By Steve Thomas

Observer Nevis Editor

(Charlestown, Nevis) – Sea turtles have been around since long before recorded history. Now their friends – who help them – are getting some help from some other friends.

The Nevis Turtle Group has received a UK5,000 pounds donation from the Rufford Small Grants Foundation, NTG president Emile Pemberton announced.

The money will be used to help the group pay for conservation activities and various public education efforts, Mr. Pemberton said.

The NTG has been around since 2002. It has ranged in size from six members to 20, with its size often depending on student participation.

“Last year the numbers went down, so we’re glad to see them back up,” he said. The group also accepts junior members from 8-14 years old.

Mr. Pemberton is passionate about what needs to be done to assist the hawksbill turtles, green turtles and leatherback turtles that live in the surrounding seas and nest on our beaches.

“In Nevis, we are not big on conservation. The sea turtle is a flagship species. We’re trying to get people to (help) conserve them. Everybody likes sea turtles,” he said. “If we can get people to think about it, we might succeed.”

Unfortunately, some people like sea turtles for less noble reasons.

“Some turtles are poached for food and sold at small restaurants on St. Kitts and Nevis,” he said. “We also have a problem with people poaching their eggs” as well as nature’s predators getting to the unborn turtles, he said.

Especially during the prime nesting months of July, August, September and October, NTG members go to beaches at night to help protect eggs.

“You should never interfere with a nesting turtle,” Mr. Pemberton said. “You should never interfere with a nesting turtle or its eggs.”

According to Mr. Pemberton, the prime sea turtle nesting locations are Lovers Beach, Jones Bay Beach and Cades Bay Beach.

The group also tags turtles to track their migratory paths. To date, the group has tagged over 100.

Two of the turtles have been identified off Nicaragua, one off St. Barts and one near Montserrat.

Some of the grant money will be used for tagging supplies. It will also be used for producing educational materials and Mr. Pemberton hopes to make a video about the sea turtles.

In addition, a portion of the funds will be used to buy meals for volunteers who work the beaches at night to protect the turtles and gasoline for transportation.

“If you want to help, we’ll get you there,” Mr. Pemberton said.

To get involved with NTG, call Mr. Pemberton at 665-1814 or e-mail mugabe@hotmail.com or nevisturtle@yahoo.co.uk