Monday, 2 June 2014

Let the 2014 Nesting Season Begin!!!

It's that time of year again! When critically endangered female hawksbill sea turtles drag themselves up Pasture Bay Beach to deposit eggs and two brave soles lead a vampire-like existence for five months in an attempt to document the phenomenon.

In honor of the official beginning of the season, we're taking it back to basics. Here's a refresher on the history and aim of the project as well as some fun facts about hawksbill turtles:

  • The Jumby Bay Hawksbill Project is the longest running sea turtle conservation program monitoring hawksbill turtles in the world. Through the efforts of James Richardson of UGA and John Fuller of Antigua, the project began in 1987. For those of you who have seen Pasture Bay Beach in person, you know that it is not a very large beach. However, it is a hugely important hawksbill rookery. 
  • Every year from June to November, a field team monitors Pasture Bay from dawn to dusk seven days a week. We are a saturation tagging project, meaning that every successfully nesting hawksbill that comes ashore is identified and measured/sampled.
  •  Hawksbill turtles have a hawk-like beak that they use to chomp sponge off of coral reef to eat (which is crazy, because sponge is made up of glass-like spicules). They are one of the smaller bodied sea turtle species, ranging from around 85 to 130lbs. Females nest anywhere from three to six times in one season, depositing an average of 150 eggs in each nest. That may seem like a lot of babies (or hatchlings), but it's estimated that only one in 1,000 hatchlings will survive to reach sexual maturity (around 15 to 30 years) and the females do not nest in consecutive years.
For more information about hawksbill sea turtles, check out the Biology page of the project website (

Let's hope we have another successful and busy season!