Nature Island

Saving endangered sea turtles in the Caribbean

By: By Sarah Sussman


Dominica, also known as The Nature Island, offers a new eco-friendly sea turtle tour. Beginning next year’s turtle’s nesting season, from March through August, guests will be able to join the Dominica Sea Turtle Conservation Organization (DomSeTCO) in partnership with Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation (WIDECAST) as they work to protect various species of internationally endangered sea turtles such as the leatherback, hawksbill and green turtles.

With local villagers and the program’s coordinators, guests will take a nightly patrol of Londonberry Beach, Stout Sable Beach and the beaches at Rosalie and Riviere Cyrique as they conduct turtle tagging, data collection and, when necessary, nest and egg relocation.

Limited tours are available on an appointment basis. Turtle watching tours are priced at $10 per person and local Caribbean treats such as roasted breadfruit, and codfish will be sold along with turtle tour t-shirts at select beaches.

Endangered sea turtles return each year to lay their eggs in the sand of Dominica’s picturesque, tropical beaches. The female turtle uses her flippers to dig a nest, and then lays approximately 150-200 eggs before returning to the ocean. After a 60 day gestation period, the tiny hatchlings dig out of the nest and find their way to the ocean. Due to predators, the heat of the sun and other factors, it is estimated that only one in every 1,000 hatchlings survives to adulthood. Involving locals and tourists to participate in saving these endangered species comes as no surprise from the island recognized as one of the top ten world-wide leaders in environmentally and culturally responsible tourism by National Geographic’s Center for Sustainable Destinations.

The sea turtle watching tour is just one of Dominica’s many eco-conscious tourist options; the biologically diverse island also offers scuba diving, snorkeling, mountain biking, kayaking and more. Due to its volcanic origins, this 290 square mile isle has mountains of nearly 5,000 feet, some of the last truly oceanic rainforests in the world, as well as more than 365 rivers, waterfalls, boiling lakes and pristine coral reefs. Home to the last settlement of the local peoples of the Caribbean, the Carib Indians, Dominica is truly a place where man and nature still live harmoniously.