Unite BVI believes in partnering with our neighbouring countries, local community and experts in the field to protect endangered species of sea turtles from going extinct.
Of the seven species of marine turtles in the world, six are internationally classified as endangered. The BVI is home to four of these species of turtles: The Hawksbill, which is classified as ‘Critically Endangered’, the Leatherback and the Green, which are classified as ‘Endangered’ and the Loggerhead which is recognized as ‘Threatened’. This is mostly down to human activity. Loss of habitat, hurricanes, boating accidents, predators - including humans! The BVI still allows for an open, legal hunting season where turtles - even the one’s classified as critically endangered - can legally be hunted and killed. Only 1 in 1000 sea turtle hatchlings survive into adulthood, those are pretty worrying statistics. And marine turtles will only lay eggs on the one, specific beach that they themselves were hatched on. We are so fortunate that three of the four species of turtles that roam BVI waters also lay their eggs on BVI beaches!
We have a tremendous responsibility to protect their habitat and to protect these incredible harmless and vulnerable animals themselves. Our neighbors in St. Vincent & The Grenadines just recently outlawed the hunting of sea turtles through a locally-lead education and advocacy campaign called ‘No Extinction in my Generation’. We applaud their forward thinking efforts and hope to share a similar story of progressive environmental stewardship in the year to come! If we don’t intervene quickly and carefully sea turtles could become extinct! On Necker Island Turtle Beach is a protected area which has happily become a favourite nesting and breeding site for local turtles.
We collaborated with several partners to host a conference about sargassum seaweed in 2016. This brown algae builds up on the shores and makes it difficult for turtles to reach the beach to nest, or for their hatchlings to reach the ocean. People attending the event included ministerial delegates from the wider Caribbean area. Richard and Unite BVI Foundation challenged each of the delegates to return to their countries and lobby for the protection of marine turtles.
We have partnered with local beauty queens, basketball players, artists, authors, community activists and expert scientists, ocean conservation activists and politicians in the Caribbean region to raise awareness about how critical it is that we protect sea turtles so that future generations may be able to enjoy them. It's crazy to think they have been around since the time of the dinosaurs and yet in humans relatively short existence on this planet we have brought these magestic animals to the brink of extinction. We hope that my empowering those that care locally with the 'No Extinction in my Generation", modeled after the sucess of St. Vincent and the Grenadines', will compel our legislators and politicians to legally fully protect these incredly deserving and most vulnerable animals.