Here at Animal Friends, we love being able to help various animal charities dotted around the world. Charity work is one of our core values and most of our staff are animal lovers or pet owners. So, when our Founder and Charity Ambassador, Elaine Fairfax, contacts us we are all thrilled to hear about her adventures around the world and all the wonderful things she is doing to lend a hand to charities in need.
Hawksbill Turtles in Antigua
Recently she told us about the Hawksbill projects in Antigua. It was a sad yet interesting read about the critically endangered species and their struggles. Their nesting season spans between April and August. This is when the turtles come to their place of birth to lay their eggs. Each year a team of volunteers come over from the US and stay on the islands to aid and protect the turtles and their eggs as much as they can.
Some of the inexperienced mothers don’t dig the holes deep enough for their eggs so the patrols help in making the holes deeper without interfering. A Hawksbill turtle can spend up to an hour laying her eggs but can take much longer to cover them with sand. Elaine told us that you would never have any idea that the eggs were beneath the sand. The teams would have to mark the nests with flags so they were able to monitor the nests.
Elaine was lucky enough to see some of the turtles make their way onto the shore and then, a few days later, witnessed some earlier laid eggs hatching. From this point onwards the young turtles face great difficulties. So much so that out of every 1,000 turtles that hatch, on average, only 2 make it to adulthood.
Manmade Dangers in the Oceans
The hatchlings make a run towards the sea as soon as they emerge from the sand. Some do end up waddling the wrong way, but they were helped by the volunteers. Then, they have to truly fend for themselves. Many dangers lurk in the water for these hatchlings, some dangers preventable. Habitat loss, wildlife trade, climate change, and pollution are just some of the threats.
It’s interesting to learn that the sex of a Hawksbill turtle is determined by the temperature in which the eggs are incubated. Climate change means there is a big risk of a turtle population skewed towards females as rising temperatures lead to hotter sands. This then leads to the lack of mates once they reach maturity.
Another problem caused by man is the pollution they face, more specifically, plastic pollution. Plastic bags often end up in our oceans and this can be catastrophic. A Hawksbill turtle can mistake the bags for jellyfish and often ingest the plastic, which leads to an obstructed gut which results in starvation. The plastic bags can also suffocate corals, which is very problematic as the turtles feed on the sponges, too.
Elaine is currently thinking of suggestions to better their chances. This means putting a plan together that will hopefully have a positive impact on the turtles in the future.
Future Projects to Better Their Futures
In the meantime, this is something we could all help with, too. We need to consider our use of plastic and disposable bags. These not only have an effect on us as humans, but it has a devastating effect on the marine life.
We should be aware of the illegal jewellery that is made from the Hawksbill turtle and the implications it can have on marine life and conservation. Charities worldwide are working to stop the illegal poaching and killing of such animals. This way the animals can have a true chance at life.
Donations always help, too. There are many different charities that work to better the lives of the turtles and try to secure a safer future for the endangered reptiles. We have donated over £3million to animal charities worldwide so far, with your pet policies helping us help more animals in need.
Keep an eye out on our blog for more updates on charities, reviews of products, and some tricks and tips for pets!