Community relocate leatherback turtles’ eggs to hatchery site  - Solomon Star News

Community relocate leatherback turtles’ eggs to hatchery site 

06 February 2021
Infant Leatherback turtles find there way out to the sea after 60-70 days incubated at Baniata hatchery beach. [Photo: Johnson Haron]

COMMUNITIES on the southern weather coast of Rendova in Western Province have relocated leatherback turtle eggs from their beaches that are vulnerable to the extreme weather events currently affecting the country. These beaches represent the largest leatherback turtle nesting beaches in Western Province.

Speaking to this paper Alec Hughes, Program Manager for Wildlife Conservation Society in the Solomon Islands said based on “a combination of extreme tides and weather tropical depressions in the region produced strong storm surges which have later inundated the nesting beaches on Rendova. Fortunately, all the hatcheries remain intact. 

“However, it's important to note these recent weather events highlight the very important role that the communities of Rendova are playing by relocating the eggs from the exposed beaches to the safety of hatcheries as this will help to ensure the eggs have a better chance of hatching successfully,” he added.

For the past 15 plus years, the weather coast communities like Retavo, Baniata, and Havilla have been actively involved in the conservation of these leatherback turtles. During the nesting season, community members regularly patrol the beaches at night to relocate nesting turtles and nests so that the eggs can be relocated to hatcheries to keep them safe not only from weather events but also from predators such as lizards, dogs, crabs, etc.

Johnson Haron, community elder for Baniata said there are three hatcheries on the weather coast of Rendova, one at Baniata and the other two at Retavo and Havilla. 

“Although the waves did not destroy our main hatchery at Baniata, the incoming waves have deposited fresh layers of sand on top of the Retavo and Havilla hatcheries,” he said. 

Due to the higher tides and effects of cyclones, Johnson said that they plan to relocate the hatchery sites further inland at Retavo and Havilla later this year once the incubating eggs have hatched. 

Johnson said, “the eggs typically hatch 60-70 days after nesting.”

For those wanting to visit Rendova and witness nesting and hatching turtle, the nesting season runs from October to March, he added. 

This year is the peak season when leatherback turtles come to lay eggs on their beaches. 

Meanwhile, Johnson also thanked the Tetepare Descendants Association (TDA), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and the Solomon Islands Community Conservation Partnership (SICCP) for their support with keeping the turtle program going.