By: Anita Nembhard
Gales Point Manatee, a popular turtle nesting area, was treated to a beach clean up effort last weekend.
A group of 50 or so people volunteered their time and efforts to do a two day cleansing. Spear-headed by Luz Hunter, the effort began at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday and continued on to Sunday afternoon.
It is estimated that 25% of the debris littering the beach was bagged and disposed of. The crew concentrated on picking up discarded material which posed an immediate threat to turtles and which would otherwise cause their death within a short period of time.
The area is home to Loggerhead, Leather Back and Green turtles, who nest between the months of April to November. A safe and clean environment is vital to their survival as they return to the same nesting grounds year after year.
The turtles have a 150-year lifespan and mature at the age of 25. Amazingly, they give birth three to four times per year, laying over 100-150 eggs at a time, with only a one tenth survival rate.
Also threatening their existence are poachers who sell the meat for profit. Evidence of this was witnessed during the clean-up, as a carcass was found on the beach.
A Maryland College team led by Todd Rimbus later tagged the turtle for reference. Images can be viewed at www.hawksbillhope.org.
According to Hunter, the beach clean up is only the beginning of a four-month program which is scheduled to host one activity every month, through to November, when the nesting activities end.
Those interested in helping to save our wildlife and turtle friends, can call Hunter at 635-6012. The next clean-up effort is scheduled for August 24 at Gales Point.
Volunteers from the Mary Mount College of Maryland, the ITVET Tour-guide Course headed by Luz Hunter, the Gales Point Youth Group headed by Kevin Andrewin and other volunteers and concerned Belizean citizens all participated in this worthy cause.