Influx of Baby Sea Turtle Strandings

January 24, 2011

2335_W+E_MINISTER_TU During the last few months Bermuda has been experiencing an influx of baby sea turtles stranding on our beaches.

The Department of Conservation Services reports that while it is not uncommon for juvenile loggerhead turtles to get caught up in large rafts of Sargassum seaweed, which routinely washes ashore during winter months, very rarely do Green Turtles show up and never in such numbers.

The Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo [BAMZ] normally expect to receive perhaps one or two turtles every year. These are nursed back to health and released far out to sea, with the help of the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, so they can continue their journey.

Mr Patrick Talbot, Curator of the Bermuda Aquarium and Zoo said: “This season is proving to be highly unusual in that we have received 17 turtles into our Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre since September; all small, ranging in size from 6 cm to 10 cm shell length, 12 of which have arrived in the last month alone. Interestingly, the majority of the turtles admitted have been green turtles which is a very rare event.”

“Of the 9 Green turtles received 7 came in alive and 2 deceased. Of the 8 loggerheads we received, 4 came in alive and the remainder unfortunately were deceased. The turtles have been brought in by members of the public and have been rescued from all around the Island from the South Shore to the North Shore and even in Hamilton Harbour. Many of the turtles showed signs of recent trauma with 3 succumbing to their injuries shortly after coming into our care. One lucky green was even pulled from the beak of a hungry Heron by an observant rescuer!”

The Department notes that it is not known why so many young turtles, especially Greens, are appearing at this time.

However the number of nesting green turtles in Florida has risen dramatically over the last few years and experts say it is most likely that this increase has lead to more young turtles making their way into the Atlantic and into the Sargasso Sea, via the Gulf Stream, where they spend a number of years in development.

Further, they say there could be a connection with the recent Gulf Oil Spill where turtle species were translocated out of harm’s way to the east coast of Florida.

Mr Talbot said: “Given the ‘right’ currents and winds this unlucky bunch of shelled rafters could end up on our shores. Unfortunately for them these young travellers make very nutritious meals for local predators like large fish, sea gulls, crows and herons. The lucky ones owe their lives to members of the public who find them and have gone out of their way to get them to the Aquarium quickly, where they can be cared for until they are released.”

Mr Mark Outerbridge, coordinator of the Bermuda Turtle Project said: “Sea turtles have a very complex life cycle, and spend different parts of it in different habitats. These post hatchling turtles were hatched sometime last summer and it is expected that these little sea turtles will be out in the open ocean for the next 4 -12 years growing, depending on the species, before passing into the next stage of their development.”

Acting Minister of Public Works Michael Weeks would like to encourage members of the public to continue reporting any stranding events that they see and also made an appeal that, should anyone find a turtle, that they either bring their new found friend into the Bermuda Aquarium and Zoo or contact them at 293-2727 for assistance.

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Minister Weeks is pictured holding a baby loggerhead turtle with student volunteers holding baby green turtles. From left, Kelche Burgess from Vision Academy, Minister Weeks, Jameko Gomes and Shaunte Young, both from Berkeley Institute.

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Category: All, Environment, News

Comments (5)

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  1. Truth is killin' me says:

    Well done BAMZ and also to your volunteers. Pretty to watch! I am glad to see young Bermudians taking an interest in our sea creatures and also to the environment.

  2. itwasn't me says:

    Nice photo op Weeks! Please tell the Minister of Education to get more kids involved. football and cricket are okay, but developing a healthy interest in practical science and zoology is more useful to them. Young eager minds should be directed toward more academic programs supported by our Government

  3. Weldon says:

    Great job!

  4. White Jesus says:

    Great photo!

  5. 16v says:

    nice story