The Virgin Islands National Park Sea Turtle 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 including the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument. Managed by Program Managers, Adren Anderson and Willow Melamet working with Park Rangers and a team of some 90 volunteers, the program is funded by Friends and includes:
Nest Protection - Nests are protected and monitored throughout incubation and excavated upon emergence
Volunteer Beach Monitoring - Volunteers walk assigned beaches from June to November looking for signs of sea turtle nesting activity.
Research - Independent research as well as collaborations with other programs and institutions help us gain a better understanding of the sea turtles utilizing the waters and beaches of the Virgin Islands.
About Sea Turtles
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, hawksbill, and greens sea turtles are known to nest on the beaches of St. John. Loggerheads are very rare, but have been spotted.
Hawksbill sea turtles comprise 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 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.
- Friends Virtual Seminar: VINP Sea Turtle Monitoring and Protection Program Update (Oct 2020)
- Practice Sea Turtle Friendly Snorkeling
- A Visitors Guide to Sea Turtle Encounters
- A Guide To Identifying Hatchling Tracks
- Species Card: Green Sea Turtle
- Species Card: Hawksbill Sea Turtle
- NPS: VIIS Turtle Monitoring Site
- NPS: Online Snorkel Trip: Turtles & Fish in the VI
- In The News: Virgin Islands Daily News: Increase in volunteers bolsters support for turtle monitoring program
2021/2022 Season Volunteers Needed
The Virgin Islands National Park Sea Turtle Monitoring and Protection Program that the Friends supports is looking for volunteers. Dedicated and trained volunteers monitor assigned beaches at least 1-2 times a week from July through November looking for sea turtle nesting activity. Nests are protected and monitored throughout the duration of incubation.
Volunteer Requirements: 1-2 hours per week from July-November / Currently living on St. John / Personal transportation / Attendance of a training session