20 000 turtle eggs, hatchlings crushedDead leatherback sea turtle hatchlings and smashed eggs at Grand Riviere beach after heavy equipment was used to divert a river. (Internet Image)
Wed, July 11, 2012 - 12:00 AM
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – The Trinidad and Tobago government confirmed media reports that at least 20 000 sea turtle eggs and hatchlings had been destroyed during remedial works to halt massive erosion at the Grand Riviere beach, north of here, last week.
In a statement, the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources said that the remedial work was “deemed an emergency due to the drastic and sudden erosion that had taken place in an extremely short space of time”.
The statement said that several buildings, including a hotel “which is one of the most popular tourist accommodations during the turtle nesting season” were in “direct danger” as a result of the erosion.
“The ministry remains concerned about the welfare of the turtle nesting site and the sea creatures that make their home on that space. It was based on this concern that the decision was made to hold discussions with both the Forestry Division and the Environment Management Authority (EMA) last week.
“Unfortunately, in its efforts to halt the degradation of the area, some of the eggs and hatchlings there have been negatively affected”.
EMA chief executive officer, Dr Joth Singh, told the Trinidad Express that “the intervention was imperative, if not, there would have been significant impact on the nesting areas left and the season is still ongoing . . . the impact is not as severe as has been claimed and circumstances were created where the authorities were made to appear to have been negligent.”
He said “only a few hundred sea turtle eggs and hatchlings were lost” and the situation was “not as grave as had been expressed by some parties”.
Media reports said that the turtle kill took place over the weekend when government-owned excavators went onto the beach to divert the Grande Riviere River.
Grande Riviere is Trinidad’s most nest-intensive beach during the laying season of sea turtles, including the critically endangered leatherback and is the third most prolific site in the world.
Television pictures showed hundreds of eggs lay in various states of destruction, some with their nearly-ready baby turtles visible. Mature hatchlings were also scattered around the sand and surf, dead and dying, being picked up by hungry dogs and eager vultures. (CMC)
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