Having a close encounter with sea turtles is an amazing experience, like meeting a prehistoric animal. In fact these creatures lived at the same time as dinosaurs, 100 million years ago. They survived the glacial era, yet today’s relentless destruction of turtles and their habitat may bring the species to a fast extinction. There is much we can do to prevent this dramatic process. Helping mother turtles to nest safely and protecting their nests and hatchlings is essential for their population to survive the odds against them and for maintaining the balance of the marine ecosystem.
Critically Endangered Hawksbill and Leatherback turtles nest on the beaches of Carriacou island, in the Grenadines. Human impacts affecting our sea turtles include: loss of suitable nesting beaches due to development and sand mining, accidental and targeted capture of turtles, poaching of nesting turtles and eggs.
Our ongoing Kido Nesting Sea Turtle Monitoring & Tagging program started in 2002. It is part of Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) and is assisted by UWI Department of Biology specialists. During these 12 years, the presence of Kido Turtle Teams on nesting beaches discouraged the practice of illegal collection of turtle eggs. We never had confrontations with egg collectors and in fact we know that many consumers gave up eating turtle eggs altogether.
Rescue & Release Operations
In the State of Grenada the sea turtle hunting season is closed from May 1st to August 31st, leaving eight months of legal turtle fishing activities. This is the longest “open season” in the world and the pressure put on the seasonal foraging and nesting sea turtle population is enormous. Only the critically endangered Leatherback and all turtle eggs are legally protected, but the enforcement of this legislation is difficult to implement. Occasionally, huge Leatherbacks get helplessly entangled in fishermen nets between March-April, infamously ending their ocean wide journey just before reaching their nesting sites, the beaches of Grenada & the Grenadines. Because the very short ‘closed season’ does not cover effectively the true nesting season of our turtles, many of the catches are nesting turtles that roam along the coastal waters. This severely impacts the numbers of the nesting populations of sea turtles in Grenada and the Grenadines.
Kido began Rescue & Release operations of captured sea turtles in 2002. During the open hunting turtle period, from September 1st to April 30th, a number of turtles caught alive in nets by fishermen are purchased by Kido, measured, tagged and released with the agreement that, if caught again by the fishermen, they are to be released cost free. After tagging & measuring, the animal is released in a safe deep-sea area with no nets in sight, often with the help of Lumbadive staff and within the Carriacou Marine Protected Area.
Kido Rescue Team is conscious not to foster any increase of the local turtle hunt demand. To regulate the turtle purchases, we operate only with fishermen who catch turtles with their nets as part of their traditional livelihood or have by-catch turtles in their fishing nets. It is our experience that, were we not to buy off the live turtles, these would be left to suffer greatly, slaughtered or sent to mainland Grenada alive, on their back, for their final destination in St. George’s fish market, enduring much cruel suffering for several days.
To date we successfully rescued, tagged & released (from the pot) 326 sea turtles.
This program is financed by Kido mainly through private personal donations.
“Adopt a Sea Turtle “ as a present to your family & friends.
You receive a Certificate of Adoption with photos of the adopted one and we will keep you informed if we encounter your turtle again, on the sea or nesting.
Kido views its Rescue & Release program as a temporary alleviation of sea turtle population decline until a moratorium on sea turtle hunting is approved by the Government of Grenada.
Watch the video below of a leatherback rescue: