The growing rat and mongoose population in St John coupled with the inconsiderate actions of residents are creating havoc for sea turtles that go to that part of the island to nest, said Minister of the Environment and National Beautification Adrian Forde.
He told Parliament the populations of the endangered Green sea turtle, Hawksbill and Leatherback turtles have been dwindling in recent times as a result of these problems.
Forde said his ministry started a programme aimed at controlling the rat and mongoose population, and he urged residents to be more considerate when they have events on beaches and when they see turtles nesting.
“The rats are eating the eggs of the turtles that are now identified as an endangered or critically endangered species, according to our convention on International Trade in Endangered Species,” he said.
Additionally, Forde said, some people were using “big incandescent lights, these indiscriminate lights” that cause the turtles to become disoriented and end up “in harm’s way”.
“It is a horrific ordeal for the turtles,” he lamented.
“Our numbers of turtles . . . . have been depleted over the years to about a third or so. On a yearly basis, with the nesting, we would see about 600 to 800 turtles on our shorelines. We are only seeing 300 to 400 now, if so much, and 500 if we get a good year.
“We understand with the unfortunate reality of the seaweed they are getting less. That is what we are faced with, but when they finally come to nest in our country, the problem is that we are not treating to them with open arms. We are not welcoming the turtles like how we welcome other guests to this country, and they have a fundamental function as it relates to ensuring the reefs survive the test of time,” Forde said.
He made the comments while introducing a resolution on the Barbados National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2020.
Forde gave the assurance that some of the measures outlined in the document will help to address the issues affecting turtles.