By: John Roberts
|Bulldozers with dead turtles|
A construction crew working on a Caribbean beach has inadvertently destroyed thousands of rare leatherback turtle eggs and hatchlings.
Bulldozers diverted a river running along a beach in Trinidad accidentally exposed eggs and hatchlings by moving away too much sand.More than 20,000 eggs were crushed or devoured by vultures and stray dogs that descended on the area.
Tourists who traveled to Trinidad to see the sea turtles could only watch helplessly as they were consumed.
The narrow strip of beach in Grand Riviere on the north coast of the island is widely considered to be the densest nesting area in the world for the leatherback, the largest of the species that can grow to over seven feet long, weighs more than a ton and can live up to 100 years.
This is a protected species worldwide, with females burying their eggs in the sand.
While a female can lay up to 85 eggs only one percent of the eggs survive. Work crews using bulldozers and other heavy machinery had been asked to divert a river from the hotel, where tourists from around the world had gathered to see the emergence of the turtle. The owner of the Mount Plaisir Estate Hotel, said the Grand River needed to be diverted, as it was undermining the foundations of their building.
But Piero Guerrini said hotel workers filed the work without proper zoning maps and dug up thousands of turtle eggs.
"For some reason, they dug up the other end of the beach, completely invading the good nesting sites.
This could have been avoided with a more prudent approach. But it was too late and it was on the wrong track," said Guerrini.
Mr. Guerrini said his guests were horrified as the offspring and injured turtles died on the beach. Crushed eggs filled the beach, while others could see baby turtles struggling for survival.
"This really put a lot of bad images in the minds of the people," said Guerrini.
Conservation workers blamed the government of Trinidad by not coordinating the work and acting too slowly to divert the river.
Marc de Verteuil, spokesman of the organization Conservation Papa Bois, said: "Their equipment was basically crushing a much larger part of the beach that made sense. It seemed like a bit of a panic and they did not follow the procedure.
It's a failure of governance."
A spokesman for Trinity Works Ministry has refused to comment.