Turtle nest of eggs, Grenada
Nesting turtle Grenada
Leatherback turtle Grenada
SAVE One evening of your holiday for TURTLE WATCHING IN GRENADA
For 2013 we expect tours to start April 1st, so please call us or e-mail for details!
Group and student rates available!
Join our turtle tour every night as we journey to Levera National Park in the very north of the island to sit in the moonlight watching Leatherback turtles bury their eggs in the sand. In Grenada, turtles start nesting in March and the last turtle hatchings make their way into the sea in late June to early July. Grenada is host to four of the world's seven varieties of turtles - the largest being the 5ft -7ft Leatherback turtle with its bony shell. Endangered is the small Hawksbill turtle, which has a very beautiful shell. Help us support turtle conservation efforts which were started by Ocean Spirits, by taking this splendid Eco-Tour.
Marine turtles are endangered and facing extinction. In order to protect the turtles we work with the communities and use trained guides. Book your Turtle Watch tour with Caribbean Horizon to support the Ecotourism initiative to help protect the turtles and prevent them from extinction.
If you would like to swim with turtles, try our Grenadine fly sail cruise.
*The small Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), the nesting Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), the migratory Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) and the Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) frequent Grenada's waters.
Turtle sightings are 95% certain. One night this season we had 10 turtles nesting during the course of the night! Occassionaly a turtle may nest during the day on Levera Beach.
This turtle tour is a fascinating Eco-Adventure and is also a way to contribute to the local community who act as guides and research assistants to the Marine Biologists who are monitoring the turtles. Turtle Tour participants are advised to wear sensible hiking or walking shoes that have a grid bottom and NOT sandals or slippers. A jacket is also recommended. No flashlights allowed. Signed disclaimer required.
Book seven days in advance and save 10%.
INFORMATION ON TOURS AND TURTLE CONSERVATION PROGRAMME:
Ocean Spirits Inc. is a non-profit organisation devoted to the protection of Grenada's natural environment through education, research and the generation of sustainable Eco-tourism programmes and has worked with the Fisheries and Tour operators who have agreed to A Voluntary Code of Conduct for Turtle Watching at Levera since 2001.
Protocols established in 2009
As part of its long-term, ongoing conservation efforts, Ocean Spirits aims to facilitate a turtle-watching product that will ensure significant revenues generated from such trips can provide a long-term, tangible benefit to the communities that have traditionally relied on sea turtles in a consumptive, non-sustainable way. This code of conduct acts as the framework by which all stakeholders can realign their objectives by participating and developing the turtle watching product. The viability and future of the turtle watching product is dependent upon the collective collaboration of all parties involved to adhere to this code. In addition, the successful realization of the practices, conducts and protocols outlined here underpins the principles of responsible sustainable eco-tourism practices that local communities will take forward as their participation and responsibility increases over subsequent seasons.
Turtle watching tours at Levera are providing a rare and exciting opportunity to observe the critically endangered leatherback turtle. The tours were first madeavailable in 2001 as part of Ocean Spirits' ongoing research and monitoring programme and enables visitors and residents alike to observe at first hand the nesting process of this ancient creature. The trips now play an essential role in Grenada's effort to conserve the second largest population of nesting leatherbacks in the Caribbean with tours continuing to illustrate turtle watching as a viable, national eco-product to substitute the pressure of turtle egg and meat consumption. This is a proven conservation management strategy that has been successfully implemented at other critical regional and global nesting sites like Levera, through education, research and the generation of sustainable Eco-tourism programmes.
Ocean Spirits Inc. is NOT a tour operator but merely offers to act as a coordinator for arranging tours at Levera beach in the absence of a formal body to do so. Ocean Spirits will act to keep a record of trips conducted and assign turtle watching guides to tour operators.Code of Conduct Participants - The Turtle Watching Season is likely to last to mid-June 2009, although the numbers of nesting females that the research teams encounter will largely determine when tours become unviable. If nesting density remains high beyond these dates, tours will be arranged according to demand. The scientific advice provided by Ocean Spirits as to the start and end of the season (including peak season dates, see below) is provided solely to ensure that the quality of the product being advertised. To date, turtles have successfully been seen on over 95% of trips. As turtle nesting increases and decreases sharply at the beginning and end of the nesting season, starting turtle tours earlier in the season or offering them later in the season, will likely only increase the number of occasions when tours do not see turtles. Each trip will involve transport to and from the staging area at Bathway for tours at Levera beach, St. Patrick's (approx. 1hr 30 mins) where they will be met by a guide and/or member of the research team. The trip group will then be reminded of the strict protocols that everyone must adhere to on the beach (see Protocols). In addition, the guide will provide a small introduction to the evening, outlining some of the key characteristics of leatherback sea turtles and the ongoing conservation programme at Levera.
The group will remain at the staging area in Bathway to limit the impact these trips have on the nesting population and to allow easy access back to the transport should it be required. Every 30 minutes, an Ocean Spirits research team will carry out a patrol of the entire length of the nesting beach to identify if any nesting animals are present. To avoid disturbing nesting animals from returning to sea and crushing small hatchlings under foot, these patrols will only be conducted by the research teams. On discovery of a turtle, the research team will communicate to the guide the location and nature of the activity. Guests will only be brought to the nesting animal when she is at a stage that researchers determine she is likely to commit to nesting. The guide will then organise the group and in co-ordination with the research team, bring the group to the nesting animal where the guide will provide additional information relating to the turtle's activity. There will always be a research team member at hand to provide additional more specific information relating to the monitoring/research programme if required. The group may stay as long as collectively agreed and may be shown multiple turtles during the trip. However, it can never be guaranteed that a turtle will be present on the beach during any trip. This is a wild species and neither the research team nor guide can predict with any accuracy when and where females emerge to nest. Guests should be made aware of this fact before they join a trip. To date, turtles have successfully been seen on over 95% of trips.
Maximum number of Persons
There is an absolute maximum of 13 persons per trip. This is to both ensure quality of experience for guests as well as to avoid adversely affecting the nesting turtles. If demand exceeds capacity for any given night, any number over the first 13 must join another trip (see Peak Season Trips).
Number of Trips: There is a limit of 1 trip per night. During peak season multiple trips will be arranged.
Peak Season Trips If trend from previous years are repeated in 2009, the peak-nesting season of 2009 will likely lend itself to multiple tours per night for tour operators. As with the start and end of turtle watching season, Ocean Spirits will advise as to when these multiple trip nights should begin and end based on this year's activities. 13 persons Max per trip
Time: All trips will take place between 20:00 and 00:00 approx This is largely dependant on the tour operator's and participant's desire to stay to see a nesting animal. Turtle watching trips are only offered during the near peak and peak nesting period of the entire nesting season. This ensures a high quality of product as it is critical that trips have the best chance of observing a turtle. Trips usually commence in the season when there is equal to or more than a 75% chance of seeing a turtle before 00:00. Please consider that during the first and last few days of the Turtle Watching season, there may be a decreased chance of seeing a turtle.
Guide Rental: The hiring of a trained local guide is an essential requirement to all trips to Levera as it plays a critical role within the conservation programme. In addition, the local guide is fully trained in the required protocols for the research programme at Levera and the protocols that guide anyone's interaction with these animals. They are also well informed about sea turtles and provide valuable information and insights to the guests. It is also a requirement of each trip as designated by the Division of Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture - the governmental ministry who is responsible for the management of this species.
Tour Operators have collectively agreed to provide post-tour drop-offs to turtle watching guides at the following drop off points on their way back to the south of the island: 1. River Sallee (round about) 2. Rose Hill (junction)
Support of the Conservation Programme: It has been agreed by tour operators that the cost per person should include a donation towards the ongoing conservation programme.
Recommended attire: Guests are advised to wear trousers and shirt/t-shirt with access to something warmer if needs be. If inactive, the coastal breeze can make the beach a cold place to be. During the wet season, waterproofs are also advisable as the beach environment is often too windy for umbrellas. If needs be, guests can always gain access to their transport vehicle, but please be advised the rain can be sudden and heavy! Suitable footwear is also advisable for walking on the beach and all participants should be comfortable sitting on the sand when asked to do so by the guide.
Field Conditions: Guests should be made aware that they might be walking significant distances in soft sand (1.5 km for a round trip of the beach) to reach nesting turtles. Washed up debris is not uncommon at Levera beach and guests should use cautions when walking down the beach - guides will aim to advise of such hazards. Weather can turn quickly; the rain can be sudden and heavy!
Tour Coordination: Ocean Spirits will coordinate the initial placement of tour guides with Turtle Watching tours.
TURTLE WATCHING PROTOCOLS
All guides and research personnel operate by strict guidelines of turtle/human interaction which has been endorsed within the legal regulatory framework that governs these animals during this critical period of their life cycle. While the details of these protocols will be passed on to tour participants during the event, there are some guidelines that relevant parties should be aware of before recruiting or becoming guests.
1. No flash photography of any kind will be permitted on the nesting beach. This activity leads to considerable disorientation and may affect the animals' reproductive potential over the nesting season. Flash photography also affects hatchling orientation and may dissuade other animals from nesting that evening.
2. No torches or flash lights of any kind will be permitted on the nesting beach. The trained tour guide will be equipped with a suitably adapted head torch for leading guests. Turtles are very responsive to light during the nesting cycle and can be affected both on and off the beach. All research teams and guides are trained in the careful use of illumination around nesting animals. This in no way detrac ts from the visual experience for the Turtle Watching group. In addition, efforts should be made to mask other forms of unnatural lighting from the nesting beach, for example parking vehicles behind natural cover at the entrance of the beach and ensuring that headlights are turned off when approaching and when at the beach.
3. There will be no opportunity for participants to handle eggs. This is to ensure that no foreign chemical or biological agent is inadvertently introduced into the est cavity. The research teams go to great lengths (including the suffering of constant insect bites!) to ensure that this principal is not broached. Sea turtle eggs also harbour potential for salmonella infections transmissible to humans, this protocol further aims to reduce this risk to participants.
4. There will be no riding or otherwise other physical interaction that will result in the disturbance of a nesting turtle.
5. Unless otherwise stated, tour groups will remain in situ away from the active nesting area until a suitable nesting female has been located and assessed. Leatherbacks, like all sea turtles, have been shown to possess sensitivity to both light and movement during the very early and late stages of the nesting cycle, either of which can cause an animal to return to the sea without nesting. In addition, hatchling turtles are very difficult to see and are easily stepped upon. For that reason, Turtle Watching groups as well as research teams do not approach animals until they are firmly committed to their nesting cycle.
6. It is not possible to guarantee that any given tour will observe every or any component of the nesting cycle. Despite their tolerance of a small well managed group behind them, turtles are not domestic animals and as such we cannot predict with accuracy when, where or how an individual female will nest. The best we can do is provide a window of opportunity when we believe - based on current data - the likelihood of observing a nesting female is strongest.
7. No pets of any kind are permitted on the tours for obvious reasons.
CONTINUITY OF TURTLE WATCHING
Ocean Spirits aims to facilitate a turtle-watching product that will ensure significant revenues generated from such trips can provide a long-term, tangible benefit to the communities that have traditionally relied on sea turtles in a consumptive, non-sustainable way. This code of conduct acts as the framework by which all stakeholders can realign their objectives by participating and developing the turtle watching product. The viability and future of the turtle watching product is dependent upon the collective collaboration of all parties involved to adhere to this code. In addition, the successful realization of the practices, conducts and protocols outlined here underpins the principles of responsible sustainable eco-tourism practices that local communities will take forward as their participation and responsibility increases over subsequent seasons.
Last Updated on 13.03.13