Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire’s mission is to ensure the protection and recovery of Bonaire’s sea turtle populations throughout their range.
Three species of sea turtles are regularly found in the waters of Bonaire. They are: the hawksbill, the green, and the loggerhead. The hawksbill is classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a “critically endangered” species throughout its global range. The green and loggerhead are classified as “endangered”.
Throughout their life cycle, sea turtles live in a variety of habitats often encompassing several different nations (Range States). Adult turtles typically make long-range migrations between breeding and foraging grounds, presenting great challenges to conservation efforts concerning these animals. Understanding the extent of breeding turtle migration allows for more targeted conservation approaches on the identified foraging grounds and migratory pathways.
Since the launch of its sea turtle tracking program in 2003, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) has seen the existence of huge public interest in the plight of sea turtles and their migration voyages. By showcasing the turtles’ migratory behaviour and simultaneously educating the public about the plight of sea turtles, we have been able to build local capacity for performing sea turtle conservation projects.
To add to our knowledge of migratory patterns of Bonaire’s sea turtle population; to enhance local and international interest in, and knowledge of, sea turtle biology and conservation needs and threats; to enhance local involvement, particularly with school-aged children in conservation activities; and to identify Range State nations and develop strategies for partnering to enhance conservation efforts.
Deployment of satellite transmitter as well as regular mapping of turtles locations and generation of Satellite Tracking Updates
We might not locate a breeding turtle for placement of the transmitter. Sometimes weather, staff and/or equipment availability have made it difficult to locate a turtle for a transmitter. This could happen over the nesting season, though we have had success placing transmitters for 6 years.
The transmitter could malfunction after it is deployed. We have the experience of having deployed 15 transmitters to date. Only 1 malfunctioned immediately. In that case we had a spare to use and were able to put a transmitter on another turtle. In this case, we could share the information gathered from the 2nd turtle that we expect to track in 2009.
The transmitter could stop transmitting during the migration. This has happened late in the migration only 3 times, and we were able to provide sufficient updates and sense of migration direction to call it still a successful project.
The staff or volunteer designated to produce reports could become unavailable. We have sufficient staff and volunteers that we have cross trained that we can pass the work on to someone else.
From the tracking data, we will determine the sea turtle’s migration route, foraging grounds, and thus its Range State nations. We will increase our database of migration and foraging grounds for Bonaire sea turtles. We will produce regular tracking information updates for the general public, on our website, and for Pifworld users that will include general information about sea turtle biology and conservation needs and threats. We expect to see continued interest and involvement from the local community in sea turtle conservation projects.