Thursday, September 08, 2011

More and more endangered species dead because the lack of care among officials.

The hawksbill turtle is one of three marine sea turtles that nests along the shores of Antigua and Barbuda. Green and Leatherback turtles also nest here. We have turtle pictures on the pages of our Antigua and Barbuda passports and also on our currency notes. They are what many tourists dream about seeing on their holidays. When tourists are lucky enough to see them it's a thrilling memory that lasts a lifetime. The World Conservation Union. classifies the Hawksbill as critically endangered which is why my wife who runs the Antigua Sea Turtle Project spends plenty of her time trying to get info about these important species to the decision makers here in Antigua. This dead baby turtle has a very interesting story which speaks volumes about how well our government cares about these endangered species that are so important to the people and the nation. It also shows how well they listen to solid science presented to them when it comes to the deadly problem of lighting along the nesting beaches. It's mother was nearly killed about 60 days ago when it came to lay the eggs which produced this endangered and now dead baby turtle. (it takes 60 days for eggs to hatch) Read all about that here. CLICK HERE

Someone on my facebook wall told me yesterday that on nesting beaches in the USA you are fined during nesting season if you leave your porch lights on. Here we try to put as much light as possible on the beaches. Antigua seems to have drifted backward when it comes to environmental protection and this shouldn't be the case in this day and age when there is so much information available to us all. Of course the main reason that politicians and policy makers say they can't do anything about the lights on the beaches is that they feel that we are safer with blazing lights along the beaches. I think it needs to be pointed out that time and time again the crimes along these nesting beaches have happened this year in broad daylight. Lights didn't stop this car from having it's window smashed and things stolen from it.
Neither did it stop a family of three people from being stuck up at gun point on the beach at sunset earlier this year. Lights are not saving people along that beach but they are killing many turtles. The sad reality is that that problem of turtles being killed is way worse over in the Minister of Environment's constituency on beaches like Crab Hill Beach and Turners, Dark Wood Beach and Fryes Beach.
The Antigua Conservation Society is going to speak with the Environmental Awareness Group about this later today and I think it's time we show the people in charge that some of us care enough about this problem. In the meantime you can always call the Environment Division and The Fisheries Division and The Ministry of Tourism and even the PM's office. Baldwin Spencer knew since 2008 about the problems associated with lights and the solutions and said so in a meeting with the Environmental Awareness Group just before the lights were turned on. My wife's letter got to him in 2008 long before the Chinese gift of street lights arrived in Antigua. Why have the problems with these lights and the solutions to these problems all been ignored?