Environment


Atlantic’s focus on the future is linked to our understanding that natural resources are finite, and our responsibility to manage these resources prudently. Our investments in this area are related to the environment – whether through conservation or raising awareness – and the empowerment of future generations. Our goal is to ensure that we leave something behind that the future generations can inherit.

National Sea Turtle Tagging and Monitoring Programme

Trinidad and Tobago hosts one of the largest populations of nesting leatherback turtles in the world. When the Turtle Village Trust was established in 2006, one of its primary objectives was to halt the trend of isolated and disjointed conservation efforts across Trinidad and Tobago. Instead, the Trust sought to build on the synergies of turtle communities in order to address the challenges of sea turtle protection.

Since 2008, Atlantic has been the sole sponsor of the National Sea Turtle Tagging and Monitoring Programme. This programme comprises two (2) elements:

  • The Onshore Monitoring Programme, which supports and facilitates the monitoring and tagging of sea turtles which nest on our beaches, which include the leatherback, hawksbill and green turtles, as well as the related data collection
  • The Offshore Monitoring Programme, which was designed and implemented to facilitate research into the foraging habits of resident green and hawksbill turtles

The programme allows for tagging of turtles using Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags (microchip/satellite tags injected into the turtle) and flipper tags (visible tags on the flippers), which helps conservationists to track migratory patterns and behaviours. Additionally, two (2) additional initiatives have been added to support this programme:

  • GPS geo-tagging is currently being piloted to enhance how conservationists track sea turtles. When compared to manual tagging methods, GPS geo-tagging offers high precision, real-time data on the activity of the tagged turtles. The pilot programme will monitor the offshore movements of hardshell turtles – green and hawksbill species – and will focus on juveniles. This information generated from this activity will assist local and national turtle conservationists in deepening their understanding of these turtle species and their migratory patterns.
  • The Head Start Hatchery Programme seeks to increase the survival rates of the hatchlings of the green and hawksbill species of sea turtles, whose nests are often destroyed by nesting leatherbacks. Based in Grande Riviere, community-based volunteers relocate eggs laid by green and hawksbill turtles to a safe, incubated environment. Upon hatching, most of the hatchlings are safely returned to their natural environment, while roughly 20% are kept for a ‘head start’ period during which time they are reared and monitored in salt water tanks. These turtles are observed from hatchling stage to juvenile stage, weighed and measured on a weekly basis to ensure strong, healthy growth and following a period of about 9-12 months, the juvenile turtles are released into their natural environment.

    This programme will allow local conservationists to manage the hatching success of smaller, more vulnerable species of sea turtle, therefore ensuring higher survival rates of the hatchlings and the juveniles. It also provides a rare opportunity for researchers to study these turtles in their hatchling and juvenile phases and this data can be used to inform conservation policy and efforts in the future.

In addition, the National Sea Turtle Tagging and Monitoring Programme also supports the training of members of the community in nest excavation, sea turtle tagging and associated data collection methods including species identification, use of tag readers and aiding disoriented turtles, as well as nightly beach patrols, and offshore monitoring survey techniques.

These activities are aimed at fostering sustainable tourism in the communities, which inevitably will generate revenue. The data collected aids in deepening understanding of migratory and resident turtles, which can assist the various groups from the turtle communities in raising awareness of the role of sea turtles in the marine eco-system.

Related link:
Learn more about the Turtle Village Trust

 

Atlantic Environment Education Series

Atlantic has partnered with the Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation Programme to develop the Atlantic Environment Education Series. The Atlantic Environment Education Series is a structured intervention which takes primary school children on a fun eco field trip twice a year with an intervention in both the traditional dry and rainy seasons here in Trinidad and Tobago.

Through these field trips, it is expected that the children will gain hands-on knowledge of the critical need to conserve and protect flora and fauna from the threats of deforestation and forest fires. The field trips also help them to understand the impact of climate change and the effects of forest fires on biodiversity.

The programme, based in North Trinidad, targets students of Standard Three in nine (9) primary schools. These schools have been selected due to their location in communities which are affected by fires and floods, are impacting or are impacted by watershed or those that are most likely to share and apply the knowledge learned from the programme.

This structured intervention targets Standard Three pupils from nine (9) schools based in North Trinidad. The students are taken on field trips, which help them to understand the impact of climate change and the effects of forest fires on biodiversity.