Sea Turtle Conservation

Lets start with, How did we end up here? My daughter is 4 years old, hates litter and loves sea turtles. We would be out for our afternoon walks, and would pass trash along the side of the road, she would always stop and say “we should pick that up.” I’m the mom that will stop at no ends, if there is something my children are passionate about. So on our next walk, I brought gloves and a garbage bag, together we filled the 13 gallon trash bag, before our little 1/2 mile loop was over. My daughter marched right up to a neighbors door, knocked, and said “I’m picking up trash to save the sea turtles, do you have a trash bag?” Our first walk we picked up 45 pounds of trash, and then we started these “trash walks” regularly. We set a goal of raising $1 for every pound of trash we picked up, she wanted to donate it to “save the sea turtles”. I posted our trash pick ups on Instagram and friends and family quickly donated to her cause. 396 Pounds of trash later, she raised $400 to donate.

So down the rabbit hole of google I went. Searching “Sea Turtle Conservation Resorts” & “Sea Turtle Conservation Caribbean”. There was one resort that kept popping up in my searches, Rosalie Bay, in Dominica. With earth day approaching over my daughters April break. I booked a week, so she could make her donation in person, hopefully adopt a sea turtle, and if the stars aligned, even see a nesting leatherback sea turtle.

Sea turtle conservation brough us here, and Rosalie Bay did not disappoint. Upon check in reception asks you if you want sea turtle notifications. Why of course!

The Nature Enhancement Team, a safety NET for sea turtles, conducts sea turtle conservation activates and educational programs to protect the many endangered sea turtle species that nest on the beaches of Dominica. Simon and Judy, president and vice president of NET, have a love and devotion to sea turtle conservation that is beyond inspiring.

Endangered species nest on the black sand beach of Rosalie Bay from March to October, guests have the opportunity to witness a 1,000 lb giant leatherback sea turtle nesting in the dark of the night, and the opportunity to witness a baby turtle make its grand run for the sea.

Rosalie Bay offers a wide array of programs for sea turtle enthusiasts’.

  • Sea turtle hatchings. The tiniest of miracles. Sometimes nests emerge naturally, and other times Simon excavates the nest, giving the tiny turtles a chance to survive that they otherwise wouldn’t have had. We came too early in the season to witness the hatchlings, but are in the sea turtle WhatsApp group, where we are kept in the loop with nesting’s, and hatchings.
  • Sea turtle nesting. Guests are given the opportunity to run down to the beach to witness a sea turtle nesting under the dark of the night. A truly magical experience, one we were lucky enough to witness twice!
  • Conservation efforts. If sea turtles hold a special place in your heart, you won’t want miss out on these opportunities. In addition to witnessing sea turtles nesting, guests also have the opportunities to patrol the beaches, and to help the researchers measure and tag sea turtles, and relocate nests to the sanctuary.
  • Educational walks. Judy will give you the grand tour of the beach. You have the opportunity to see the patrol huts, the hatchling sanctuary, and search for sea turtle tracks.

Judy taught us about poachers and how the conservation program at Rosalie Bay has had a lasting impact on the local community. Through education programs and eco tourism, poaching has drastically been reduced on the island, and awareness and conservation efforts have increased.

The first call came at 9:09PM. “There is a turtle on the beach, if you would like to head down.” I stirred my daughter (4.5 years old) from sleep, there is a turtle on the beach nesting, do you want to go? I have never seen her get out of bed so quickly. I loaded my sleeping baby into the baby carrier, my daughter into the stroller and we made our way across the resort. It was a dark night, the only light we saw was Simons red head lamp. We made our way across the beach, only to witness a massive leatherback turtle attempting to nest, she was close to the water, too close, and a wave ultimately came up and washed her nesting efforts away. She went back to sea. And we went back to bed.

The second call came at 2:50AM. “There is another turtle on the beach, were sending security to help you down.” We were the only guests to wake this time. It was the same turtle, she came back to try to nest again! She was still digging her hole when we arrived. She was able to dig her hole, and then into the trance she went, and she laid her eggs! It was the most incredible experience, we were able to touch her, and get up close and personal. The sea turtle was untagged, so we helped Simon measure & tag the turtle. The nest again was too close to the waters edge, so Simon and his team collected, recorded and relocated the eggs to the hatchery. We adopted her and named her Kiki!

Judy messages the parents of the adopted turtles updates. It is such a fun and educational way to continue to learn about sea turtles, and to keep the memory of our adventure living on.

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