Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Protect Sea Turtles

ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES

When you visit Bequia in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, you should check out the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary. It’s located on Park Beach on the northeast side of the island.

Since 1995, Orton King, a skin-dive fisherman from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, has devoted his retirement attempting to increase the hawksbill sea turtle population.

Hawksbill Sea Turtle in Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Orton King opened The Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary in 1995.

They are on the endangered list because fishermen kill them for their eggs, meat, and shells. On January 1, 2017, the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines banned killing all sea turtles. However, these reptiles still face a fierce battle.

Fishermen who had relied on them for food and to earn their living may be reluctant to stop the slaughter. Even if they cease killing them, the turtles face accidental capture by fishing nets. Pollution adds to their dilemma by destroying their habitat.

HOPE FOR THE HAWKSBILL SEA TURTLE

 

St. Vincent and the Grenadines
A hawksbill sea turtle thrives at the Hegg Turtle Sanctuary.

OLD HEGG TURTLE SANCTUARY

King raises hatchlings in the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary by feeding them canned tuna fish until they graduate to small fish. He keeps the turtles until they can fend for themselves, though we saw one that was about twenty-two years old.

Endangered species
Orton King had opened the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary in Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

To identify his turtles, King has drilled a small hole in their shells before releasing them in the Grenadine waters. Though divers had located some, others had been found slaughtered.

HEGG TURTLE SANCTUARY CONTROVERSY

There’s discussion about whether King’s sanctuary is beneficial to the hawksbill. Some feel that the turtles are at a disadvantage when released into the wild if they can’t protect themselves. Also, controversy has arisen concerning the size of the sanctuary’s concrete pools; their high turtle mortality rate; and King’s methods to treat them.

When we met King at his sanctuary in Bequia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, he seemed sincere in his plan to increase the hawksbill turtle population. We hope that he is successful.

TOBAGO CAYS, ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES

St. Vincent and the Grenadines
A hawksbill sea turtle comes up for air at The Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary.

While in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, you should take a boat over to the Tobago Cays Marine Park where you can snorkel and see the hawksbills, and beautiful fish, in their natural habitat. We spotted some munching on seagrass, and we had wondered if some of them were the result of  King’s nurturing.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

When you visit Bequia in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, tour the Hegg Turtle Sanctuary and donate $15 (Eastern Caribbean Dollar) to their cause. Also, please avoid buying any sea turtle or other endangered species merchandise.

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23 thoughts on “St. Vincent and the Grenadines Protect Sea Turtles

  1. I love sea turtles. Unfortunately I’ve only seen them on TV. It must be really fun to see them in real life. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    1. The ones in the sanctuary were cool, but the ones that we saw snorkeling were adorable. It’s sad that they are endangered.

  2. Those baby sea turtles are just adorable. I hope they are successful in increasing the population too. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

    1. They are adorable, I wish that I would have had an underwater camera for Tobago Cays when they were in their own habitat. Thanks for reading. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  3. There is a sea turtle hospital and rehab center in Marathon in the Florida Keys, similar purpose but probably better funded. I am glad this retired fisherman in the Caribbean decided to help the hawksbill sea turtles; I hope through his efforts his fellow fishermen will learn to stop the slaughter. What will happen when there are no more turtles to capture and eat? #The Weekly Postcard

  4. What a great story. Yes, even one person can make a difference. These hawksbill turtles are so cute, it’s unfortunate that they are endangered. Even if only some of the hatchlings from the sanctuary survive, King’s work is worth it.
    Thank you for sharing the story on #TheWeeklyPostcard

  5. Thank yoy so much for sharing. As a environmental scientist this makes me so happy. I love seaturtles and know the struggles they face with habitat destruction, light pollution, and bycatch. Always love any place that tries to help.

  6. we saw sea turtles in Hawaii and learned all about them at the Maui Ocean center. they are amazing creatures, but we need to let them be and regrow the population!

  7. We were supposed to go to St. Vincent and the Grenadines a year ago and ended up having to cancel it because of a conflict in our schedule! I am so sad, it sounds so wonderful especially since you got to have an experience like this with the sea turtles!

  8. Woww I didn’t even hear St Vincent and the Grenadines! How ignorant I was!!! Thanks for bringing this out.. I love turtles 🙂

  9. I love, love sea turtles! They have a sea turtle hospital in the Florida Keys that I visited last summer, and it was such a wonderful experience. I love how informative your article is about the issue.

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