Sandals Foundation Strengthens Turtle Conservation And Research At Levera With Ocean Spirits 

PR – In its mandate to strengthen environmental stewardship across the region, the Sandals Foundation has partnered with local marine NGO Ocean Spirits for turtle conservation, research, and outreach. Grenada is home to one of the region’s key nesting sites for the endangered leatherback sea turtles at Levera Beach in the north of the island. Through this latest partnership, the philanthropic arm of Sandals Resorts has provided support to Ocean Spirits to monitor the activities of leatherback and the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles throughout the key nesting season from March to August and educate the wider community about their importance. 

“With many of the risks facing sea turtles (including egg harvesting and plastic pollution) being manmade, community involvement and education are critical components to actioning conservation efforts” says Deleon Forester, Public Relations Manager at Sandals Grenada Resort.

Together, the teams successfully reached some 300 people through various outreach, education and training sessions.

“Oceans Spirits research team members updated their First Aid training and reviewed the latest turtle research protocols to advance our conservation efforts and a further 155 students were reached via hands-on field- learning to build awareness of the beautiful marine creatures,” says Kate Charles, Ocean Spirits, Project Managing Director and Marine Biologist.

Additional capacity building efforts included internships for six university students studying marine biology to gain hands on research experience through immersive field work. Fisher folk from local communities were also exposed to turtle conservation practices and trained to become researchers.   

According to Kate Charles (Ocean Spirits, Project Managing Director and Marine Biologist), “This year’s research is our 24th year of sea turtle conservation efforts. Funding from Sandals Foundation allowed us to be present on the nesting beaches to ensure turtles nested without disturbances and harvest. This nesting and foraging population data gathered now allows us to determine best practices needed for sea turtle protection going forward with declines being observed throughout the region. The dedication and passion of our local researchers and boat teams are pivotal in improving sea turtle protection, making this project a success and ensuring long term monitoring is sustained.” 

This year’s nesting season ended with 271 leatherback turtle encounters recorded of which 193 were confirmed successful nests. Some 10% of the total nests were carefully excavated to determine hatch success, with a 28.5% success rate for leatherback sea turtles and 95% success for hawksbill sea turtles. This translates to approximately 13,500 hawksbill hatchlings and 5000 leatherback hatchlings successfully emerging and entering the ocean.