VIRGIN ISLAND – EcoVolunteer holidays have become a popular way for travel lovers to see the world. Montserrat now has a new offering in this sector with Turtle Conservation.
According to Carolyne Coleby, she set up Turtle Conservation Montserrat last year in collaboration with local turtle expert John Jeffers MBE as a way for visitors to experience more on their holiday.
John Jeffers has been involved with turtle conservation on Montserrat for 36 years and received an MBE in 2013 for his outstanding work in this field.
“Turtle Conservation Montserrat provides volunteers with an opportunity to visit this unique island and learn about turtle conservation, from monitoring the turtles’ arrival to helping release hatchlings at the beach.
“A population of leatherback, loggerhead, hawksbill and green turtles visit on an annual basis, coming to the island to nest on its numerous beaches. Their arrival is closely monitored by volunteers and we have a hatchery on island where the eggs are taken to ensure protection of the eggs from where the hatchlings are taken for release at the beaches,” explains Coleby.
Volunteers will be able to learn from Jeffers and assist with monitoring, tagging and releasing the hatchlings.
Nesting generally starts around May and continues until the end of September. Hatchlings are released from September through to December. Incubation takes 75 days. Turtles take 10 years to reach maturity before they start producing eggs. The hatchery has proved very important for turtle conservation in Montserrat. To date, at the beginning of November 2014, over 3000 hatchlings have been released in Montserrat this season, 10% of which will survive, returning eventually to lay eggs in Montserrat. The hatchery has meant that there has been a 75% increase in hatchling survival rates in Montserrat as opposed to when the hatchlings were left to hatch on the beaches.
The turtles usually come in at night to nest and the hatchlings are released during the day. Volunteers will therefore be monitoring turtles arriving and nesting during the night, while releasing the hatchlings is done during the day.
The company offers vacation two-week vacation packages at a minimum and options to stay for longer periods. For anyone interested in turtle conservation on Montserrat contact Carolyne at firstname.lastname@example.org .