The Bermuda Post Office issued a new commemorative stamp series this week celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Bermuda Turtle Project and the organisation’s efforts to promote the conservation of marine turtles through research and education.
The new series, designed by Sheila Semos includes a souvenir sheet and stamps in values of .50¢, $1.15, $1.35 and $1.55.
The information published with the new series states:
Bermuda’s connection with sea turtles goes back to the first arrival of humans on our shores at a time when turtles were a valuable resource for early settlers. Despite legislation adopted in 1620 to protect against the taking of juvenile turtles, by the end of the 1700’s, the adult green turtle population was decimated. The law failed to halt the destruction of our breeding colony. If our forefathers had understood the complex migrations of sea turtles, effective conservation measures would have been possible.
For more than half a century the research of the Bermuda Turtle Project has focused on the understanding of sea turtle biology so that successful protection can be afforded these animals in Bermuda and throughout the their range.
With esteemed scientific directors, effective longstanding partnerships, excellent science, innumerable volunteers and donors, and a lot of passion, the mark and recapture study has examined and analysed information for some 4000 green turtles and 138 hawksbill turtles living in our inshore waters between 1968 and 2016. More than 1,500 recaptures of tagged green turtles provide one of the largest data sets in the world on growth rates, habitat use and movements of free-ranging, immature green turtles.
Green turtles arrive in Bermuda a few years after hatching on distant nesting beaches and may stay as long as 20 years in what is called developmental habitat, leaving before they mature. They come from all over the North Atlantic making conservation decisions here relevant to numerous rookeries, including Florida, Mexico, Cuba, Costa Rica, Aves Island, and/or Surinam, and probably Guinea Bissau and Cyprus. Once in Bermuda young green turtles choose a sea grass bed to which they exhibit strong fidelity. Some individuals demonstrate daily shuttling behavior between their feeding site and adjacent resting sites. They slow down physiologically in cold months and may move into slightly deeper water. Green turtles tagged in Bermuda have been recaptured as far away as Texas, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venzuela, and have emerged on nesting beaches in Florida, Costa Rica and Mexico. There is a long time between departure from Bermuda and emergence on distant nesting beaches for these long-lived reptiles.
Despite complete legal protection from exploitation in Bermuda’s waters, entanglement in marine debris such as monofilament line or abandoned fishing nets, plastic ingestion, incidental capture in fisheries, disturbance, and boat strikes are among the many threats to Bermuda’s sea turtles.
Although Bermuda’s nesting sea turtles are known in Bermuda waters. The green turtle is by far most common, but hawksbills are so regularly seen, usually on coral reefs. Loggerheads and leatherbacks occasionally occur in the deeper waters around Bermuda but are rarely seen on the platform. Kemp’s ridley is a very rarely seen in Bermuda waters.
- Bermuda Turtle Project – A collaboration between the Bermuda Zoological Society and the Sea Turtle Conservancy. Scientific Directors: Dr Anne Meylan and Dr Peter Meylan. Bermuda Director: Jennifer Gray. More information online on conserveturtles.org/bermuda