satellite tracking
research programme continues to develop in the future.
Erosion continued on Zeelandia Beach in 2005; during the pre-season preparations the numbered
markers that had been lost were replaced and the distance from their 2004 location measured; it
was worrying to see that only one-fifth of the stakes were in the same place as the previous year.
Even more disturbing was the fact that the cliff in front of several stakes appeared to have
receded by more than two metres in less than 12 months. The lower part of the cliff is extremely
soft and it is readily eroded by wave action during high tides. Erosion was exacerbated by
several large cliff falls in the middle of the nesting season (June October). These are not only
extremely hazardous to researchers (several occurred at night when beach patrols were being
undertaken), but also a risk to turtles and nests laid close to the cliff; one green turtle nest was
buried under the rocks that fell in October. One of the cliff falls was directly in front of the
landfill site at Smith's Gut; heavy machinery is used to regularly compress the rubbish at the site,
it is feasible that the vibrations of these machines, in conjunction with heavy rain weakening the
structure of the cliff, could cause the cliff to give way. Most of the cliff falls were observed
following periods of intense rain; this is another reason why it is worth monitoring precipitation
levels at the nesting beach, to determine if there is any correlation between these land slides and
In 2006 further detailed investigations will be conducted on the extent of beach erosion on
Zeelandia Beach. The marker stakes are a useful method of rapidly assessing erosion along
bottom of the cliffs; but it is also proposed to monitor erosion rates at the top of the cliff by
placing supplementary stakes at known distances from the cliff edge and recording any changes
observed at regular intervals throughout the year. These studies will be complemented by
photograph documentation of the beach, showing sand deposition and erosion during the year.
The findings from these surveys will be presented in a report that will discuss rates of beach
erosion in the last two years; this report should be finalised in the summer of 2006.
Another compounding factor affecting beach erosion in one particular section of Zeelandia Beach
is sand mining. Although illegal since 2001 it still occurs regularly, the sand being used in
construction around the island. Most sand is taken from behind the beach, in a gulley that has
been created from storm water run-off; this is close to the main public access at the north end of
Zeelandia Beach. Some sand, however, is still being taken directly off the beach in front of the
access area, as it is possible to drive a truck right on to the sand at this point. On numerous
occasions in 2005 the Programme Co-ordinator witnessed people excavating sand, both in the
gulley and on the beach; she reported each incidence to the STENAPA manager and the police
were informed several times; no-one was charged for these offences. The Programme Co-
ordinator approached several people who were observed taking sand; she told them that it was a
prohibited activity, that it was increasing erosion on the beach and also endangering sea turtle
nests in the area.
On another occasion the Programme Co-ordinator spoke to a group of men who were driving
four-wheel-drive vehicles up and down the banks of the gulley; she explained that while this was
not illegal, it was definitely having a negative impact on the area and increasing the risk of
erosion. Unfortunately, they were not receptive to her point of view and continued with their
The beach close to the access point is where the majority of leatherback nests were laid in 2005;
their poor success is hardly surprising considering that this area shows a dramatic loss of sand
after heavy rains, caused by the run-off from the gulley, and is often also flooded after storms. It
is also the site of the majority of sand mining. To prevent further beach degradation in this area,
and to improve hatching success of nests laid in this zone of the beach, a concerted effort is
required to eradicate sand mining both on the beach and in the gulley directly behind the sand.
Only through improved enforcement of regulations can the situation improve; several members
of STENAPA staff have completed a Special Agent of Police course that will give them the
authority to charge people in breach of the law. Hopefully with additional personnel to assist
them, the police will be better able to regulate these illegal activities. A recommendation for
2006 is to monitor sand mining activities more comprehensively, especially in months outside the
nesting season when it is known that STENAPA personnel are not actively patrolling Zeelandia
Beach and mining is observed to intensify. An extensive database of information about the
frequency of sand mining, and the damage caused, will be gathered and passed on to the relevant
authorities to investigate.
In addition to reducing erosion caused by sand mining, some regime to fortify the area behind the
disturbed section of beach is also required; the vegetation has been destroyed and so there is little
protection for the cliffs, which are eroding at an alarming rate. One proposal is to protect the
remaining vegetation, another idea is to investigate the feasibility of initiating a renourishment
scheme; such proposals will need the support of external researchers with specific knowledge and
experience. If nothing is done, and the situation continues as at present, then the erosion rates
being observed currently will result in a drastic loss of suitable nesting habitat along the Atlantic
coast of the island, with obvious negative consequences for all the turtle species that utilise that
beach, in particular leatherbacks.
Community Outreach Events
While the schools continued to support the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme during 2005,
with the puppet show, vacation activity and satellite tracking projects, there is still scope for
further active participation among the students. Principals and teachers were extremely
supportive of all involvement with the programme, facilitating the activities whenever possible.
The students all enjoyed the activities, and appear to be remembering the underlying messages
being given; their knowledge of turtles, their biology, threats and the need to conserve them is
vastly improving. However, it is hoped that in 2006 there will be further involvement of students
in research and monitoring activities. One area that has been suggested is to take small groups of
students on night patrols whenever possible; obviously this would require careful organisation,
planning and supervision, but the impact that would be achieved by having students witness a
turtle nesting would be overwhelming. Another possibility is to have students participate in
sunset patrols to search for emerging nests; this would be easier to arrange than a night-time
activity, but affording another opportunity to see an amazing natural phenomena as hatchlings
crawl to the sea.
Engaging students in other activities, such as the monthly beach-cleans is also proposed for 2006;
this would coincide with another educational programme being planned for schools in 2006,
which will teach students about pollution and its impact on the environment. Following the
success of the satellite tracking competitions in 2005, it is hoped to establish an inter-school
contest to see which school collects the most rubbish over the year.
Hopefully, a continued effort to teach about sea turtles will furnish students with a better
awareness of the marine environment and a deeper understanding of the need to protect it; also it
is hoped that they will appreciate what nature has to offer in general, and how they can be
personally involved in conservation initiatives on their own island.
School Leaver Internship
The return of Antonio Flemming for his second internship with STENAPA in 2005 was very
encouraging; he showed great interest in the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme in both 2004
and 2005, actively participating in beach patrols, clean-ups and nest excavations. It is hoped that
the participation of STENAPA in this intern project continues, as it is an ideal opportunity for
school-leavers to gain an understanding of the work of the organisation. Hopefully it will result
in more local interest in STENAPA's activities in the Marine and National Parks, and greater
community support for education, conservation or research initiatives on the island.
Regular monthly clean-ups of Zeelandia Beach were organised during the 2005 turtle nesting
season. Prior to the start of beach patrols no clean-ups had been conducted for several months
and so the first activity in April was difficult as a lot of rubbish had accumulated on the beach. In
the future it is planned to continue the beach clean-ups throughout the year, not just during the
nesting season, so that the level of rubbish does not become so unmanageable. The majority of
the rubbish collected was plastics, and household waste that had presumably come from the
landfill site at Smith's Gut, although large fishing nets and lines were also encountered; these are
extremely hazardous to turtles as they can easily become entangled and die.
To encourage the participation of the local community in the clean-ups, flyers were posted
around town in advance of each event. Unfortunately the only volunteers were students from the
medical school and foreign island residents; no members of the local community joined clean-
ups, other than STENAPA staff, which was incredibly disappointing. To rectify this in 2006, the
Programme Co-ordinator is hoping to improve notification of clean-ups, possibly by publicising
events in the local press or on the radio. She also plans to approach large employers on the
island, such as the oil terminal, to enquire about their support for such activities, by donating
man-power or resources. Additionally, the Programme Co-ordinator would like St Eustatius to
participate in the International Coastal Clean-up organised each September by the Ocean
Conservancy. This global event highlights marine pollution problems, and would hopefully be a
great means of generating local support for the beach clean-ups on the island.
In relation to the beach clean-up activities, with respect to waste management on the island in
general; it is vital that STENAPA remains committed to trying to raise awareness in the
community about recycling, reducing waste and other associated waste issues. Their "Eco-bag"
campaign that came to fruition in 2005 is one positive move, and the upcoming "Waste
Watchers" programme will help educate children about pollution and its impact on the natural
environment. One big problem on this island, however, is the Smith's Gut landfill site; it
requires immediate and drastic attention for, if an alternative solution is not found quickly, it
could rapidly become an uncontrollable disaster.
Media Exposure and Public Presentations
The Sea Turtle Conservation Programme received a considerable amount of exposure in the
media during 2005. The arrival of a new Programme Co-ordinator at the start of the nesting
season was the first of eight articles that were published in the Daily Herald featuring the
research and monitoring activities of 2005; the majority focused on the satellite tracking project
and the associated competitions organised for students. The two radio interviews with the
Programme Co-ordinator also gave good publicity to the programme.
It is important for all significant events to be broadcast to the local community, to ensure that
they remain fully informed about all the work being achieved as part of the Sea Turtle
Conservation Programme. In addition, any activities that allow the results of the monitoring and
conservation programme to be published to locally should be encouraged, such as public talks or
presentations with different sectors of the community, such as church groups.
The STENAPA newsletter and website also provide the ideal forum to reach an international
audience, and inform them about the work of the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme; the
website in particular is a great medium in which to inform the wider pubic about the work being
done for sea turtle conservation on St Eustatius, as it can be regularly updated with news,
research activities and data.
Participation in Meetings, Workshops and Symposia
Participation in local, regional and international events is important for the work of the Sea Turtle
Conservation Programme on St Eustatius to be recognized within the wider sea turtle community.
The Annual International Sea Turtle Symposium is an ideal forum to exchange information with
leading experts in all fields of sea turtle biology and conservation; the WIDECAST meetings,
held at the same time as this symposium, bring together the majority of the sea turtle projects
from the Caribbean. They facilitate contact with other turtle conservation and research
organizations from the area, and serve as a perfect arena in which develop and maintain regional
contacts. The affiliation that the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme has with the WIDECAST
network is a beneficial one, as it provides this small island initiative access to more established
projects, who can share their experiences with developing programmes such as ours. In future it
is hoped that the Programme Co-ordinator can continue to attend the symposium, and it is
anticipated that, as the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme develops, we will be able to present
our research findings at this important event. An abstract has already been accepted for a poster
presentation about the Sea Turtle Satellite Tracking Project 2005 for the Symposium to be held in
Greece in April 2006. Preliminary discussions have also taken place between the Programme
Co-ordinator and researchers in Bonaire about the possibility of a joint presentation at the 2007
Symposium to feature all the satellite telemetry projects in the Dutch Caribbean.
The Cuban workshop in September, although a smaller meeting, with a more defined focus, was
still advantageous to the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme. While it was acknowledged that
the population of turtles nesting on the island is very small and that monitoring activities are in
their infancy, all of the participants recognized that the extensive community outreach activities
undertaken as part of the programme are highly significant to its success. It was another
opportunity to disseminate information about the project to researchers working in the region,
and important international contacts were made.
The invitation of the Programme Co-ordinator to participate in the Saba "Sea and Learn"
programme was also a great opportunity to represent STENAPA at a small scale international
event, and to share the results of the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme with a slightly wider
audience, although still within the Netherlands Antilles. Such links with neighboring islands
should be actively encouraged, to facilitate the flow of information within the region. It is hoped
that in 2006 exchange trips can be made to St Kitts and Nevis, and Bonaire to visit other turtle
research programmes, conduct training and share knowledge and experiences between projects.
Recommendations for 2006
Several recommendations are proposed for the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme in 2006;
these suggestions are given following an assessment of the achievements and deficiencies of the
project in 2005. Many of these recommendations have been mentioned previously in the relevant
section of the discussion; however, those that were not, which relate more to the programme in
general, are listed below.
Participation of volunteers
The STENAPA Internship Programme started in 2001 and the Working Abroad Statia
Conservation Project began in 2003. Without the continued assistance of volunteers from these
two programmes the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme could not conduct its intensive research
and monitoring activities. It is therefore recommended that for 2006 volunteers continue to
participate in all aspects of the project; care should be taken to ensure that all volunteers receive
adequate training prior to participating in any research activities. Also, local volunteers should
be actively recruited and invited to participate in beach patrols or other project events, thus
increasing local involvement in the programme.
The daily monitoring of the nesting beaches should continue in 2006. The introduction of patrols
seven nights a week in 2005 was very successful, and should be maintained providing that
sufficient personnel are available to assist the Programme Co-ordinator and STENAPA staff. As
mentioned above, more focus should be place on morning track surveys, especially on beaches
other than Zeelandia Beach, which are not monitored at night.
Sunset patrols during hatchling season were not performed in 2005; this is one activity that
should be reinstated for 2006. Not only does it provide increased data on the hatching dates of
marked nests, thus enabling the incubation period to be determined more accurately, but it is an
ideal means of involving interested members of the public in research activities. In particular,
students could be invited to participate in these patrols, which would be logistically much easier
to organise than a night-time patrol. Patrols could be organised for days close to the predicted
hatching date of a nest, especially if signs of imminent hatching have been witnessed during
morning track surveys. They also provide an excellent education opportunity; the chance to teach
the public about what to do, or not to do, if they observe a turtle nest hatching.
Development of the research programme
In addition to the monitoring activities conducted on the nesting beaches it is hoped to expand the
research programme of the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme in 2006. To date the focus has
been on adult females nesting on the island's beaches; however, it is known that there are
juvenile turtles using the in-shore waters within the Marine Park. An in-water survey of these
turtles is proposed for 2006; this will quantify the data currently being received from divers about
turtle sightings in the area. The objectives of this study will be to determine what species of
turtle are present; to assign individuals to size classes and hence calculate their approximate age;
to investigate habitat use by these turtles and, if possible, study their behaviour in greater detail.
Ideally an in-water tagging programme would be developed to monitor movement of individuals
from juvenile feeding grounds to adult foraging areas; this would require extensive training on in-
water methods, which would be facilitated by the closer links being developed with other turtle
projects in the region.
The St Eustatius Sea Turtle Conservation Programme wishes to acknowledge the contributions
made by many organizations and individuals during 2005.
The project recognizes the continued assistance of STENAPA staff and board members, without
whom it could not continue its research and conservation efforts.
The intensive monitoring schedule could not be accomplished without the hard work and
dedication of STENAPA interns, international Working Abroad participants and local volunteers.
We received financial assistance during 2005 from the Prince Bernhard Culture Fund, the Travel
Committee of the International Sea Turtle Society, WIDECAST, Working Abroad and the World
Turtle Trust; these awards and donations covered operational expenses and travel costs to
participate in international meetings and symposia.
For sharing his expertise, and providing training on satellite telemetry methods, we wish to
especially thank Dr Robert van Dam, without whom the Sea Turtle Tracking Project 2005 would
not have been possible.
For her guidance and continued support of the St Eustatius Sea Turtle Conservation Programme
in her role as WIDECAST Director, we would also like to thank Dr Karen Eckert.
Special thanks to Dr Jan and Corrie van Duren, for their assistance in monitoring Kay Bay.
Balazs, G.H. 1999
"Factors to consider in the tagging of sea turtles". In Eckert K.L., Bjomdal, K. A., Abreu-
Grobois, F. A. & Donnelly, M (Editors) "Research and Management Techniques for the
Conservation of Sea Turtles". IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group Publication No 4. Pp.
Bolten, A. 1999
"Techniques for measuring sea turtles". In Eckert K.L., Bjorndal, K. A., Abreu-Grobois, F. A.
& Donnelly, M (Editors) "Research and Management Techniques for the Conservation of Sea
Turtles". IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group Publication No 4. Pp. 110 114
Esteban, N., Kooistra, D. & Caballero, A. 2005
"Report on observations of coral bleaching in St Eustatius Marine Park, Saba Marine Park and
St Maarten Marine Park".
Unpublished report produced for the St Eustatius National Parks Foundation, Saba Marine Park
and St Maarten Marine Park
Harrison, E. 2005
"Activity Report on the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance Sea Turtle Satellite Tracking Project
Unpublished report produced for the St Eustatius National Parks Foundation
Pritchard, P. C.H. & Mortimer, J. A. 1999
"Taxonomy, external morphology and species identification". In Eckert K.L., Bjorndal, K. A.,
Abreu-Grobois, F. A. & Donnelly, M (Editors) "Research and Management Techniques for the
Conservation of Sea Turtles". IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group Publication No 4. Pp.
le Scao, R. & Esteban, N. 2004
Annual Report of the St Eustatius National Parks Sea Turtle Conservation Programme, St
Eustatius Netherlands Antilles
Management Plan for the Quill/Boven National Park 2000-2004
Sybesma, J. 1992
WIDECAST Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan for the Netherlands Antilles (Ed. K. L. Eckert).
CEP Technical Report No. 11. UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme, Kingston, Jamaica.
Examples of data collection sheets updated or created in 2005.
Tagging and Nest Location Data
Turtle Identification, Size
P )' Tag # L -
PT ag Locat'on
7ag # s
E-erging, Search,ng aody p rg ggir g
egg carber Lal:ng Coverirg
2:s,,is:9 .-eav g Gone
Carapace Length (n
Carapace Vid,' m/ 1
N le -
In absence of turtle
": -ac'. ', F _;r" _
"ong!i je ,W )l I 1
Locale name [__ ___
Landmark 2 '
Vegetat.on 'm) r
U'nsccessf. Nest Ca.s! es
R e s ,'t
Lai Prol30:e 'a. Frase cra,. 7ac< c
New Lorg tude 'A"
New La.-t ue 'N')
T r,agla g ia!
NL~r-be c' Eggs
. R",e a... J, G
i.-ne _e __ eo _
Nest Excavation Data
NEST EXCAVATION DATA SHEET
Number of Empty Shells (> 50%)
Number of Alive
Number of No Embryo
Eggs Full Embryo
Number of Pipped Eggs
Number of Depredated Eggs
Number of Deformed Embryos
Number of Yolkless Eggs
Notes Depth ol
Depth to bottom of
egg chamber / cm
Example of the in-water turtle sighting form given to dive centres in St Eustatius in 2005.
Sint Eustatius Marine Park
Sea Turtle Sighting Form
Sea lunrk lre ardgcr d throughol te Cuabbre Re i rch i dmn to plan ad mplement effecTw caervton d
rnanagmnen program You can hep the wsu htl by falling out dlth fann Thnk you'
Diw Shop Dive Msr
%WhU spaces of turtle did ou % '
Whan waf hSe unlike's shad Jength I
Md the tunde'si l rul nd more tha mdnhe
Wan de turtle
If rured. how wIS the iu'lic mFure '
Whai wau e turtle dong r
At whu depth was thurle Ice
Whal w the immcdite enrwniercnr
ate Day Month
Scra, rLu te
O HIawsbiU Turdt
O oie.ud derma .
O LertsMck Tartle
O t could rtU detmune the spcst. biu n was pmbably a
O leu Ian 4 nrhd s
O btwen, 4 rd 20 inche (0I -50 cm)
O beMwee 2i0 Nd 40 mw.m 150.100 cm
[ nmre tL& 40 nchn (> 100 cm)
i t5 cm) bcyod the "hel '
H 1 .nA
Cl do't nbaw
O. muurd O dad
War Dt : -rai
LO man8 0 wimmn U 0 Iet
C on dsurfeuCO u de boom 0 mn hee w~ez-ctum
O s~a gup OD corId eef
O rock O er (cav. wreck. ect
Jhd you nohce aydnhmg ls''
The Smt Eusranui Manme Park can he conactd an Lowr Town. or P O cx 59 Smi Eusttlis. Nedhclads Anthilc
Telcphoie (-I 599 3 8884 Fax (-1 59 3 g2913
Updated "Guidelines for Visitors" fact-sheet.
Guidelines for visitors to the St Eustatius Sea Turtle Monitoring
Programme at Zeelandia Beach
St Eustatius National and Marine Parks Foundation (STENAPA) started its sea turtle monitoring
programme in 2001. In the Netherlands Antilles all sea turtles and their habitats are protected. The
Marine Park is part of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network and follows
WIDECAST protocols to monitor female turtles nesting on Statia. As a visitor and guest of the
programme we ask that you please read these guidelines and sign the waiver below, PRIOR to
participating in a beach patrol:
A maximum of 2 guests are allowed on the beach per night because the patrols are conducted
for research purposes not as a tour. You need to register at the National Parks office so that
researchers know when they have guests accompanying a patrol
Patrols are conducted nightly on Zeelandia beach between 9 00pm and 4 00am You will need
to make your own way to and from the beach, as the Marine Park cannot organize
transportation Please arrive by 8.50pm so that the patrol can start promptly at 9.00pm.
Visitors must remain with the group at all times and follow rhe advice of the patrol leader.
NO PHOTOGRAPHY or VTDEO RECORDING is allowed. The Marine Park personnel may
take photographs, but only if necessary for research purposes You are welcome to leave your
e-mail with the Marine Park and we will gladly forward pictures of sea turtles to you.
NO WHITE LIGHT is used on the beach; visitors may only use flashlights that have a red filter
attached (Please provide your own filters), Improper use of lights may deter a nesting female
or disorientate hatchlings
A long-sleeved top and long trousers are suggested clothing, bring an extra layer as it often gets
windy on the beach Shoes, not sandals or bare feet, are recommended, as there are obstacles
on the sand that can injure your feet.
You are advised to bring water, and possibly snacks, for rest periods between patrols. Please
note that alcohol is NOT permitted
During hatchling season be aware that hatchlings are emerging from nests and you will be
asked to walk right behind researchers so that you do not disturb them. Note that hatchlings
will only be handled if they are trapped or have flipped over on their back; this will be
performed by Marine Park personnel
We ask that you closely follow any requests by Marine Park researchers. For instance, you will
be asked to stand behind a nesting turtle and there will be no contact with the turtle until after
she has finished laying her eggs.
Anyone who disregards the wishes of Marine Park researchers during a patrol will be asked to
leave the beach.
Finally, we would like to thank you in advance for observing these guidelines. Remember, Zeelandia
beach hosts a low number of nesting sea turtles and you may not see any turtles while on patrol.
I would like to participate in the beach patrol on the night of
I have read and acknowledge these gmudelnes andwil respect these regulations
Public awainess turtle watches are neither commrcialued (conducted for profit) nor c ploited for commercial endeavor.
Do not accept reservations made by commercial enterprise that may chaure a fee for their sericcs
There is no fee in place to join patrols, bou~vrr donabons are acplmed Thank vou Mananer. Statia Marine Park
Flyer produced to inform the local community about the Sea Turtle Conservation Programme.
STENAPA SEA TURTLE CONSERVATION
EVI-E SEE A 5EA T1JL TLE LAYI[NO EGGS?
i -j $f
EVER SEEN BABY TURTLES
HATCHING FROM A NEST?
S,1.'"; r YED ULIP ALL :"1- IT VA' G TIHE
. -ACH L '; -.,:; : ..:R -, ,ACKS ?
FF THE ANSWER TO THE ESE UETIONS IS ND, BUT YOU WANT
TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT SEA TURTLES. WiY NOT COME
ALONG AND JOIN US OUT ON PATROL?
VOLtUNTEERS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME, JUST COE DOWN
rO THE STEHAPA OFFICE IN "ALLOWrS BAY AND SPEAK TO
THiE TURTLE CO-ORDINATOR (E~M OR CALL IHER ON ~S1-
2B84 TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HOW YOU CAN HELP US
CONSERVE STATI A'S TURTLES.
WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU SOON!!
Excavation data for leatherback nests
Nest Hatchlings Empty Unhatched Eggs Pipped Yolkless Total Depth / cm
Code Alive Dead Shells No Embryo Full Eggs Eggs Eggs Hatched Emerged Top Bottom
DC2 0 1 3 76 5 0 0 51 84 3.6 2.4 50 70
DC3 0 0 4 9 29 30 4 52 76 5.3 5.3 49 75
DC4 0 0 1 21 64 0 1 63 87 1.1 1.1 40 71
DC5 0 3 3 43 40 0 0 35 86 3.5 0 32 71
DC7 0 0 0 53 36 0 0 55 89 0 0 56 75
DC8 0 0 0 38 64 0 0 42 102 0 0 44 72
DC9 0 0 3 27 32 6 0 64 68 4.4 4.4 63 84
Excavation data for hawksbill nests
SI IUnhatched I
Nest Hatchlings Empty Unhatched Yolkless Total % % Depth /
SEggs Pipped Predated Deformed
Code D-- Shells E- I -- P Eggs Eggs Hatched Emerged I T
SAlive I Dead INO I| FEITop Bottom
Ell 0 0 46 66 2 3 2 5 0 0 151 30.5 30.5 29 50
EI2 0 0 74 61 7 0 1 0 1 3 143 51.7 51.7 30 39
Depth from surface of sand to first egg (Top) and bottom of egg chamber.
2 NO = No Embryo; E = Embryo; FE = Full Embryo.
Appendix 5 Continued
Excavation data for green turtle nests
Nest Hatchlings Empty EI gI Pipped Predate Defe Yolkless Total % % Depth2/
Ns at g E t Eggs' Pipped Predated Deformed Es E Hth Emre
Code ShellsEggs Eggs Hatched Emerged
S Alive Dead NO E FE Top Bottom
CM2 0 0 0 25 I 0 I 0 6 0 0 32 0 0 7 30
CM3 0 3 90 6 7 0 5 0 0 108 83.3 80.6 -
CM5 2 26 86 10 8 0 1 0 1 0 105 81.9 55.2 65 77
CM8 1 0 106 6 0 0 3 0 0 0 115 92.2 1.3 59 67
CM9 0 5 74 4 1511 1 0 1 2 105 70.5 65.7 47 57
CM11 3 0 123 9 4 0 0 0 0 2 136 90.4 88.2 54 54
CM12 4 26 95 4 3 0 9 0 0 2 111 85.6 58.6 31 46
CM14 0 0 88 8 2 0 0 0 1 98 89.8 89.8 -
CM15 2 1 111 1 0 1 0 0 0 113 98.2 95.6 44 55
CMR1 0 0 68 10 7 0 3 1 0 0 89 76.4 76.4 56 64
1 NO = No Embryo; E = Embryo; FE = Full Embryo.
2 Depth from surface of sand to first egg (Top) and bottom of egg chamber.
Photographs of the attachment of a satellite transmitter to a green turtle on 20 September, 2005.
Green turtle in the holding box, showing her size and the location of the transmitter on her
carapace. Her head was covered to help calm her down and minimise her movements.
Working Abroad volunteer Hanna Linner, STENAPA Manager Nicole Esteban and
Programme Co-ordinator Emma Harrison with the green turtle, waiting for the fibreglass
Appendix 6 Continued
Map showing some of the high quality location points received during October 2005 from the
green turtle "Miss Shellie" from St Eustatius; points are clustered just off the release site at
Zeelandia Beach (Indicated by green circle). Map produced by Dr Robert van Dam.
15- 05 --1 Oc 05
',r .. Atlantic Ocean
Manner Park Reserve I
M- Oc uS
,,n no 030,;05
"Sala Marine Park
Caribbean Sea 1 ,
S, Mae Pai Rese.ve
Sata Ma..M. Paarn P.r.
Photographs of a hawksbill turtle "Archy" attached with a transmitter on 9 October, 2005.
Dominique Vissenberg and volunteer Arjen Hilhorst with hawksbill
turtle in holding box; waiting for fibreglass to dry.
Hawksbill turtle with transmitter attached returning to the sea.
Appendix 7 Continued
Map of the migration route of hawksbill turtle "Archy" from St Maarten. Map produced by Dr Robert van Dam.
Photographs of the library display featuring information about satellite telemetry, entries for the
"Name the Turtle" Competition and details of the "Where's the Turtle?" Competition.
Copies of some of the newspaper articles featuring the Sea Turtle Satellite Tracking Project 2005.
Daily Herald article of 24 September, 2005
Appendix 9 Continued
Daily Herald article of 7 October, 2005
Winners announced in Statia's
Turtle Tracking Program contest
. u r r- .. -. *
S I I
S, i-- - 6 ** -
'-is- -. . i.i -..- u *
.'. . i
-- 4.i. i I u ein.
i tc. c C'l*'.' 'a- -*. a. -
*r -- r. .. ne in -s a 5' 4 i
. i i ki A .
Daily Herald article of 8 November, 2005
. Shelle stays in Slinu wes,
M&I a i. i wim ui
Ss nM~ ThA .B if 4....... U '* i i Y i
M. UdKl.in I F 4141
in CazJtI n.J1 -m i aid
iM lca lta J m u a MY
.l ii.n s .. ti .a bI g
rl n ll L "L Il ml
Heir b ri rr u i III d5 -
inTr. In1 1. l.R. m '
pcnU M1i.raq xnlkes "
Ilsh'El Ii..Wa. q bef6
hius &t I n [ l .-
.ind *itl.q n u ulo.ll iecli|
, ILin= m lzam Ihd i "Pr
i .i Is l a l INA .
NMI Am rawof'. ir..Ac M
En rimu b -rM l c Liiil--
1v tXa u 11he M Elll a 5 5
-m l (nudly iI |i ia l L--m
teatussq ar -d isnq |
a| %1KrlL= a e Ifl J.II
3I-nI A:rs It " .
i ri hi li Id ,i
. 31l -
Minrmrt wwi*4 M*. u
-mid r. hun kimSSdSckNgf ti m mtw m W-Lw nriks
Sp, r1L lhriqa fiy rac rrcr u ons. m.r ftal, witk m atift
tW aun e rtc Lat Lr tas aIs g g eu nJormrtS b i g Is
hNta t. Ai 4 *IrrtIV. i r .% in s M A S 1l aIW Nnnal
rM i sk i 4161 Fnet *.a fl l.r.f u ar was p miada- l kl i rnf
ni srl Stts JUtr. Vi .. il; IaI. Il tq, sS:n e[
Li % iE il i La i1C I ." S utIuq' IL 1h -- t -jj --, -- -W i
tcrnsa Lanui Wtnt lis t Alt? "A Jo luLrt rip Im c I-il ir
'Cips 6 ia" l. scs h)ol l't lwt i s" sr_ i.i rB ia-.lrC ir
I s LilsJ | in hm at l Ial l iss Ifd A lEDu Tlr t E t f .li
ll.u gill tI- IL 7ia 0n Hr ;narul Sni t i d unoT i rn.
I.111. li. (f'... *** ** .114 Ug aa a U Istn K| p nI a itr M1mk ILJI.
ml eT b "nlk-i on r l a cain ina as rte1 -.1 I islMU a l
Iq.tmIrrcl hr Eq'. Ih eh q- l e4t I swl shm ipp .V ars u ..ir g
imadsgi ical I., Vi.11 hIp, Fhbu...u %1-1'al 'n, LM, -I .M N .IIla11
nun *rl i* *k A InK .I I,: lr- ;vl ui- r 'I ii Ilicrli
mIN 1iMr5 1.r itaril i | ip ai ll aum ImF LUstl= AIicb millk ii-
IaM ai al ai r ii.i Ii t* r na c -i= yi lr |
Copy of newspaper article from the Daily Herald published 23 July, 2005; featuring the Sea
Turtle Conservation Programme and the school vacation activity held at the library in July, 2005.
12 JUY 23, 205
THE DAILY HERALD
Sea Turtle Nesting Season Underway on Statia
by Lmaot t11,risoni
The begiii tm of iuher Inw*
i-M H.anh .rh h
2fzifh, hwAu r on ZeeifaftW
biead TW0 fm I wlargefiWnl 4W-
r""wd .'q i in Ike ses Mu0d
h wverd ewv, Ibe foc the mruk
on ffle itanid 1 0ian Work'i NAt-
fi~ beach nWWwn ng ""Im
,n 4pric and Sihier rki HMariM
Park .ff .nd Pfo*i'i ,4bmad
VOIN"Iet have b out pa
r1, Eff, 1, t r F, J. ~
a..ri M.. 1r aT 4Jp e.
ro- whore 10 nuesK
torI mcrEl, after th
T P6rerrwnt ofu our -ritxly
IT IS UNLIKELY that the fizo tou-
ibe we saw will come back to Lay ]IB
Kcwiith nest, but we hope bt]t the
send tatlw wil rmi a sv erl
mom? times =~a the end o the
_.1k T-W 1MI -Iel f ro~i IL r0A
at rir.,o--aLnd~aiE u., iM-
V Th i. .si ..r .la fn~rr .'tI -6
flippcizintact, Now" are mmiting
to se who she will return to lay
DuctoIteearlty 5WInthe searmn.
there bhs aldy been one nea
batcch and when rscarchm oexa-
vaoed to dtermine hluw successful
--I IWL~ UVL W.111 ;1..;h C~lli~~
just 32 eggs, but only throc eggs
had bahed Furher. only one of
the tmhe hatchlins made I- like
We do not know Iiy this particular
turtic.5 oet um o early and con.
gained sor le,.; ; ti
~eds- Ibn .-.r ________r, Nrnsl~ Wa~rbi~~s arib i~~* dnrn~* 1~h
vc1f, young. r -'.~'~~ I ~.~-
she had been drivena aw fivm her mrW,,p-)m w *UA- i. r P,,Ah, Lnwy--
Wsrined to have ivestd from the wa h.E quaiflitr of small plarti-
This was not sart to appearan of the nt site, It will ALMS that was munsL &mehbgig to
the scitson, altiough at doc, hm*- be almost twor months Write we observe,
hi~ht why cuh kirnalc rwsi more lorrvm furstac whetnhcrihirs assurnp undre&h. of plastic boules mqcd firt
than once dimfiny, d enm She 1n i correo, motor oil, drinks .im household
may loge onr or modtC ncsi o trairn On July X, we sportd mc, fimi products weT. eilketrcd. along
ral~ cau,s (tides slo crr ) or gtr rtle nest (A the season on wtth Aytofoam rood cortiame
to disturbanc by predaw but c Turtleka .h, We fe had just the amd plastic baps. h1w phstic. bags.
-Id -&dil hs- thrl~rr lht hitlwh one Ieatherbsek: hatchinz but we're especialliv, a poremudllu deidlv
wiin cb to bo collected in hd n
This cycle of events cau **t be
hblrok, if the nrbbih is effecivey
Oniuo, Cr a r The Lb- p-_1 i r il 1W L
J d-o I -~d Up. 31. tl tw-.ih Q
out~ At We&
Newr Enma Hmisog is an -
pblrd Wi~kgicai iS mus Irt
Englud Whrt. 9& %rkm In SL
lastaui o m-r~drt rhe.
)ear' sca urltic urv.wio.' pr-
n. SheW W ed at the begm-
-w of Alril, amd will semo
through tle seven mothi of die
riating scupo Harrson, s cur
m y w roccng with a MnbWi
of Volutnter int de Wooiag
Atmoad prmm. -CLI 2S -Ltn
sc.Cral %. EUSLOILS NMI3_.D1I
Pork Fouwdation Em. 's I
anicriss, ach night, at 1-1 \-
muraons -pan it b aum from
9: k r 400tuM walking the
Zeeltldia Beach anal watching
I~ii.-M C-WID~u all X
also condom a beach cleanup
drive about once per trionih. ad
visits schools to Intenre students
in Nk, kJ le -t H)ie
1+-r K -M t- d-,in
Example of flyer advertising monthly clean-up of Zeelandia Beach.
The turtles may be almost ready to leave Statia, but
they aren't the only reason to keep our beaches clean.
We want people to enjoy the beach too!
We've planned another clean-up, but, we need
YOUR help to make the beach a nicer place to visit.
Please come along and lend a hand!
When: Wednesday 19th October
What time: 3.00pm
Where to meet: Zeelandia Beach car park
What to bring: Garbage bags and gloves
Copy of the September issue of the STENAPA newsletter, featuring an article about the Sea
Turtle Satellite Tracking Project on the front page.
W Nulwalsturv Wlar
Turtle v-itl-Iitr- Tj.:ckillg Project
t yar we are ha ig to really
solve m mystery ro where turn
94 onre they leave Stans A nret-
ieq Mit Wi.h Funding from
Dutch Crlbbean Naume AmUinC
IDC"NI. STNAA and me Ma-
[KLe FbUndBOn & St Maaftn
have urarr a larlYMtei- sacrng
study of Green and Hawkbil
Turtiet. The aim of Vits prqlet&
Stracr tien e anim on t Wayay
to te taraing grounrk, anc
thy leav he e ilandi waim s
towards te end of October
Getting to kiow the tude*
movement patern wl give us a
much Cteacr picture of ter gee-
graikal range. This will asow
us to mnprwe pmreeaton and
conservation efortit not on on
me netng beaches. but also in
other eneatial hatt, altSae
traong w" tnc ne me rw-
imn pathways turesl use. eaa-
Brt to *tnnoe any pWtPO-
COut tr n vheir w between
netting and feeding groundit
UIrler 1e supervlaon of Dr
Robert Van DeCs, a sea tule
b"oNogrtlwith Miary yeaCn xpcr-
ence uung satllie atenrmty to
tlk turtis In te Carlbbear
transmnters w be Beached
Ito tue adult emales on
Siie and 1 two on St
The iwumnt ter a t 2cm by
Scm by 3Ci boW arnd weighs
200 grams with an arene
Mtact at one end. There it
no danger of it hir-g t"e
arte aS Os ei strerrm-
tined and tperere wE not
Wmrft wit normal
behavior and inorement
Anachimenr procedure of the
transminrtter pnes no risk to
the anhiat To b'mit mone-
ment during raging, she
ri capavce Is Ceaned a
any algae bor barcs before
attaching use transmtmr, plus
a soft cumioning layer to ier
thalli sits toRwais her head
which will be cutC water
when she surfaces oIr air.
enabling rpil to b rent lo
eaMlefia. Layern f hardened
the transient protecting It
frm damage during the opur-
ney through the Oean. ees
and ether obstales it anl
mal might encounter.
AN th is tre after she is
A vey miponant aspect of
this project has been te
punW ariness of cr tie
cofrannon Mtut Pr.
grammw CoGilnatr Or
Emnr HAWUM vtsft
mai & fKml on a cpmr
her togwe premenuiorn
on SaltPr te iamy. At me
en cm W a N"lmie sh
Tursef' ampedain was
organized Studens wWe
given te taw of drawing
otre. pr ectngwhere
meAr rgraes pf rmu ht
kead efim w*tnqg an es
abot a trtiesourney or
making a iofl afta itrtile
uang m r cyc~er mraf
als. Over a hundred eneis
wear acmlvd rs luing
wm no af tati All mr.
non were alMwed to
dowe names for e
ugged ti one of then
beig MIss mefe. we and
h other turtles can bt
ftmwed on STENAPAW
PFIar Hag CMapagn
Laindc dr nw iboo on 2
Cna reseaci 3
S a l Om.leh piar 3
5101 p e111 r fet umesmr,
weuWSS OeLi a IOPM
joi anci hCaB a auLnaa
Saur OCL muWd f&hif
itMr o 1p11s60 aM Amphli-t
d Dume Caribbea MEn a m
top d ofAtummy Ln
SsasrJ Nutl WIW SC A I 0b
Mam Creefpr Canam Pa=
tpen ito ad )
Good Luk to all turt~a and *eauldedSlours a e aolw
a safe rertun to Sta A GinMnM sme mbib hum
Mth m cwu The GuiCn is aon
an su rige ta slet awayc
*ure s, g iqa s a r I
aer. v onact Ge ad u
Uwat WJok a wuM