Dive into Conservation as St. Martin Celebrates World Turtle Day on May 23

Sea Turtles, photo courtesy of Réserve Naturelle, St. Martin

Jesson & Co / MNI Alive

Release Date

Tuesday, May 21, 2024


Turtle Facts

Three species of sea turtles lay their eggs in nests on certain beaches in St Martin. Leatherbacks, hawksbills and green turtles swim all over the Atlantic Ocean, following the currents as they feed, covering thousands of miles each year as they travel to and from their reproduction areas. Sea turtles lay between 80 and 120 eggs in each nest and may make three to eight nests a season. A few weeks later, usually at night, the babies hatch, dig their way up through the sand and instinctively make their way to the water. Sadly, hungry predators, such as gulls and other seabirds and crabs, await. Even when they reach the sea, only about one in a thousand hatchlings reach adulthood, not only victims of large fish but also accidents, pollution, fishers and poaching. Thirty years ago, the Réserve Naturelle was established on the French half of the island of St Martin, which has undoubtedly helped improve hatchlings’ chances with almost a dozen beaches under protection.

The Réserve Naturelle

Established in 1998 with a commitment to environmental conservation, the reserve spans 3,060 hectares and 11 km of coastline northeast of the island. The reserve has a mandate to safeguard the island's five main ecosystems: the coral reef, the mangroves, the phanerogam seagrass bed, and the ponds.

The reserve actively monitors and safeguards sea turtle activity and is a key participant in regional networks and meetings, providing the coordination of conservation efforts in the French territories. In 2023, the Réserve Naturelle made a significant stride by playing a pivotal role in the national action plan for sea turtle preservation in the French Antilles. How? St. Martin surveyed the beach weekly for turtle tracking and nests, enabling the reserve to learn about nesting patterns on the island and report them back to others. 

Safety on the Sands

Sea Turtles on Beach

Sea Turtles on Beach, photo courtesy of Réserve Naturelle, St. Martin Facebook

The beaches of Saint Martin feature turtle sites where turtles can safely nest. Highlighting the collaborative effort of local organizations and volunteers, locals work hard to monitor predators and human disturbances, ensuring more baby turtles make it safely to the water.

If you’re visiting St. Martin during nesting season (which lasts until November), here are a few turtle-friendly tips: keep your distance, use red lights instead of flashlights at night, and follow the guidance of local conservation groups. Happy World Turtle Day!

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