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[WATCH] Turtle lays eggs at Golden Bay: Nature Trust calls for volunteers

Nature Trust appeals for volunteers to help watch over a turtle's nesting site in Golden Bay

Staff Reporter
2 August 2016, 11:37am
Last updated on 2 August 2016, 6:26pm
Volunteer watches over eggs laid by turtle
Volunteer watches over eggs laid by turtle
Nature Trust calls for volunteers after turtle lays eggs at Golden Bay
A turtle has nested at Golden Bay, laying between 40 to 100 eggs in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Nature Trust Malta has called on volunteers to help watch over the site and to ensure that no damage is caused by passers-by. Members of the police force were seen on site.

In a Facebook post, Nature Trust explained that one of its volunteers had confirmed the nesting and had gone down to the area to keep control of the crowd.

"We now need to set up a roster to guard the nest like the Gnejna one, since this is in the middle of Golden Bay where people pass all the time," Nature Trust said.

Anyone who would like to volunteer is urged to contact Nature Trust on kareng@onvol.net and cc info@naturetrustmalta.org. This will help Nature Trust set up a roster between volunteers and staff from the Environment Resources Authority, who spent the night monitoring the turtle nest.

The last time such a nest was confirmed was in Gnejna, back in 2012. Even then, Nature Trust had set up a similar volunteer-driven turtle watch roster. This year's roster will be compiled for the next 70 days.

Following information provided by members of the public some time after 10pm, ERA officials immediately went on site and confirmed that eggs had been laid shortly before midnight.  They then proceeded to assess the situation and decide on the most appropriate way forward to ensure that the nest was not in any danger. ERA staff were relieved of their duties at around 3am when volunteers from Nature Trust took over.

"Such joint effort is vital for the viability of the eggs within the nest," said a spokesperson for the ERA, who welcomed and thanked all involved for the support given especially the volunteers of Nature Trust.

The turtle that nested in Golden Bay yesterday night is a loggerhead turtle (Maltese: il-fekruna l-komuni), scientifically known as Caretta caretta, which is a long-living, slowly maturing marine species that inhabits tropical to warm temperate areas.

This species is currently classified as globally endangered by the World Conservation Area (IUCN) and is also protected by various national and international legislation. 

Capturing, killing, taking, and trading these turtles, as well as the deliberate disturbance of these species, particularly during the period of breeding, rearing and migration, is prohibited and subject to legal action. 

Even the destruction of eggs or taking of eggs from the wild is strictly prohibited and constitutes a criminal offence.  In fact the local ‘Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations’ impose a minimum fine of nearly €500 and going up to nearly €2400 for each egg that may be destroyed or taken from the wild.  Golden Bay itself is a protected area that also boasts a Blue Flag status. 

Such turtle nestings increase the value and rating of Blue Flag bays, the ERA said.

Presently loggerhead nests are mostly found in the central and eastern part of the Mediterranean basin, mainly in Libya, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt, but small populations also nest in Tunisia, Sicily, and Lampedusa. In the past turtle species also nested in southern Italy and Corsica, apart from Malta. There is evidence that nesting incidences in the Maltese Islands are on the increase.

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