Having held a scaled back version these past couple of years of the much-loved annual Turtle Release during Pirate’s Fest, Cayman Turtle Conservation and Education Centre (CTCEC) was happy to be able to bring back the full-scale event this year, much to the delight of those who watched this wonderful spectacle.
Taking place on Friday 18th November, five yearling Green sea turtles were released into the wild at Governor’s Beach, having been carefully nurtured at CTCEC’s facility to ensure they had the best possible start in life. These head-started turtles had all been raised to two years old before being released at a size that would give them a better chance of survival in the wild.
One of the turtles had a little bit more help along the way, having been sponsored by CUC and being named Solar, while one was released by Miss World Cayman Islands, Leanni Tibbetts, and named Twotter in honour of female pilots and Cayman Airways’ twin otter plane. Another was released by a group of students from Montessori by The Sea, including 8-year-old Shrubbhavi Choudhary who recently won an art competition held by the Centre. As part of the prize, a small group from her class were able to help name and release a turtle. Shrubbhavi named her turtle Lily. The other two turtles were released by lucky winners who were selected from the audience.
CTCEC’s Education Programmes Officer, Ms. Shona McGill, gave an educational talk before the turtles were released to the appreciative audience who had gathered to view the magical sight of the turtles making their way home. The event is a particular draw for youngsters and their families and is therefore an important way to help educate young people early on about the importance of conservation within our Islands.
Cayman Turtle Conservation and Education Centre’s Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Christopher Jackson, said the event marked an important milestone for the Centre.
“The Turtle Release during Pirate’s Fest (Pirate’s Week, as it was known) has been a highlight for decades, not only in the Centre’s calendar, but for many residents and visitors also.” Mr. Jackson said.
“Now that our Islands have returned to normal since the pandemic, we are so pleased to be back to a full scale in-person interactive event that can be enjoyed by both local spectators and international visitors.”
Mr Jackson added that the release was part of a broader conservation programme spearheaded by CTCEC that has helped to bring the Green sea turtle back from the brink of extinction in the Cayman Islands.
“We have seen the numbers of nesting turtles rising significantly over the last two decades, the majority of which having been related to turtles released by our Centre. Since our release programmes began in 1980, we have now released more than 34,000 turtles into the wild.” he said.