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Spectators Gather for Annual Pirates Week Turtle Release

Local News 27 Nov, 2023 Follow News

Spectators Gather for Annual Pirates Week Turtle Release

The Cayman Turtle Conservation and Education Centre (CTCEC) joyfully welcomed spectators to its annual Turtle Release during Pirates Week.

On Friday, 17th 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.

Two turtles received extra support on their journey. One, sponsored by CUC, was named BESS, while the other, sponsored by Reliable Industries, was named Smitty. Another turtle, named Christopher, was released by students from Cayman Prep and High School who won the opportunity through a turtle quiz distributed to local schools. The remaining two turtles, Geddes and Caymanite, were released by CTCEC staff, with names chosen from the audience.

Before the turtles embarked on their journey, Ms. Shona McGill, CTCEC’s Education Programmes Officer, provided an educational talk to the appreciative audience gathered to witness the magical sight of the turtles heading home. This event, a particular attraction for youngsters and their families, serves as a crucial means of early education about the importance of conservation in the Cayman Islands.

Dr. Walter Mustin, CTCEC’s Chief Research & Conservation Officer, emphasised that the Pirates Week releases showcase the Cayman Turtle Centre’s historical contribution to the Green sea turtle population over the past 40 years.

“Over 36,000 turtles have been released to date. A collaborative international research study has shown that over 90% of wild green turtles currently nesting on Cayman beaches are genetically related to turtles bred and released from the Cayman Turtle Centre,” he said.

Dr. Mustin added that this release, a favourite among both locals and international guests, is part of a broader conservation programme led by CTCEC, contributing significantly to bringing the Green sea turtle back from the brink of extinction in the Cayman Islands.

He noted, “Public releases allow CTCEC’ s expert educational officers an opportunity to highlight the continued risks green turtles face like habitat loss, illegal poaching, ocean plastic pollution, and the need for turtle-friendly lighting.”

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