In an incredible feat to support local sea turtle conservation efforts, the Sandals Foundation and Island Routes have raised an impressive $8 million through its Turtle Watching Experience sold to guests of Sandals and Beaches Resorts from July to November this year.
During that period some 2,539-community tours were sold to guests of the luxury-inclusive resorts raising more than $8.4 million to continue the protection of the critically endangered marine species.
By working alongside local community members, environmental wardens and conservation groups, the Sandals Foundation has over the years supported the structured development of conservation efforts. Led by local conservationist, Melvyn Tennant, the philanthropic arm of Sandals Resorts International works to ensure turtle nesting sites are clean and safe, release of the aquatic creatures to the Caribbean Sea are safely done, and the programme is monitored to keep track of progress.
More than 130,000 turtles have been released to date. Funds raised will be used to continue beach rehabilitation that creates suitable nesting spaces along the beach, as well as coastal resilience efforts to withstand sea level rise and other effects of climate change. The Sandals Foundation also sees to payment of community staff to monitor nests, organise releases and protect the area from predators.
The Sandals Foundation support will also continue to facilitate public sensitisation workshops, meetings, and events in and around the Oracabessa community to raise residents’ awareness about the role and beauty of the animal, discourage egg consumption, and ultimately gain wider buy-in and support for the protection of the marine species.
The Caribbean’s sea turtle nesting season takes place between the months of May and December. During this time, female sea turtles make an oceanic trek back to the beach where they were born to lay their eggs.
The Island Routes Turtle Watching tour is a staple experience offered by the organisation to have visitors to the island play an active role in the preservation of the marine species. The effort forms part of wider marine conservation effort of the Sandals Foundation which includes financing the operations of several Caribbean fish sanctuaries, out-planting corals, culling the invasive lionfish from our region’s waters, and employing marine wardens to patrol and safeguard the biodiversity within their established Boscobel Fish Sanctuary on the north coast of Jamaica and the Whitehouse Fish Sanctuary on the south.