Sea Turtle Monitoring, Protection & Education

Our Sea Turtle Monitoring, Protection and Education Program aims to protect sea turtle nests, facilitate research projects, and spread awareness of sea turtle conservation in Virgin Islands National Park and its surrounding waters in the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument. For the 2018-2019 fiscal year we are extremely grateful to the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands for their grant award supporting the program. 

Coordinated by an intern working with Park Rangers and funded by Friends, the volunteer-based beach monitoring program seeks to locate and monitor sea turtle nests around the island during the nesting season, and help raise awareness about how and why we protect these special ancient creatures.  
Sea turtles have been swimming the world’s oceans for over 100 million years.  Today, there are seven recognized species of sea turtles; all of which are threatened, endangered, or critically endangered by national (Endangered Species Act) and international (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) classifications.  Four of the seven species can be seen in the waters around the USVI : hawksbills, greens, leatherbacks, and loggerheads.  The leatherback and hawksbill sea turtles are known to nest on the beaches of St. John, and the greens are commonly spotted foraging offshore. Loggerheads are very rare, but have been spotted.

Hawksbill sea turtles comprises the majority of our nests on St. John.  While these turtles nest year-round, the peak of the nesting season is from August to November. During this time, these turtles will return to their natal beaches and deposit between 3-5 nests at 14 day intervals. Each nest contains around 80-200 ping-pong shaped eggs that incubate for around 55-75 days. Leatherbacks have also been known to nest on St. John.  In fact, Trunk Bay was named after the large ‘trunk-like’ turtles using the area as a nesting ground.

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Have You Seen A Turtle Today? 

You can help us track and monitor the health of our sea turtle population! Download the "Ranger Hawksbill" app in Google Play or iTunes (free) and click the "Turtle Tracker" to share when and where. Please, remember, never touch or grab the turtles! Download our "Guide to Sea Turtle Encounters" above to learn more helpful tips and useful information! 

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