Turtles love St. Croix! Every year from April through September, sea turtles lumber ashore to lay their eggs on just about every beach on the island. A few weeks after the mother leaves the nest, dozens of baby sea turtles hatch from their shells and make a break for the sea, to live the rest of their lives out in the ocean. Turtle season on St. Croix is a rare opportunity to witness the life cycle of these amazing creatures.
Leatherbacks, hawksbills and green turtles all live in the Caribbean, and St. Croix is one of their common nesting grounds. If you’re on St. Croix this summer, it’s easy to join in local efforts to protect sea turtles and watch the beaches for nesting or hatching activity.
Turtlewatch with SEA
The St. Croix Environmental Association (SEA) offers its members a chance to go on a turtlewatching trip with marine biologist and educator Jen Valiulis. Once you join the organization, be sure to sign up right away—space goes fast.
Upcoming 2017 Dates
June 29 – Leatherback Hatchling Watch 5:15 p.m.
July 26 – Leatherback Hatchling Watch 5:15 p.m.
These dates are only available to SEA members. Join for as low as $35 per person and get yourself on a future turtlewatch. Use this membership application and email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 340-773-1989.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offers the Sandy Point Turtlewatch program to St. Croix community groups and youth groups. Groups must have at least 15 and no more than 30 participants. This program runs five nights each week (Tuesday through Saturday) from April 15 through July 31.
To schedule turtlewatching for a group, use this link or call 340-690-9452. If you have any questions about the program, you can email email@example.com.
If You See a Turtle in Distress
If you see a turtle struggling, stuck in the brush, acting strangely, injured or on a road, it’s important to call someone who is familiar with the species and is equipped to give it proper help. On St. Croix, those people to call are the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rescue (STAR) network. This group of dedicated volunteers are “on call” to assist with reports of sea turtles in distress. You can reach them at 340-690-0474.
Protecting Sea Turtles
All sea turtles are classified as either threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. There are serious penalties for harassing, harming, capturing or collecting sea turtles or their eggs. When it’s turtle season on St. Croix (and all year round), you can do your part to protect these wondrous animals by keeping in mind a few common-sense guidelines from GoToStCroix.com:
• If you encounter a dead sea turtle or a live, debilitated turtle, please call STAR at 340-690-0474;
• Report any suspicious or criminal activities related to sea turtles to STAR or the Virgin Islands Police Department at 911;
• Operate boats at safe and responsible speeds;
• Always keep dogs on a leash when on a beach;
• Keep beaches clean by disposing of trash properly;
• Turn off lights close to beaches to avoid disorientating nesting sea turtles and hatchlings; and,
• If you encounter a nesting sea turtle, keep your distance, turn off all lights and do not disturb.
Turtle season on St. Croix is a special time to witness the wonders of nature. Summer is a great time to bring your entire family to the island for fun and awe-inspiring environmental education!