WIDECAST Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan for Aruba


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WIDECAST Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan for Aruba
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Technical Report
Barmes, Tom
Eckert, Karen L.
Sybesma, Jeffery
Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Network ( WIDECAST )
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Note: The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this document do not imply the expression of any opinions whatsoever on the part of UNEP concerning the legal status of any State, Territory, city, or area, or its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of their frontiers or boundaries. The document contains the views expressed by the authors acting in their individual capacity and may not necessarily reflect the views of UNEP. For bibliographic purposes this document may be cited as: Barmes, T., K. L. Eckert, and J. Sybesma. 1993. WIDECAST Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan for Aruba (Karen L. Eckert, Editor). CEP Technical Report No. 25 UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme, Kingston, Jamaica. xiv + 58 pp.


Caribbean Environment Programme United Nations Environment Programme Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan for Aruba Tom Barmes 1Karen L. Eckert 2Jeffrey Sybesma 31Department of Agriculture, Husbandry and Fisheries Country Coordinator, WIDECAST-Aruba 2 Executive Director, WIDECAST 3 Executive Coordinator, WIDECAST-Netherlands Antilles Karen L. Eckert, Editor Prepared by: CEP Technical Report No. 25 1993


PREFACE Sea turtle stocks are declini ng throughout most of the Wide r Caribbean region; in some areas the trends are dramatic and are likely to be irreversible during our lifetimes. According to the IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre's Red Data Book persistent over-exploitation, especially of adult females on the nesting beach, and the widespread collection of eggs are largely responsible for the Endangered stat us of five sea turtle species occurring in the region and the Vulnerable status of a sixth. In addition to direct harvest, sea turtles are accidentally captured in active or abandoned fishing gear, re sulting in death to tens of thousands of turtles annually. Coral reef and sea grass degradation, oil spills, chemical waste, persistent plastic and other marine debris, high density coastal development, a nd an increase in ocean-based tourism have damaged or eliminated nesting beach es and feeding grounds. Populati on declines are complicated by the fact that causal factors are not always entirely indigenous. Because sea turtles are among the most migratory of all Caribbean fauna, what ap pears as a decline in a local population may be a direct consequence of the activities of peoples many hundreds of kilometers distant. Thus, while local conservation is crucial, action is also called for at the regional level. In order to adequately protect migratory s ea turtles and achieve the objectives of CEP's Regional Programme for Specially Pr otected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW ), The Strategy for the Development of the Caribbean Environment Programme (1990-1995) calls for "the development of specific management plans for economically and ecologically important species", making particular reference to endangered, threatened, or vulnerable species of sea turtle. This is consistent with Article 10 of the Cartagena Convention (1983), whic h states that Contracting Parties shall "individually or jointly take all appropriate measures to pr otect ... the habitat of depleted, threatened or endangered species in the Convention area. Article 10 of the 1991 Protocol to the Cartagena Convention concerning Specially Pr otected Areas and Wild life (SPAW Protocol) specifies that Parties "carry out recovery, management, planning a nd other measures to effect the survival of [endangered or threatened] species and regulate or prohibit activities having "adverse effects on such species or their habitats ". Article 11 of the SPAW Protocol declares that each Party "shall ensure tota l protection and recovery to the species of fauna listed in Annex II". All six species of Caribbean-occurring sea turtles were incl uded in Annex II in 1991. This CEP Technical Report is the eighth in a series of Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plans prepared by the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Recovery Team and Conservation Network (WIDECAST), an organization comprised of a regiona l team of sea turtle experts, local Country Co-ordinators, and an extensive network of inte rested citizens. The obj ective of the recovery action plan series is to assist Caribbean governments in the discharge of their obligations under the SPAW Protocol, and to promot e a regional capability to impl ement scientifically sound sea turtle conservation programs by developing a tec hnical understanding of sea turtle biology and management among local individuals and instituti ons. Each recovery action plan summarizes the known distribution of sea turt les, discusses major causes of mortality, evaluates the effecttiveness of existing conservation laws, and prio ritizes implementing measures for stock recovery. WIDECAST was founded in 1981 by Monitor International, in response to a recommendation by the IUCN/CCA Meeting of Non-Governmental Caribbean Organizations on Living Re-sources Conservation for Sustai nable Development in the Wider Caribbean (Santo Domingo, 2629 August 1981) that a "Wider Caribbean Sea Turt le Recovery Action Plan should be prepared ... consistent with the Action Pl an for the Caribbean Environmen t Programme." WIDECAST is an autonomous NGO, partially supported by the Caribbean Environment Programme.


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page ii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This report would not have been possible without the kind assistance and pa rticipation of many people. The ongoing support of Minister Ing. Edison Briesen (Ministry of Economic Affairs and Tourism), Ing. S. M. Vrolijk, Director, De partment of Agricult ure, Husbandry and Fisheries (LVV), Drs. H. Baarh (Head, Departme nt of Foreign Affair s and UNEP/CEP National Focal Point), and Cornelius Wilson, Director, De partment of Housing, Physical Development and Environment (VROM) is deeply appreciated. We are especially grateful to Drs. Roeland de Kort (Zoologist, VROM; FANAPA), Drs. E. Ar mando Curet (Policy Adviser, VROM), and the staff of the Costa Linda Hotel for technical in formation and field assistance. Aldrich Hunt (Fisheries Officer, LVV), Drs. Byron Boekhoudt (Chief Fisheries Officer, LVV), Tim Duncan (dive instructor), John Wardlaw (Operations Mg r., Shore Tours), Frans Weller and Mario Britten (Inspectors, Veterinary Service, Department of P ublic Health), and Pieter van Grinsven (Chief Engineer, Aruba Beach Club) also generously provi ded data and participated in habitat and/or interview surveys. Atlantis Submarines kindly provided support in marine habitat surveys offshore Oranjestad. We are grateful to Te leAruba, Radio Carina, and newspaper media for coverage of sea turtle conserva tion issues and for informative interviews with Dr. Karen Eckert during her visits to Arub a. The Coordinator (TB) extends his particular apprecia tion to residents who regularly accompanied him on field surveys. The selfless efforts of Olinda van der Linden-Rasmijn in providing schools with sea tu rtle conservation lectures have been quite appreciated by the community. Aruba has made significant progress in the arena of sea turtle conservation in the past year, and we are in debted to the regional WIDECAST project 1 /. _____________ 1 / The WIDECAST regional Recovery Team provid ed impetus for this document and critiqued earlier drafts. These persons are the following: Lic. Ana Cecilia Chaves (Costa Rica), Dr. Karen L. Eckert (USA), Jacques Fretey (France), Lic. Hedelvy Guada (Venezuela), Dr. Julia A. Horrocks (Barbados), Dr. Peter C. H. Pritchard (USA), Dr. James I. Richardson (USA), and Dr. Georgita Ruiz (Mexico). The IUCN/SSC Mari ne Turtle Specialist Group (Dr. Karen A. Bjorndal, Chair) and UNEP-CAR/RCU (Dr. Ri chard Meganck, Co-ordinator) reviewed an earlier draft. Major financial support for WIDECAST has come from the UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme, the U. S. National Mari ne Fisheries Service (Office of Protected Resources), and the U. S. State Department (B ureau of Oceans and Intl. Environmental and Scientific Affairs/Office of Ocean Affairs). Chel onia Institute provided travel assistance to Dr. K. L. Eckert and to Dr. J. I. Richardson for t echnical visits during 1993. Special appreciation is due Milton Kaufmann (President of Monitor In ternational and Founder of WIDECAST) for his unwavering personal commitment to WIDECAST since its inception more than a decade ago.


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page ii i TABLE OF CONTENTS Preface i Acknowledgements ii Table of Contents iii List of Tables and Figures vi Abstract (English, Dutch, Spanish, French) vii I. INTRODUCTION 1 II. STATUS AND DISTRIBUTION OF SEA TURTLES IN ARUBA 2 2.1 Caretta caretta Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Cawama) 2 2.2 Chelonia mydas Green Sea Turtle (Tortuga Blanco) 4 2.3 Dermochelys coriacea Leatherback Sea Turt le (Driekiel) 5 2.4 Eretmochelys imbricata Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Caret) 6 2.5 Lepidochelys kempii Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle 7 2.6 Lepidochelys olivacea Olive Ridley Sea Turtle 8 III. STRESSES ON SEA TURTLES IN ARUBA 8 3.1 Destruction or Modification of Habitat 8 3.2 Disease or Predation 9 3.3 Over-utilization 10 3.4 Inadequate Regulatory Mechanisms 12 3.5 Other Natural or Man-made Factors 12 IV. SOLUTIONS TO STRESSES ON SEA TURTLES IN ARUBA 13 4.1 Manage and Protect Habitat 13 4.11 Identify essential habitat 14 4.111 Survey foraging areas 14 4.112 Survey nesting habitat 15 4.12 Develop area-specific management plans 15 4.121 Involve local coastal zone authorities 16 4.122 Develop regulatory guidelines 16 4.123 Provide for enforcement of guidelines 19 4.124 Develop educational materials for each management area 20 4.13 Prevent or mitigate degradation of nesting beaches 20 4.131 Sand mining 20 4.132 Lights 20 4.133 Beach stabilization structures 21 4.134 Beach cleaning equipment and vehicular use of beaches 22 4.135 Beach rebuilding projects 23


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page i v 4.14 Prevent or mitigate degradation of marine habitat 24 4.141 Dynamiting reefs 24 4.142 Chemical fishing 24 4.143 Industrial discharges 24 4.144 At-sea dumping of garbage 24 4.145 Oil exploration, pr oduction, refining, transport 25 4.146 Agricultural runoff and sewage 27 4.147 Anchoring and dredging 27 4.2 Manage and Protect all Life Stages 28 4.21 Review existing local laws and regulations 28 4.22 Evaluate the effectiveness of law enforcement 28 4.23 Propose new regulations where needed 28 4.24 Augment existing law enforcement efforts 29 4.25 Make fines commensurate with product value 29 4.26 Investigate alternative live lihoods for turtle fishermen 29 4.27 Determine incidental catch and promote the use of TEDs 30 4.28 Supplement reduced populations using management techniques 31 4.29 Monitor stocks 32 4.291 Nests 32 4.292 Hatchlings 34 4.293 Immature and adult turtles 34 4.3 Encourage and Support International Cooperation 35 4.31 CITES 35 4.32 Regional treaties 35 4.33 Subregional sea turtle management 37 4.4 Develop Public Education 37 4.41 Residents 37 4.42 Fishermen 37 4.43 Tourists 38 4.44 Non-consumptive activitie s that generate revenue 38 4.5 Increase Information Exchange 38 4.51 Marine Turtle Newsletter 38 4.52 Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium (WATS) 38 4.53 WIDECAST 39 4.54 IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group 40 4.55 Workshops on research and management 40 4.56 Exchange of information among local groups 40 4.6 Implement an Integrated Sea Turtle Conservation Programme 41 4.61 Rationale 41 4.62 Goals and objectives 41 4.63 Activities 42


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page v 4.64 Budget 42 V. LITERATURE CITED 44 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS AHATA Aruba Hotel and Tourism Association CARMABI Foundation CARMABI (f ormerly, Caraibisch Marien Biol. Instituut) CITES Convention on Intern ational Trade in Endangered Species ECNAMP Eastern Caribbean Na tural Areas Management Programme EIS Environmental Impact Statement FANAPA Fundacion Arubano pa Naturaleza y Parke (Aruban Foundation for Nature and Parks) IUCN World Conservation Union LVV Dir ectie Landbouw, Veeteelt en Visserij (Department of Agri culture, Husbandry and Fisheries) MARPOL International Conve ntion for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships SPAW Protocol Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife UNDP United Nations Development Programme UNEP United Nations Environment Programme USNPS United States National Park Service USVI United States Virgin Islands VROM Directie Volkshuisv esting Ruimteliyke Ontwikkeling en Milieu (Department of Housing, Physical Development and Environment) WATS Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium WEB Water en Energi e Bedrijf (Water and Energy Company) WIDECAST Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network WWII World War II


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page v i LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES TABLE 1 50 Stay-over arrivals in Aruba, 1980-1992. TABLE 2 51 Documented records of sea tu rtles nesting in Aruba in 1993. TABLE 3 52 Number of sea turtles killed at the Aruba abattoir, 1977-1986. TABLE 4 53 Aruba coastal clean-up zones, September 1993. FIGURE 1 54 Aruba (12o30'N, 70oW) is located 32 km north of Venezuela and 67 km west of Curaao, Netherlands Antilles. FIGURE 2 55 Four species of sea turtle may ne st in Aruba: the green turtle or tortuga blanco (Chelonia mydas ), the hawksbill or caret (Eretmochelys imbricata ), the loggerhead or cawama (Caretta caretta ), and the leatherback or driekiel (Dermochelys coriacea ). FIGURE 3 56 Sea grass and coral reef formations around Aruba. FIGURE 4 57 Known or suspected sea turt le nesting habitat in Aruba. FIGURE 5 58 Aruba coastal clean-up zones, September 1993.


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page vi i ABSTRACT Aruba (12o30'N, 70oW) is located 32 km north of Ven ezuela and 67 km west of Curaao, Netherlands Antilles. Until recently, Aruba was one of six islands comprising the Netherlands Antilles. As of 1 January 1986, Aruba became an autonomous entity within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Aruba is very de pendent economically on tourism. Tourism is a fast-growing market and is the biggest employer on the island. The major attractions are a favorable climate and extensive white sandy beaches, especially along the western and southwestern shores where most of the largest hotels are si tuated. Most hotels are built ri ght at the beach edge (or on the beach) and a coastal highway provides easy access to once remote areas. Lighting and general activity may inhibit turtles fr om coming ashore to lay their eggs in these high density development areas, but nesting appears to be so rare that trends ar e difficult to quantify. Very little is known about th e distribution or abundance of sea turtles in Aruba. Four species may nest: the loggerhead or (in Papiamento) cawama Caretta caretta ; the green turtle or tortuga blanco Chelonia mydas ; the leatherback or driekiel Dermochelys coriacea ; and the hawksbill or caret Eretmochelys imbricata Low density nesting o ccurs on the large sandy beaches of the western and southwestern coasts as well as on selected pocket beaches along the north shore. Offshore, hawksbills and green turt les of varying sizes are present year-around and presumably feed in local waters. Sea grasses and/or coral reefs (provi ding food and shelter to hawksbills and green turtles) are situated along th e relatively calm western and southern coasts; the north shore is characterized by rough seas. The extent to which Aruba provides forage for loggerheads and olive ridleys is not known. The ra re leatherback is a seas onal visitor, arriving from northern waters only for the purpose of egg-laying. Preliminary beach surveys in 1993 indi cate that, despite high density commercial development, most nesting may occur on the we st coast and on Eagle Beach and Arashi in particular. More in-depth su rveys are planned for 1994 to document the timing and distribution of nesting. It is likely that fewer than 30 nests (all species combined) are laid in Aruba each year. Our records indicate that the leatherback is the most common nester, but this may be a reflection of the fact that leat herback tracks are the easiest of all the sea turtles to identify. All species of sea turtle have been prot ected in Aruba since 1987; eggs have been protected since 1980. There are no turtle fishermen. An unquantified (but probably low) level of accidental catch occurs, mostly in nearshore nets set along the west coast. The clandestine catch is nearly impossible to quantify since fishermen will not discuss it with Fisheries Officers. Two boutiques in the capital were selling tortoiseshel l jewelry during recent market surveys, and 15 whole shells were confiscated by police in Sept ember 1993 from a gift shop on the north coast. The jewelry is reportedly fashioned locally, but th e shells were imported from Venezuela. A few restaurants are selling turtle meat (mostly purchas ed from Venezuelan fishing boats selling their wares in Oranjestad Harbor), but this activity is expected to decline since the Prime Minister sent a letter to all local restaurants in April 1993 reiterating that the possession, purchase, and/or sale of sea turtle products was forbidden by law. The most common threats to sea turtles co ming ashore to nest in Aruba are beachfront lights, obstruction of nesting ha bitat by recreational e quipment (lounge chairs, sailboats), and, in


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page vii i some cases, harassment by onlookers. The most common threat to eggs is compaction and embryo death due to vehicles driving on the beach. In the case of hatchlings, beachfront lighting from hotels and the coasta l boulevard poses the greatest danger. In at least three cases in 1993, hatchlings were collected from in land sites and returned the sea af ter having been misdirected by beachfront lighting. At sea, there are indications that turtles are sometimes struck by boats and other pleasure crafts. Coral reefs are damaged by indiscriminate anchoring (especially at popular dive sites) and pollution is significant in some areas, most notably San Nicolas Bay. Despite a variety of factors that threaten our sea turtles and their habi tats, it is clear that Aruba is starting from a very strong position with regard to sea turtle conservation. Full legal protection is already in place, th ere is no economic dependency on sea turtles or their products, there are plans to designate the entire west and s outh coasts a Marine Park (including a system of moorings to protect coral reefs), a nd there is considerable interest on the part of hoteliers to play a positive role in the conservati on of turtles and their nest si tes. Conservation groups and government agencies are increasingly involved in public awareness campaigns and materials provided by WIDECAST have signifi cantly aided this effort. The Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan for Ar uba describes the followi ng priorities: (a) to strengthen public awareness initiatives, (b) to encourage greater activism on the part of law enforcement officials in the confiscation of c ontraband and prosecution of offenders, (c) to determine the distribution and timi ng of the breeding effort, (d) to eliminate vehicle traffic on the beaches (driving on beaches is already illegal in Aruba), and (e) to promote full involvement of all beachfront hoteliers in reducing beachfront lighting on the nesting beaches and rescuing (and releasing to the sea) disoriented hatchlings.


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page i x SAMENVATTING Aruba (12o30'N, 70oW) ligt 32 km. ten noorden van Venezuela en 67 km. ten westen van Curaao, Nederlandse Antillen. Tot voor kort was Aruba n van de zes eilanden van de Nederlandse Antillen. Met ingang van 1 Januari 1986 werd Aruba een zelfstandige entiteit in het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden. Aruba is op economi sch gebied sterk afhankelijk van toerisme. Toerisme is een sterk groeiende markt en is de grootste werkgever op he t eiland. De grootste attracties zijn het gunstige klimaat en de uitg ebreide witte stranden, sp eciaal aan de west en zuidwest zijde waar de meeste grote hotels zijn gelegen. De meeste ho tels zijn gebouwd op de grens van het strand (of op het strand) en een kustweg geeft makkelijke toegang tot gebieden die vroeger moeilijk bereikbaar waren. Verlicht ing en algemene activite iten kunnen schildpadden verhinderen in deze sterk ontwikke lde gebieden om aan land te komen en hun eie ren te leggen, maar het komt zo sporadisch voor dat het moeil ijk is om de ontwikkeling met zekerheid vast te stellen. Zeer weinig is bekend over de verdeli ng of hoeveelheid van zeeschildpadden op Aruba. Waarschijnlijk nesten er vier soorten: de "loggerhead" of (in het Papiaments) cawama Caretta caretta ; de "green turtle" of tortuga blanco Chelonia mydas ; de "leatherback" of driekiel Dermochelys coriacea ; en de "hawksbill" of caret Eretmochelys imbricata Een klein aantal nesten wordt gevonden op de zandstr anden aan de west en zuidwest kust en ook op de kleine baaistranden langs de noordkust. In de kustwater en zijn gedurende het gehele jaar "hawksbills" en "green turtles" van verschi llende groottes aanwezig, die zich waarschijnlijk in lokale wateren voeden. Zeegras en/of koraalriffen (die het voeds el en de schuilplaats verschaffen aan de "hawksbills" en "green turtles") liggen aan de be trekkelijk rustige west en zuidkust; de noordkust wordt gekenmerkt door een ruwe zee. De hoe veelheid voedsel die Ar uba kan voorzien voor "loggerheads" en "olive ridleys" is onbekend. De zeldz ame "leatherback" is een seizoen bezoeker, komende uit noordelijke wateren me t als enig doel om eieren te leggen. Voorlopig strandonderzoek in 1993 geeft aan dat ondanks de grote commercile ontwikkeling, de meeste nesten voorkomen op het Eagle strand en bij Arashi. Verdere studies zijn in voorbereiding voor 1994 om de locaties en verspreiding vast te legge n van de nesten. Het is waarschijnlijk dat er minder dan 30 nesten (alle soorten tezamen) per jaar gelegd worden. Onze gegevens tonen aan dat de "leatherback" de meest voorkomende zeeschildpad is die aan land komt om eieren te leggen, maar dit kan zijn omdat haar sporen het makkelijkst te herkennen zijn in vergelijking met de andere soorten. Alle soorten zeeschildpadden zijn sinds 1987 be schermd in Aruba; de nesten en eieren zijn reeds vanaf 1980 beschermd. Er wordt geen zeeschildpadvisserij beoefend. Een onbekend (maar waarschijnlijk klein) aantal toevallige vangsten komt voor in ringnetten die vanaf de westkust gezet worden. De klandestiene vangst van zeeschildpadden is moeilijk vast te stellen, aangezien de vissers dit onderwerp niet met de visserijcontroleurs van de overheid willen bespreken. Twee boutiques in de hoofdstad verkoc hten sieraden gemaakt van het schild van deze dieren, tijdens een recent gehouden marktonde rzoek, en 15 hele schilden werden in September 1993 in beslag genomen in een souvenirw inkel aan de noordkust. Er werd gezegd dat de sieraden lokaal gemaakt worden, maar dat de schilden uit Venezuela geimporteerd worden.


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page x Enige restaurants verkopen schildpadvlees (mees tal ingekocht van Ven ezolaanse vissersboten die hun waren in de haven van Oranjestad verkop en) maar de verwachting is dat deze activiteiten zullen verminderen, aangezien de Minister Pres ident in April 1993 een brief heeft gestuurd aan alle lokale restaurants, om er op te wijzen dat het in bezit hebben, het kopen en/of verkopen van zeeschildpadproducten bij de wet verboden is. De meest voorkomende bedreigingen voor he t aan land komen van zeeschildpadden zijn strandverlichting, het belemmeren van toegang tot de nestom geving door recreatiemateriaal (strandstoelen, zeilboten), en, in sommige gevallen, het lastig vallen van de dieren door het aanwezige publiek. De meest voor komende bedreiging voor de eieren is het aanstampen van het zand en embryosterfte door het rijden met voertuige n op het strand. In het geval de "hatchlings" (pas geboren zeeschildpadjes), zijn de strandver lichting van de hotels en de boulevardverlichting het grootste gevaar. Bij minstens drie geva llen in 1993, werden de "hatchlings" landinwaarts aangetroffen en toen teruggebracht naar de ze e, nadat zij door strandverlichting verdwaald waren. Er zijn aanduidingen dat op zee, schildpadden soms door boten en andere pleziervaartuigen worden geraakt. Koraalriffen worden beschadigd door het willek eurig ankeren (speciaal op populaire duikplaatsen) en vervuiling is opvall end, vooral in de baai van San Nicolas. Ondanks de vele factoren die de zeesch ildpadden en hun leefomgeving bedreigen, is het duidelijk dat Aruba uitgaat van een sterke positie wat betreft de bescherming van zeeschildpadden. Volledige wettelijke bescherming bestaat reeds, er bestaat geen economische afhankelijkheid van zeeschildpadden en hun producten, er bestaan plannen om de gehele west en zuidkust aan te wijzen als onderwaterpark (inc lusief een systeem van vaste boeien om de koraalriffen te beschermen), en er bestaat intere sse van de zijde van de hotels om een positieve rol te vervullen bij de bescherming van sch ildpadden en hun nestgebieden. Natuurbeschermingsorganisaties en overheidsinstanties zijn steeds meer betrokken bij campagnes met publieke bewustmaking als doel en materiaa l verschaft door WIDECAST heef t hieraan een sterke bijdrage geleverd. De "Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan" voor Aruba omschrijft de volgende prioriteiten: (a) om de publieke bewustmaking te versterken, (b) om de justitie aan te moedigen om smokkelwaar in beslag te nemen en de overtrede rs te vervolgen, (c) om de verspreiding en tijdsindeling van de broedactivitei ten vast te leggen, (d) het voorkomen van voertuigverkeer op de stranden (het rijden op de stranden is reeds wettelijk verboden op Aruba), en (e) het bevorderen van een volledige inzet van alle hotels om hun strandve rlichting te verminderen bij de nestgebieden en het redden (en het loslaten) van verdwaalde "hatchlings".


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page xi RESUMEN Aruba (12o30'N, 70oW) se encuentra localizada a 32 km al norte de Venezuela y a 67 km al occidente de Curazao, Antillas Neerlandesas. Hasta hace poco, Aruba era una de las seis islas que comprenden las Antillas Neerlandesas. Desde el 1 de enero de 1986, Aruba se convirti en una entidad autnoma del Reino de los Pases Ba jos. La economa de Aruba depende mucho del turismo. El turismo es un mercado que aumenta a pasos rpidos y genera la mayor cantidad de empleos en la isla. Las mayores atracciones so n un clima favorable y unas playas extensas de arena blanca, especialmente a lo largo de las costas occidental y su roccidental donde estn situados la mayor parte de los grandes hoteles. La mayora de los hoteles se encuentran ubicados a la orilla de la playa (o sobre la playa) y una autopista costera provee acceso fcil a lo que una vez fueron reas remotas. En estas reas de a lta densidad de desarrollo, la iluminacin y la actividad general puede inhibir a las tortugas a que vengan a la playa a poner huevos, pero la anidacin parece ser tan rara que es difcil cuantificar las tendencias. Se conoce muy poco de la distribucin o abundancia de tortugas marinas en Aruba. Pueden anidar cuatro especies: la Caguama o la Cabezona o (en Papiamento) cawama Caretta caretta ; la Tortuga Verde del Atlntico o tortuga blanco Chelonia mydas ; la Lad o la Tora o driekiel Dermochelys coriacea ; y la Carey o caret Eretmochelys imbricata La anidacin de baja densidad ocurre sobre las largas playas arenos as de las costas occidental y suroccidental, as como sobre selectas playas encajonadas a lo lar go de la costa norte. En las aguas frente a las costas, las Carey y las Tortugas Verdes del Atln tico de varios tamaos se encuentran presentes durante todo el ao y se alimentan, presumibleme nte en las aguas locales. Los pastos marinos y/o arrecifes coralinos, que proveen alimento y c obijo a las tortugas Carey y Verde del Atlntico, se sitan a lo largo de las costas relativament e calmas del occidente y sur; la costa norte se caracteriza por aguas turbulentas. No se conoce en qu grado Aruba proporciona forraje para las Caguamas y las Tortugas Verdes del Atlntico. La rara tortuga Lad es una visitante estacional, que llega de las aguas del norte c on el slo propsito de poner huevos. Encuestas preliminares sobre las playas en 1993 indican que, a pesar de la alta densidad del desarrollo comercial, la mayor parte de la an idacin puede ocurrir sobre la costa occidental y sobre Eagle Beach y Arashi, en particular. Pa ra 1994 hay planes de realizar encuestas ms detalladas con el objetivo de docum entar el tiempo y la distribucin de la anidacin. Es posible que en Aruba se hagan menos de 30 nidos (combinadas todas las es pecies). Nuestros registros indican que la tortuga Lad es la que anida ms comnmente, pero esta puede ser una refleccin del hecho de que las pistas de la tortuga Lad son las ms fciles de identificar. Desde 1987, estn protegidas en Aruba todas la s especies de tortugas marinas; los huevos estn protegidos desde 1980. No hay pescadores de tortugas. No se ha cuantificado (pero es probablemente bajo) el nivel de captura accident al, especialmente en las redes cercanas a las costas a lo largo de la costa occidental. La cap tura clandestina es casi imposible de cuantificar ya que los pescadores no lo informan a los Ofic iales de Pesca. Durante encuestas de mercado recientes, dos "boutiques" de la capital vendan joyas de caparazn de tortuga, y en septiembre de 1993 fueron confiscadas por la polica 15 caparazone s enteras en una tienda de la costa norte. Se dice que las joyas se fabricaron localment e, pero que las caparazones se importaron de Venezuela. Unos pocos restau rantes venden carne de tortuga (la mayora comprada a las em


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page x i i barcaciones pesqueras de Venezuela que las venden en el Puerto de Oranjestad), pero se espera que esta actividad se reduzca desde que el Pr imer Ministro envi una carta a todos los restaurantes locales en abril de 1993 reiterando que la posesin, adquisic in, y/o la venta de productos procedentes de tortuga mari na se halla prohibido por la ley. Las amenazas ms comunes a las tortugas que ll egan a anidar en las costas de Aruba son iluminacin de la playa, obstr uccin de los habitats de anidacin por equipos recreativos (reposeras, embarcaciones), y, en al gunos casos, el acoso de los observadores. La amenaza ms comn a los huevos es la muerte del embrin por aplastamiento debido a los vehculos que pasan por la playa. En el caso de las juveniles, el mayor peligro es la ilumi nacin procedente de los hoteles y las avenidas costeras. En el mar, hay indicaciones de que al gunas veces las tortugas son golpeadas por botes y otras em barcaciones de recreacin. Lo s arrecifes coralinos se daan porque las embarcaciones anclan indiscriminadame nte (en especial en los sitios populares de buceo) y la contaminacin es significativa en algunas reas, ms notablemente en San Nicolas Bay. A pesar de una variedad de factores que han amenazado nuestras tortugas marinas y sus habitats, est claro que Aruba se encuentra en una posicin muy firme con respecto a la conservacin de tortugas marinas. Ya se tiene proteccin legal plena, no existe dependencia econmica con respecto a las tortugas marinas y sus productos, hay planes para designar las costas occidental y sur completas como Par que Marino (incluso un sistema de boyas para proteger los arrecifes coralinos), y existe un inte rs considerable por part e de los hoteleros para desempear un papel positivo en la conservacin de tortugas y sus lugares de anidacin. Los grupos conservacionistas y las ag encias gubernamentales se est n involucrando cada vez ms en las campaas de concientizacin pblica, y lo s materiales provistos por WIDECAST han contribudo de forma signifi cativa a este esfuerzo. El Plan de Accin para la Recuperacin de la Tortuga Marina para Aruba describe las siguientes prioridades: (a) fortalecer las iniciati vas destinadas a la conc ientizacin pblica, (b) promover un mayor activismo en la confiscacin de contrabando, as como sancin a los transguesores por parte de los of iciales encargados de hacer cumplir la ley, (c) determinar la distribucin y el tiempo en que se realizan los esfuerzos de proc reacin, (d) eliminar el trfico de vehculos sobre las playas (conducir en las playas ya es ilegal en Aruba), y (e) promover la participacin plena de todos los hoteleros de la playa en la reduccin de iluminacin frente a las playas donde ocurre la anidacin y rescatar (y li berar en el mar) a las ju veniles desorientadas.


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page x ii i RESUME L'le d'Aruba (12o30'N, 70oO) se trouve dans les Antilles nerlandaises 32 km au nord du Venezuela et 67 km l'ouest de Curaao. Ju squ' trs rcemment, Aruba faisait partie des six les composant les Antilles nerlandaises. Aruba est devenu, le 1er janvier 1986, une entit indpendante au sein du Royaume des PaysBas. L'conomie d'Aruba dpend exclusivement du tourisme qui est un march en croissance acclre et permet le plus grand nombre d'emplois sur l'le. Les plus grands atouts sont le climat favorable et les plages de sable blanc, trs tendues, en particulier le long des ctes ouest et sud-ouest o se situent la plupart des grands htels. La majorit de ces htels sont construits au bord de s plages (ou sur la plage mme), une auto-route ctire donnant accs des zones autrefois loignes La forte luminosit et l'activit gnrale peuvent empcher aux tortues de sortir de l'ea u dans ces zones trs exploites afin de pondre leurs oeufs. La nidation semble tre si rare que les tendances sont difficiles quantifier. On connait trs peu la distribution ou l'a bondance des tortues de mer Aruba. Quatre espces y font leurs nids: la tortue caouanne ou (en Papiamentou) cawama Caretta caretta ; la tortue verte ou tortuga blanco Chelonia mydas ; la tortue luth ou driekel Dermochelys coriacea et la tortue imbrique ou caret Eretmochelys imbricata La nidation se fait dans une faible mesure sur les vastes plages sablonneuses sur le s ctes ouest et sud-oues t ainsi que sur quelques petites plages de la cte nord. En mer, les tort ues imbrique et les tortue s vertes de diffrentes tailles sont prsentes toute l'anne et s'alimente nt dans les eaux locales. Les bancs d'algues et/ ou les rcifs coralliens (qui servent de nourriture et d'habitat aux tortues caille et aux tortues vertes) se trouvent tout au long des ctes ouest ou sud qui sont a ssez calmes. On ignore jusqu' quel point Aruba reprsente une source d'alimen tation pour la tortue caouanne et la tortue olivtre. La tortue luth, esp ce rare, est un visiteur saisonnier, arrivant du nord uniquement pour pondre ses oeufs. Des tudes prliminaires en 1993 indiquent que, malgr la densit du dveloppement commercial, la plupart de la nidation se fait sur la cte ouest et en particul ier sur la plage Eagle et Arashi. Des tudes plus dtailles sont pr vues pour 1994 afin de rassembler des documents sur la priodicit et la rpartition de la nidatio n. Il se peut que moins de 30 nids (toutes les espces combines) soient faits Aruba chaque anne. Selon le s informations disponibles, la tortue luth est celle qui fait le plus souvent un nid; nanmoins, ceci peut sembler parce qu'il est trs facile de suivre les traces de la tortue luth. Toutes les espces de tortues ont t prot ges depuis 1987 et leurs oeufs depuis 1980. Il n'existe pas de pcheurs de tortues. Un nombre indtermin (mais peut-tre trs faible) de prises accidentelles se produit surtout da ns les filets tendus prs des ctes de l'ouest. La prise clandestine est presque impossible quantifier car les pcheurs ne veulent pas en parler aux responsables de la Division de la Pche. Lors des rcentes tudes de march, deux boutiques dans la capitale vendaient des bijoux en caille de tortue. En se ptembre 1993, 15 carapaces entires ont t confisques par la police dans une boutique de la cte nord. Les bijoux seraient fabricqus localement mais les carapaces auraient t importes du Venezuela. Quelques restaurants vendent la chair de tortue (achete en grande partie auprs des batea ux vnzueliens vendant leurs marchandises dans le port d'Orenjestad) mais cette activit devrait diminuer grce la lettre


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page x i v envoye par le premier ministre en 1993 interdis ant la possession, l'achat ou la vente de tout produit li la tortue marine. L'clairage des plages, l'obstruction de la z one de nidation par les quipements de loisirs (chaises longues et yatch), et dans certains cas, le harclement par les badauds constituent les principales menaces la monte su r les plages des tortues. En raison des vhicules qui roulent sur les plages, les oeufs courent le risque d'tre crass, occasi onnant la mort de l'embryon. Les jeunes tortues, elles, sont le plus souvent dra nges par l'clairage des plages, et les routes construites sur les ctes. Dans au moins trois cas en 1993, de jeunes tortues ont t ramasses dans des sites l'intrieur et retournes la mer car elles ont t mal diriges par l'clairage des plages. En mer, les tortues seraient parfois heur tes par les bateaux de pl aisance et autres. Les rcifs coralliens sont dtruits par l'ancrage hasa rdeux (surtout dans les sites populaires destins la plonge) tandis que la pollution est importante dans certaines zones, notamment dans la baie de Saint Nicolas. Malgr les nombreux facteurs qui menacent no s tortues marines et leurs habitats, il est vident que le programme de prot ection de la tortue marine en Aruba repose sur une structure bien tablie. Une protection juridique totale est dj assure et il n'y a aucune dpendance conomique exclusive sur la tortue marine ou ses produits. Il es t prvu que les ctes ouest et sud, soient dsignes comme Parc marin, en y ajoutant un systm e d'ancrage pour protger les rcifs coralliens. Les hteliers sont eux-mmes prts jouer un rle positif dans la protection des tortues et de leurs nids. Les cologistes et les agences gouvernementales participent de plus en plus activement aux campagnes de sensibilis ation du public et le matriel fourni par WIDECAST a t trs utile cet gard. Le Plan d'action pour la sauvegarde de la to rtue de mer Aruba s' est fix les priorits suivantes: a) renforcer les initiatives de sensib ilisation du public; b) enc ourager une action plus militante de la part de ceux chargs de l'applic ation des lois pour qu'ils confisquent les produits illgaux et poursuivent en justice les dlinquants; c) dterminer la rpartition et la priode de reproduction; d) liminer la circul ation de vhicules sur les plages (cette pratique est dj illgale Aruba); et e) encourager la pleine participatio n de tous les hteliers ay ant des constructions sur la plages pour rdu ire l'clairage des plages de nidation, rattraper et ret ourner la mer les jeunes tortues qui sont desorientes.


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 1I. INTRODUCTION Until recently, Aruba was one of six islands comprising the Netherlands Antilles. As of 1 January 1986, Aruba became an autonomous entity within the Kingdom of The Netherlands. It now has its own constitution based on the same pr inciples as The Netherlands. A Governor appointed by the Queen of Holland for a six year pe riod acts as her represen tative. Legislative, executive and judicial powers are established along parliament ary democracy guidelines. The parliament, comprised of 21 members elected every four years by universal suffrage, legislates. The party (or parties) obtaining legislative major ity is asked by the Gover nor to form a sevenmember Council of Ministers vested with execu tive powers and headed by a Prime Minister. Aruba (12o30'N, 70oW) is located 32 km (19 miles) north of Venezuela and 67 km (42 miles) west of Curaao, Netherlands Antilles (Figure 1). It is situated outside of the hurricane belt and its climate is of a semi-arid type. The average temperature is 27oC (81oF), annual rainfall and humidity average 43.2 cm (17 in) (mostly in the m onths of November-January) and 75.9%, respectively. Aruba is a small, flat island measuring 32 km (20 miles) long by a maximum width of 10 km (6 miles); total area is 193 km2. Its highest point is Mount Yamanota (190 m). The resident population is about 70,000, but this is consider ably increased by the influx of tourists, especially during the winter months (Table 1). Aruba is very dependent economically on tour ism, especially since it became separated from the Netherlands Antilles. Today tourism is a fast-growing market and is the biggest employer on the island (AHATA, unpubl. statistics ). The major attractions are a favorable climate and extensive white sandy beaches, especial ly along the western and southwestern shores where most of the largest hotels are situated. Mo st hotels are built right at the beach edge (or on the beach) and a coastal highway provides easy access to once remote areas. Lighting and general activity may inhibit turtles from comi ng ashore to lay their eggs in high density development areas, but nesting appears to be so rare that trends ar e difficult to quantify. Along the south shore, small coral islands protect the coastline from rough seas. Surrounding these small islands are fringing cora l reefs, although the reef s are less developed than those in Curaao and Bonaire. Unlike its closest neighbors, Curaao and Bonaire, Aruba lies entirely within the confines of the South Am erican continental shelf and the sea separating it from the mainland does not exceed 135 m in depth (average depth is 50 m). To the north, the sea bottom drops off to depths of 200 m and more. A strong east tradewind re nders the north coast largely unsuitable for swimming and recreation. Sandy beaches suitable for sea turtles to come ashore and nest were surveyed in 1993 for signs of egg-laying. This was the first time such a survey had been conducted. In a global review of the status of green turtles ( tortuga blanco ) and hawksbills ( caret ), Groombridge and Luxmoore (1989) concluded that nesting and foraging may occur in Aruba, but there were no data to indicate where such activities might take place. In preparing this Recovery Action Plan we interviewed government officials, conservationists, fishermen, and coastal residents, initiated preliminary hab itat surveys, and involved ongoing projects (such as the current UNDP fisheries project) that may yield insight into the distribution of sea turtles. With this information, we have attempted to identify habitats important to sea turtles and factors threaten


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 2 ing their survival. While a great deal of effort has gone into preparing the Recovery Action Plan, its publication is only the beginning of our conservation efforts. Because of our involvement in WIDECAST, sea turtle conservation in Aruba is now a national commitment rooted in an understanding of sea turtle biology and an awareness of conservation techniques and options. This Rec overy Action Plan summarizes what is known, identifies important gaps in existing knowledge, and provid es policy-makers and non-government groups with detailed information needed to make informed decisions regarding the conservation and recovery of depleted sea turtle stoc ks. It is clear that ou r priorities should be to refine our knowledge of important nesting and feeding areas, promote public awareness of the plight of en-dangered sea turtles, and implemen t specific management initiatives (such as the protection of eggs in zones of high beach use) to enhance survival prospects. II. STATUS AND DISTRIBUTION OF SEA TURTLES IN ARUBA In the Caribbean Sea, five species of sea turtle are recognized as Endangered and a sixth, the loggerhead turtle, as Vulnerable by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) (Groombridge, 1982). There is ample ev idence that all six sp ecies have declined fr om former levels of abundance in many parts of the region. The factor most clearly responsible for their demise is the relentless commercial harvest for meat, shell, oil, skins, and eggs which has been ongoing for more than a century. In addition, turtles are accid entally captured in active or abandoned fishing gear, resulting in death to tens of thousands of turtles each year. The continued existence of Caribbean populations is also threatened by oil sp ills, human and industrial waste, garbage dumped at sea, indiscriminate anchoring, be ach sand mining, beachfront lighting, and a variety of other factors that degrade important nesting beaches and feeding grounds. Very little is known about th e distribution or abundance of sea turtles in Aruba. Four species may nest: the loggerhead ( cawama ), green turtle ( tortuga blanco ), leatherback ( driekiel ), and hawksbill ( caret ). Nesting is only very rarely repo rted, and the species is virtually never identified. Low density nesting occurs on the large sand beaches of the west and southwest coasts, as well as on selected pocket beaches along the north s hore. Offshore, hawksbills and green turtles of varying sizes ar e present year-around and presumably feed in loca l waters. The extent to which Aruba provides forage for logge rheads and olive ridleys is not known. The rare leatherback is a seasonal visitor, arriving from northern waters only for the purpose of egg-laying. The Kemp's ridley is confined to th e Gulf of Mexico and temperate north Atlantic and is not reported in Aruba. Figure 2 summarizes diagnostic features of local species. 2.1 Caretta caretta Loggerhead Sea Turtle The loggerhead sea turtle, known as cawama in the local language (Papiamento), nests occasionally and is sometimes encountered at sea. The loggerhead is rec ognized by a large head (to 25 cm wide, according to Pritchard et al., 1983) and thick, somewhat tapered carapace (=shell) with five pairs of late ral plates (=scutes) (Figure 2). The carapace is often encrusted by barnacles. The large head a nd strong jaws, for which the sp ecies was named, are necessary adaptions to an omnivorous diet of mollusks and hard -shelled crabs; tunicate s, fishes, and plants


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 3are also eaten (Dodd, 1988). Adults attain a straightlin e carapace length of 120 cm and weigh up to 200 kg (440 lb) (Pritchard et al., 1983). The color is red-br own to brown; hatchlings are sometimes gray. Like hawksbills, loggerhead hatchl ings are uniform in color, top and bottom. Frazer and Ehrhart (1985) estimated age at sexual maturity to be 12-30 years, and predicted that the upper estimate was the more realistic value. Loggerheads are found as far north as Ne wfoundland (Squires, 195 4) and northern Europe (Brongersma, 1972) and as far south as Argentina (Frazier, 1984), but they have a predominately temperate nesting distribution. The greatest num bers of nesting females are recorded along the Atlantic coast of Florida (U SA) and at Masirah Island, Oman. In the Wider Caribbean, nesting is reported on the Caribbean coasts of Mexico and Central America, the Atlantic coast from Venezuela to Brazil, and rarely in the eastern Caribbean (summarized by Dodd, 1988). According to the existi ng paradigm (at least for the la rge rookeries in the U. S.), hatchlings leave their natal beach es and are carried passively on the North Atlantic subtropical gyre in Sargassum seaweed rafts to areas of the eastern North Atlantic, including the Azores. After several years of pelagic existence, the juveniles (typically 50-65 cm shell length) return or are returned by currents to the western North A tlantic to become resident benthic (=bottom) feeders on the continental shelf. It is not known whether the species is resident or itinerant in the waters of Aruba. There are no data detailing which size classes are most common. Foragi ng presumably takes place, but important feeding areas have not been identifie d. In November of 1983, in the vicinity of the Diva Hotel, hatchlings emerged from the sa nd. Based on an average of two months of incubation, these eggs were laid in September [N.B nesting typically begins in April or May in the Western Atlantic and ends in September (summarized by Dodd, 1988)]. Roberto Hensen, Managing Director of Marcultura in Bonaire, was given a dozen of the hatchlings. Hensen gave seven of these to the Seaquarium on Curaao (the y subsequently died), and kept five. Four are alive to this day and doing well at the Marcultu ra facility. On 26 April 1993, a loggerhead nested at Eagle Beach between the Manchebo and Costa Li nda hotels; hatchlings emerged 26 June (48 hatchlings were counted, 20 unha tched eggs were exhumed). On 17 August 1993, five dead (desiccated) hatchlings were f ound on northern Arashi Beach. In contrast to the green turtle (section 2.2), the loggerhead leaves an asymmetrical nesting crawl (1-1.2 m wide) on the beach because the fore flippers alternat e with one another during crawling. With only three nests reported to LVV in more than a decade, the present level of nesting is sure to be low, perhaps 1-2 females come as hore each year. We have no data as to whether this number has declined over the ye ars. Clutch size and frequency (the number of clutches laid per year per female) are unknown, but based on data collected elsewhere in the Western Atlantic, each female would be expected to deposit 1-6 clutches averaging 120 eggs each at 12-14 day intervals during the nesting seas on (summarized by Dodd, 1988). Individual turtles do not generally nest every year. Most females return to the nesting be ach every second or third year, although remigration intervals as long as seven y ears have been reported (e.g., Richardson et al., 1978; Bjorndal et al., 1983). Th e sex of the hatchlings is la rgely determined by beach sand temperature (e.g., Mrosovsky et al ., 1984). Few hatchlings will su rvive the many years to sexual maturity, but those who do will return to the beaches where they were born to start the cycle anew.


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 4 Rebel (1974) reported that e ggs were taken opportunistically for personal consumption. Unfortunately, more current information is not available. We are aware of a low level of clandestine harvest of sea turtles in Aruba (section 3.3), but we have no documentation to suggest that loggerheads are involved. 2.2 Chelonia mydas Green Sea Turtle The green turtle, referred to in Papiamento as tortuga blanco is one of the two most common turtles seen in the waters of Aruba, th e other being the hawksbill turtle. The green turtle is recognized by a single pair of scales on the "forehead" between the eyes and a round, blunt beak serrated for c lipping sea grasses. The carapace is smooth and the plates (=scutes) do not overlap one another (cf. hawksbill turtle, sect ion 2.4). The carapace is characterized by four pairs of lateral scutes (Figure 2) and is generally devoid of ba rnacles. The maximum reported weight of adult females nesting in Suriname is 182 kg (400 lb) (Schulz, 1975). Adults generally measure 95-120 cm in straightline carapace lengt h. Adults and juvenile s of varying sizes are present in Aruba throughout the year. It is likely that individual green turtles do not remain in local waters throughout their lives. Hatchlings emerge from their nests, sc urry to the sea, orient offshore in a swimming frenzy that persists over a period of days, and ultimately enter an offshore convergence or weed line. It is well known, for example, that Sargassum seaweed rafts shelter hatchling green turtles and also harbour a diverse, spec ialized fauna, including many kinds of little fishes, crustaceans, worms, mollusks, tunicates, and coelenterate s; these may provide food for the young turtles (Carr, 1987a). The turtles remain epipelagic (surface dwelling in the open sea) for an unknown period of time (perhaps 1-3 years) before taki ng up residence in contin ental shelf habitats. Unlike the loggerhead (section 2.1), the epipelagic years are not likely to involve trans-Atlantic movement. Upon leaving the open sea existence that char acterizes their earliest years, green turtles become herbivores and remain so for the rest of their lives (Bjorndal, 1985). In the Caribbean Sea, green turtles feed primar ily on the sea grass Thalassia testudinum (Bjorndal, 1982), commonly referred to as "turtle grass". Field st udies indicate that individual turtles maintain feeding "scars" by re turning to the same area of sea grass meadow to forage each day (Ogden et al., 1980, 1983). These scars, or grazing plots, are maintained by regular cropping for several months and the more digestible newer growth (h igher in protein, lower in lignin) is preferred (Bjorndal, 1980). When the cropp ed grasses show signs of stress (blade thinning, increased inter-nodal distance), th e turtle apparently abandons the scar and moves on to form another. In Aruba, Thalassia is most common in Palm Beach Bay (Figure 3). Green turtles travel extensively during the fi rst decades of their lives and in the years preceding reproductive maturity take up temporar y residence in many locations (Carr et al., 1978). They may travel thousands of kilomete rs throughout the region before the urge to reproduce impels them to migrate to mating and ne sting grounds, the latter presumed to be their natal (=birth) beach. Caribbean green turtles reach sexual maturity at an estimated 18-36 years of age (reviewed by Frazer and Ladner, 1986). Af ter reproducing, there is some evidence that turtles return to resident foraging grounds (=feedi ng areas). Therefore, the movements of adult


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 5 turtles are likely to be less extensive than th ose of juveniles, since adults move seasonally between relatively fixed feeding and breeding ar eas. Tagging and telemetry studies would be useful to determine residency and move ment patterns in the waters of Aruba. van Buurt (1984) did not report green turtle nesting, but an earlier reference (Rebel, 1974) cited personal communication from Dr. Ingvar Kristensen th at "eggs are taken for local consumption from the three species that nest -green, hawksbill, and loggerhead." If green turtles do nest in Aruba, such occurrences may be rare. Egg-laying has never been documented by LVV. Olinda van der Linden-Rasmijn watche d a nesting female which she believes was a green turtle (olivegreen color, very smooth shell, deep nesting pi t) at Dos Playa on 9 May 1993; unfortunately, the eggs were subseq uently lost to high seas. In ge neral, green turtles prefer to nest on open beach platforms, as opposed to ro cky or densely vegeta ted areas. Nests are characterized by a deep pit (1.5 -2 m wide and 1 m deep) and a symmetrical crawl (1-1.2 m wide) leading to and from the ocean. Elsewhere in th e Caribbean, 3-6 clutches of eggs are deposited per female per year. Adults are migratory, l eaving the nesting grounds at the close of the breeding season and returning to repeat the ritual on multiple (2-3+) year intervals. Within season nestings are typically sepa rated by 12-14 days and each cl utch consists of about 120-150 eggs. Nesting is nocturnal. At the region' s largest rookery (Tort uguero, Costa Rica), most nesting occurs between mid-June and mid-September (Bjorndal and Carr, 1989). Green turtles are occasionally (and incidentally) netted, but the number of turtles taken is believed to be low (section 3.3). There is currently no export of green turt les; those not sold to local restaurants are sold to or shared with members of the community. Until recently, green turtles were quite frequently imported from Venezuela for restaurant sale (Rebel, 1974; J. Sybesma, 30 March 1987, in litt. to Groombridge and Luxmoore, 1989). The precise origin of the turtles brought into Aruba fr om Venezuela is not known, but ma ny of them are captured off the east coast of the Peninsula de Paraguana (Guada and Vernet 1988). Others are believed caught in the Gulf of Ve nezuela in the area of the Monkey Is lands (R. de Kort, pers. comm.). The illegal trafficking is not nearly as common today as it was even a few years ago, yet it does continue on an irregul ar basis (section 3.3). 2.3 Dermochelys coriacea Leatherback Sea Turtle There are only rare reports of leatherbacks, known locally as driekiel Leatherbacks are the largest of all sea turtles. Caribbean -nesting females typica lly weigh 300-500 kg (660-1100 lb). An adult male weighing a record 916 kg (2015 lb) stranded on the coast of Wales, U. K. in 1988 (Morgan, 1989). Leatherbacks l ack a bony shell and the smooth black skin is spotted with white. The carapace is strongly tapered, typica lly measures 130-165 cm in straightline length, and is raised into seven prominent ridges (hen ce the name "driekiel", meaning "three ridges") (Figure 2). Powerful fr ont flippers extend nearly the le ngth of the body. Leatherbacks are excellent divers, having been recorded divi ng in excess of 1000 m offshore St. Croix, USVI (Eckert et al., 1989). Leatherback s feed predominately on jellyf ish and other soft-bodied prey (e.g., Hartog and van Nierop, 1984; Davenport and Balazs, 1991). Ag e at maturity is not known. Leatherbacks are likely to be seasonal visitors, with observati ons largely confined to peak breeding months March-July. Caribbean island popul ations are relatively sm all (comprised of a


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 6 few dozen to a few hundred females), but Yali mapo-Les Hattes, French Guiana, supports an estimated 14,700-15,300 females (Fretey and Girondot, 1989). The turtles prefer to nest on beaches with deep, unobstructed ac cess; contact with abrasive cora l and rock is avoided (Eckert, 1987). Leatherbacks deposit an average of 5-6 clutch es per year at 9-10 da y intervals. Approximately 80-90 yolked eggs are laid in each nest, along with a variable number of smaller yolkless eggs. Tag returns from females tagged while ne sting in the Guianas, Trinidad, and the U. S. Virgin Islands indicate that fema les return to north temperate wa ters after nesting. Corroborating evidence is available from studies of barnacle colonizat ion on gravid females in St. Croix (Eckert and Eckert, 1988). No nesting had been documented on Aruba at the time data were being assembled for the first Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium (van Buurt, 1984). However, in early April 1985, a leatherback with an estimated length of 1.5 m came ashore on Eagle Beach on the west coast of the island. An article in La Prensa (9 April 1985) reported that she was scared away by onlookers and had to return to th e beach three times before her eg gs were successfully laid. Three years later (2 April 1988), a female came as hore at Arashi beach (Figure 4). Nesting may occur regularly in this area but, since the beach is undeveloped, there are no security guards to observe and report nesting activity. In one case 12 hatchlings from Ar ashi Beach were transferred to a mariculture facility on Bonaire (Mar cultura Ltd.) where they were fed a diet of Cassiopeia jellyfish; they died 6-12 months later (R oberto Hensen, Marcultura, pers. comm.). Interviews and habitat surveys conducted for th is Recovery Action Plan revealed additional evidence of nesting, but always al ong the western shore (Table 2). In some parts of the Caribbean (e.g., Fren ch Guiana, Guyana, Trinidad, Grenada, St. Lucia, British Virgin Islands), gravid leatherbac ks are killed for meat and/or oil whilst on the nesting beach. The shell and cartilage are boiled down for oil. The oil is often used for medicinal purposes, generally in cas es of respiratory congestion (C ambers and Lima, 1990), and is sometimes believed to have aphrodisiac qualities. In addition to harvest, other threats include entanglement (longlines, shrimp trawls, pot lines, nets) and the ingestion of persistent ocean debris, notably plastic bags which are mistaken for jellyfish, the preferred prey item. A leatherback was brought in to the local abattoir in 1968, but subsequently released (section 3.3). 2.4 Eretmochelys imbricata Hawksbill Sea Turtle The hawksbill is known in Papiamento as caret and is recognized by the distinctly over-lapping scutes of the carapace, four pairs of lateral scutes, two pairs of scales between the eyes, and a narrow, pointed jaw (Figure 2). A dults rarely exceed 80 kg (175 lb) (Witzell, 1983) and a straight carapace length of about 90 cm; they are brightly patterned in yellow, gold, orange and brown. Hawksbills feed in coral reefs, wher e they appear to specialize on sponges. Ten sponge species accounted for 79.1% of the dry mass of all sponges identified in the stomachs of hawksbills from seven Caribbean countries, sugges ting a degree of dietary selectivity (Meylan, 1988). Gravid females commonly nest on small, isolated beaches (often flanked by exposed coral and rock) that are difficult for biologists to survey on a cons istent basis. When ashore for nesting, hawksbills typically retreat into the beach forest, leaving little evidence of the nest aside from a faint asymmetrical crawl (0.7-0.8 m wide) leading to and from the ocean. The asymmetry results because the fore flippers alte rnate with one anther during crawling.


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 7 In a report to the Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium, van Buurt (1984) speculated that hawksbills would be expected to nest on "vario us beaches on the north coast", but no specific records were available. He noted that there we re several small sandy beaches on the north shore, including Boca Grandi, Boca Prins, Andicuri, a nd Druif (Figure 4). Most of these are surrounded by a limestone plateau; some have b ackbeach vegetation which includes Suriana maritima We believe that the southeastern beache s, including Boca Grandi and Rodger's Beach, also offer favorable nesting habitat to hawksbills and recommend that future survey efforts include these sites. Very broad sandy beaches on the west and southwest shores are less likely to be suitable for hawksbill nesting; further, this habitat is compromised by intense tourist and industrial development. A few offshore islands such as De Palm Island may still have some nesting (none has been reported to date). Else where in the Caribbean hawksbills nest throughout most of the year, but peak nesting activity is observed from July to November. Preliminary survey efforts in Aruba should be concentrated during this time. Ongoing research on Long Island (Antigua, Eastern Caribbean) has shown that most hawksbills nest 4-6 times per year (averaging ab out 150 eggs per clutch), each nest separated by an interval of 14-15 days (range 13-18 days) (Corliss et al., 1989). Average clutch size in Mona Island, Puerto Rico, has ranged from 141.0 (19 89) to 157.6 (1984); incubation lasts 47-63 days (Richardson, 1990). Females return to the nes ting beach (thought to be their natal beach) at remigration intervals of 2-3 or mo re years and continue to breed th roughout their adult lives. As is the case with other species, hatchling sex is largely determined by sand temperature during a 2-month incubation. Hatchlings emerge from their nests at night, scurry to the sea, and dwell in open ocean habitats for the first years of life. They return to coastal waters as young juveniles and may travel widely during the many years (20-30?) prior to sexual maturity (cf. green turtles, section 2.2). Hawksbills are occasionally netted during ne arshore fishing, but th e number taken is believed to be low (section 3.3). The exquisite b eauty of the shell scutes (known as "tortoiseshell") has long played a central role in jewelry and ornament ation in southeastern Asia (especially Japan) and, to a lesser degree, in the Caribbean. Harvest of hawksbills for their shells, while illegal in many nati ons, continues at a high rate in many parts of the world and is the single largest threat to the survival of the sp ecies in the Caribbean and elsewhere. In Aruba, two Oranjestad boutiques were found selling tortoiseshell in May 1993 and again in September 1993 (K. Eckert, pers. obs.) and in both cases the clerk noted that the items were fashioned locally. LVV is not aware of the identity of the supplier, but both st ores will be investigated. In addition, Venezuelan suppliers illegally bring w hole shells into Aruba whereupon they are sold to local buyers and ultimately to store owners (section 3.3). 2.5 Lepidochelys kempii Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle There are no records of Kemp's ridleys in Aruba, nor would the species be expected to occur. The diminutive Kemp's ridl ey is gray in color as an immature and primarily olive-green as an adult (Pritchard et al., 1983). The cara pace is round, often as wi de as it is long, and carapace scutes do not overlap one another (cf. hawksbill sea turtle, section 2.4). According to Ross et al. (1989), adults weigh 60-90 lb (27-41 kg) and have a shell length of 23-30 inches (58-76 cm).The species is carnivorous and eats mostly crabs, but also preys on other crustaceans,


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 8 shellfish, jellyfish, sea urchins, starfish, and fish. With the excep tion of a single recapture from Caribbean Nicaragua of a "head-started" indi vidual (Manzella et al., 1991), which may have displayed altered behavior due to having been held captive during its first year (Woody, 1991), Kemp's ridleys are confined to the Gulf of Mexico and temperat e northern Atlantic. The total adult population is thought to number no more than 900 females and an unknown number of males (Ross et al., 1989), making it the world's mo st endangered sea turtle. The species nests almost exclusively in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico. 2.6 Lepidochelys olivacea Olive Ridley Sea Turtle There are no records of this species in Aruba, although it may o ccur. A female was landed by a fisherman in Curaao in July 1991 (Sybesma and Hoetjes, 1992). Olive ridleys are similar in appearance to Kemp's ridleys (section 2.5), having a nearly round carapace (the width about 90% of the length) and an adult color of olive green or br own dorsally and yellowish white ventrally. The turtle rarely exceeds 100 lb (45 kg) (Pritchard et al., 1983). Each front flipper bears a single claw, the horny beak may be finely serrated, and ca rapace scutes do not overlap one another. The lateral scutes (those to either side of the medi an on the shell) are divided into 5-9 pairs, considerably more than other sea tu rtles which typically have 4-5 pairs. The only significant nesting colony in the Western Atlantic is in Suriname, primarily at Eilanti Beach (Schulz, 1975). Olive ridleys nesting in Suriname have declined considerably in recent years, from about 3,000 nests per year in the late 1 960's to fewer than 500 nests per year today (Reichart and Fretey, 1993). Diffuse nesting occu rs in northwestern Guyana and in French Guiana (Reichart, 1989). III. STRESSES ON SEA TURTLES IN ARUBA 3.1 Destruction or Modification of Habitat Because many beaches suitable for egg-laying ar e also suitable for recreational tourism, much of the potential historical nesting habitat of sea turtles is now de spoiled to a greater or lesser degree by large hotels or hotels under cons truction, by the activities of gr owing numbers of tourists and residents, and by a coastal boulev ard that provides access to points once remote along the western shore. Hotel development began with the construction of the Aruba Caribbean Hotel in 1959, followed by the Sheraton in the late 1960's. At the present time, virtually all nesting habitat along the west and southwest coas ts has been developed in luxur y, high rise hotels. Further north, at Arashi Beach, beachfront development consists of private residences. The capital of Oranjestad is also developed on what was once beachfront property. Vehicles have recently become commonplace on some beaches (e.g., Boca Pr ins, California Dunes, Eagle Beach) and this has caused noticeable damage (tire ruts, destru ction of vegetation). Fo rtunately there is no history of commercial beach sand mining in Aruba, so this has not been a source of beach destruction. The widespread disposal of waste tar between Boca Grandi and Rincon by the LAGO Oil Company from 1926-1985 is not likely to have affected the beaches themselves; the deposits were cleaned away in 1991.


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 9 In some areas, foraging habitat (coral reef s and sea grass) has been adversely modified during the course of the twenti eth century. Perhaps the most extreme example is San Nicolas Bay where long-term effects of chronic pollution (industrial harbor chemical plant) include low coral cover, low coral recruitment, and modifi ed reef species compos ition (section 4.143). Oil still finds its way into San Nicolas Bay as a resu lt of the multifarious operations of the Coastal Oil refinery (which replaced the LAGO facility), a nd untreated sewage is also disposed of in the bay. In the past, dredging shorew ard of the islands offshore Surfsi de did considerable damage to sea grass beds there. There is no indication th at anchoring has damaged sea grass beds, but the story is different for coral reefs. Damage is particularly apparent at popular dive sites, where coral heads can be observed to be broken and/or overturned. For this reason, among others, most dive operators are keen in their support for th e proposed Marine Park (section 4.12) and its system of moorings. Indiscriminate anchoring by fishing boats is also a problem. Some areas popular for skin diving and snorkeling, such as Palm Island on the south shore, receive large groups of tourists off visiting cruise ships and significant damage is visible to fragile shallow water reef formations. The challenge in Aruba is to identify remaining habitat still important to sea turtles, and then to establish as a priority th e safeguarding of this habitat in order to conserve our sea turtle resource. For new development sites, field surv eys should be undertaken to assess usage of the site by sea turtles. Mitigation measures should th en be required to minimize or eliminate negative effects of anchoring, dredgi ng, sewage and garbage disposal land reclamation, artificial beach lighting, and the construction of seawalls and jetties, etc. (see sections 4.13 and 4.14). For existing development sites, creative and comprehe nsive solutions must be explored to reduce current threats, including artificial lighting, ve hicle traffic on the beach, the trampling of nests, etc. (see section 4.12). 3.2 Disease or Predation There are no data on the extent to which di sease affects sea turtle s in Aruba. Fibropapilloma, a poorly understood tumor disease in green turtles, is debilitating and can be fatal (Jacobson et al., 1989; Ehrhart, 1991). In some cases the disease has re sulted in blindness and starvation. In the southern regions of the Caribbean the disease has affected green turtles in Curaao (Sybesma, 1989), Panama (Jacobson, 1990), Tr inidad (Jacobson, 1991), Barbados (Horrocks, 1992), and Venezuela (Guada et al., 1991). It has not been reported in Aruba. Tumors appear as whitish or gray growths, similar to warts, which can be 10 cm or more in diameter. Predation and other natural cau ses of mortality differ among life stages. Eggs are lost primarily to beach erosion and domestic animals (i .e., dogs). In general, hatchlings fall prey to dogs, crabs, ants, coastal/sea birds and, once offshore, to reef and pelagic fishes. Juveniles also face dangers from pelagic fishes, but, by th e time adulthood is reached, the only non-human predators of any consequence are large sharks and killer whales. The remains of an approximately 28 kg hawksbill turtle were found in the stom ach of a 4-meter tiger shark captured off St. Thomas (Boulon, 1984). A similar incident is reported from Nevis by Young (1992). Leatherback remains were found in the stomachs of th ree killer whales captured off St. Vincent (Caldwell and Caldwell, 1969). Natu ral levels of predation have not been determined in Aruba, but are assumed to be within tolerable limits.


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 1 0 3.3 Over-utilization It is painfully difficult to quantify the histor ical abundance, harvest, and marketing of sea turtles in Aruba. With the exception of abattoir records (Table 3), there are no relevant data on this topic. Earlier reports ha ve confessed facing similar obst acles (e.g., van B uurt, 1984). Sea turtles are certainly a rare sight today, especi ally on the nesting beaches where perhaps fewer than 30 nests are laid (all species combined) each y ear. It is difficult to believe that sea turtles have always been rare in Aruba (especially gi ven the seemingly superb nesting habitat that characterizes the west coast; indeed, residents interviewed for this report contend that Eagle Beach was always a "popular" nesting area), but it is possible that they were never as common as we might think. It is significant that Aruban people claim no familiar folklore concerning sea turtles (e.g., locating a nesting fe male by signs in the night sky) and there have not been any turtle fishermen in recent memory. A broken piece of carapace is archived in the Archaeological Museum of Aruba, but there is no information as to where it was collected, the species or estimated age. Regarding eggs the extent to which they ar e collected is unknown, but LVV is not aware of any physical eviden ce (open pits, probing sticks) of poached ne sts and eggs have not been seen for sale. There is a long-standing tradition of importing sea turtles from Ven ezuela and, to a lesser extent, from Colombia. General knowledge holds that they were mostly adult greens, although hawksbills were also included. Guada and Vernet (1988) document the slaughter of green turtles captured along the east coast of the Peninsula de Paraguana (Venezuela) for black-market export to Aruba and Curaao. The trade was lucrative; at that time a 30 cm green turtle shell sold for US$ 10 in Aruba, while in Venezuela the price was but a small fraction of that (Guada and Vernet, 1988). Import volume will never be known but, based on abattoir statistics, fewer than 10 turtles were legally processed in a typical year (1977-1986) (T able 3). Imports apparently diminished in the late 1980's, pe rhaps as a result of the 1987 legislation ba nning the take or possession of sea turtles in Aruba. The imported an imals were often placed on tires on the ship's deck so as not to damage their shells. Prior to slaughter, turtles were kept in corrals made of loose rocks in front of the Government Buildi ng in Oranjestad. By law, they had to be slaughtered at the abattoir whet her they were local-caught or imported. Restaurants and hotels bought much of the meat, which was more expensiv e than fish. A leatherback was brought into the abattoir in 1968, but Veterinary Service staff convinced the fishermen to release the animal. The abattoir stopped processing tu rtles in September 1986 with the advent of protected status. In recent memory, turtles caught locally ha ve been snared by nearshore seines (see section 4.27). The catch is opportunistic, and the meat is considered a delicacy. In April 1993, a local diver reported to LVV that he had encounter ed the shell of a freshl y slaughtered turtle on the sea bottom at Blue Reef. Meat also still arrives on small boats that originate in Venezuela and transport fish to the floati ng market in Oranjestad Harbor. The volume of this trade is unknown and, as turtles are not regu lar fare on these boats, difficu lt to control. Restaurants purchase some if not most of th e turtle meat. In early May 1993, Fisherman's House Restaurant in Savaneta advertised a Mother's Day Special Menu that included sea turtle meat. Several residents called LVV to report the advertisement and to reque st enforcement action. LVV officials immediately visited the restaurant and spoke with the pr oprietor. Ten kilos of green turtle meat had been purchased the day before fr om the floating market. The proprietor claimed


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 11never to have purchased turtle meat before an d only wanted to offer "something different" for Mother's Day. He willingl y agreed to dispose of the meat and not to purchase it agai n. It is quite clear in cases such as this one that the law protecting turtles is an unfamiliar one, and that a concerted effort at public awareness is needed Knowledge shared with the community at a LVV/ WIDECAST slide show at the Public Librar y at the same time that the restaurant was running the advertisement most likely led to inform ed residents alerting LVV to the incident. Following this incident, the Prime Minister sent a letter to all island re staurants reminding them that sea turtles are protected by law. In addition to meat, sea turtle shells are also imported illegally from Venezuela. On 29 September 1993 a tourist reported to LVV that th e gift shop at the Natu ral Bridge (a popular visitation site on the north coast) was selling whol e polished shells of endangered sea turtles. LVV notified the Police and on 30 September, two uniformed officers visited the shop and informed the owner that sea turtles are protected in Aruba and the sale of their parts or products is forbidden. Later the same day Karen Ec kert visited the shop to document the species involved. In all, 15 shells had been offered for sale to unsuspecting tour ists at prices ranging from US$ 10-20. Two of the sm allest shells (28-30 cm) were of the hawksbill; the other 13 (up to 65 cm) were of the green tur tle. The shop clerk stated that they had not known of the law protecting the turtles and that all the shells had been purchased the previous week from a local importer who had obtained them from a Venezuelan vendor. The contraba nd was confiscated by the Police; a fine is not likely to be levied for a first offense. A letter from the Prime Minister to all gift shops reminding proprietors of the 1987 law prohibiting import, export, purchase, sale, etc. of sea turtles (including parts or products) w ould be very useful in curbing these offenses [N.B. a similar letter was mailed to island restau rants on 26 April 1993]. A diplomatic letter from the Government of Aruba to the Government of Venezuel a protesting the illegal export (into Aruba) of endangered turtle meat and shell would also be appropriate. A low level of illegal commerce in tortoiseshell jewelry also continues. In a survey of Oranjestad gift stores conducted by Karen Ec kert on 6 May 1993, Potpou rri (Sea Port Village Mall) had for sale four pairs of earrings at US$ 8.50 each. The clerk indicated that the items were locally made (not imported). When info rmed that sale of such items was illegal under Aruban law, the clerk displayed disbelief. When informed that turtles were protected internationally as 'endangered species' and thus any tour ist attempting to return home with such items would risk prosecution, the clerk en couraged Eckert to pass them o ff as "plastic or goat horn". At the time of a follow-up survey on 30 Septem ber 1993, the store still carried six pairs of earrings at $8.50 each. On 6 May, Cratique Bou tique (Harbor Town Mall, now Sea Port Village) had several pair of earrings for $3 each and "sometimes" had bracelets which sold for about $6. Again the clerk displayed disbelief when to ld that it was illegal to sell these items, and offered her assurances that "everyone eats them and there is certainly no law against it." On 30 September, this boutique displayed five rings at $3 each. On 6 May, in Anny's Flowershop (Harbor Town Mall), the shell of a small hawksbill (23 cm) hung on the wall. The clerk indicated that a friend had killed it "a year and a half ago" and th at it was not for sale; the clerk believed that the owner would use it in a special flower arrangement. The specific examples cited above do not en compass the whole of the problem in Aruba concerning the killing and sale of protected sea turt les but they illustrate adequately that the Gov


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 12ernment of Aruba is faced with a variety of ch allenges in this area and that enhanced public awareness of the status of sea tur tles is sorely needed. Much of the sale appears to be aimed at tourists and the image of Aruba as a favorable tourist destination will surely be tarnished the first time an American or European visitor is heavily fined or jailed when attempting to return home with a sea turtle shell. It is noteworthy that 120 nations of the world, including Canada, the U. S., all of Mexico, Central and South America, and all of western Europe, belong to the CITES treaty which prohibits trafficki ng in sea turtle products across international borders. The maximum fine for attempting to enter the U. S. with a sea turtle shell is $20, 000 and/or one year in prison. 3.4 Inadequate Regulatory Mechanisms Specific legislation exists to protect sea turt les and their eggs (section 4.21), but penalties should be strengthened (section 4.25) and enforcem ent is problematic (section 4.22). We recommend that the public be made more aware of the laws protecting sea turtles and that citizens be encouraged to report violations. There is a hi story of importing (mostly green) turtles from Venezuela for sale in restaurants and markets (section 3.3), but this traffic appears to have declined in recent years. Ratification of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is imminent and will provide a mu ch-needed regulatory tool to curtail trade in many species of internationally prot ected animals and plan ts (section 4.31). Ratification of the SPAW Protocol to the UNEP Cartagena Convention (see section 4.32) has not yet been approved, but would stre ngthen the legal framework for the conservation of sea turtles (and habitat) both domestically and throughout the Ca ribbean region. With regard to the protecttion of habitat, there is no explicit coastal zo ne management legislation but a "concept law" (Ruimtelijk Ordenings Plan Kustgebied) devel oped by a coalition of Government and private agencies was submitted to the Minister in Marc h 1989. This framework sets the stage for comprehensive coastal zoning, land use and physical planning. Additional legislation (Landsverordening houdende regels ter bescherming van de natuur en de daarin voorkomende dieren plantsoorten) to enable designa tion and maintenance of marine protected areas is before Parliament as this Recovery Ac tion Plan goes to press (A. Cure t, pers. comm.). The political will exists for conservation legislation, but th e legislative process is tedious and slow. 3.5 Other Natural or Man-made Factors Aruba is outside the hurricane belt, but severe erosion, especially of west coast beaches, occasionally results from forceful westerly storms. There are verbal reports of sea turtles struck by boats, 'jetskis', and windsurfers. Some incidents may result in debilitation or death to turtles, but there are no data to evaluate the extent to which this occurs. Natural debris (ocean borne, especially on north coast beaches) and man-made obstacles (especially on west and southwest coast hotel beaches) present a poten tial threat to the succ ess of sea turtle nesting and hatching. We have not observed turtles ensnared at sea, such as in abandoned fishing gear, netting, or packaging material, but abandoned nets entangle d around coral reefs are sometimes encountered by divers. Natural coral "bleaching" (a regi onal epidemic which continues to confound scientists) has been observed offshore Mangel Halto, but the condition is not widespread and the extent to which it has despoiled sea turtle fora ging habitat is not known. Other factors reducing the survival prospects of sea turtle s in Aruba have not been identified.


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 13IV. SOLUTIONS TO STRESSES ON SEA TURTLES IN ARUBA 4.1 Manage and Protect Habitat It is clear that conservation measures aime d at the protection of individual turtles are necessary but ultimately inadequate if the ha bitats upon which the tu rtles depend for food, refuge, and breeding are destroyed. Habitats necessary for the surv ival of endangered sea turtle species include unimpaired sea gr ass meadows, coral reefs, and sandy beaches. It is noteworthy that these ecosystems are importa nt not only to sea tu rtles, but to the general productivity and health of Aruba's tourism and fisheries industries. Sea grass meadows are very important to th e ecology of coastal areas, in addition to providing essential foraging grounds for green sea turtles (section 2.2) Sea grass roots stabilize the sea bed and provide foraging habitat for fis h, conch, sea urchins, sea stars and many other invertebrates. Sea grass serves as a critical developmental habitat for several commercially important species of fish and invertebrates. Much of the oxygen produced in nearshore water is generated in sea grass beds, and these areas also contribute to the clar ity of littoral zones by absorbing animal wastes and stabilizing sedi ments (UNEP, 1984). S ea grasses are easily degraded by upland deforestatio n (resulting in nearshore sedi mentation), coastal land reclamation, dredging, anchoring, and pollution from sewage and agricultural chemicals. To date we have not observed run-off and sedimentation in nearshore waters, nor, to any large degree, the uprooting of sea grass by indiscriminate anchoring. Past incidents of dredging, such as offshore Surfside, have resulted in onl y isolated damage. Any potentia l effects of chronic pollution on sea grasses, especially in the San Nico las Bay area, have not been studied. Coral reef communities are also important. Co ral reefs provide shelter to sea turtles, as well as food (e.g., hawksbills consume reef-associat ed sponges, see section 2.4). In order to grow and flourish, coral reefs need clear, clean water and relatively high wave energy (Wilcox, 1989). In return, a healthy reef system pr otects economic invest ments along the coast by reducing incoming wave energy and providing a so urce of beach sand. Coral reefs are also critical habitat for the majority of bottom-dwelli ng or demersal fish living in nearshore areas of the Caribbean. As such, reefs ar e vital not only for sea turtles in Aruba, but also for a wide variety of commercially important fishes. More than 300 fish species are found on Eastern Caribbean cor-al reefs, and approximately 180 of these are used for human consumption (Goodwin et al., 1986). Reefs are easily damaged by indiscrimina te anchoring, siltation, specimen collecting, and pollution. Anc horing is a serious concern in some areas and chronic pollution has degraded reefs in the San Nicolas Bay area. A Marine Park and associated mooring system are planned to ameliorate anchor damage, especially at popular dive sites. In addition to essential marine habitat, sa ndy beaches are necessary for egg-laying. The protection of sandy beaches is an important compone nt of any effort to c onserve and perpetuate Aruban populations of sea turtles. Sea turtles return to the area where they were hatched when the time comes to lay their own eggs. Shorelin e development (including beachfront construction, artificial lighting, and th e removal of vegetation), coas tal armoring, sand mining, and general activity at or proximal to a nesting be ach can reduce or eliminate the capacity of the beach to support sea turtle nesting and the succes sful incubation of eggs. Sound management of


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 14the beach resource is imperative; guidelines are provided in section 4.122 and expanded in section 4.13. 4.11 Identify essential habitat Specific habitats essential to the survival of sea turtles in Aruba have yet to be identified. Nonetheless, it is obvious that habitat both on la nd (sandy beaches) and at sea (coral reefs, sea grass meadows) is important and should receive significant levels of cons ervation effort, both to encourage the survival of our sea turtles and to retain the integrity of our economy which depends on fisheries, tourism, and recreation in clean and pleasant su rroundings. Surveys to identify specific habitats are recommended below. LVV should initiate this in coordination with local conservation groups such as StimAruba, FANAPA, Accion Ambiental, etc. Other government offices (e.g., VROM) and advisory gro ups (e.g., Commissie Mari en Milieubeheer) are encouraged to participate in efforts to define essential sea turtle habitat. 4.111 Survey foraging areas Recently, an offshore inventory of sand s ources available for dredging was undertaken and the final report noted concentrations of sea grass offshore the Palm Beach area (Hulsbergen, 1987). The ECNAMP (1980) natural resource atlas fo r Aruba indicates that Palm Beach has the largest area of sea grass in Ar uba and also indicates that sea grasses occur in the protected lagoons shoreward of the southern barrier is lands. In addition, ECNAMP (1980) shows coral reef formations along virtually all of the north coast [N.B. the atlas errs in th is regard, as true reef formations are found nowhere along the wave-tossed north coast], as well as signifi cant areas of the west coast and offshore the southern barr ier islands. A map summa rizing existing knowledge of the distribution of sea grass and coral reefs was constructed specifically for this Recovery Action Plan (Figure 3). Although some survey and biological data are available for the sea grass and reef communities of Aruba (Bak, 1975; Hulsbergen, 1987) there is no information related to the use of these environments by sea turtles. The only info rmation that is available at the present time is anecdotal and fragmentary. For instance, foraging areas for loggerheads ( cawama ), hawksbills ( caret ), and green turtles ( tortuga blanco ) were reported by van Buurt (1984) on both the north and south coasts, but details were not provided. Foraging (presumably by gr een turtles) has been reported by divers at Rodger's Beach on the east si de of the island. Buikhuizen (1993) mentions in his "Caribbean Story" that hawksbills are ofte n seen in the coral reef area at the entrance of Oranjestad Harbor, and also at the entrance of Barcadera Harbor (in the latter case, the species was not mentioned). It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that a program be initiated to assemble information on the distribution and health of potential foraging areas. The implementtation of this recommendation has already begun w ith the efforts of the WIDECAST Coordinator in Aruba to solicit information from the diving and fishing communities. Sander Vellinga (Atlantis Submarines) reports one particular ha wksbill regularly seen on the submarine's route outside Barcadera Harbor. In orde r to seriously gather distribution data, we must work harder to build a sightings network to i nvolve residents in reporting info rmation concerning the distribu


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 1 5 tion, abundance and activities of se a turtles. This might be done through a widely distributed brochure, radio announcements, or by personally soliciti ng the support of fisher men and divers at meetings convened for this purpose. A Lead Organization (probably LVV) should initiate a data management system (this could be as simple as a file folder for notes an d a large map where sightin gs can be indicated) so that all observations can be centrally compiled a nd readily accessible. Standard data/recording sheets are needed. Data should be shared with the CARMABI library in Curaao. 4.112 Survey nesting habitat A thorough survey of sea turtle nesting beach es has never been conducted in Aruba. van Buurt (1984) reported to the Western Atlantic Tu rtle Symposium in Cost a Rica that turtles, probably hawksbills, nested on "various beaches on the north coast"; no information was available as to seasonality. He also reported that there was no nesting on the west coast, a conclusion which we now know to be false (see Table 2). It is a priority recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that a nest survey be conducted. A preliminary survey was carried out by the WIDECAST Coordinator in Aruba and a sma ll group of dedicated re sidents during the summer of 1993 to assess the feasibility of efforts on a larger scale. Eagle Beach was foot-patrolled daily (23 April to mid-August) from the Ar uba Beach Club to Amsterdam Manor, usually between 2200-2400 hr and in the early morning. Selected north coast beaches (Dos Playa, Rincon, Quadiriquiri) were also monitored. Several hotels partic ipated in a meaningful way, especially the Costa Linda which reported th ree nests and on two occasions collected and released to the sea hatchlings that were disoriented in land by hotel lights. The positive response to these preliminary e fforts have encouraged the Coordinator to expand coverage in 1994. Full coverage will only be possible with the cooperation of a larger group of enthusiasts. Members of "StimAruba" (a local conservation group) have indicated their interest in making such an undertaking an official club project, with members agreeing to certain beaches and patrol times. Some FANAPA memb ers have indicated a similar interest, and several non-members are also eager to participate. In all, it should not be difficult to assemble a team large enough to accomplish the task. The most important beaches to cover are indicated in Figure 4. Materials that will enable volunteers to distinguish sea turtle species on the basis of nesting crawls, nest sites, eggs, hatchlings, et c. should be developed with the assistance of WIDECAST. A Lead Organization (probably L VV) should implement a data management system so that all information can be centrally compiled and available for analysis. Standard data/ recording sheets are needed. Data should be shared with the CARMABI library in Curaao. 4.12 Develop area-specific management plans No specific protected area management plans (relevant to sea turtles) are in place in Aruba. Preliminary surveys conducted in 1993 (sect ion 4.112) indicate that the most important nesting habitat may lie along the western shore. This area is heavily developed by high-rise hotels and the successful implementation of sp ecific management schemes (see section 4.122) will depend heavily on the cooperation of hotelie rs. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that the Minister explore options within the context of current legislation to designnate the coast between the Bushiri Beach Hote l and Cudarebe (West Point) a "Sea Turtle


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 16 Refuge". A management plan for the Refuge should be drafted based on recommendations published in this Action Plan -potentially damagi ng activities such as vehicles operating on the beach (which is already illegal in Aruba, see section 4.134), the construction of seawalls and jetties, and lights shining on the beach at night s hould be prohibited or closely evaluated in light of the ecological requirement s of endangered turtles. Offshore, efforts are underway to designate as a Marine Park the west and south shores between Cudarebe and Punta Baso ra (perhaps seaward to the 40 m contour, this has yet to be determined). Legislation to amend the exis ting Marien Milieuverordening Aruba (Marine Environment Ordinance) has already been submitte d to Parliament to provide a legal basis for such a Park. A system of moor ings is envisaged, as well as co mprehensive protection to marine resources. This same legislation will also prov ide the legal basis to designate important nesting beaches as reserves, as recommended above. 4.121 Involve local coastal zone authorities Management plans such as are called for in section 4.12 cannot be implemented without close involvement by regulatory ag encies. The closest thing to a coastal zone management authority in Aruba is VROM within the Minist ry of Public Works and Health. There is no comprehensive coastal zone legislation at the pr esent time, but it is noteworthy that the draft Natuurbeschermingsverordening (Nature Conserva tion Ordinance) calls for an inter-agency Commission empowered to review and evaluate environmental decisions, including those affecting the coastal zone. VROM will be the Lead Ag ency. It is likely that this Commission will provide the administrative vehi cle necessary to propose regulat ions and submit same to the Minister [N.B. Ministerial approval will be needed, but regulations will not need to be submitted to Parliament]. A more specifi c discussion follows in section 4.122. 4.122 Develop regulatory guidelines It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that development proximal to important nesting beaches carry the requirement that beachfront lighting be designed in such a way as to prevent the disorientation of hatchlings or nesting adults. We recommend that such a requirement be inserted into the permit process for new developments. In the case of existing structures, the Minister should be notified by VR OM about options available for mitigation of the most pressing problems, which appear to be beachfront lighting and vehicular traffic on the beach. Beach driving, already illegal, is an en forcement challenge. Options to reduce lighting, which can misdirect hatchlings inland to their deaths, should be evaluated with input from hoteliers. It may be that shield ing the lights or extinguishing them during certain periods is more cost-effective than replacing existing fixtures with sodium vapor lights (see section 4.132). Similarly, important feeding areas should be sa feguarded from man-induced degradation. Legislation currently before Parliament will pr ovide the legal basis fo r designation of marine protected areas. Standard guidelines for the conservation of sea turtle habitat are summarized below and are discussed in further detail in sections 4.13 and 4.14. Several of our recommendations are al


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 1 7 ready included in national law, but oftentimes enforcement is less than adequate. A Division of Environmental Enforcement is highly recommended (see section 4.24). 1) Sand mining : Commercial mining of beach sand should not be permitted under any circumstances (section 4.131). The persistent re moval of beach sand di srupts stabilizing vegetation and exacerbates erosion. Mining pits invite injury to humans and livestock, and accumulate water to serve as breeding areas for mosquitoes and other unwanted insects. Mining sediments offshore should be carefully evaluated for poten tial effects on coastal beaches, since offshore material is essential for beach maintenance. Preferred extraction sites should be confined to well-studied offshore sites, ravi nes, and/or interior sites. 2) Artificial lighting : Sea turtles, especia lly hatchlings, are pr ofoundly influenced by light. Baby sea turtles, freshl y emerged from the nest, depend largely on a visual response to natural seaward light to guide them to the ocean. In zones of coastal de velopment, sources of artificial light distract hatchlings so that they turn away from the sea and crawl landward. It is essential that artificial light sources be positioned so that the source of light is not directly visible from the beach and does not directly illuminate areas of the beach; if lighting must be seen from the beach, it should emit wavelengths (560-620 nm ) which are least attr active to sea turtles (Witherington, 1990). Low pressure sodium lights should be used to the maximum extent possible. Low intensity, ground-level lighting is enc ouraged. Nighttime and security lighting should be mounted not more than 5 m above the ground and should not di rectly illuminate areas seaward of the primary dune or line of permanen t vegetation. Window shad ing is recommended. No lighting, regardless of wavelength, should be placed between turtle nests and the sea. Natural or artificial structur es rising above the ground shou ld be used to the maximum extent possible to prevent lighti ng from directly illuminating the beach/dune system and to buffer noise and conceal human activity from the beac h. Improving dune height in areas of low dune profile, planting native or orna mental vegetation, or using hedge s and/or privacy fences is encouraged. Barriers between 76-85 cm high are ge nerally sufficient to block visual cues from artificial lights (Ehrenfeld, 1968; Mrosovsky, 1970). Ferris (1986) s howed that a simple "fence" of black polyester material stretched between th ree posts and positioned between the nest and a lighthouse resulted in the hatchlings orienting correctly to the sea. Balcony lights should be shielded from the beach, decorative lighting (e specially spotlights or floodlights) within line-of-sight of the beach should be prohibited, and safety/security lights should be limited to the minimum number required to achieve th eir functional roles (section 4.132). 3) Beach stabilization structures : Hard engineering options to beach protection, including impermeable breakwaters, jetties, groynes an d seawalls positioned on the beach or in the nearshore zone, should be considered only as a last resort. Throughout the Caribbean region there are numerous examples of beaches lost, rather than secured, as a result of armoring; Aruba is no exception (section 4.133). Sandy beaches are naturally dynamic. The physical characteristics of the coastline should be taken into account prior to coastal construction so that adequate construction setbacks, rather th an expensive and ofte n counter-productive armoring, can be used to provide for the long-term cons ervation of the beach resource.


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 1 8 4) Design setbacks : If development of land adjo ining a sandy beach is planned, construction setback limits should be defined that reflect the damage likely to be caused to the beach and backshore environment during a major storm, and that take into consideration beach and backshore characteristics. Setbacks should provide for vegetated ar eas including lawns and dunes between hotels, homes and similar structures and the beach proper. Setbacks of 30-40 m and 80-120 m from the line of permanent vegeta tion are reasonable guidelines for upland coast development and lowland beach coast development, respectively (section 4.133). Setbacks not only help to protect coastal pr operties from storm damage, but also reduce over-crowding of the shorezone, lessen the likelihood that local reside nts will be excluded from the beach, and enhance the probability that artificial light ing will not shine directly on the beach. 5) Access : The use of motorized vehicles should be prohibited on sandy beaches at all times and parking lots and roadways (including any paved or unpaved areas where vehicles will operate) should be positioned so th at headlights do not cast light ont o the beach at night. Driving on the beach creates unsightly ruts, exacerbates eros ion, and lowers sea turtle hatch success by compacting nests (section 4.134). Tire ruts also pr esent a significant hazard to hatchlings crossing the beach. Where vehicles ar e needed to transport heavy fish ing or recreational equipment, multiple access points should be provided and vehicles parked landward of the line of permanent vegetation. Pedestrian access to beaches should be confined to specific locations and strictly regulated so as to minimize destruction of the beach, including vegetation, by trampling. 6) Waste disposal : No dumping should be permitted within the nearshore, beach, dune, or wetland environment of the shorezone. Such dump ing as has already occurred should be subject to immediate cleanup. The fouling of beaches r uns counter to the econo mic interests of both residents and commercial landowners. Litter can obs truct hatchlings on thei r journey to the sea, discarded glass and metal can injure turtles, and larger objects on the beach can prevent females from finding a nest site. Visitors should be required to pick up and take with them any garbage or other waste brought to or gene rated at the beach. Trash cans and regular pickup should be provided at all beaches. To the extent that beach cleanup is nece ssary, it should be done by hand or using hand tools (section 4.134). 7) Vegetation cover and fires : All attempts should be made to preserve vegetation above the mean high tide mark. Creeping and standing vegetation stabilizes the beach and offers protection against destructive erosion by wind and waves. The beach forest provides important nesting habitat for the hawksbill turtle and offers natural shielding for the beach from the artificial lighting of shoreline development (s ection 4.132). Fires, either for recreation or charcoal production, should be pr ohibited on beaches. Fires ar e a hazard to the surrounding dry forest, create unsightly scars, ma y scorch sea turtle eggs and ha tchlings beneath the surface of the sand, and can disorient hatchlings. Cooking fires should be restricted to designated grill facilities. 8) Marine pollution : The dumping of solid or chemical wastes into the sea should be prohibited under all circumstances. In addition to degrading the environment for residents and visitors alike, sea turt les often ingest tar, plastic, rope, and other substances (e.g., Mrosovsky, 1981; Balazs, 1985; Lutz and Alfaro-Schulman, 1991) presumably mistaking these for food, and become weakened or die. It is commonplace for sea turtles to confuse plastic bags with jellyfish


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 19and eat them. Polluted effluent, including oil, sewage and landfill overflow, from land-based sources should be eliminated or centrally treated before its discharge into the sea. See sections 4.143 to 4.146. 9) Anchoring and dredging : Anchor damage is a leading ca use of destruction to sea grass meadows and coral reefs throughout the Wider Caribb ean. It is essential that yachts and other boats be required to either anchor in designated sand bottom areas, or tie in at approved moorings in coral reef areas. Alternatively, vessels shoul d be required to remain offshore, beyond the zone of living coral and sea grass. Dr edging activities should be planned to minimize damage (i.e., sedimentation) to down current cora l and sea grass. Severe disruption of the sea bed, especially in living sea grass and coral comm unities, can ruin actual or potential foraging areas for sea turtles, negatively affect the natura l dynamics of the marine environment, and result in the loss of beach sand. See also section 4.147. 10) Physical destruction of coral and sea grass : In the absence of the sheltering influence of offshore reefs, shorelines are often severe ly altered, resulting in great economic and environmental losses. Neither coral reefs nor algal ridges should be dyn amited or dragged with chains in order to provide boat ac cess. Anchoring should not occur in reef or sea grass areas (see above, and section 4.147). Divers, especially tourists, should be thoroughly coached on diving etiquette so as to prec lude trampling, collecting, and touchi ng living coral. The practices of using chemicals or dynamite (sections 4.141, 4.142) for the purpose of stunning fish for harvest are prohibited at all times and unde r all circumstances and should re main so. The destruction of coral reefs resulting from these practices can be irreversible in our lifetime. 4.123 Provide for enforcement of guidelines Enforcement is important to the perpetuati on of any management program. Ideally, regulations should be formulated with the needs of the community in mind to ensure a general acceptance on the part of the public toward the management framew ork. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that civic groups, proximal resi dents (including hoteliers), and frequent commercial users (e.g., fishermen, dive rs) be made thoroughly familiar with the management program and be encouraged to report any observed violations. In this way, limited enforcement personnel will not have additional burdens placed upon them. This does not lessen the importance, however, of familiarizing enfor cement officers with the new guidelines and regulations and making sure th at all reports of violations (e.g., illegal dredging, anchoring, construction, beachfront lighting, waste dispos al) are properly addre ssed by the appropriate enforcement authority. An enforcement subdivisi on devoted specifically to natural resources and environmental law would be highl y desirable (section 4.24). At the present time, the police corps' Beach Police is responsible for enforcing laws relating to beaches (e.g., pollution, dangerous situations) and nearshor e waters (e.g., boating, sailing) adjacent to public and private beach es. In July 1991, Dr. Karen Eckert (Director, WIDECAST) gave a slide presentation to the o fficers of the Beach Police about the biology and conservation of sea turtles. Regulations enacted to protect sea turtles (and their eggs and hatchlings) whilst on the nesting beach would be the responsibility of the Beach Police, as well as private hotel security It is noteworthy, however, that pr ivate security officials do not have powers of arrest. Within the proposed Marine Park, enabling legislation should provide for en


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 2 0 forcement officials to be designate d by the Minister. It is essent ial that Wardens have adequate transport to facilitate surveillance of Park waters Ideally, mooring fees and other user fees will contribute substantially to financ ing Park enforcement activities. 4.124 Develop educational materials for each management area It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that materials be developed for each management area to explain why it is an importa nt ecological area. Thes e can include signs or displays on site, fliers or posters placed in pub lic areas (airports, hotels, government offices), books and pamphlets, guided tours or field trips to the area, regular media attention, public forum slide shows or interpretive programs. Revenue can often be generated by offering supervised access to protected areas and de veloping interpretive programming. Ideally, these efforts should be part of a larger national program to inform re sidents and tourists about nature conservation in general. A national campaign should be initiat ed by the Government of Aruba in cooperation with conservation and other intere sted civic groups for implementation in schools, hotels, etc. 4.13 Prevent or mitigate degradation of nesting beaches 4.131 Sand mining The chronic mining of sand from nesting beaches accelerates erosion by removing sand and degrading or destroying stabi lizing beach vegetation. In severe cases, entire b eaches are lost, having been replaced by saline pond s in unsightly pits left by mining operations. Fortunately, beach sand mining is not and never has been pr acticed in Aruba. The Wetboek van Strafrecht (Penal Code) prohibits the taking of any sedime nt or rock from Aruba without a permit from Domeinbeheer (Land Management Office). A permit has never been given for white sand. Construction sand (road fill, foundations) is dred ged from a designated offshore site (see section 4.147) and has to be purchased from Dienst Openbare Werken (Public Works Department). Concrete aggregate is available from ravine sand or fi nely crushed rock from interior sources. 4.132 Lights Sea turtle hatchlings are sensitive to light and find the sea by orienting toward a bright, open horizon. In a natural situation, this horizon is the ocean. Beachfront development introduces artificial light that attracts hatchlin gs away from the sea. They may wander into streets and gardens where they ar e eaten by domestic animals, run ove r by cars, or die in the heat of the morning sun. The disorientation of hatc hlings was reported several years ago at the Caribbean Hotel (now the Radisson Hotel, Palm Beach) and in 1993 at Costa Linda Hotel (Eagle Beach). Nesting females can also be disoriente d by artificial light and sometimes travel inland after nesting rather than returning to the sea. It is important that developments near nesting areas take into consideration this fact and shield util ity, security and decorative lighting from shining on the beach. Street lighting also disorients hatchlings. In 1991, two reports of hatchlings crossing the coastal boulevard at Eagle Beach we re received by LVV. Ma ny of the hatchlings (species not identified) were crus hed. Virtually the entire beach west of Oranjestad is lit. The boulevard parallels the sea and hotels are usually constructed on the seaward side of the road.


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 21 Blair Witherington, examining the problem of artificial lighting on the beaches in Florida (USA) and Tortuguero (Costa Rica), found that the presence of mercur y vapor lights all but eliminated nesting on affected beaches; nesting of green turtles and loggerh eads on beaches so lit was 1/10 and 1/20 that observed on darkened beaches. With this in mind, some beachfront owners in Florida have switched to low pressu re sodium (LPS) vapor lighting, which shines primarily in the 590 nm range and ha s little if any effect on nesting females. Unfortunately, low pressure sodium lights do not appear to constitute a complete answer to this difficult problem. While they are ignored by loggerhead hatchlings, they appear to mildly attract green turtle hatchlings (though to a much lesser extent than do mercury vapor lights; B. Witherington, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, pers. comm.). It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that developers be required to construct lighting plans so as not to disturb se a turtles. Lights, even LPS lights, should be shielded from shining directly on the beach. A common and effective method for accomplishing this is to plant a vegetation bu ffer or hedge between the sea and shoreline developments. Alternatively, shields can be built into the lighting fixt ure. In some areas, th e solution may be lie in extinguishing lights for specified evening hours (e.g., 1900-2400 hr) during the hatching season so as to reduce the effects of disorientation. This may be particularly relevant to high rise hotels, such as occur in Aruba, where ground-level shield ing cannot solve the whole problem. In the U. S. Virgin Islands, background materials (e.g., Raymond, 1984) are issued to all developers seeking permits for projects which may have an eff ect on sea turtle orientation due to lighting. Many developers now include this information in their environmental impact assessments and are designing appropriate lighti ng systems (Ralf Boulon, USVI Divi sion of Fish and Wildlife, pers. comm.). Where problem lighting associated with existing hotels presents an insurmountable challenge, hotel staff should be requ ired to be vigilant in their efforts to "rescue" hapless hatchlings. In 1992 and again in 1993, a letter was se nt by the WIDECAST Coor dinator in Aruba to all hotels requesting that evidence of sea turtle ne sting or hatching be repo rted to LVV, and that misoriented hatchlings be collected and returned to the sea. In response, several hotels designnated their Chief Engineer to serve as a liaison to LVV in this matter. Twice in 1993 the Costa Linda Hotel reported leatherback hatchlings mi sdirected inland by hotel lights; in both cases, hotel staff carefully collected the hatchlings and returned them to the sea. Also in 1993, Bucuti Hotel staff collected misdirected loggerhead hatchlings and returned them to the sea. 4.133 Beach stabilization structures Beach stabilization structures such as brea kwaters, groynes, and so lid jetties constructed perpendicular to the shoreline often exacerbate beach erosion and can lead to the loss of nesting habitat. A good example is the pier constructed by Shell Oil prio r to WWII on the present site of the Divi Divi Hotel. The pier damaged downcurrent beaches, especial ly during periods of westward winds, by obstructing th e natural longshore tr ansport of sand along the coast. When the Tamaryn Hotel was constructed just east of th is site, construction of a seawall was necessary to retain what was left of the beach. Today mo re than 200 m of potential nesting beach is fully obstructed to turtles for nesting. In another case an unfinished jetty near the unfinished Ramada Inn has ruined nearshore water clarity and killed sea grasses because a large volume of fill dirt


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 22was mixed with jetty boulders and the dirt su bsequently washed away. Fortunately, a pier planned between the Holiday Hotel and the Beta Complex will be of piling construction. This pier will provide local fisherme n with a central mooring area, security for their boats, and a landing area. Beach stabilization structures constructed pa rallel to the shore can also provoke erosion, especially if they armor the zone of fore dunes. Furthermore, seawalls and riprap (unconsolidated rock and boulders) can prevent access by fema le sea turtles to the ne sting beach. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that holistic coastal zone regulations be developed that mandate responsible coastal zone developmen t, including setback limits, so that the loss of sandy beach (and the need for stabilizing structur es) is minimized. Nothing in existing legislation prohibits construction on the beach, although th e general custom law states that 9 m above the high water line shall remain "unobstructed". Prior to construction, an environmental impact statement (EIS) should be required by a competen t consultant and construction permits granted based on the results of the EIS. This is not now require d, but in some cases it has been requested of the developer and in other cases the devel oper has offered it. At the present time the Government can put conditions on long-term leas es (and these can include environment-related regulations), but requ iring a comprehensive and mandato ry EIS should become standard procedure. A related discussion on beach rebuilding is presented in section 4.135. Setback limits are especially important to the conservation of nesting beaches. If development of land adjoining a sandy beach is pl anned, it is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that setback limits be defined that reflect the damage likely to be caused to the beach and backshore environment during a major storm, and that take into c onsideration beach and backshore characteristics. Setbacks should pr ovide for vegetated areas, including lawns and dunes between hotels, homes and similar structures and the beach proper. Setbacks of 30-40 m and 80-100 m from the line of permanent vegeta tion are reasonable guidelines for upland coast development and lowland beach coast development, respectively. Setbacks not only help to protect coastal propertie s from storm damage, but also re duce overcrowding of the shorezone, lessen the likelihood that local residents will be excluded from the beach, and enhance the probability that artificial lighting wi ll not shine directly on the beach. 4.134 Beach cleaning equipment and vehicular use of beaches Mechanized beach cleaning equipment can puncture or crush incubating sea turtle eggs. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that the use of such equipment be avoided. At the present time, most beach cleaning is done by hand in Aruba and presents no threat to nesting sea turtles, their eggs or hatchlings. On the western shore, seaweed accumulates during periods of western swells. To accomplish clean-up, light agricultural tractors with wide tires are loaned by LVV to pull cleaning equipment which cons ists of drag screens to filter surface litter (e.g., cigarette butts). Tractor cl eaning is done at most twice per year and is confined to the water line. The activity would not be expected to damage sea turtle eggs. Beach clean-up should never include the removal of live vegetation. Supralittoral trees and shrubbery provide hawksbills with nesting habitat (e.g., Ryder et al., 1989) and stabilize beach sediments. Even raking and removal of leaves and grasses above the high tide line can increase the probability of wind erosion and degrade nesting habitat.


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 23 The operation of motor vehicles on sandy beaches is of considerable concern. About half of all nests (five of nine, all leatherback) re ported from Eagle Beach (Amsterdam Manor to Aruba Beach Club) in 1993 appear to have been destroyed/crushed by vehicles. Vehicles are operated by both tourists and residents for "joy-ri ding". Offenders are aware that Beach Police officers only patrol until 2100 hr; thus, most illegal activity occurs at night when the beaches are only periodically checked (using flood lights) by Road Patrol officers. In addition to the serious problem at Eagle Beach, nests la id in 1993 at Andicuri Beach on the north coast were damaged by vehicle traffic (Mr. Yarzagaray, pers. comm.) and driving is a long-s tanding problem in the sand dune ecosystems of Boca Prins and the Calif ornia dunes. The WIDE CAST Coordinator in Aruba has asked car rental agencies to alert tour ists to the laws preventing driving on the beaches and has received a positive response from the agen cies regarding sponsori ng a bumper sticker to underscore the problem. In addition to public awareness initiatives, an arrest and conviction would be very useful. Article 25 of the 1987 Public Waters and Beaches Law (Landsbesluit Openbare Wateren en Stranden, AB 1987, No. 124) prohibits driving moto r vehicles, bicycles, and horses on public beaches [N.B. all beaches ar e public in Aruba]. Maximum penalty is 60 days in prison or 3,000 Afls. No arrests have ever been made. 4.135 Beach rebuilding projects There has not been a need for this type of project in Aruba. Wide sandy beaches are extensive and largely stable. To our knowle dge, no rebuilding is planned. Should beach rebuilding (sometimes referred to as "beach renouris hment") be contemplated in the future, it is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that replacement sand have the same physical characteristics (e.g., organic content, grain size) as the original sand, or the beach can become hardened and unusable to nesting sea turtles. Any replacement of sand along the coast should be done outside of nesting and hatching seasons, preferably January-Marc h. In this way, the probability of disturbing nesting females or in cubating eggs is minimized. The Airport (Surfside) beach is an artificial beach, but not by design. Dredge d fill was brought up during field construction, and sand has blown and accumulated al ong the shore. At Barcadera, there is an artificial beach, again not by desi gn, that was formed by the dre dge fill from the harbor. On Sonesta Island, a small artificia l beach was constructed by the owner for recreational purposes. It is worth noting that there is an imbalanc e in the system somewhere when sand is lost from an otherwise predictable beach habitat and is not replaced by natural accretion processes. The underlying cause can be as dir ect as an up-current solid jett y or pier that is literally "starving" the down-current beaches by interrup ting the longshore transport of sand (section 4.133). Or the impetus may be more subtle, as o ccurs with the removal of beach vegetation, or when nearshore pollution retards the productivity of calcareous (coralline) algae and other sand sources. If dunes are leveled, vegetation remove d and/or jetties constructed, the likelihood of committing the owners to repetitive and increasingly expensive rebuilding is heightened. Useful information regarding beach rebuild ing in sea turtle nesting habitat can be obtained from the Florida Department of E nvironmental Protection, 19100 SE Federal Hwy, Tequesta, Florida 33469-1712 USA.


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 244.14 Prevent or mitigate degradation of marine habitat 4.141 Dynamiting reefs There is no evidence that the dynamiting of cora l reefs to stun fishes or to provide access for marine vessels is practiced in Aruba. The use of explosives in nears hore waters can result in extensive and permanent damage to important fora ging and refuge areas. The use of explosives is prohibited by Article 1(f) of the General Fisheries Law (Visseri jverordening (Visserijbesluit), AB No. 15, 1993). It is a recommenda tion of this Recovery Action Plan that all relevant legislation be strictly enforced. 4.142 Chemical fishing There is no evidence that the dumping of ch lorine or other chemi cals on coral reefs for the purpose of extracting fishes or lobster is practiced in Aruba. This practice results in the death of a wide variety of reef organisms, can seriou sly degrade hawksbill sea turtle foraging habitat, and can poison important nursery areas for commercial fishes. The use of chlorine bleach and other chemicals for the purpose of catching fish is prohibited by Article 1(e) of the General Fisheries Law (Visserijverordening (Visserijbes luit), AB No. 15, 1993). It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that all relevant legislat ion be strictly enforced. 4.143 Industrial discharges At the major ports of Oranjestad (the capit al) and San Nicolas (the second largest urban area), the latter in particular, a history of industrial discharge is well known. Several reports have documented extensive damage to San Nicola s Bay from the oil refinery, chemical plant, and (now closed) rum distillery (e.g., Hoppe, 1985; Bak, 1986, 1987). The di sposal of untreated sewage is also a well-known problem in this bay (section 4.146). The response, especially to oil, has been a deterioration of the spatial structur e of the offshore reef, comparatively low coral cover (when compared to reefs upc urrent of the refinery), and lo w coral recruitment in front of and downcurrent of the refinery. According to Bak (1987), "the results of chronic oil pollution are, after 60 years, cl early discernible over a distance of 10 to 15 km along the reef." It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that offshore monitoring of pollutants be initiated in Aruba, and especially in high risk areas such as San Nicolas Bay, in order to secure the health of residents and natural systems alike. In a ddition, the practice of allowing garbage and residue from the land fill (Parkieten Bos) to be disc harged into Barcadera Bay should cease. Under VROM supervision, the landfill has been pushed b ack from the edge of the bay and dikes are under construction to contain landfill spillage. As the bulging landfill reaches capacity, there is a clear need not only to use landfill space more e fficiently, but to practice waste reduction and recycling. 4.144 At-sea dumping of garbage Garbage and other substances dumped at sea contaminate the environment and threaten sea turtles. Worldwide, death to marine organism s as a result of ingestion or entanglement is a serious problem (e.g., O'Hara et al., 1986; Laist, 1987; CEE, 1987). Mrosovsky (1981) has sum


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 2 5 marized data showing that 44% of adult non-breed ing leatherbacks may ha ve plastic in their stomachs (plastic bags are mistaken for jellyfi sh and consumed). Styrofoam and other soft plastics also present a significant health hazard to sea turtles (Balazs, 1985). Debris discarded from cruise ships and merchant ships ultimate ly washes ashore on wi ndward coasts throughout the Caribbean. This is the case in Aruba where the windward (north) coast, including potentially important nesting areas at Rincon and Boca Grandi (Figure 4), is l ittered with plastics and other debris. Cruise ship waste was collected from north coast beaches duri ng a recent beach clean-up campaign. In contrast, the wide, sheltered beaches of the west coast rece ive a smaller volume of debris and a greater proportion of it is shore-based in origin. Hotel personnel make a concerted effort to keep these beaches clean. Article 30 of the 1987 Public Waters and Beaches Law (Landsbesluit Openbare Wateren en Stranden, AB 1987, No. 124) prohi bits littering the beaches a nd public waters with bottles, packaging materials and other solids [N.B. all b eaches are public in Aruba]. Maximum penalty is 1,000 Afls. The disposal of waste at sea (waste generated by ships) is prohibited by the 1993 Prevention of Pollution by Ships Ordinance (La ndsverordening ter Voorkoming Verontreiniging Door Schepen, AB 1993), which was only recently approved by Parliament. Penalties include two years in prison and/or 100,000 Afls. Despite legislation, dumping violations by the boating community are difficult to monitor and require a concentrated effort at public education, coupled with convenient places to safely dispose of refuse on shore and sure convictions for offenders. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that an active public awareness campaign be initiated by the Government of Aruba, beachfr ont hoteliers, and the professional diving community. Penalties for fouling the sea should be well advertised and offenders should be reported to the Police. It is noteworthy that Aruba joined for th e first time in 1993 the International Coastal Clean-up Program sponsored by the Center for Mari ne Conservation in Washington D. C. On 18 September, all Aruba's beaches and bays were cleaned Roeland de Kort (representing VROM, the Lead Organization for the clean -up in Aruba) served as program coordinator. The work was performed on a voluntary basis ma inly by students. This even t was of "utmost importance", since it was not only for the prot ection of marine wildlife and th e promotion of public awareness about litter (especially persistent marine debris), but also for the tourism industry which is the foundation of the local economy (R. de Kort, pe rs. comm.). Beachfront hotels showed their support for the clean-up by participating in their areas. Other businesses donated collection bags, gloves, transportation, and refreshments. The island was di vided into 58 zones (Figure 5), of which 18 were hotel sites, and each zone ha d a Zone Captain responsible for guiding the volunteers and assembling data. Eight main categories of trash were recorded: plastic, foamed plastic, glass, rubber, metal, paper, wood, a nd cloth. More than 12,000 kg of trash were collected on 22 km of coastline (and 2 km in the water) by 1200 volunteers. 4.145 Oil exploration, production, refining, transport An oil-contaminated environment can be le thal to sea turtles and incubating eggs. Behavioral experiments indicate that green and loggerhead turtles possess limited ability to avoid oil slicks. Physiological experi ments show that the respirati on, skin, some aspects of blood chemistry and composition, and salt gland functi on of 15-18 month old lo ggerheads are signifi


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 26 cantly affected by exposure to cr ude oil preweathered for 48 hours (Vargo et al., 1986). There is some evidence to suggest that hawksbills are also vulnerable to oil pollution. Hawksbills (predominantly juveniles), were only 2.2% (34/1551) of the total sea turtle strandings in Florida between 1980-1984, yet comprised 28.0% of petroleu m-related strandings. Oil and tar fouling was both external and internal. Chemical analysis of internal orga ns provided clea r evidence that crude oil from tanker discharge had been ingested (Vargo et al., 1986). Carr (1987b) reported juvenile hawksbills (to 20 cm) "stranded [in Florida] with tar smeared sargassum"; some individuals had ingested tar. Because Aruba is on the continental shelf of the mainland of Venezuela, and it is close to the lake of Maracaibo, one of the major oil fields of Venezuela, oil explor ation has been initiated at various sites. The results indicate that reserves are not substantial enough to warrant extraction. The refining and tr ansport of oil have caused consid erable environmental damage to Aruba. The LAGO (ESSO) refinery was closed in 1986 and reopened by Coastal Oil Company in 1991. The destruction of marine habitat between the refinery and Pos Chiquito that has taken place since prior to WWII will be seen for some time. The pitch (tar) field on land was recently cleaned up, but chronic pollution is quite dramatic in San Nicolas Bay (see section 4.135). Oil is sometimes reported on north coast beaches, incl uding Boca Grandi; the source is assumed to tank cleaning, but spills outside of Aruba's waters may also contribute. Most evidence of oil spills and slicks is reported by local airline pilots. An Oil Spill Contingency Plan has been drafted by a Dutch government agency, but the Plan has yet to be finalized and adopted. The lead technical organiza tions are VROM and the Fire Department, but the Government lacks the personnel and equipment to deal with major incidents. As much as practicable, responsib ility (both prevention an d clean-up) should be placed with the companies themselves and not w ith the Government of Aruba. The draft Plan articulates the responsibili ties of the various partie s, public and private. To cope with low level accidents, higher risk areas (e.g., harbors, WEB) should have basic equipment on hand at all times. In addition to national planning efforts, a bilateral agreement between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Venezuela is in the final stag es. The Kingdom of the Netherlands ratified the Cartagena Convention (section 4.32), includi ng the Protocol Concer ning Co-operation in Combating Oil Spills in the Wider Caribbe an Region, on 16 April 19 84, and for Aruba on 1 January 1986. Article 3 of the Protocol states: a. The contracting Parties shall, within thei r capabilities, cooperate in taking all necessary measures, both preventive and reme dial, for the protection of the marine and coastal environment of the Wider Caribbean, particular ly the coastal areas of the islands of the region, from oil spill incidents. b. The contracting Parties shall, within their capabilities, establish a nd maintain, or ensure the establishment and maintenance of, the means of responding to oil sp ill incidents and shall endeavor to reduce the risk thereof. Such mean s shall include the enactment, as necessary, of relevant legislation, the prepara tion of contingency plans, the id entification and development of the capability to respond to an oil spill incident and the designati on of an authority responsible for the implementation of this protocol.


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 2 7 4.146 Agricultural run-off and sewage Because of the arid climate of the isla nd, natural runoff occurs only during the wet season. Pollution of nearshore waters by agricultura l chemicals is not considered a problem. In contrast, since island-wide sewage treatment is not available, untreated or under-treated sewage is discharged directly into the sea at a number of sites. Perhaps the most notable are St. Nicolas Bay and the Simeon Antonio area, both on the south coast. Until recently, some residents of Savaneta discharged sewage dir ectly into the sea, but the De partment of Public Works has mandated the installation of cesspits in this area (A. Curet, pers. comm.). A sewage treatment plant at Bubali serves the hotel community and most of Oranjestad as far as the airport. There are plans to connect the San Nicola s area, as well as a commitment on the part of the government to seek funding to connect all other communitie s along the south coast road. Inland communities are still served by cessp its and septic tanks. 4.147 Anchoring and dredging The full extent of anchor damage to coral reefs and sea grass has not been quantified. There is some west coast (Palm Beach Bay) dama ge to patch reefs a few kilometers offshore, mostly from tankers seeking she ltered anchorage in calm waters. Popular dive sites are heavily affected by anchoring. Arashi is perhaps the wo rst example, where the once-beautiful reef is now dead. In addition to anchor impact, consider able damage is caused by the anchor chain. All reef areas show damage to some extent, some wo rse than others, from fisherman's anchors. The persistent, cumulative damage may not always be dramatic, but is clearly visible in mutilated, broken, and sometimes dying coral (T. Duncan a nd J. Wardlaw, pers. comm.). Permanent anchorages on the southwest and west coastlines are in place for charter yachts. Moorings are planned for the proposed s outh coast Marine Park. In the absence of secure moorings, the demolition of coral reefs and the uprooting of sea grasses by anchors will be quick and can be permanent (e.g., Rogers 1985; Rogers et al., 1988). Therefore, it is a recommendati on of this Recovery Action Plan that a national system of moorings be installed to minimize anchor damage to coral reefs and sea gr ass. Halas (1985) has designed an inexpensive mooring system (US$ 1 00-200/mooring) which is adequate for holding yachts and live-aboard dive boa ts <100 feet in length. A dem onstration of this technology is available upon request to John Halas, Key La rgo National Marine Sanctuary, P. O. Box 1083, Key Largo, Florida 33037; Tel: (305) 451-1644. It is noteworthy that Bonaire, Curaao, and Saba Marine Parks have installed mooring buoy syst ems that work well. Mooring fees and other user fees in Park waters should be earmarked for Park activities, including maintenance, enforcement, and interpretation. Cr uise ships (>200 feet in length) are presently restricted to the Oranjestad Harbor Pier. Oranjestad Harbor is periodi cally dredged with barge and cr ane and the spoils dumped at sea; there is no observed damage to potential sea turtle habitat. Similarly, deep water dredging for construction sand off the west coast has not re sulted in significant damage to potential sea turtle feeding areas. In contrast Bucuti Island seaward of Surfside was severely eroded (at least half the beach disappeared) in the early 1980's as a direct result of dredging undertaken for the construction of the airport and the stockpiling of seabed sand for road building and other con


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 2 8 struction. Other exam ples of dredging (e.g., Barcadera, La go Bay) in years past probably did effect serious damage to nearshore sea grasse s and other ecosystems perhaps once important to sea turtles. Destruction of sea grass and coral as a re sult of dredging in Sa n Nicolas Bay (=Lago Bay) is described briefly by Hoppe (1985). 4.2 Manage and Protect all Life Stages If sea turtles are to survive in the waters of Aruba, it is necessary to protect them from harassment and killing. The previous section (sec tion 4.1) concerned itself with the conservation and stewardship of habitat, namely sandy beaches a nd marine areas important to sea turtles either for food or for refugia. The following discussion will focus on the laws that protect sea turtles themselves and how they can be more fully enforced. 4.21 Review existing local laws and regulations All sea turtles and their eggs are protected by Marien Milieuverordening Aruba (Marine Environment Ordinance) AB 1980, N o. 18. Article IV states that it is prohibited to disturb sea turtle nests, or to remove, dest roy, possess, deliver, transport, buy or sell sea turtle eggs. Article V states that it is prohibited to kill animals and/or plants from the waters of Aruba if such animals and/or plants are so listed by subsequent decree. In addition, it is prohibited to sell, purchase, work (as in fashioning earrings from tortoiseshell), de liver, import, export, or possess such animals and/or their parts or products (living or dead). Al l Atlantic/Caribbean species of sea turtle were listed by Decree No. 51 in 1987. These species are: Caretta caretta Chelonia mydas Dermochelys coriacea Eretmochelys imbricata Lepidochelys olivacea and Lepidochelys kempii The law is understood to include prot ection for turtles at sea, as well as gravid females on the nesting beach. The maxi mum penalty described for violation of these Articles is one month in prison and/ or a fine of 2500 Afls Equipment used in an offense may be confiscated. A repeat offense with in a year doubles the penalty due. 4.22 Evaluate the effectiveness of law enforcement In the absence of Fisheries or other cons ervation/natural resource enforcement personnel, sea turtle protection statutes are enforced by the Police. In reality, however, the Police Department is over-extended and under-staffed and crimes against wildlif e are not viewed as priorities. There has never been an arrest for possession or sale of sea turt les or their products, even though it is common knowledge th at the meat is sold illegally from the floating market in Oranjestad and selected boutique s carry tortoiseshell crafts. In September 1993, police officers investigated a tip received that the gift shop at the Natural Bridge (a popular visitation site on the north coast) was selling whole carapaces. The offi cers confiscated 15 carapaces on display; no fines were levied (see section 3.3) We applaud this action on the part of the Police Department and hope that media coverage of the case will publ icize the protected status of turtles in Aruba. 4.23 Propose new regulations where needed Sea turtles and their eggs have been pr otected in Aruba sin ce 1987 and 1980, respectively (section 4.21). There is no need for additional legislation, only mo re vigilant enforcement of ex


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 29isting statutes. In contrast, seve ral deficiencies exist in the regul atory framework with regard to habitat protection (see section 3.4). 4.24 Augment existing law enforcement efforts Recognizing that environmental law is beco ming increasingly impor tant and increasingly technical in Aruba, it is a recomme ndation of this Recovery Action Plan that a Division of Environmental Enforcement be inaugurated with in the appropriate Department, most likely within VROM. Similar proposals have been made in the past, and the idea has the support of Police administrators. A minimum of two officer s should be hired (or designated from within the Police Department) to overse e compliance with environmental legislation. These officers should be trained in environmental law and enfo rcement procedures, be responsible for regulations concerning mining and minerals, polluti on, protected species, fisheries and marine resources, boater safety, game and hunting, coastal zone permits and compliance, etc., and have the flexibility to work irregular hours. A Wo rkshop should be convened jointly by the Ministry, the Police, including PB1 (Marine Patrol) and the Beach Police, and Customs/Immigration to better inform all officers of conservation regulations and the urgent need to consistently enforce domestic and international laws protecting sea tu rtles and other depleted species. A Manual of existing environmental legislation shoul d be developed for public distribution. Clear and public support from senior Governme nt officials is a prerequisite for effective enforcement of environmental statutes. This w ould foster a greater sense of confidence among arresting officers that offenders would be pr osecuted. The media a nd the conservation community also have important role s to play in encouraging a nati onal consensus that conservation laws are important. Public particip ation in law enforcement is cruc ial. Violations should be reported. Complaints should be aired by the nationa l media when reports of violations are ignored. Divers and fishermen are in unique positions to m onitor offshore damage to habitat, report illegal landings, and exert peer pressure to reduce violations. The owners of residential and commercial beachfront property should be enlisted to report tu rtles caught or eggs collected, and to monitor nesting beaches for poaching and other disturbances. No arrest has ever been made for the harvest of endangered turtles or their eggs, even though such harvest is known to occur. Precedent cases are needed so that news of a "new attitude" toward offenders will spread. 4.25 Make fines commensurate with product value Existing penalties include fines, incarcerati on, and the confiscation of equipment (section 4.21). The maximum fine should be increased in orde r to substantially exceed product value. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that penalties in the proposed Nature Conservation Ordinance (Natuurbeschermingsverordening) be adopted as soon as practicable. These include one year in prison and/or a fine of 100,000 Afls. for killing an animal, such as a marine turtle, protected by law. 4.26 Investigate alternative liv elihoods for turtle fishermen Alternative livelihoods for turtle fishermen ar e not necessary to contemplate at this time because there are no turtle fishermen in Aruba (and this has been the case throughout recent


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 3 0 memory). Local fishermen participate in a multi-species fishery. No one depends on sea turtles for their livelihood. The turtle cat ch is wholly opportunistic and im possible to estimate. Turtles are occasionally brought ashore afte r being ensnared in seines ( reda ) drawn in shallow nearshore waters. The use of redas is prohibited along the south shore and thus this activity is largely restricted to Palm Beach Bay (West Point to Pelican Rocks, see Figure 4). The catch is clandestine and fishermen will not discuss it with LVV officials. A comprehensive Sea Turtle Fishery Frame Survey is not likely to be feasible in Aruba, but it is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that the Fisheries Officer take ev ery opportunity to solicit information about the extent to which illegal take occurs As appropriate, the following points should be made in discussions with fishermen: 1. Sea turtles are long-lived, reachi ng sexual maturity in 20-35 years. 2. Mortality is high in young juvenile stages, but extremely low for fully armored large juveniles and adults. 3. Adult females average five clutches of eggs per year and nest every 2-5 years; under natural conditions females live for many years and lay thousands of eggs in order that populations remain stable. 4. Unfortunately, large turtles have historically been targeted because they provide the most meat; Fisheries laws usually protect only small turtles. 5. Egg-bearing adult females are taken in disproportionate numbers because they are easily obtained from the nesting beach. 6. Over-harvesting large turtles, especial ly gravid females, is a sure way to invite population collapse (this has b een observed at rookeries throughout the world and is easily shown mathematically). 7. Sea turtle populations cannot sustain the persistent harves t of large juvenile and adult animals. 8. Nesting populations have been greatl y reduced or exterminated all over the Caribbean, including Aruba, because adul ts are not surviving long enough to produce the next generation (the widespr ead harvest of eggs exacerbates this problem). 9. The fact that nesting populations are crashing but juvenile turtles are still seen in local waters is not surpri sing -the two stocks are unrelated. 10. Juveniles travel wide ly during the many years pr ior to maturity – local juveniles are not residents, they are a shared regional resource. 11. Adult females return to Aruba at regular intervals to lay their eggs and then leave at the end of the nesting season to return to feeding areas most likely located in distant countries. 12. All nations must work together if this shared resource is to survive. 4.27 Determine incidental catc h and promote the use of TEDs No shrimp trawling occurs in the waters of Aruba, and thus there is no need for use of Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) to mitigate the in cidental catch of sea turtles in trawl nets. Venezuelan trawlers used to come into Aruban wa ters, but this ended with the enactment of 1993 General Fisheries Ordinance (Algem ene Visserij Verordening, 1993, No. 15).


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 31 With the exception of cast nets (bait nets) thrown from shore, net-fishing is prohibited on the south coast from Seroe Colorado to Punta Brabo by the Towing of Fish Nets Ordinance (Verordening op Het Slepen Met Visnetten, 1992, GT No. 17). The penalty is low, however, for offenders (14 days in prison or 100 Afls.). Seines and gill nets are permitted in all other areas, but fishing is largely restricted to the west co ast since the north coast is rough. There are about six nets (about 30 m each) active on a regular basi s off the west coast. The nets are set offshore when fish schooling is observed, especially in the northern reaches of Palm Beach Bay and Malmok. Nets are set during daylight hours for about an hour. Turtles are sometimes caught, but not usually drowned. The senior author has witnessed three small hawksbills ( caret ) (40 cm shell length) brought ashore in recent years; the last observation was in 1990. In each case the turtle was released, but this may have be en because of the presence of LVV personnel. Turtles are not likely to become ensnared by trap buoy lines in Aruba because most traps do not use a buoy line. Traps are relocat ed by means of a piece of meta l can which is secured to the trap and glints in the su nlight. In general, trap s are placed in sandy area s near coral reefs and do not seriously damage reefs. A potentially expanding longline industry may create an incidental catch problem. Until recently, foreign longline vessels (e.g., Italy, Taiw an, USA, Russia, Cuba) fished for tuna in Aruba from January to March. LVV is not awar e of any turtle bycatch by these vessels. The activity of foreign vessels has ceased for the time being because new legislation disallows permits for foreign vessels until a stock asse ssment has been done and the Government has confirmed that local vessels cannot reach the es tablished quota [N.B. there may still be some foreign fishing in local waters because one police boat cannot possibly undertake the necessary surveillance]. A UNDP project is currently undertaking a feasib ility study to determine fish populations, economic viability, and the fisheries zone for a new domestic longlining industry. Current fisheries legislation allows longlining wi th a 200 hook limit, but preliminary results from the UNDP study indicate that longlini ng may not be profitable in Aruba. The capture of leatherbacks by longlines has been documented in the northeastern Caribbean (Cambers and Lima, 1990; Tobias, 1991), the southeastern U. S. (Witzell, 1984), and the Gulf of Mexico (Hildeb rand, 1987). Leatherbacks ( driekiel ) and loggerheads ( cawama ) are captured in Antigua (Fuller et al ., 1992). Fisheries personnel shoul d be aware that the longlining industry has the potential to accidentally catch and kill sea turtles during normal operations. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that all cases of sea turtle capture, as well as the fate of the animal, be reported to the Fisherie s Officer (LVV). Mitigating measures should be imposed should incidental capture be reported. 4.28 Supplement reduced populations using management techniques Stringent enforcement of existing regulations banning the harvest of sea turtles and their eggs (section 4.21), enhanced public awareness of the protected status of sea turtles (section 4.41), identification of important foraging and ne sting areas (section 4.11) national application of guidelines for the conservation of foragi ng grounds and nesting beaches (section 4.122), and implementing specific, hands-on management initia tives are considered by this Recovery Action Plan to be the highest national management priorities In light of the near complete commercial development of nesting beaches, one useful manageme nt option is sure to be the translocation of


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 32eggs threatened by erosion, predatio n, or human interference to more secure habitat. A training session on the subject of relocating sea turtle eggs was provided by WIDECAST for LVV staff in May 1993. Should the adoption of more elaborat e strategies, such as tagging programs or the maintenance of an egg hatchery, be deemed desi rable, methodology should follow that described in the Manual of Sea Turtle Research and C onservation Techniques (Pri tchard et al., 1983). Advice and training is also available from WIDECAST. The decision to move eggs should be made at the time of egg-laying. If eggs are moved after the first 24 hr, the risk is high of dislodgi ng the tiny embryo from the inner lining of the eggshell and killing it. Thus, beaches should be surveyed for nesting activity on a daily, early morning basis (section 4.291). Sometimes a compromi se has to be made. If, for example, eggs are exposed by a storm surge, an attempt to salvag e the clutch is prudent. There may be a steep decline in the hatch success of the rescued nest, but this would be pr eferable to a total loss. Eggs should always be handled with utmost care and reburied on a natural b each, preferably the one where the female made the original nest. In the ca se that it is not possible to move eggs to a safe location on the original beach, a nursery beac h should be selected w ith the assistance of WIDECAST personnel that exhibits all the necessary conditions for successful incubation. The new nest should be dug to the same depth and diamet er as the original nest and in the same type of habitat (open beach, beach forest, etc.) so that the temperature of incu bation is not altered. Nest sites should not be marked. To enable researchers to find the nest two months hence and monitor hatch success, the site should be triangulated from predetermined landmarks. Hatchlings should always be allowed to emerge from the nest naturally and traverse the beach unaided as soon as they emerge. Each hatch ling is very important and contributes to the probability that enough turtles will mature to perp etuate the population. Those that survive the 20-30 years to maturity will return to the beaches of Aruba to lay the eggs of the next generation. Fenced hatcheries should be used only if absolute ly necessary. The artificial incubation of eggs and the improper handling of eggs and hatchlings can be disastrous. Incubation temperature is largely responsible for determining hatchling sex, so any attempt to artificially incubate eggs may skew the normal sex ratio of the nest. A sm all, fenced hatchery, if absolutely necessary, might be advantageously placed on the beach of a sympathetic hotel In this way, financial and security support for the hatchery could be solic ited from the sponsoring hotel and the hatchery could serve to educate residents and visitors about sea turtles. 4.29 Monitor stocks Without adequate stock monitoring, it is not possible to evaluate whether conservation and management programs are having the desired effect; that is, whether these programs are successfully recovering depleted sea turtle populations It is relatively easier to document trends on the nesting beaches, but it is also important to evaluate trends, positive or negative, at local feeding grounds. Techniques and recommendations are explained in the sections that follow. 4.291 Nests Leatherbacks ( driekiel ), green turtles ( tortuga blanco ), hawksbills ( caret ), and loggerheads (cawama ) are all known or suspected to nest in Aruba (section II). Leatherback nest


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 33ing is likely to commence in Ma rch or April, followed by loggerh eads in May, green turtles in June, and hawksbills in July. Elsewhere in the Caribbean, leatherbacks terminate nesting by mid-July, but the other three species may continue to nest into the winter season, with hawksbills potentially active through December or later. Monitoring the deposition of eggs on the beaches of Aruba will provide a wealth of useful info rmation, including the distribution and timing of breeding effort, the species involved, the locatio n of the most important breeding habitats, and the fate (i.e., success or failure) of nests laid. Shifts in habitat use can be monitored, as well as trends in population status. Posi tive results of nest and habitat protection efforts may not be seen right away, however, since eggs protected today will not mature into breeding adults for two decades or more. In support of the development of this Rec overy Action Plan, a preliminary program to monitor nesting beaches was in itiated in May 1993 by the WIDE CAST Coordinator in Aruba. Ongoing beach patrol is essentia l in order to record anticipat ed increases in nest numbers following concerted efforts to prot ect habitat and turtles from harm The number of crawls will be the basis of comparison among beaches and among years because the verification of eggs can be problematic. Discriminating between successful egg-laying (a nesting crawl) and unsuccessful egg-laying (a "false crawl") may require m onitoring hatching activity. Whether or not eggs are deposited will depend on obstacles (erosion bluffs, fallen trees, beach lagoons) encountered by the female during the course of her time on th e beach, level of disturbance (human activity, dogs, lighting), physical condition of the site chosen (she may en counter impenetrable roots, buried glass, water; the sand may be too dry to hol d a nest cavity), and whether the turtle is injured (e.g., a missing flipper can prevent her from successfully excavating a nest chamber). With experience, some field workers are able to discern a nest from a false crawl and thus calculate the nest:f alse crawl ratio needed to convert ac tivities reported to actual nests. Sometimes it will be obvious that a turtle lande d on the beach and returned to the sea without ever attempting to dig. This is a "false crawl" However, when signs of digging are apparent, the observer needs to have some experience watching sea turtles at night in order to distinguish a true nest from a false nest. Gently probing for the eggs with a sharp stick will sometimes confirm the presence of a nest, but the subseque nt bacterial invasion atta cking the broken egg(s) may destroy the entire nest. In the case of hawksbills, even fi nding a site suitable for probing among dense vegetation can be difficult. Thus it is recommended that crawls rather than nests, be the basis of reporting. Of course crawls that are quite obviously "false" (e.g., a turtle encounters a tree or bluff and retr eats without any sign of nest ex cavation) or, alternatively, quite obviously successful (e.g., a dog or crab has expose d the eggs) should be not ed as such. When a crawl has been counted, it should be disguised with a palm frond or a gentle sweeping motion of hands or feet in order to dissuade possible poachers from findi ng the site and also to prevent the crawl from being counted twice. Identifying a crawl as to species is readil y accomplished in most cases, since sea turtles leave either a symmetrical or an asymmetrical track in the sand. In the first case, the pattern is made by the simultaneous movement of both front flippers. In the second case, the pattern alternates like a zipper, a result of the turtle moving her front fli ppers in an alternating rhythm. Leatherbacks leave a deep, symmet rical crawl about two meters in width. Green turtles also leave a symmetrical crawl, but it is narrower (1.0-1.2 m wide) and the nest site is often character


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 34ized by a deep, solitary pit a meter or so in depth and breadth. Hawksbills and loggerheads leave an asymmetrical crawl, the hawksbill about 0.7 m in width and the loggerhead about 1.2 m in width. The hawksbill crawl is often very faint, however, since the animal averages a mere 54 kg (Caribbean Nicaragua: Nietschmann, 1972 in Witzell, 1983). Loggerheads are typically twice as massive, averaging about 116 kg in Florida (Ehrhart and Yoder, 1978 in Dodd, 1988). In addition, hawksbills will often make their ne sts deep within the shelter of Coccoloba or other beach vegetation. Having identified the most important breedi ng beaches, it would be very useful to implement a nocturnal project on a selected beach (or beaches) whereby biologists or other trained persons patrolled the area at night to tag nesters, observe the ratio of successful nests, count the number of eggs laid, etc. 4.292 Hatchlings Any successful management program must be based upon credible estimates of reproductive success. Thus, while nest counts are vital, as de scribed above, follow-up at the hatchling stage is also important. Estimates of mortality, including losses due to erosion, domestic or feral animals (dogs, pigs), natura l predators (crabs, mongooses, birds), and poachers should be obtained. Other threats should also be watched for and reported. These might include entrapment in beach debris, entanglement in beac h vines, disorientation by artificial lighting, and harassment by onlookers. Some information can be collected on an opportuni stic basis; that is, cases of disorientation, depredati on, or the spilling of eggs from a bluff created during a storm. However, it is useful if some nests are marked for more systema tic study at hatching. It is not recommended that the nest site per se be marked, but rather the distance from the nest site to two proximal objects, such as trees or other landmarks should be recorded so that the site can be found at hatching two months later by triangulation. Hatchling emergence at the beach surface usua lly occurs at dusk, and thus, if the timing is accurately predicted, it can be witnessed with relative ease. Predators, disorientation, and/or entanglement at the time of emergence should be noted. If the emergence was missed, it is easy enough to know when the majority of little turtles have escaped to the sea when dozens of tracks are observed at the site. The nest can be excavated at this time and the number of hatchlings can be roughly estimated from the remains of broken egg shells. In addition, unhatched eggs can be opened to determine the proportion of eggs which did not produce hatchlings. If a particular problem recurs, such as nest flooding and the subsequent drowning of embryos, then a conservation program to move eggs either at ov iposition or early the next morning to higher ground should be considered. An in-depth analysis of hatch success should be undertaken on an index beach as soon as resources permit. 4.293 Immature and adult turtles The monitoring of juvenile a nd adult turtles at sea requires special preparation and is more difficult than counting nests or evaluating hatc hling mortality. In order to monitor foraging populations, systematic surveys to specific foraging grounds must be undertaken. If such survey work is undertaken in conjunction with a tagging program it is possible to evaluate not only for


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 3 5 aging behavior, but also the movements of indivi duals since a tagged turtle may turn up at some point distant from where it was tagged. It is not necessary, however, to tag individuals and valuable information can be garnered by repeated observation of foragi ng areas and reporting the number of turtles seen. The s upport of professional divers and ot her relevant personnel should be solicited for at-sea surveys. 4.3 Encourage and Support International Cooperation 4.31 CITES The 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is among the most powerful wild life treaties in the world. With 120 member nations worldwide, the most recent being Kor ea, it has been very effective at reducing international commerce in endangered and depleted species, including their parts and products. Appendix I lists endangered species (including all species of sea turt le), trade in which is tightly controlled; Appendix II lists species that ma y become endangered unless trade is regulated; Appendix III lists species that any Party wishes to regulate and requires international cooperation to control trade; Appendix IV contains model permits. Permits are required for species listed in appendices I and II stating that export/import will not be detrimental to the survival of the species. The Netherlands ratified the Conventi on on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) on 18 July 1984, but Aruba is not yet a signatory. In the interim before CITES is formally signed by Aruba, parts of the provisions of the treaty are executed by the Impor t and Export of Animals and Plan ts Decree (Lands besluit inen Uitvoerverbod Bedreigde Dieren en Planten, AB 1991, No. 102). As this Recovery Action Plan goes to press, legislation to fully implement CI TES has been submitted to the National Advisory Council, the final administrative step before approval. Aruba (represented by Alexander Koolman, Customs Officer; Sylvester Vrolijk, LVV; a nd Theo Wools, Veterinary Service) attended the Caribbean CITES Implementation Training Seminar held in Trinidad, 14-18 September 1992. This comprehensive seminar, hosted by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and the CITES Secretariat, was convened to familiari ze Eastern Caribbean governments, especially non-CITES parties, with the Conve ntion. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that Customs officials and other re levant parties be fully supported at all levels of Government in their important and difficult task of impleme nting the provisions of the CITES treaty. 4.32 Regional treaties UNEP's Convention for the Protection and De velopment of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region (Cartagena Convention) is the best treaty currently in place for the protection of sea turtles on a regional scale. The Convention is coupled with an Action Plan, known as the Action Plan for the Caribbean E nvironment Programme (APCEP). The First Intergovernmental Meeting on APCEP was conve ned by UNEP in cooperation with the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA) in Montego Bay, Jamaica, 6-8 April 1981. The representatives of Governments fr om 22 States in the region, in cluding the Netherlands, adopted APCEP at this meeting and established the Ca ribbean Trust Fund to support common costs and activities associated with the implementation of the Action Plan.


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 36 In March, 1983, a Conference of Plenipotenti aries met in Cartagena, Colombia to negotiate the Convention. Representatives from 16 States participated, including the Netherlands. The Conference adopted both the Conven tion and a Protocol concerning cooperation in combating oil spills in the region. The Conventi on describes the responsibilities of Contracting Parties to "prevent, reduce and c ontrol" pollution from a variety of sources (i.e., pollution from ships, from at-sea dumping of waste, from land-ba sed sources, from sea-bed activities, and from airborne sources). Article 10 is of special inte rest, urging Contracting Pa rties to "individually or jointly, take all appropriate measures to protect and preserve rare or fr agile ecosystems, as well as the habitat of depleted, threatened or e ndangered species, in the Convention area." The Netherlands ratified th e Convention on 16 April 1984. In January 1990, a Protocol Concerning Speci ally Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) to the Cartagena Convention was adopted by a Conference of Plenip otentiaries, providing a mechanism whereby species of wild fauna and flor a could be protected on a regional scale. The landmark Protocol grants explicit protection to sp ecies listed in three categories, or annexes. Annex I includes species of flora exempt from all forms of destruction or disturbance. Annex II ensures total protection and recovery to listed spec ies of fauna, with minor exceptions. Specifically, Annex II listing prohibits (a) the taking, possession or killin g (including, to the extent possible, the incidental taki ng, possession or killing) or commercial trade in such species, their eggs, parts or products, and (b) to the extent possible, the disturbance of such species, particularly during breeding, incubation, estivati on, migration, and other periods of biological stress. Annex III denotes species in need of "protection and recovery", but subject to regulated harvest. On 11 June 1991, Plenipotentiaries again met in Kingston, Jamaica, to formally adopt the Annexes. The Conference voted unanimously to in clude all six species of sea turtle inhabiting the Wider Caribbean (i.e., Caretta caretta Chelonia mydas Eretmochelys imbricata Dermochelys coriacea Lepidochelys kempii and L olivacea ) in Annex II (UNEP, 1991; Eckert, 1991). The unanimous vote on this issue is a clear statement on the part of Caribbean governments that the protection of regionally depleted species, includi ng sea turtles, is a prio rity. It is a strong recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that the Kingdom of the Netherlands, for Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles, ratify the SPAW Prot ocol and its annexes, an d that the Government of Aruba adopt enabling legislation to implemen t the provisions of the treaty at the earliest possible opportunity. Another international treaty important to the survival of sea turtles in regional waters is MARPOL 1973 (with Protocol 1978). This Conven tion has five Annexes that give detailed technical specifications regarding the way in whic h a ship must be built and equipped to prevent major pollution of the marine environment in case of accidents, and also norms and technical requirements to minimize operational discharges. The five Annexes are for oil, chemicals in bulk, packaged chemicals, liquid sewage, and garb age. Regarding Annex 5 (garbage), it has been proposed to the International Maritime Organizati on (IMO) by the nations of the Caribbean that the Caribbean Region be declared a "Special Ar ea". This proposal has been accepted, but will only come into force when the nations have put in place the facilities to receive garbage on shore. The 1993 Prevention of Po llution by Ships Or dinance (Landsverordening ter Voorkoming Verontreiniging Door Schepen, AB 1993) implemen ts MARPOL, but an effective date cannot be established until shore-based recepti on facilities are put in place.


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 3 7 4.33 Subregional sea turtle management Sea turtle stocks in Bonaire and Curaao (Net herlands Antilles), as well as in Venezuela and Colombia, are surely shared with those in Aruba. Compatible legal protection should be encouraged in order to prevent illegal trad e between nations and burdensome enforcement problems which arise when proximal nations disagr ee on how best to manage migrating species. In addition, it does not make good long-term mana gement sense to protect sea turtles in the waters of one nation if they continue to be expl oited in the waters or on the beaches of another nation. Conformity with regard to the protection of sea turtles will eventually be achieved with the ratification by nations throughout the region of the SPAW Protocol (section 4.32). Joint marine sanctuaries might be proposed to safeguard not only shared turtle resources, but also common marine resources in general. It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that full advantage be taken of the existing quad-lateral committee ("Consultative Mechanism: Working Group on the Environment") currently working on mechanisms for cooperation between the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Ne therlands Antilles, Aruba and Venezuela in implementing CITES and other regional ma rine environmental legislation. 4.4 Develop Public Education 4.41 Residents It is a recommendation of this Recovery Action Plan that concerted efforts be made on the part of both government agencies (such as LVV) and established conservation groups (such as FANAPA and StimAruba) to provide schools and other audiences with c onservation material. This would certainly include information on locally important or depleted species such as sea turtles. Some noteworthy indi viduals, such as Olinda van der Linden-Rasmijn, have made a personal commitment to responding to reque sts by schools for presentations about the conservation of sea turtles. It is clear that citi zen knowledge of sea turtles is very slight, but with our involvement in the WIDECAST project we have access to slides, poster s, and other materials which have made the task easier. We believe th at the school program is especially important as this may be the most direct way to reach parents. "Bumper stickers" are popular and may be particularly appropriate for messages pertaining to not driving on Aruba's beaches (see section 4.134). StimAruba and Accion Ambiental have newsletters, and these should carry sea turtle articles. A public library exhibition (Oranjestad, San Nicolas) is planned and will make use of photos, confiscated turtle shells (see section 3.3), and other material. Regular radio coverage of per tinent issues should be encouraged. The support of the office of the Prime Minister in sending letters to island establishments informing them that sea turtles are protected by law (see section 3.3) is deeply appreciated. 4.42 Fishermen The best way to communicate with fisherme n is through the Fisheries Officer, although indirect methods, such as edu cating school children, will surely have an effect as well. Education of fishermen should focus on ways to prevent the incidental catch of turtles in redas (seines drawn in shallow waters) and other commonl y used gear. Information regarding the safe


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 3 8 release of turtles from nets and proper resuscitation technique s would be useful. Fishermen should be encouraged to repor t incidents of sea turtle in jury, stranding, or nesting. 4.43 Tourists The sale of turtle shell and tortoiseshell items is aimed at tourists. In addition, the negative effects of activities ge nerally associated with high density tourism (irresponsible/ inexperienced divers, indiscriminate anchoring, beach and nearshore litter, joy-riding on the beaches, noise and lights on nesting beaches, etc.) may be lessened if tourists were more aware of the implications of their actio ns. Therefore, we plan to solic it the support of beachfront hotels in establishing information disp lays in the hotels, as well as designing an "Endangered Sea Turtles of Aruba" exhibit at the airport. Brochu res and posters available at dive shops and other relevant locales would also be useful. 4.44 Non-consumptive activities that generate revenue Tourism is appreciated and understood as a primary source of revenue. SCUBA dive clubs could perhaps be rewarded with free prom otional help if they feature non-consumptive experiences with sea turt les, such as photography. It should be stressed whenever possible that the value of accessible, visible sea turtles on na tural coral reefs is a good investment! Hotels might also consider providing room and board, or ot her support, to a local biologist in return for leading natural history expeditions to the beach at night to witness sea turt le nesting. While this type of nature-tourism has been very successful in other Caribbean islands, such as Antigua, it cannot be over-emphasized that the project must be supervised by trained personnel and the welfare of the turtles must be considered pa ramount. Sea turtles are easily frightened and insensitive activity will further erode already depleted populations. 4.5 Increase Information Exchange 4.51 Marine Turtle Newsletter The Marine Turtle Newsletter (MTN) is currently received by Tom Barmes, LVV, VROM, Colegio Arubano (high school), Bibliot eca Nacional (national library), and interested residents. All interested pers ons are encouraged to subscribe by writing to the Editors (Karen and Scott Eckert), Hubbs-Sea World Research In stitute, 1700 South Shor es Road, San Diego, California 92109 USA. The MTN is published quarter ly, distributed free of charge in English and Spanish to readers in more than 100 countries around the world, and is one of the best ways to keep informed about sea turtle conservation a nd research. In addition to features, each issue includes a list of recently published sc ientific articles and reports. 4.52 Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium (WATS) Aruba was represented by the Netherlands Antilles National Representative at WATS I (Costa Rica, 1983), but not at WATS II (Puert o Rico, 1987). In 1983, the National Report for the Netherlands Antilles included the island of Aruba, and was prepared by Gerald van Buurt, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (LVV) in Curaao. In 1987, the Netherlands Antilles


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 39National Report was prepared by Jeffrey Sybesma, Caribbean Marine Biological Institute (CARMABI) in Curaao. Because of changes in Aruba's status, pending independence from the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Aruba was not in cluded in Sybesma's 1987 report. Aruba is encouraged to remain informed about this important regional data base and to have representation at upcoming Symposia. 4.53 WIDECAST The Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Recove ry Team and Conservation Network, known by the acronym "WIDECAST", consists of a regional t eam of sea turtle expe rts that works closely with in-country Coordinators, who in turn enlist the support and participation of citizens in and out of government who have an in terest in sea turtle conservati on. The primary project outputs are Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plans (STRAPs) for each of 39 government regions, including Aruba, in the Wider Caribbean. Each STRAP is ta ilored specifically to local circumstances and provides the following information: 1. The local status and distribution of nesting and feeding sea turtles. 2. The major causes of mo rtality to sea turtles. 3. The effectiveness of existing national and international laws protecting sea turtles. 4. The present and historical role of sea turtles in the local culture and economy. 5. Local, national, and multi-l ateral implementing measures for scientifically sound sea turtle conservation. The short-term objectives of WIDECAST are to provide Wider Caribbean governments with updated information on the status of sea turtles in the region, to provide specific recommendations for the management and recove ry of endangered, thr eatened, and vulnerable sea turtle stocks, and to assist Wider Caribbean governments in th e discharge of their obligations under the Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) in the Wider Caribbean Region (see section 4.32). The lo nger-term objectives are to promote a regional capability to implement scientifically sound sea turtle conservation programs. Specifically, to develop and support a technical understanding of sea turtle biology and management among local individuals a nd organizations by: 1. Implementing WIDECAST through resident Country Coordinators. 2. Utilizing local network participants to collect information and draft, with the assistance of regional sea turtle experts, locally appropriate se a turtle management recommendations. 3. Providing or assisting in the develo pment of education materials (slides, brochures, posters, pamphlets). 4. Sponsoring or supporting local or su bregional workshops on sea turtle biology and management. 5. Assisting governments and non-gove rnment organizations with the implementation of effective management and conservation programmes for sea turtles. Beyond supporting the local and national effo rts of governments and non-governmental organizations, WIDECAST works to integrate these efforts into a collective regional response to


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 4 0 a common problem, the disappearance of sea turtles. WIDECAST is supported by the Caribbean Trust Fund of the UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme, as well as by government (e.g., U. S. National Marine Fisheries Service) and non-government (e.g., The Chelonia Insti-tute) agencies and groups. Government and non-government entities, biologists, fishermen, educators, developers, and other interested persons are encouraged to join in WIDECAST's efforts. The WIDECAST Country Coordinator in Aruba is To m Barmes, Assistant Director, LVV, Piedra Plat 114-A, Aruba. 4.54 IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group The Marine Turtle Specialist Group (Dr. Ka ren A. Bjorndal, Chair) is responsible for tracking the status of sea tur tle populations around the world for the World Resources Union (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC). Th e Group is a valuable source of information about sea turtles and technical advice on conserva tion projects. For further information, contact Dr. Karen Bjorndal, Archie Carr Center for S ea Turtle Research, De partment of Zoology, University of Florida, Gain esville, Florida 32611 USA. 4.55 Workshops on research and management Prior to the implementation of field survey s or other sea turtle conservation projects, participants should be educated concerning basic sea turtle ecology. This training would logically include the identification of sea turtle species, whether the evidence available was a live turtle, a hatchling, an egg, or a crawl on the beac h. Additional detail, provided as needed, could include proper methods to conduct surveys of ne sting beaches (section 4. 291), transect surveys of foraging areas (section 4.293), th e movement of eggs, aerial surv eys, etc. Informal local workshops can be arranged upon request by WIDECA ST. More formal training has in the past been available from the Caribbean Conserva tion Corporation (P. O. Box 2866, Gainesville, Florida 32602) at their Sea Tur tle Short Course in Tortuguero, Costa Rica. The WATS Manual of Sea Turtle Research and Conservation Techniqu es (Pritchard et al., 1983) provides instruction and background for many sea turtle research an d management techniques Program managers are encouraged to follow it to the fullest extent when research and co nservation projects are designed and implemented. 4.56 Exchange of information among local groups It is very desirable to have local groups coordinating effort s toward sea tu rtle research and conservation, in order that personnel and othe r resources are most efficiently used and data are compatible. StimAruba has been the most i nvolved in issues of sea turtle conservation (monitoring beaches, sponsoring public lectures) to date, but the island's other two conservation groups (FANAPA, Accion Ambiental) have indicated a strong interest in becoming more deeply involved in 1994 and beyond. It is very encouraging to see this enthusiastic response -there is no question but that there is much to be done! In addition to ongoing efforts (coordinated by Tom Barmes) to monitor nesting beaches, the e fforts of conservation groups to promote public awareness and to report viol ations are sorely needed.


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 41 4.6 Implement a National Sea Turtle Conservation Project 4.61 Rationale It is clear from the information provided in this Recovery Action Plan that Aruba provides foraging habitat to at least two species of sea turtle (green, tortuga blanco and hawksbill, caret ) and hosts a small number of nesting fe males each year, perhaps fewer than ten (mostly the leatherback, driekiel and loggerhead, cawama ). Sea turtles and their eggs are fully protected in Aruba by Landsverordening, Marien Milieuverordening Aruba (Marine Environment Ordinance) (AB 1980, No. 18) and penalties for conv icted violators include both fines and jail sentences. Nevertheless, enforc ement is problematic and an unquantified (but probably low) level of harvest continues on the pa rt of local fishermen and meat and shells are also imported from Venezuela in contravention of both national an d international laws. The sale of meat in restaurants and tri nkets in tourist-oriented boutique s continues at a persistent but, again, probably relatively low level. The clandestine harvest and ma rketing of sea turtles, while not as dramatic in volume as it is in some other countries in the region, is a source of grave concern in Aruba because we have only a handful of turtles remaining in the wild. The take of a single gravid female, for instance, may represent 50% or more of the total nesting p opulation in some years. And our reputation as a favorable tourist destination is certainly tarn ished by the blatant sale of species which are recognized around the world to be threatened with extinction. Finall y, we have reason to be quite concerned about the integrity of habitats impor tant to the survival of our sea turtles. Most potentially important nesting beaches are heavily developed in high rise hotels, and the tourist industry brings other threats, including beachfr ont lighting, vehicles joy-riding on the beaches, litter, and increased pres sure on reefs by divers. There is ample rationale for a national comm itment to sea turtle conservation, and with the support of WIDECAST and the excellent fram ework provided by this Recovery Action Plan we are for the first time in a position to move forward with this important agenda. 4.62 Goals and objectives Restoring living and nesting habitat will only be possible where no permanent changes have been made. The west coast from Bushiri B each Hotel to Cudarebe (W est Point) is the most attractive beach because of its sand structure a nd the rather calm sea. Its once pristine state, however, has been lost forever to the coastal boulevard and several high-rise hotels. This is not possible to undo, and thus it is necessary to instruct hotel personnel on how to handle the situation when gravid turtles come ashore to lay their eggs and hatchlings subsequently emerge from the sand. We have already solicited the suppor t of hotel staff in coll ecting and releasing to the sea hatchlings which travel inland after beco ming disoriented by beachfront lighting. In light of the particular situation in Ar uba, our primary goals will be to (i) safeguard all nests laid and (ii) bring to a halt all harvest and commerce in sea turtles and their products, as mandated by national law. In order to accomplish these goals, we are committed to the following objectives:


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 42 1. Monitor nesting beaches a nd maximize hatchling production. 2. Enhance public awareness of and pa rticipation in sea turtle conservation. 3. Promote improvements in legislation and law enforcement. 4.63 Activities In order to meet the above objectives, the WIDECAST Coordinator in Aruba proposes to undertake the following activities. LVV will be the Lead Organization for the National Sea Turtle Conservation Project, with active support from other government agencies (e.g., VROM, Police), local conservation and interest gr oups (e.g., StimAruba, FANAPA, dive operators, hoteliers), and inte rnational organizati ons (e.g., WIDECAST). 1. Assemble and maintain sightings and ne sting data bases. Design and distribute standard record sheets. 2. Monitor potential nesting beaches on a daily basis throughout the annual nesting season (April-August, and through November if confirmation of hawksbill nesting is obtained). 3. Determine primary threats on the ne sting beaches and design (and implement) specific mitigating measures. For instance, work collaboratively with beachfront hoteliers to modify lighting and clear th e beaches of recreational equipment (e.g., beach chairs, sailboats) at night. 4. Maintain a small hatchery facility as a la st resort if necessary to safeguard eggs laid in high risk (heavy traffic) zone s. Gain hotel sponsorship for this. 5. Instruct hotel personnel on how to monito r their beaches for sea turtle hatching activity and how to "rescue" hatchlings misoriented inland by hotel lights. 6. Encourage people to report offenses agai nst sea turtle conservation legislation, and encourage prosecution of convicted offenders. 7. Make personal contact with owners of boutiques selling tortoiseshell and restaurants selling meat, alerting them to the consequences of such commerce. 8. Design and distribute pub lic awareness materials, including but not limited to brochures, posters, bumper stickers, and info rmative displays in restaurants, hotel lobbies, boutiques, and libraries. 9. Offer training opportunities, such as work shops, to habitat survey participants and persons volunteering to provide presentati ons to schools. Request training materials and/or instructors as needed from WIDECAST. 10. Lobby for habitat protection, including Marine Park status for the south coast and Sea Turtle Refuge designati on for west coast beaches. 11. Involve the media more consistently in coverage of sea turtle conservation issues. 4.64 Budget We are a small island with relatively few sea turtles, perhaps fewer than 30 nests laid per year. We do not anticipate that large-scale fund-raising will be necessary to implement a national conservation program. We feel that quite possibly the private sector in Aruba will agree to covering costs incurred by ac tivities outlined in section 4.63. Hotels have already shown admirable interest in protecting sea turtles on th eir beaches, it is simply a question of organizing


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 43and focusing this interest. We will emphasize th at protecting nests is not only good ecology, but can potentially serve as a touris t attraction if carefully and thought fully executed. With regard to educational materials, WIDECAST has provided us with slides, leaflets, and brochures and will soon have posters available. In addition, a vari ety of educational materials can be sponsored locally, such as bumper stickers by car rental agen cies. Restaurants are likely to be amenable to exhibit plaques or stickers that ex plain to patrons that sea turtle meat is not offered in deference to the endangered status of these animals. Fu rther, a good deal of information can be disseminated by word of mouth, such as by dive operato rs and other tour personnel. With regard to monitoring beaches, local volunteers are available a nd willing to participate in this task. LVV staff will compile and archive relevant data.


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 44V. LITERATURE CITED Balazs, G. H. 1985. Impact of ocean debris on marine turtles: entanglement and ingestion, p. 387-429. In : Proc. Workshop on the Fate and Impact of Marine Debris (R. S. Shomura and H. O. Yoshida, Editors). NOAA Tec h. Memo. NMFS-SWFC-54. U. S. Dept. Commerce. Bak, R. P. M. 1975. Ecological aspects of the dist ribution of reef corals in the Netherlands Antilles. Bijdragen tot de dierkunde, 45(2):181-190. Bak, R. P. M. 1986. The status of Aruban reefs and their relation with the refinery's location. CARMABI Consultancy Report for Grontmij Neth erlands. 36 p. (translated from Dutch) Bak, R. P. M. 1987. Effects of chronic oil polluti on on a Caribbean coral reef. Mar. Poll. Bull. 18(10):534-539. Bjorndal, K. A. 1980. Nutriti on and grazing behavior of the green turtle, Chelonia mydas Marine Biology 56:147-154. Bjorndal, K. A. 1982. The consequences of herbivor y for the life history pa ttern of the Caribbean green turtle, Chelonia mydas p.111-116. In : Biology and Conservation of Sea Turtles (K. A. Bjorndal, Editor). Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D. C. Bjorndal, K. A. 1985. Nutritional ecol ogy of sea turtles. Copeia 1985:736-751. Bjorndal, K. A. and A. Carr. 1989. Variation in cl utch size and egg size in the green sea turtle nesting population at Tortuguero, Co sta Rica. Herpetologica 45(2):181-189. Bjorndal, K. A., A. B. Meylan, and B. J. Tu rner. 1983. Sea turtles nesting at Melbourne Beach, Florida, I: Size, growth, and reprodu ctive biology. Biol. Conserv. 26:65-77. Boulon, R. 1984. National Report for the U. S. Virgin Islands, p.489-499. In : Proc. Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium, San Jos, Costa Rica, 1983 (P. Bacon et al., Editors). Volume 3, Appendix 7. University of Miami Press, Miami. 40 p. Brongersma, L. D. 1972. European Atlantic turtles. Zool. Verh. (Leiden) No. 121. Buikhuizen, H. 1993. Caribbean Story. 9 p. Mimeo. Buurt, G. van 1984. National Report for the Nether lands Antilles (Aruba, Curaao, Bonaire), p. 329-333. In : Proc. Western Atlantic Turtle Sym posium, San Jos, Costa Rica, 1983 (P. Bacon et al., Editors). Volume 3, Appendix 7. University of Miami Press, Florida. Caldwell, D. K. and M. C. Caldwell. 1969. Additio n of the leatherback sea turtle to the known prey of the killer whale, Orcinus orca J. Mammalogy 50(3):636.


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 4 5 Cambers, G. and H. Lima. 1990. Leatherback turtle s disappearing from the BVI. Marine Turtle Newsletter 49:4-7. Carr, A. 1987a. New perspectives on the pelagic st age of sea turtle development. Cons. Biol. 1(2):103-121. Carr, A. 1987b. Impact of nondegradable marine de bris on the ecology a nd survival outlook of sea turtles. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 18(6 PartB):352-356. Carr, A., M. H. Carr, and A. B. Meylan. 1978. The ecology and migrations of sea turtles, 7. The west Caribbean green turt le colony. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 162(1):1-46. Corliss, L. A., J. I. Richardson, C. Ryder, and R. Bell. 1989. The hawksbills of Jumby Bay, Antigua, West Indies, p.33-35. In : Proceedings of the Ninth Annual Workshop on Sea Turtle Conservation and Biology (S. A. Eckert K. L. Eckert, and T. H. Richardson, Compilers). NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFSSEFC-232. U. S. Dept. Commerce. Davenport, J. and G. H. Balazs. 1991. 'Fiery bodi es' -are pyrosomas an important component of the diet of leatherback turtles? Brit. Herp. Soc. Bull. 31:33-38. Dodd, C. K., Jr. 1988. Synopsis of the biological data on th e loggerhead sea turtle, Caretta caretta (Linnaeus 1758). U. S. Fish Wild l. Serv., Biol. Rept. 88(14):1-110. Eckert, K. L. 1987. Environmental unpredictabili ty and leatherback s ea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea ) nest loss. Herpetol ogica 43(3):315-323. Eckert, K. L. 1991. Caribbean nations vote to prot ect sea turtles. Mar. Turtle Newsl. 54:3-4. Eckert, K. L. and S. A. Eckert. 1988. Pre-re productive movements of le atherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea ) nesting in the Caribbean. Copeia 1988:400-406. Eckert, S. A., K. L. Eckert, P. Ponganis, and G. L. Kooyman. 1989. Diving and foraging behavior by leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea ). Can. J. Zool. 67:2834-2840. ECNAMP. 1980. Aruba: Preliminary Data Atlas. Prepared by the Easter n Caribbean Natural Areas Management Programme. Ehrenfeld, D. W. 1968. The role of vision in seafinding orientation of the green turtle (Chelonia mydas ) II: Orientation mechanism and range of spectral sensitivity. Anim. Behavior 16:281-287. Ehrhart, L. M. 1991. Fibropapillomas in green tu rtles of the Indian River Lagoon, Florida: distribution over time and area, p.59-61. In : Research Plan for Marine Turtle Fibropapilloma (G. Balazs and S. Pooley, Editors) NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-SWFSC-156. U. S. Dept. Commerce.


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 46 Ehrhart, L. M. and R. G. Yoder. 1978. Marine turtles of Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Fl a. Mar. Res. Publ. 33:25-30. Ferris, J. S. 1986. Nest success and the survival and movement of hatchlings of the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta ) on Cape Lookout National Seas hore. CPSU Tech. Rept. 19, U. S. National Park Service. U. S. Dept. Interior. 40 p. Frazer, N. B. and L. M. Ehrhart. 1985. Pre liminary growth models for green, Chelonia mydas and loggerhead, Caretta caretta turtles in the wild. Copeia 1985:73-79. Frazer, N. B. and R. C. Ladner. 1986. A growth curve for green sea turtles, Chelonia mydas in the U. S. Virgin Islands, 1913-14. Copeia 1986:798-802. Frazier, J. 1984. Las tortugas marinas en el Oc eano Atlantico Sur Occide ntal. Asoc. Herpetol. Argentina 2:2-21. Fretey, J. and M. Girondot. 1989. L'activit de ponte de la tortue luth, Dermochelys coriacea (Vandelli 1761), pendant la saison 1988 en Guya ne Franaise. Rev. Ecol. (Terre Vie) 44: 261-274. Fuller, J., K. L. Eckert, and J. I. Richards on. 1992. WIDECAST Sea Tu rtle Recovery Action Plan for Antigua and Barbuda (K. L. Ec kert, Editor). CEP Technical Report No. 16. UNEP Caribbean Environment Progr amme, Kingston, Jamaica. 88 p. Groombridge, B. (Compiler). 1982. Red Data B ook, Amphibia-Reptilia, Pa rt I: Testudines, Crocodylia, Rhynchocephalia. Intl. Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), Gland, Switzerland. Groombridge, B. and R. Luxmoore. 1989. The Green Turtle and Hawksbill (Reptilia: Cheloniidae): World Status, Exploitation and Trade. CITES Secretariat, Lausanne, Suisse. 601p. Guada, H. J. and P. Vernet P. 1988. Informe de l proyecto situacin actual de las tortugas marinas en la costa Caribea de Venezuela. Es tado Falcn: Costa Oeste y Peninsula de Paraguan. Informe Interno de FUDENA. 25 p. Guada, H. J., P. J. Vernet, M. de Santana, A. Santana, and E. M. de Aguilar. 1991. Fibropapillomas in a green turtle captured off Penins ula de Paraguana, Falcon State, Venezuela. Marine Turtle Newsletter 52:24. Halas, J. C. 1985. A unique mooring system fo r reef management in the Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary, p.237-242. In : Proc. 5th Intl. Coral Reef Congress (C. Gabrie and B. Salvat, Editors). Volume 4. Antenne Museum-Ephe, Moorea, French Polynesia. Hartog, J. C. den and M. M. van Nierop. 1984. A study of the gut conten ts of six leathery turtles, Dermochelys coriacea (Linnaeus) (Reptilia: Testudines: Dermochelyidae) from British waters and from the Netherla nds. Zool. Verh. 209(1984):1-36.


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 4 7 Hildebrand, H. 1987. A reconnaissan ce of beaches and coastal waters from the border of Belize to the Mississippi River as habitats for ma rine turtles. Final Report to NOAA/NMFS/ SEFC Panama City Lab (purch ase order #NA-84-CF-A-134). 63 p. Hoppe, W. 1985. Orienterend onderzoe k naar de invloed van vervuiling op de kust bij de Lago raffinaderij. CARMABI, Curaao. Mimeo. 10 p. Horrocks, J. 1992. WIDECAST Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan for Barb ados (K. L. Eckert, Editor). CEP Technical Report No. 12. UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme, Kingston, Jamaica. 61 p. Hulsbergen, C. H. 1987. Zandinventarisatie Ar uba. Prepared by Waterloopkundig laboratorium for the Government of Aruba. 49 p. + figs. Jacobson, E. R. 1990. An update on green turtle fibropapilloma. Marine Turtle Newsl. 49:7-8. Jacobson, E. R. 1991. An update on gr een turtle fibr opapilloma, p.61-73. In : Research Plan for Marine Turtle Fibropapilloma (G. Balazs and S. Poole y, Editors). NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-SWFSC-156. U. S. Dept. Commerce. Jacobson, E. R. et al. 1989. Cutaneous fibropapillomas of green turtles (Chelonia mydas ). J. Comp. Path. 101:39-52. Lutz, P. L. and A. A. Alfaro-Schulman. 1991. The effects of chronic plastic ingestion on green sea turtles. Final Report for U. S. Dept. Commerce, NOAA SB21, WC H06134. 49 p. Manzella, S., K. Bjorndal, and C. Lagueux. 1991. H ead-started Kemp's ridley recaptured in the Caribbean. Marine Turt le Newsletter 54:13-14. Meylan, A. 1988. Spongivory in hawksbill turtle s: a diet of glass. Science 239:393-395. Morgan, P. J. 1989. Occurrence of leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea ) in the British Islands in 1988 with referenc e to a record specimen, p.119-120. In : Proc. Ninth Annual Workshop on Sea Turtle Conservation and Biology (S. A. Eckert, K. L. Eckert, and T. H. Richardson, Compilers). NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-SEFC-232. Mrosovsky, N. 1970. The influence of the sun's positi on and elevated cues on the orientation of hatchling sea turtles. Anim. Behav. 18:648-651. Mrosovksy, N. 1981. Plastic jellyfish. Marine Turtle Newsletter 17:5-7. Mrosovsky, N., S. R. Hopkins-Murphy, and J. I. Richardson. 1984. Sex ratio of sea turtles: seasonal changes. Science 225:739-741. Nietschmann, G. 1972. The exploitation and conserva tion of hawksbill sea turtles, eastern Nicaragua. Report to the Department of Geography, Univ. Michigan. 15 p. (Unpubl.)


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 4 8 Ogden, J. C., S. Tighe and S. Miller. 1980. Grazi ng of sea grasses by large herbivores in the Caribbean. American Zoologist 20:949 (abstract). Ogden, J. C., L. Robinson, K. Whitlock, H. Da ganhardt and R. Cebula. 1983. Diel foraging patterns in juvenile green turtles (Chelonia mydas L.) in St. Croix, U. S. Virgin Islands. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 66:199-205. Pritchard, P., P. Bacon, F. Berry, A. Carr, J. Fletemeyer, R. Ga llagher, S. Hopkins, R. Lankford, R. Mrquez M., L. Ogren, W. Pringle, Jr., H. Reichart and R. Witham. 1983. Manual of sea turtle research and conservation techniqu es, second edition (K. A Bjorndal and G. H. Balazs, Editors). Ctr for Environmenta l Education, Washington D. C. 125 p. Raymond, P. W. 1984. Sea turtle hatchling disorien tation and artificial b eachfront lighting. The Ctr for Environmental Education, Washington D. C. 72 p. Rebel, T. P. 1974. Sea Turtles and the Turtle Industry of the West Indies, Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico. University of Miami Press, Coral Gables, Florida. 250 p. Reichart, H. A. 1989. Status report on the olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea ), p.175-188. In : Proc. Second Western Atlan tic Turtle Symposium (Larry Ogren, Editor-in-Chief). NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-SEFC226. U. S. Dept. Commerce. Reichart, H. A. and Fretey, J. 1993. WIDECAST S ea Turtle Recovery Action Plan for Suriname (K. L. Eckert, Editor). CEP Technical Report No. 24. UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme, Kingston, Jamaica. 65 p. Richardson, J. I. 1990. Estimation of sea turtle abundance and nest ing success on Mona Island, Puerto Rico. Final Report, Fish Wild l. Serv., Unit Coop. Agreement #14-16-0009-1551, Work Order #10. 42 p. Richardson, T. H., J. I. Richardson, C. Ruckdesc hel, and M. W. Dix. 1978. Remigration patterns of loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta ) nesting on Little Cumberland and Cumberland islands, Georgia. Fla. Mar. Res. Publ. 33:39-44. Rogers, C. S. 1985. Degradation of Caribbean and Western Atlantic coral reefs and decline of associated fisheries, p.491-496. In : Proceedings of the 5th In ternational Coral Reef Congress. Volume 6. Rogers, C. S., L. McLain, and E. S. Zullo. 1988. Recreational uses of marine resources in the Virgin Islands National Park and Biosphere Re serve: trends and consequences. Biosphere Reserve Research Report No. 24. VIRMC/NPS. U. S. National Park Service. 30 p. Ross, J. P., S. Beavers, D. Mundell, and M. Airth-Kindree. 1989. The Stat us of Kemp's Ridley. Ctr for Marine Conservation, Washington D. C. 51 p.


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 49Schulz, J. P. 1975. Sea Turtles Nesting in Suri name. Zool. Verh. (Leiden) No. 143. The Netherlands. Squires, H. J. 1954. Records of marine tur tles in the Newfoundla nd area. Copeia 1954:68. Sybesma, J. 1987. National Report for the Netherla nds Antilles, Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium (WATS II), Mayagez, Puerto Rico, 1987. 29 p. (Unpubl.) Sybesma, J. 1989. Sick sea turtle. Curaao Unde rwater Park Progress Report April-June 1989. CARMABI, Netherlands Antilles. Sybesma, J. and P. C. Hoetjes. 1992. First record of the olive ridley and of nesting by the loggerhead turtle in Curaao. Ca rib. J. Sci. 28(1-2):103-104. Tobias, W. 1991. Turtles caught in Caribbean sw ordfish fishery. Mar. Turtle Newsl. 53:10-12. UNEP. 1991. Final Act. Conference of Plenipotentiaries for the Adoption of the Annexes to the Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife in the Wider Caribbean Region. UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme, Kingston, Jamaica. UNEP. 1984. The State of Marine Pollution in the Wider Caribbean Region. United Nations Environment Programme, Regional Seas Reports and Studies No. 36. 45 p. Vargo, S., P. Lutz, D. Odell, E. Van Vleet, and G. Bossart. 1986. Effects of oil on marine turtles. Final Report, Vol. 2-Technical Report. Prepared for Minerals Management Service, U. S. Dept. Interior. OCS Study MMS 86-0070. Wilcox, E. 1989. Marine Resources Management Plan. In : The Southeast Peninsula Project in St. Kitts, Volume I: Resource Management Plans. Prepared for the U. S. Agency for International Development, contract #DHR 5438-C-00-6054-00. 40 p. Witherington, B. 1990. Photopollution on sea turtle nesting beaches: problems and next-best solutions, p.43-45. In : Proc. 10th Annual Workshop on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation (T. H. Richardson, J. I. Richardson, and M. Donnelly, Compilers). NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-SEFC-278. U. S. Dept. Commerce. Witzell, W. N. 1983. Synopsis of Biological Data on the Hawksbill Turtle, Eretmochelys imbricata (Linnaeus, 1766). FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 137. Rome. 78 p. Witzell, W. N. 1984. The incidental capture of sea turtles in the Atlantic U. S. Fishery Conservation Zone by the Japanese Tuna Longline Fleet, 1978-81. Mar. Fish. Rev. 46(3):56-58. Woody, J. B. 1991. Guest Editorial: It's time to st op head-starting Kemp's ridley. Marine Turtle Newsletter 55:7-8. Young, R. 1992. Tiger shark consumes young sea turtle. Marine Turtle Newsletter 59:14.


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 5 0 Table 1 Stay-over arrivals in Aruba. Source: Curaao Tourist Bureau (1980-1986), Aruba Tourist Bureau (1987-1992). -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Year Arrivals -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1980 188,900 1981 221,300 1982 220,200 1983 195,200 1984 210,200 1985 206,000 1986 181,211 1987 231,582 1988 277,573 1989 344,336 1990 432,762 1991 501,324 1992 541,714


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 51Table 2. Documented records of sea turtles nesting in Aruba, 1993 (data courtesy LVV). Prior to 1993, no reliable field surv eys had been undertaken, alt hough some anecdotal data are available (see section 4.112 of this Recovery Ac tion Plan). Four species may nest; they are the green turtle or tortuga blanco (Chelonia mydas ), hawksbill or caret (Eretmochelys imbricata ), loggerhead or cawama (Caretta caretta ), and leatherback or driekiel (Dermochelys coriacea ) (see Figure 2). Leatherback ne sting is reported the most often, pe rhaps because the large tracks of this species are the easiest fo r laymen to identify and west coast beaches were the most thoroughly surveyed (hawksbill and green turtle nesting is likely to be more common along the east and southeast coasts). -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Date Species Beach Comments -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------April 23 Leatherback Druif Beach (south coast) Confirmed crawl, but no hatchlings seen May 4 Loggerhead Pirate's Nest, Bucuti Hatched 25 June, released 50 hatchBeach Hotel (Manchebo lings, nest excavation revealed 20 unBeach) hatched eggs May 9 Green (?) Dos Playa Beach Resident observed nesting, but eggs subsequently washed away May 13 Leatherback Swiss Chalet, Eagle Beach Confirmed crawl, but no hatchlings seen May 21 Leatherback Sandra's Restaurant, Confirmed crawl, but no hatchlings seen Eagle Beach June 1 Leatherback Arashi Beach Hatched 31 July; 70 live hatchlings, 30 unhatched eggs June 10 Hawksbill (?) Aruba Beach Club, Security personnel observed nesting; no Druif Beach (south coast) hatchlings seen July 10 Leatherback Arashi Beach 20 hatchlings released to the sea July 26 Leatherback Costa Linda Hotel, 150 hatchlings released to the sea Eagle Beach August 17 Loggerhead Arashi Beach 5 hatchlings found dead August 24 Leatherback Costa Linda Hotel, 100 hatchlings released to the sea Eagle Beach undated Leatherback (?) Andicuri Beach Plantation owner reported that 200 or more hatchlings were killed on the beach by 4-wheel drive vehicles __________ these hatchlings (disoriented inland by beachfront lighting) were "rescued" by hotel security staff


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 52Table 3. Number of sea turtles killed at the Ar uba abattoir, 1977-1986. Unfortunately, data are not available prior to 1977, and no information is available concerning speci es, size or weight, or sex. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Year Turtles processed -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1977 31 1978 8 1979 -1980 6 1981 6 1982 10 1983 4 1984 1 / -1985 1 / -1986 32 __________ 1 / the unusually high value given for 1986 ma y represent a cumula tive total, 1984-1986


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 53Table 4. Aruba coastal clean-up zones and zone areas, September 1993 (see Figure 5). Zone length is measured in meters. Asterisk (*) indi cates hotel area and zone area average; double asterisk (**) indicates SCUBA opera tion area and zone area estimate (source: R. de Kort, VROM). -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Clean-up Zone Clean-up Zone zone length zone length -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1. Basiruti 750 30. San Nicolas Bay 1275 2. Hadicurari 1000 Cays (# 4 & 3) 3. Malmok 625 31. Wickland Beach 300 4. Boca Catalina 500 32. Master 200 5. Arashi 650 33. Santo Largo 200 6. Cudarebe 375 34. Mangel Halto 250 7. California Dunes 750 35. Barcadera 500 8. Druif 250 36. Surfside 300 9. Urirama 200 37. Harbour Town* 100 10. Boca Grandi (west) 125 38. Waf 100 11. Boca Cur 100 39. Bushiri Beach Hotel* 150 12. Boca di Pos di Noord 325 40. Tamarijn Beach Hotel* 250 13. Boca Chikitu 100 41. Divi Divi Beach Hotel* 250 14. Wariruri 300 42. Casa Del Mar* 250 15. Budui 275 43. Aruba Beach Club* 250 16. Natural Bridge 275 44. Manchebo Beach Hotel* 250 17. Andicuri 150 45. Bucuti Beach Hotel* 250 18. Noordkaap 225 46. Costa Linda Beach Resort* 250 19. Daimari 200 47. Eagle Beach 750 20. Boca Ketu 250 48. La Cabana Beach Resort* 150 21. Conchi 100 49. Amsterdam Manor* 150 22. Suplado 125 50. Ramada Renaissance* 250 23. Dos Playa 300 51. Aruba Concord Hotel* 250 24. Boca Druif 150 52. Aruba Palm Beach Hotel* 250 25. Boca Prins 300 53. Radisson Hotel* 250 26. Rincon 275 54. Americana Hotel* 250 27. Boca Grandi (east) 1900 55. Hyatt Regency Hotel* 250 28. Punta Basora 2250 56. Playa Linda Beach Hotel* 250 (incl. Baby Beach) 57. Holiday Inn Beach Hotel* 250 29. Nanki 1000 58. W Coast, underwater area** 2000 Total Rural Areas 17,700 m Total Hotel Areas 4,300 m Total Underwater Area 2,000 m TOTAL AREA 24,000 m = 24 km


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 54 Figure 1 Aruba (12o30'N, 70oW) is located 32 km (19 miles) north of Venezuela and 67 km (42 miles) west of Curaao, Netherla nds Antilles (source: ECNAMP, 1980).


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 5 5 Figure 2. Four species of sea tu rtle reportedly nest in Ar uba: the green turtle or tortuga blanco (Chelonia mydas ), the hawksbill or caret (Eretmochelys imbricata ), the loggerhead or cawama (Caretta caretta ), and the leatherback or driekiel (Dermochelys coriacea ).


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 56 Figure 3. Sea grass and coral reef formations around Aruba. Source: R. de Kort (VROM).


Aruba Sea Turtles… Page 5 7 Figure 4. Prominent sandy beaches known or suspected to serve as nesting habitat for endangered marine turtles are indicate d by stippling. Aruba's two ma jor population centers, Oranjestad and San Nicolas, are shown as larg e and small stars, respectively.


CEP Technical Report No. 25 Page 5 8 Figure 5. Aruba coastal clean-up zones, Septembe r 1993. Zone numbers correspond to locations provided in Table 4. Source: R. de Kort (VROM).


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The series of CEP Technical Reports contains selected information resulting from the various activities performed within the framework of the UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP). CEP was initiated in 1976 by UNEP with the assistance of ECLAC, at the request of the Governments of the region. A framework for regional projects and activities was first formulated in Montego Bay in 1981, when the Action Plan for the Caribbean Environment Programme was adopted by the First Intergovernmental Meeting. The major legal instrument of CEP was adopted at the Second Intergovernmental Meeting, convened at Cartagena de Indias, in 1983: the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment in the Wider Caribbean Region. The Cartagena Convention provides a framework for the development of specific protocols. The implementation of CEP is supported by the Caribbean Trust Fund, established by the participating States and Territories. Their active participation is ensured through regular Intergovernmental and Contracting Parties Meetings, a rotating Monitoring Committee formed by representatives from nine States and Territories and through the National Focal Points. The principal focal point in each State or Territory is the ministry or department responsible for external relations or foreign affairs. Additionally, the agency responsible for the management of marine and coastal resources is the focal point for technical purposes. Currently, the Action Plan of CEP concentrates in six major areas for the management of marine and coastal resources: Overall Co-ordination, Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW), Assessment and Control of Marine Pollution (CEPPOL), Integrated Planning and Institutional Development (IPID), Information Systems (CEPNET), and Education, Training and Awareness (ETA). The Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) to the Cartagena Convention was adopted in two stages: the text of the Protocol was adopted on 18 January 1990 and the initial Annexes listing relevant marine and coastal species, were adopted on 11 June 1991. The Protocol will enter into force following ratification by nine Contracting Parties. The Regional Programme for Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife in the Wider Caribbean Region (SPAW) was designed to implement the provisions and requirements of the SPAW Protocol. Its objectives are: (a) to develop specific management plans for economically and ecologically important species; (b) to significantly increase the number of adequately managed protected areas and species in the region; and to develop a strong regional capability for the co-ordination of information exchange, training and technical assistance in support of national, subregional and regional efforts on management of protected areas and wildlife.