WITH THE official start of this year's nesting season for endangered sea turtles just around the bend on March 1, it's time to clear the clutter off local beaches.
On March 3, Matura-based turtle-watching and conservation group, Nature Seekers, will host its annual beach clean-up and sand turtle competition and all are invited.
Trinidad is a nesting retreat to most of the world's species of sea turtles, including the critically endangered leatherback.
The North Coast on the whole has become a prolific nesting site, with Matura being one of the most intensive spots and one of the most popular for turtle-watchers during six-month season.
The human influence is all too clear, however, as the beach is under constant siege by debris either left by visitors during the off-season and by garbage and flotsam washed ashore.
As they compete with each other for limited nesting space, the turtles must also risk injury and share space with rubbish littering the beaches.
"Matura beaches—Rincon and Orosco—are globally important nesting sites for critically endangered leatherback sea turtles," Nature Seekers said last week.
"This shoreline is 7.4 kilometres in length and we are hoping to clean at least four kilometres. The objectives of this event are to remove marine debris and litter that have accumulated and prevented successful nesting, and to facilitate successful turtle viewing."
Expected outcomes include the elimination of obstacles that prevent females from nesting and hatchlings from emerging successfully, the provision of a safe environment for the seasonal turtle-viewing programme and the continued support of a sustainable community enterprise of repurposing litter into crafts.
"The waste glass and other reusable items collected on the beach will be converted into crafts by community members," Nature Seekers said.
The clean-up exercise will also serve as an educational tool to inform the public of the importance of keeping waterways clear and free of pollution.
"Volunteers may also witness a daytime nesting turtle since turtles have already started nesting," the group said.
"The event can also provide an educational opportunity regarding the importance of protecting sea turtles and nesting beaches."
Volunteers are advised to take with them plenty of water, sunscreen and hats, insect repellent, shoes or sneakers that protect the feet as coastal cleaning can include walks into the bushes on the shore, a camera, work gloves or rubber gloves, as many garbage bags as possible (but please ensure the garbage is taken away from the site) and a change of clothes.
"Our knowledgeable tour guides will impart their knowledge of the nesting times, average weight and sizes of the turtles as well as insight into hatchlings and their journey back into the deep blue seas," Nature Seekers said.
"Get involved in the weighing, tagging and data collection conducted by the Nature Seekers, to record revisits and even new members of the turtle family here at Matura.
"You can even Adopt- a-Turtle. Come tag your own turtle and share in her story as she travels across the world and sends back messages (through humans of course) that she made it safely to other shorelines.
Log on to www.natureseekers.org or check their page on Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/NatureSeekers for more information.