Turtle Tracks

Growing up in Barbados in the 1960s and 70s, my sisters and I snorkeled regularly but we were never aware of turtles. It wasn’t until I had my own children that they became a part of our lives. The Barbados Sea Turtle Project (BSTP), based at the University of the West Indies, played a big part in the change. For over 25 years their volunteers have been involved in the conservation of endangered turtles, monitoring the adults and juveniles that feed around the island, the females that nest on our beaches, and their hatchlings. During nesting and hatching season, their hotline rings often with concerned turtle lovers reporting nest sightings or requesting help, as they try to gather up some 150 hatchlings scampering through a hotel reception! Over the years, our family has seen numerous hawksbills lay their eggs and watched nests of sandy hatchlings emerge from below the beach. Many visitors too are lucky enough to witness both phenomena.

My husband and I run Best of Barbados Gift Shops, our family business, with five locations on the island, selling my turtle art and turtle giftware designs. Our staff interacts with many visitors who have either swum with turtles or seen them nest or hatch, but we realized that not many have seen turtles themselves. So, one evening we took a small group with their children to see a BSTP hatchlings release. We excitedly gathered at dusk to see the bucket of 100 wriggling baby turtles tipped onto the beach and quickly make their way to the sea. They had emerged too early in the day, and this was the safest time to set out on their big adventure. As we watched them negotiate the breaking waves, we were filled with a sense of wonder. How many would make it back as adults? I went home thinking, “We should be selling a children’s book on turtles!” It was to be the start of my first book, Turtle Tracks.

Sue Trew

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