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Baby turtles crawl to doom

Sunday, August 19 2012

During the last couple of weeks, there have been numerous early morning reports of dead turtle hatchlings strewn across the road along Manzanilla Beach.

One of the main causes of these occurrences is the “Street Lighting” Project where streetlights have been placed along the Manzanilla stretch. As the turtles hatch, they become disoriented by the lights of the bright streetlights and instintively start their journey towards the roadway. Unfortunately for many, this journey is short lived. Not only do the streetlights attract the attention of these turtles, but also any light based source, for example, car headlights or light emanating from the houses lining the beachfront.

It is not bizarre for individuals to pass by and remove the surviving hatchlings from the side of the road to safety. However a more proactive means of alleviating these occurrences should take place, environmentalists say.

Dimmers could be placed on the streetlights reducing the intensity of the light. Beachfront owners could use turtle friendly lights or even have shields or dimmers on their outside lighting fixtures. Short barricades, enough so that hatchlings cannot cross over, should be placed along the roadway preventing them from crossing the road and thereby avoiding certain death with oncoming cars, environmentalists say. Baby turtles are not the only ones who perish by the hundreds as a consequence of disorienting bright lights during the night. The Manatee Conservation Trust, legal owners of the Manzanilla estate, have infrequently discovered perished adult turtles, also confused by the bright streetlights, in the nearby swamp.

Gupte Lutchmedial, former President of the Manatee Conservation Trust, indicated that within the last year, three fully grown adult turtles have been found dead in the vicinity of the Nariva Swamp.

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