Our signature project in the Courland Bay area continues to be the highest priority for our beach patrol team with assistance from local and international volunteers. From dusk till dawn, March – September, we monitor sea turtle nesting and hatching activity on Courland Bay (Turtle Beach), Grafton Beach and Mt. Irvine Back Bay. These three beaches have been identified as ‘index beaches’ for the leatherback turtle in Tobago. We also perform day checks on other beaches around the island to get a more accurate picture of overall nesting patterns.
While on duty, our patrols serve the dual function of collecting valuable research data while also protecting the nesting turtles from poachers and providing information to recreational turtle watchers. It is hoped that the consistent annual monitoring of these beaches will continue for decades to come and that it will help to inform better management policies and practices in the area especially in the face of climate change, rising sea levels and increased coastal development.
We also provide assistance for graduate research in specific areas and training and support to residential patrol efforts in other parts of the island.
Working with the other turtle conservation organizations nationally, through the Turtle Village Trust, we participate in The National Sea Turtle Conservation Project which gathers information about the population of nesting leatherbacks, hawksbill and green turtles in T&T; and resident population of hawksbill and green turtles, foraging on the reefs and sea grass beds around Tobago. All population data we collect is therefore fed into a national database managed through Nature Seekers and in turn to WIDECAST. This data contributes to the overall management of sea turtles locally, regionally and throughout the rest of the world.