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Sea Turtle Nesting Season Has Started!

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Virgin Island Sea Turtle Nesting

The National Park Service celebrates its twenty-fifth year of research on the sea turtles nesting at Buck Island Reef National Monument. The National Park Service along with our partner agencies (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USVI DPNR Division of Fish and Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy) would like to take this opportunity to inform the public about sea turtles and the special consideration we need to give them while they are here in our islands to nest on our beaches.

The nesting season for Virgin Island sea turtles (leatherback, green, loggerhead, and hawksbill) begins in March and continues through December of each year. There are several key nesting areas on St. Croix including Buck Island Reef NM, USFWS Sandy Point NWR, St. Croix’s East End Beaches – Jack’s, Issac’s, and East End Beach, and Haypenney; Nearly ALL beaches, however, on St. Croix are utilized by nesting sea turtles.

Beaches on Buck Island Reef NM, are patrolled nightly to protect nesting turtles and to continue long-term research on these endangered sea turtles in the US Virgin Islands. This project begins July 15th and will last into October.

If you encounter turtles nesting or hatchlings on ANY St. Croix beach, it is important to remember the following:

1. Protected - all sea turtles are protected throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Beach users need to closely follow all regulations, especially pertaining to beach fires, dogs, no digging in dry sand and never use tent stakes. Violations are subject to prosecution under civil and criminal laws and charged heavy penalties.

2. Drive slow - boat operators should drive cautiously; sea turtles rise slowly to the surface to breathe, and it takes them several seconds to dive to safety when they hear an approaching motor boat.

3. Shield lights - bright lights along beaches will disorient nesting adult sea turtles and hatchlings; coastal property owners are encouraged to modify or discontinue use of outdoor lights.

4. Keep your distance – do not interfere with nesting or hatchling sea turtles; observe from a distance. Do not use flashlights or flash photography.

5. How to help - if you find an adult or nest or hatchling sea turtle in distress please contact one of the following parties:

At Buck Island Reef National Monument
NPS Resource Management 24 hour: (340) 277-6863
NPS Headquarters Christiansted: (340) 773-1460 (8:30 am to 4:30 pm)

At Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge
USFWS: (340) 773-4554 or (340) 690-9451

All other locations
Dept. Fish and Wildlife 24 hour: (340) 643-0800

The National Park Service thanks all of our community members and friends for 50 years of support for Buck Island and look forward to an exciting year of events celebrating our unique resource.
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