C. Huygensstraat #8
Tel: (297) 582-0400
Turtle-hotline: (297) 592-9393
Objectives: 1.Monitor the nesting activity, 2. Protect the nests in situ during incubation, 3. Reduce the negative effects of coastal development, especially artificial lighting on nesting females and emerging hatchlings. 4. Stimulate public awareness
Contact Info: Edith and Richard van der Wal, Turtugaruba Foundation (tel +297-5929393)
Turtugaruba is the local foundation that protects the sea turtles in and around Aruba. Four species of sea turtles are found nesting on Aruba:
Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea),
Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta),
Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas);
Besides these four species an Olive Ridlley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) was found in the waters around Aruba.
All Caribbean sea turtle species are “endangered” or “critically endangered” and are on the World Conservation Union (IUCN)
Red List of Threatened Species. Marine turtle nests and eggs have been protected in Aruba by Law since 1980 and with the Nature Conservation Ordinance of 1995 the penalty for killing a marine turtle can be two years in prison and/or a fine of Afls 100.000 ($55.500). So you will not find turtle soup or a turtle steak on the menu any more.
But on the Aruba of today we have to face other turtle threats like: loss of nesting habitats and feeding grounds due to coastal development and the problems of artificial lighting, driving on the beaches and pollution.
In 1993 a Sea Turtle Recovery Action Plan (STRAP) was developed and published for Aruba under the auspices of WIDECAST and the UN Caribbean Environment Programme. With this STRAP as a guide line a group of volunteers worked ever since on the problems mentioned above. The volunteers got organized in a foundation in September 2003.
Turtugaruba is a NGO, a non profit organization that consists of a board, a field coordinator and about 25 volunteers. Turtugaruba is a member of WIDECAST (Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network), the regional network that includes more than 40 different Caribbean States and territories.
What are the annual activities of Turtugaruba?
1. Education and public awareness.
Turtugaruba interacts with the local Press, gives lectures for Park Rangers, hotel personal, dive operators, schools and the public in general, participates in local “open days”, creates posters and flyers for sharing with both local people and tourists, assists school children and students preparing papers and lectures at school, and is always (24 hours, 7 days a week) available at the Turtle Hotline (+297)-592 93 93. Information can also be obtained via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Fieldwork, protection and data collecting.
During the turtle season the nesting beaches are monitored every morning at daybreak. The highly developed hotel area at the west coast of the island is normally frequented by Leatherback Sea Turtles (2008 Febr – July: 72 nests, 9 different females). Eagle Beach is patrolled not only at dawn but also at night, whenever a female Leatherback is expected to return for her next nest (2 shifts: 22.00 – 24.00 and 0.00 – 2.00 AM). In addition to the beach patrols the turtle nests at the West Coast are protected “in situ” during incubation (60-70 days) and hatching. The data of the nests and turtles are registered.
3. Contact with the Government and local NGO’s
Foundation Turtugaruba is invited by the Government to be present at the presentation of the major coastal development projects. The foundation supports the plans for the implementation of the Coastal Zone Management (CZM). Turtugaruba is a member of the AHATA Environmental Committee and works together with other nature organizations like Stimaruba, Fanapa, Rainbow Warriors and Parke Nacional Arikok. The volunteers of Turtugaruba (and their families!) participate every year in the Aruba Reef Care Project (ATA) and the AHATA Coastal Clean Up (but, of course, cleaning the beach is done every day on an individual base while monitoring for turtle tracks).
4. International contacts.
Turtugaruba is a Member of WIDECAST. Widecast Country Coordinators for Aruba are Edith and Richard van der Wal, also members of the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group. Almost every year Turtugaruba participates at the Widecast Annual General Meeting and represents Aruba at the International Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Conservation and Biology .
Although the “normal” expenses (gasoline, office supplies, field materials, cell phone,etc), and all of the time and energy are a “volunteer affair”, some costs are too expensive to be paid by the volunteers themselves (e.g. organizing workshops with experts from abroad, building a retainer wall, printing of posters, flyers etc). So donations are very welcome and will be used for the protection and conservation of the sea turtles visiting Aruba.
Bräutigam, A. and K. L. Eckert. 2006. Turning the Tide: Exploitation, Trade and Management of Marine Turtles in the Lesser Antilles, Central America, Colombia and Venezuela. TRAFFIC International, Cambridge, UK.
Provisions for implementing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) were included in the Landsbesluit in-en Uitvoerverbod Bedreigde Dieren en Planten (Import and Export of Animals and Plants Decree), AB 1991, No. 102, but the Decree was withdrawn from consideration with passage of the Natuurbescherming Beschermingsverordening of 1995, which made it possible to: protect indigenous fauna and flora; designate nature reserves; and prohibit trade, import, export, possession (dead or alive), killing or wounding of species listed in the Appendices of CITES or the Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW Protocol) to the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region, or Cartagena Convention. Aruba’s CITES-implementing legislation is under review as part of the CITES National Legislation Project (dependent territories have recently been included in the Project). The deadline for having adequate CITES-implementing legislation enacted in the case of Aruba is 30 September 2006 (Anon., 2004; S. Nash, Chief, Capacity Building Unit, CITES Secretariat, in litt. to J. Gray, TRAFFIC International, 21 September 2005) It is expected that at some point the Natuurbescherming Beschermingsverordening will replace the Marien Milieuverordening Aruba, but at present both remain in force (E. van der Wal and R. van der Wal, in litt., 28 October 2004).
There is no legislation in place in Aruba for coastal zone management, including for the designation of marine protected areas. Two decrees are in process, however, under the aegis of the Natuurbescherming Beschermingsverordening of 1995: the Landsbesluit Parke Marino Aruba and the Landsbesluit Parke Natural Spaans Lagoen, intended to designate the waters entirely surrounding Aruba as a marine park (using the Bonaire Marine Park as a model) and, independently, to confer protection to the unique ecosystem of Spaans Lagoon, a designated Ramsar Convention site since May 1980. These decrees also provide a national coastal zone management framework, including a coastal zone management authority. These decrees were expected to be finalized and adopted by Parliament before the end of the legislative session in September 2005 (B. Boekhoudt, Ministry of Labour, Culture and Sports, pers. comm., 18 November 2004). Pending their enactment, an interagency task force has been co-ordinating relevant activities and making recommendations.
The Landsverordening openbare wateren en stranden (Public Waters and Beaches Ordinance), AB 1987, No. 123, prohibits, inter alia, driving on beaches and disposal of solid waste materials on beaches and in public waters.
Bräutigam, A. and Eckert, K.L. (2006). Turning the Tide: Exploitation, Trade and Management of Marine Turtles in the Lesser Antilles, Central America, Colombia and Venezuela. TRAFFIC International, Cambridge, UK.
Debrot, A. O., N. Esteban, R. Le Scao, A. Caballero, and P. C. Hoetjes. 2005. New sea turtle nesting records for the Netherlands Antilles provide impetus to conservation action. Caribbean Journal of Science. 41(2):334-339.
van Buurt, G. 1984. National Report for the Netherlands Antilles. Pp. 329–333. In: P. Bacon et al. (Eds). Proceedings of the Western Atlantic Turtle Symposium, 17–22 July 1983, San José, Costa Rica, III, Appendix 7. University of Miami Press, Florida.
van der Wal, E. and R. van der Wal. 2003. Monitoring the west coast of Aruba. Pp. 170–171. In: J.A. Seminoff (Compiler), Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-SEFSC-503. US Department of Commerce.
Zeinstra, L.W.M. 2002. Census of sea turtle nests on Aruba, specifically on the northeast coast. Prepared by CARET: Conservation and Research of Sea Turtles on Aruba. Oranjestad, Aruba. 27 pp.