One of the most inspiring experiences you can have in Barbados is participating in a sea turtle hatchling release.
A Hatchlings Struggle
First of all the little hatchlings are truly adorable! In the buckets prior to release you witness their will to survive as they get ready to paddle into an unforgiving ocean and uncertain future.
When you realize that only 1 in 1000 hatchlings survive to maturity, with threats mainly from fish and mankind, your respect for these little creatures grows and you can’t help but root for them as they are released onto the sand and begin their short walk to the ocean’s edge.
Even this stage is challenging as they navigate footprints and twigs on the sand. Some are a little sleepy and take a while to get started, while others race off to the sea at a speed that would impress even Usain Bolt!
Having reached the water’s edge they are often washed back onto the shore a couple of times before catching the wave just right and beginning their journey in earnest. Female turtles who do reach maturity will return to a beach within 1.5km of the beach they were released on to lay eggs of their own.
Why Are Hatchlings Released In This Way?
The beaches of Barbados are a favourite nesting ground for endangered sea turtles especially hawksbill and leatherback turtles. Hawksbill turtles nest in Barbados between mid-May and mid to late October. Leatherback turtles in Barbados nest between February and July.
Sometimes hatchlings are born or emerge from their under-sand nests during the day. This is an unsafe time for the hatchlings as predators are most active. Some hatchlings that do emerge at night are disoriented by lights from houses, hotels & business along the beach. In these two cases the Barbados Sea Turtle Project steps in to rescue the hatchlings and release them at sunset.
The staff and volunteers are happy to answer your questions and let some of the kids have an opportunity to hold the hatchlings.
The Barbados Sea Turtle Project does not run a hatchery, nor are turtles raised in captivity.
How Do I Know When Hatchlings Will Be Released?
The public is invited to these hatchling releases, presenting an amazing opportunity to learn and be inspired. You can like the Barbados Sea Turtle Project facebook page to receive alerts of releases. Since these only occur for rescued hatchlings there is no fixed schedule – you will be informed of a release on the actual day.