Return of the turtles

Return of the turtles At some time after 10pm on Monday, August 1, a loggerhead turtle crawled out of the water and headed slowly up the beach, to the awe of beach-goers lucky enough to be present.

Zhangjiajie ivermectin for animals Nature Trust Malta was contacted and NTM volunteers on duty rushed to the site in time to witness the loggerhead turtle digging a nest and laying her eggs. The turtle nest is being monitored around the clock through a joint effort between NTM, the Environment and Resources Authority, volunteers and the park manager from Majjistral Park. Nesting turtles once had no trouble finding a quiet, dark beach for laying eggs. Barriers with protective netting to keep out rats and dogs had to be set up around the nest with a gazebo nearby to provide volunteers with some shelter from the blazing sun. Response from the public to appeals for help to guard the turtle nest has been “overwhelming” according to NTM turtle watch co-ordinator Karen Goode.

bally's casino “As the weeks go by and people return to their work or family commitments (after the summer shutdown) it is sometimes difficult to fill all shifts but we are fully covering our 12-hour commitment each day. We have had NTM members and supporters stepping up to do shifts, members of the public, employees under corporate schemes and members of our rescue team standing in.”

“The volunteers have been absolutely amazing. Some of them are taking several buses to arrive at the beach, some doing multiple shifts per week in the August heat, and all with a smile. Feedback from beach users about the volunteers has been very positive. We’re really grateful for all the hours they are giving and very proud of them.”

The fact that there was a turtle nesting will benefit the beach. It is also important that the authorities realise this as it can help eco-tourism

Before volunteers are allowed to guard the nest they are asked to provide their full personal details – ID number, phone number and so forth.

“This is required because they are  required to guard the eggs of a protected and endangered species.”

Nature Trust makes sure that all volunteers are familiar with rules and regulations set out by the environment authority and any updates on the turtle nest are sent to them by e-mail.

“Response from the general public, both locals and tourists, has been fantastic. We provide our volunteers with information regarding the nesting and about turtles generally and with a slant to raising awareness among the public.”

There has been a lot of interest from tourists who come to see the nest site and ask about the turtles. Some even offered to volunteer a few days of their time.

“Our volunteers are encouraged to chat with beach users showing an interest in our work there and, in fact, the volunteers are reporting back that they thoroughly enjoy this aspect of their duties.”

The night shift, from 6pm to 6am, is fully covered by ERA and government security personnel.

As Golden Bay is now a Blue Flag beach, no dogs are allowed except guide dogs. However, it is not the job of the ERA or Nature Trust to police the whole beach but the duty of Malta Tourism Authority beach supervisors.

Golden Bay beach was finally awarded Blue Flag status this year after a restaurant built illegally on dune remnants was relocated to the side of the beach after a 10-year wait. As Karen Goode points out, the Blue Flag scheme provides an eco-label that promotes environmental protection and sustainable development:

“The fact that there was a turtle nesting will benefit the beach. It is also important that the authorities realise this as it can help eco-tourism.

Speaking on behalf of ERA, national affairs officer Claire Borg Cardona said that the authority had already issued instructions to the local council, Malta Police Force and the Planning Authority so as to afford the best possible protection to the turtle nest.

The destruction of eggs or the taking of eggs from the wild also constitutes a criminal offence. The local Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations administered by ERA impose a minimum fine of nearly €500, going up to nearly €2,400 for each egg that may be destroyed or taken from the wild.

Any activities involving the use of electricity generators, playing of music or generation of loud music or vibrations is not allowed near the turtle nest. Beach volleyball, football or other organised sports activity is not to take place within 30 metres of the cordoned-off area. Local councils must notify the environment authority of any activities planned on the beach while the turtle eggs are there.

Further instructions may be issued closer to the hatching period during which ERA shall also be increasing its watch over the turtle nest.

The ERA is available on a 24-hour basis for the public to report environmental matters on 2292 3500 during office hours or after office hours for emergencies on 9921 0404.