Don’t sit on the turtles
…the leatherbacks are national treasures, says Agriculture Minister
Do not sit on the backs of leatherback turtles.
That is the warning of Minister of Agriculture, Land and Marine Affairs Clarence Rambharat as the turtle’s nesting season approaches.
Rambharat said Trinidad and Tobago was fortune to have turtles come to the island for nesting and they should be protected.
Speaking at the Nature Seekers’ Annual Beach Clean Up in Mathura at the weekend, Rambharat said, “We do not want people riding the backs of the turtles, rather we should enjoy them as we are very fortunate to have this treasure here”.
Over the years, photographs have appeared online showing people sitting on the leatherbacks when they come ashore to pay eggs. These people have been shamed online. There is even an photograph dating to 1943 showing US marines on Trinidad’s east coast doing the same.
Rambharat appealed to visitors to ‘do things the right way’. He advised that they use the services of guides who are trained and registered and ensure that they have a permit to be present in the protected areas.
Rambharat said citizens should take an active role by helping to clean up the beaches in preparation for the nesting season.
He said residents should lead clean-up campaigns in Mathura and other areas along the east coast.
Rambharat said it was “extremely important” to preserve the leatherback turtles.
A highlight of the day’s activities included a Sand Turtle competition, which saw some 15 teams participating, with the first prize being awarded to Trinidad and Tobago Youth Ambassadors. The almost two thousand volunteers saw youth involvement from schools and youth clubs including Pathfinders, ASJA Girls, YTEPP, QRC Boys Scouts, Trinidad Sea Scouts, Rotaract Club, Earth Heroes, and many more.
Other participating organisations included the Turtle Village Trust, Environmental Management Authority, Institute of Marine Affairs, among others.
Nature Seekers’ 2017 theme is ‘nature is everyone’s responsibility’ and the annual clean up sought to create an opportunity to inspire a new generation of thinkers and doers of our society to connect with nature and take action to support environmental conservation.