Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Every tourist that visits Roatan looks forward to seeing turtles while diving or snorkeling. Unfortunately, not everyone sees these beautiful creatures as a thing to admire, but rather as a source of food or material for jewelry. Sea turtles worldwide continue to be hunted even though all seven species are listed as endangered or critically endangered. In the Sandy Bay West End Marine Reserve, people have the great fortune to see turtles on an almost daily basis. The green turtles and hawksbill's are so abundant in the Reserve that more than 5 turtles may be encountered on a single dive or snorkel. Outside the Reserve, the turtle populations are less prolific as these graceful marine reptiles continue to be hunted for food even though their meat sells for a measly $2 per pound. Many don’t realize a single turtle can generate several thousand dollars a year from tourism revenue. What’s better, a continuous stream of income from a live turtle or $20 in meat?
Before the Roatan Marine Park began patrols between the airport and Oak Ridge, a diver was extremely fortunate to see a turtle during their stay. Now, through continuous patrols, divers have noticed an evident increase in the turtle population along Roatan’s southern shores. While the Sandy Bay West End Marine Reserve patrols as much of the island as possible, with over 80 miles of coastline, it’s impossible to monitor all the surrounding waters.Photo of the Week...
The photo above is of a huge adult Loggerhead turtle that washed ashore in Sandy Bay at Roatan Beach Front. The turtle had been shot in the side and the entry and exit hole were clearly visible on its shell. This was by an experienced poacher in that the shot was meant to go through the lungs so the turtle could not gulp air and dive into the deep. Thus, crippling the turtle so it could be dragged by a rope to shallower waters.
Why, when, and where this crime against nature occurred, will sadly never be answered. The culprits will go unpunished for this needless death. Through continuous patrolling around the island, raising awareness in the communities, and changing the perspectives of those that still hunt these turtles, we can try to protect these gentle creatures of the seas.
I couldn't afford to learn it," said the Mock Turtle with a sigh.