Turtles rub shells with the rich and famous; Seychelles’ North Island sees turtle boom
North island, a high-end luxury destination, is not only popular among the rich and famous but the turtles also appear to like it as a nesting place. (North Island)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles’ North Island is not only a favored destination for the rich and famous. Sea turtles are also showing up in increasing numbers.
The number of green and hawksbill turtles counted on the island have been high in recent years, according to counts in 2014 and 2015 respectively, said Tarryn Retief, the conservation manager on the island.
North Island, which lies 27 kilometres from the most populated island of Mahe, received the World Travel Award for the leading green resort in the Indian Ocean in 2014.
|Beaches on North island are monitored daily for turtle activity by the island's conservation team. (North Island) Photo License: All Rights Reserved|
The island is referred to as the ‘laboratories of evolution,' has an environmental team and is one of the highly conservation-oriented islands of the Seychelles archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
The island is known as a high-end luxury destination. And the turtles appear to like it too.
“Overall, the trends of the North Island data set show an increase in nesting females over the last 10 years for both species,” says Retief.
The increase could be a result of the conservation efforts made in the last few decades that have allowed sea turtles to reach maturity and to come back and nest.
|Data collected on the turtles that nest on North island are analysed on a yearly basis by the island's conservation team. (North Island) Photo License: All Rights Reserved|
Estimating the number of sea turtles that use the pristine and deserted beaches of North Island is a difficult task for the conservation team on the island of 497 acres.
“Not all female turtles which come on land are successful in laying eggs as they may encounter difficulties such as debris on the beach, rocks, etc. Most females, however, lay multiple clutches per season with an average of three to four nests,” said Retief.
The island’s conservation manager says that all of these difficulties are factored in when collecting data.
|Green and hawksbill turtles are the two species that use Seychelles as nesting grounds. the hope for more turtles nesting on North island lies in the fact that the same hatchlings born on the island are expected to come back to nest where they hatched when they reach adulthood.(North Island) Photo License: All Rights Reserved|
North Island started its turtle monitoring programmes in 1998, in which every beach is monitored daily for turtle activity. The data are then analysed on a yearly basis.
“Not all female turtles breed every year and because of this, we must continue to protect and monitor every single turtle that comes on the island,” said Retief.
She adds that while the numbers of turtles using the beaches of North Island may not be very high, it is still a significant number for a small inner island of the Seychelles.
In 30 to 40 years, these same hatchlings born on North Island, are expected to reach adulthood and start nesting where they hatched.
Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, provides feeding grounds for five species of marine turtles, although the islands are nesting grounds for only two species -- the hawksbill and green turtles.