A unique experience: go in search of sea turtle nests on Klein Bonaire

The sea around Bonaire is known for its beautiful underwater world. Besides colorful corals and tropical fish, different species of sea turtles also live there. On Bonaire, these sea turtles are well protected. The organization that deals with this is Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB). Three times a week they go to Klein Bonaire to monitor sea turtle nests. You can join them and help them during these "nest patrols," a unique experience!

Early in the morning you will board their boat with the experienced and enthusiastic staff of STCB. You will set course towards Klein Bonaire, an important nesting site for sea turtles. On the way aboard you will get an explanation about the sea turtles and the work STCB does to protect them.

Klein Bonaire

Once arrived on Klein Bonaire, the beaches of the island will be explored on foot. Together with the staff of STCB you look for traces of sea turtles. The female sea turtles come ashore in the evening and at night to quietly dig their nest. She then lays her eggs, which can be as many as 150 depending on the species of sea turtle. After covering the nest, she disappears back into the sea.

It regularly happens that the sea turtles lay their nest on No Name Beach. Because this is a crowded beach, there is a risk that the nest will be trampled by beachgoers. It can also happen that the sea turtle has made its nest too close to the waterline. There is then a risk that the nest will be destroyed by the waves. In both cases, nests are moved to a safer location.

Sea turtle tracks

Should any sea turtle tracks be found during the nest patrol, STCB staff will work with you to find a nest. To do so, they will analyze the tracks found on the beach. Once they have found the nest, they will dig carefully, to determine the exact spot. As a result, the depth of the nest can be determined. The data of the nest, such as the exact spot and depth, are then recorded. This allows STCB staff to estimate which nest will hatch when.

The first nests hatch from the end of June each year. So if you join us on a nest patrol from that period, you just have a chance of finding a newly hatched nest. STCB staff will then excavate the nest further. Sometimes there are still some newborn sea turtles present! These are then given a helping hand so that they can reach the sea safely. Then the staff will count all the empty egg shells. That way they know exactly how many young sea turtles have been born. This data is also recorded again.

Would you like to join on nest patrol?

From May through November, visitors can join STCB on nest patrol. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning they sail to Klein Bonaire. Keep in mind that you will be walking on the beaches looking for nests. You will be walking partly on sandy beaches, but also on coral rocks and through shallow water. So choose sturdy shoes that can get wet, such as water shoes. 

The patrol takes between three and five hours. There is almost no shade on Klein Bonaire, so wear covering clothes or apply sunscreen. Also bring something to eat and drink for during the nest patrol. 
Would you also like to experience this special experience? Then contact STCB at cepa@bonaireturtles.org to reserve your spot on board. A unique experience!

Also read: Sea turtles Gabriela and Mateo to be tracked by satellite transmitter

Bonaire nature sea turtles

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