By Dawn Shewan of Dive Saint Lucia

A number of sea turtles are endangered, especially those we get in Saint Lucia. Three species grace us with their presence, the Green turtle, Hawkes bill and the almighty Leather backs. Saint Lucia has a turtle hunting season, which not only affects the turtles (the most important subject here) but also the tourist.

Many people who hear about the turtle hunting season are reluctant to book their holidays to this beautiful island out of protest; this then affects big and small businesses from airlines and hotels, to the local vendor selling his hand-crafted wares.

We have been up in arms fighting for the rights of these magnificent gentle giants, but to no avail. It seems that we may be looking at this in the wrong light.

I’ve been doing some serious head scratching to figure out how we can all win: protecting these hard shelled innocent guardians of the sea and keeping to the local tradition of eating turtle meat.

I would like to start off by saying that what is outlined below is not my first choice and definitely not the only choice, but it seems as though we could actually give back to the ocean, a kind of an apology if you like.

Turtle Breeding Program

The idea would be a Turtle breeding program. While I hate to see animals in captivity, this may be one way we can satisfy our local “tradition” as well as give back to the ocean: releasing a percentage of turtles back into the ocean, ensuring the increase in population in the wild as well as making them ambassadors for much-needed turtle research. Tagging and releasing these animals can dramatically increase the knowledge needed to ensure they do not disappear from our blue planet.

This program has several benefits such as reducing the number of wild turtles killed, managing the turtle population, use of the turtles for educational purposes, creation of jobs and raising awareness. Examining what we take out of our oceans is tragic; soon there will be nothing left to take. As a diver, I’d love nothing more than to see these beautiful gliding creatures roaming our seas.

There is so much we can do. If we do this program, let’s do it right.  We can help. YOU can help. We can make this an island project!  Let’s join together and save our oceans, create jobs, educate our children and most of all, give back to mother earth and her deep blue magnificent ocean.

For more in-depth information about turtle farming visit https:/  – a website on a successful turtle farming program in the Camayn Islands.

Facts About Turtle Breeding

By James Dawson


  • Sea turtles are one of the Earth’s most ancient creatures. The seven existing species that can be found today have been around for 110  million years.
  • The sea turtle’s shell, or “carapace” is streamlined for swimming through the water.
  • Unlike other turtles, sea turtles cannot retract their legs and head into their shells.


  • What sea turtles eat depends on the subspecies, but some common items include jellyfish, seaweed, crabs, shrimp, sponges, snails, algae and mollusks.

Population & Behaviour

  • It is difficult to find population numbers and behaviour patterns for sea turtles because male and juvenile sea turtles do not return to shore once they hatch and reach the ocean, making it hard to keep track of them.
  • Sea turtles return to the same nesting grounds where they were born. Females come to shore, dig a nest in the ground, bury their clutch of eggs and return to the ocean. After hatching, the young may take a week to dig themselves out of the nest. They emerge at night, move toward the ocean and remain there, solitary, until it is time to mate.


  • Green sea turtles can stay under water for as long as five hours even though the length of a feeding dive is usually five minutes or less. Their heart rate slows to conserve oxygen: nine minutes may elapse between heartbeats.
  • Sea turtles are found in all warm and temperate waters throughout the world and migrate hundreds of miles between nesting and feeding grounds. Most sea turtles undergo long migrations, some as far as 1400 miles, between their feeding grounds and the beaches where they nest.


Temperature: Temperatures of the sand where the hatchlings nest determine the sex of the turtle: below 85 degrees Fahrenheit (30ºC) iproduces predominately male; above 85 degrees Fahrenheit (30ºC) produces predominately female turtles.
Mating Season: March-October depending on the species.
Gestation: 6-10 weeks.
Clutch size: Between 70-190 eggs depending on the species.
When the young hatch out of their eggs, they make their way to the ocean. Few survive to adulthood.