Wednesday, July 11, 2012. By Susan Davis
…July 9th, 2004, Klein Bonaire: a female loggerhead sea turtle named Extra was fitted with a satellite transmitter by Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) staff. The very next day Extra began her 1,754 km (1,090 mile) migration to the waters off the coast of Honduras, an area now known to be critical feeding grounds for Bonaire-nesting sea turtles.
…On July 1st, 2012, when STCB received a reported sighting of a large loggerhead sea turtle with a small device secured to its carapace (shell), they immediately dispatched a team to investigate. Extra was identified resting and swimming on the coral reef surrounding Klein Bonaire and the remnants of her satellite transmitter were removed from her carapace. The device was completely missing its antennae and was easily removed by the team.
…In 2004 Extra had her four flippers intact, however now she is missing half of her right front, possibly from a shark attack. Luckily, she didn’t lose it completely and is still swimming and nesting successfully. So far this season Extra has laid three nests on Klein Bonaire and is expected to lay at least one more before she returns to her feeding home off the coast of Honduras.
The sighting of Extra is not only a heart warming story for Bonaire, but also very important for our knowledge base of Bonaire’s sea turtles. Extra is nesting once again on Klein Bonaire, which helps confirm the hypothesis that female turtles return to the same nesting beach for their entire adult life (and usually the same beach where they themselves were born). Loggerheads nest with intervals of two to three years, suggesting that this is the third time Extra has returned to nest on Klein Bonaire since the transmitter was fitted.
The nests and eggs of sea turtles have been protected on Bonaire since 1961 in the island legislation “Eilandsverordening tot Bescherming van de Zeeschildpadden en Kreeften.” Full protection to all life stages was conferred in 1991 when the Island Council of Bonaire amended the Marine Environmental Ordinance (A.B. 1984, no 21):
Text of “Verordening Marien Milieu A.B 1991 Nr.8,” the Marine Environment Ordinance
- It is prohibited to disturb or destroy sea turtle nests or to remove eggs from the nests; it is prohibited to be in possession of, to have for sale or delivery, to offer for sale, to sell, to buy, to trade in, to donate or to transport eggs of sea turtles.
- It is prohibited to kill, catch or be in possession of sea turtles.
- It is prohibited to offer for sale, sell, buy, trade in, donate, or offer as a dish in any way in public, sea turtles, sea turtle meat or other products of sea turtles.
- Sea turtles are understood to comprise the following species: Chelonia mydas (Tortuga blanku), Caretta caretta (Kawama), Eretmochelys imbricata (Karet), Dermochelys coriacea (Drikil), and Lepidochelys kempi.
- The prohibition as meant in paragraph 2 can be suspended for periods of up to one year (renewable as necessary), after a hearing by the Marine Environment Commission and provided that the condition of the sea turtle population permits such a measure. This action would be administered through an Executive Council decree, which would provide regulations for the catch of sea turtles, the species, the season, quota, and minimum and maximum sizes.The penalty for violation of the new law in Bonaire is a maximum of NAf. 5000 and/or one month in jail; relevant equipment (spear gun, car, boat) can be confiscated.
Update on penalties: As of October 10, 2010, when Bonaire became a special municipality of the Netherlands, the penalty for violating laws that relate to species listed under Article 8 of the SPAW Protocol may result in a maximum fine of US $560,000.
©2012 Olivier Douvry/GlobeDivers