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Sharon Augustus saves life of baby Hawksbill turtle

Sharon Augustus saves life of baby Hawksbill turtle


by Stanton Gomes Fri, Sept 09. 2011

Sharon Augustus is a name that will always be remembered whenever the talk of turtles surfaces in Union Island.

On Friday, September 2, 2011, at around 6:00 pm, she saved the life of a baby Hawksbill turtle.{{more}}

On that afternoon, Roseman Adams, one of the 10 trained turtle handlers on the island, was just about to close his business when he heard a call from someone outside.

He was greeted by Sharon carrying a recycled ice-cream bowl filled with seawater, seaweed and a cute baby Hawksbill turtle. She found the baby crawling on the concrete road at the entrance to her workplace in Clifton, Union Island.

Sharon, who works at the West Indies Restaurant as a chef, recalled: “I just saw this little turtle crawling on the road, after I picked it up, I was wondering what to do with it. I showed it to my boss and my coworkers, then I remembered Roseman’s group has a turtle programme, so I placed it in a bowl, filled it with sea water and seaweed and handed it over to Roseman”.

When asked how she felt saving the life of this baby turtle, she said: “I cannot describe it fully, it felt so good, it was so soft and cute, I didn’t want it to die.”

The president of the Union Island Environmental Attackers, Katrina Collins, was on spot when the turtle was handed over. The group then searched the Diablo Beach, where it was suspected that the turtle may have hatched. A thorough scan of the area unearthed only hatchling tracks, but no signs of more strayed hatchlings.

Adams was pleased that the group is seeing positive results after years of turtle awareness on the island. When asked for a technical opinion on the gender of this baby turtle, he stated: “The gender of a sea turtle is based on the temperature of the nest. These last days were very hot, more than likely it’s a female”.

The rescued baby turtle was released the following day by three young Environmental Attackers. After winding up on a city roadway and getting rescued, the baby turtle’s troubles were far from over. The release was quite challenging. The planned beach for the release had to be ditched after three brown pelicans were spotted on a nearby jetty waiting for their next meal.

The group finally decided on the next suitable alternative, and off she went swimming into the wide open sea. It was a joyous, yet eye-watering moment for the group, knowing that the years ahead for the baby turtle will be tough. She would have to elude creatures many times her size, waiting to gobble her up in a few seconds.

A Hawksbill turtle can grow up to a length of 3 feet and weigh an average 180 pounds. In total there are seven species of sea turtles: the Leatherback, Loggerhead, Green, Olive Ridley, Kemp’s Ridley, Flatback and the Hawksbill. During the period March 1 to 31 of July each year, the Environmental Attackers – Turtle Watching programme comes alive on Union Island.

Visitors may experience the nesting activity of the Leatherback Turtle, a Giant Ancient Water Dinosaur that can grow up to 8 feet in length and weigh up to 1 Ton (2000 pounds).

Persons may also swim with the Hawksbill turtles at the Tobago Cays Marine Park. Maybe one day you may swim with “baby turtle.”