During our most recent trip to Four Seasons Resort Nevis, we had fantastic timing as our stay coincided with the resort’s Sea Turtle Conservancy Weekend. This once a year special event is the result of a partnership between Four Seasons Resort Nevis and the Sea Turtle Conservancy. Four Seasons Resort Nevis’ eighth annual Sea Turtle Conservancy Weekend took place from July 18-21. The event serves as an opportunity to increase awareness about sea turtles through fun and educational events that delight both children and adults. Tom and I weren’t aware that the Hawksbill turtle has been on the endangered species list since 1996. Thanks to great effort by groups such as the Sea Turtle Conservancy and Four Seasons Resort Nevis, the word is getting out! Sea Turtles nest in the Caribbean from June through October. We learned that during the nesting season, hawksbill turtles nest approximately 3-6 times. What this means is that during the nighttime hours, turtles emerge from the ocean and crawl up the beach to lay eggs. They do so under the cover of darkness on a quiet beach to ensure a safe nesting location that will be undisturbed. During the weekend, Tom and I had the privilege to go on a nighttime turtle walk with Dan from the Sea Turtle Conservancy, and Four Seasons representatives Nick Sciammarella and Camilla Stahl. We left the resort at approximately 9PM and drove 5 minutes north to Jones Beach. At the beach, we quietly walked across the sand using a special red light, so as to not distract possible turtles from coming to land. Dan, Nick, and Camilla are seasoned turtle track spotters and saw a few older tracks. These were marked off as being older. After our roundtrip walk, we all sat quietly on the beach, enjoying the solitude and beautiful surroundings. The stars, moon, and ocean were breathtaking. Although we live outside of a major city, Tom and I were still astonished by the beauty and brilliance of the sky and sea. We made the walk down the beach several more times. But alas, Tom and I didn’t spot a sea turtle that evening. However, the night was beautiful and the experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity for us. That night, a turtle was sighted at another beach. Although we weren’t there, we were told that when a turtle is sighted, it is monitored while the nest is dug and the eggs are laid. When the turtle is done nesting and begins to make her way back to the sea, she is guided into a large turtle-safe box and carefully transported back to the resort to be prepared for the “turtle release”. The turtle release takes place at Four Seasons Resort Nevis the subsequent morning. The secured turtle becomes a participant in the Sea Turtle Conservancy’s interactive educational event “Tour de Turtles”, where anyone can follow the turtles’ migrations online. Each turtle has a GPS monitor attached to its’ shell. As the turtle grows, the monitor eventually is shed. Typically, the monitors remain attached for up to two years. When the turtle surfaces from beneath the water, the location is detected. Each turtle participant’s location can be examined. This allows researchers to learn more about migration and nesting patterns. And it is a fun tool for people like Tom and me to see where “our” Nevis turtles are located. During the weekend event, Four Seasons Resort Nevis sponsored two turtles for participation in the Tour de Turtles. The first turtle released was Coco. Looking on the Sea Turtle Conservancy’s website, she is now located just north of St. Eustatius. A second turtle, Sugar, was released two mornings later. Sugar seems to be enjoying Nevis and is currently just north of the island.
In addition to the nighttime turtle walks and the morning turtle releases, Four Seasons Resort Nevis and the Sea Turtle Conservancy sponsored a one day camp open to resort guests and Nevisian children. The camp was a fun and educational event. Tom and I enjoyed watching the children and their parents participate in interactive activities, including a scavenger hunt throughout the resort. Thanks to the work of organizations such as Four Seasons Resort Nevis and the Sea Turtle Conservancy, more people are becoming aware of the endangerment of sea turtles.