To protect sea turtles during nesting season, Nature Foundation announces ban on beach bonfires

POSTED: 08/5/14 11:18 PM

St. Maarten – The Nature Foundation, with the support of the fire department, is warning not to light beach bonfires on beaches during the sea turtle nesting season. The fire department for some two years has restricted the issuing of permits for beach bonfires during the turtle nesting season. The ban on beach bonfires is for the important sea turtle nesting beaches which include Simpson Bay Beach, Guana Bay Beach, Great Bay Beach and Gibbs Bay. “It is important that on these nesting beaches, the source of light is known to modify sea turtles behavior. It can even discourage egg-bearing females from coming ashore to nest. Bonfires and/or beach front lighting can strongly affect sea turtle hatchlings by luring them inland and away from the sea. Here is where they can succumb to predators, dehydration and other hazards. Therefore, the Fire Department will closely monitor the applications for beach bonfires and their use on local beaches,” stated Nature Foundation sea turtle intern Soraya de la Fuente.

Due to human impact, the population has plummeted to low numbers throughout the past century. Because of this, many species have been listed as critically endangered and causing them to be nearly extinct. To reverse this trend, all sea turtles species are now protected by international laws and treaties as well as local laws. This means that it is illegal to kill, wound, capture or pick-up sea turtles. It is therefore forbidden to disturb damage or destroy sea turtles nest, lairs or breeding grounds.

The Foundation also relies on volunteers to assist in monitoring the sea turtles.  Anyone and everyone are welcome to volunteer. In order to have another great turtle nesting season, the Nature Foundation is asking the public to not have any bonfires on the above mentioned beaches, not to drive on the nesting beaches and to walk their dogs on a leash. Should you notice any nesting activity or illegal activity, do not hesitate to contact the Sea Turtle Hotline 9229 or the Sint Maarten Nature Foundation office at 544-4267 or send an email


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