Those living in Belize know only too well that the countryÂs marine life brings a lot of tourism to the island. Now, the Hol Chan Marine Reserve has released some positive figures for the number of turtles that nested on Ambergris Caye in 2013, indicating that population numbers are gaining.
Turtles are protected across much of the world, and for divers, they are a spectacular creature to be safeguarded. The Hol Chan Marine Reserve does a lot to conserve turtles, and the latest figures showed that the northern point of the island was host to the largest collection of nests in years. Unfortunately, however, the hatching rate was down by 11%. This is suspected to be caused by bad weather and sea surges up the beaches, damaging eggs in the process and meaning that turtles could not develop.
Turtles nested on Ambergris Caye between mid-May and November 2013, with the Green Turtle, the Loggerhead Turtle and the Hawksbill Turtle all coming ashore to lay their eggs. Â The majority of nests were located near Rocky Point and Robles Point beaches, though a few scattered nests were found further afield. For example, one Loggerhead nest was found on a private property just four miles from San Pedro Town, whilst another three were located near Basil Jones.
Overall, the nesting season saw a total of 96 nests, with a few others thought to have not been located. Sixty-two nests were located on Robles beach, whilst 30 were discovered at Rocky Point. However, as previously reported, the hatching success was down.
Hol Chan Marine ReserveÂs publication stated: ÂThere was a decrease in hatching success which went from 63% in 2012 to 54.9%, and emergence success remains stable at 49%. The majority of eggs, 49% hatched and hatchlings emerged from the nests on their own successfully. Â 32.7% of the eggs that were laid at all nesting sites remained undeveloped.Â
In addition, 9.2% of the eggs that were laid did develop, with the turtle dying sometime before emerging.
Overall, however, there is cause for optimism as although many eggs didnÂt hatch, the overall number of female turtles had increased. This gives the hope that in years to come, when weather may be more favorable, a greater number of hatchlings will survive and make their way into the sea.
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