Imagine if your idyllic vacation to the Caribbean not only involved luxurious accommodations, pristine beaches and a lush tropical landscape, but also offered the one-of-a-kind opportunity to take part in a meaningful effort to save endangered sea turtles? Well, thanks to an incredible partnership between The Four Seasons Resort Nevis and the Sea Turtle Conservancy (with help from passionate members of the extraordinary Nevis Turtle Group), for a few days every summer, guests of the resort can take a hands-on role in saving sea turtles.
Every year, as the sun-kissed sands of Nevis begin to warm, the island becomes a vital destination for endangered sea turtles. Drawn by instinct, these magnificent creatures return to the very beach on which they were hatched, to continue the ancient cycle of life and ensure the survival of their species.
On the beaches of Nevis, you can primarily find three species of sea turtles that come to nest: the hawksbill, the leatherback, and the green turtle. Upon reaching maturity (which can take 25 years or longer) these turtles journey hundreds of miles each nesting season to return to where they were born, and under the moon’s gentle glow lay up to 200 eggs to give birth to the next generation. Given that only 1 in 1,000 to 10,000 baby sea turtles survive beyond the hatchling stage, sea turtle conservation programs are essential if the species is to survive.
The Four Seasons Resort Nevis, aware of its responsibility to protect and conserve the sea turtles’ nesting grounds, initiated a partnership with the Sea Turtle Conservancy sixteen years ago. By collaborating with this nonprofit organization (formerly known as the Caribbean Conservation Corporation, it’s the world’s oldest sea turtle research and conservation group), the resort works to raise awareness about the plight of sea turtles — nearly all of which are endangered — and engage its guests in hands-on conservation efforts.
The resort’s annual sea turtle conservation program begins when a dedicated team of conservationists from the Sea Turtle Conservancy arrive at the resort. Armed with knowledge, experience, and, most notably a contagious enthusiasm for safeguarding sea turtles and their marine ecosystem, they work tirelessly with the resort staff to create an unforgettable experience.
The focus of the Four Seasons Resort Nevis’ annual sea turtle conservation program is threefold: a sea turtle reception with David Godfrey, executive director of the STC, who talks about the organization’s conservation program and the do’s and don’ts when interacting with sea turtles. The reception is followed by two nightly beach walks where guests are invited to join the STC team to patrol the local breaches to find a nesting sea turtle. Under the watchful eye of STC experts, small groups patrol the beaches — don’t worry, careful measures are put in place to minimize disturbance to the turtles. Once a turtle is found, participants must then wait for the turtle to finish nesting, hide her nest from poachers, and then return with the turtle to the resort.
There are also two morning sea turtle release events (the “adopted” turtles are named and satellite tagged with transmitters for research purposes). Sea turtles can be followed for up to several years via the STC’s Tour de Turtles website until the transmitter falls off. The sense of hope and excitement as the sea turtle is released is palpable. There is an amazing sense of being part of something truly special as travelers from around the world gather on the sandy shores of Nevis, united in a common purpose to witness a timeless cycle of life.
Finally, there is also a popular Sea Turtle Kids Camp where both local children and young resort guests between the age of 3 to 13 years can spend the day together learning about sea turtles and engaging in turtle-centric educational and creative activities throughout the day.
Even once the program activities are over, the Nevis Turtle Group, led by Lemmy Pemberton who is joined by a group of concerned locals, continue to monitor the beaches to track nesting sea turtles and cover up their tracks and nesting sites so poachers can’t raid the nests. Likewise the Four Seasons Resort Nevis and the Sea Turtle Conservancy’s commitment to safeguarding turtles continues and guests are encouraged to support the Sea Turtle Conservancy’s mission by contributing to the cause or doing what they can to combat plastic pollution, climate change and other threats to sea turtles and marine life.
As the sun sets on yet another successful year of sea turtle conservation a sense of hope and determination lingers in the air. The collaboration between the Four Seasons Resort Nevis and the Sea Turtle Conservancy serves as a model for how the travel and hospitality industry can contribute to the preservation of Earth’s fragile wildlife. There’s no doubt that as guests depart from this Caribbean paradise, they will continue to carry within themselves not only cherished memories but also a newfound appreciation for the unique bond between humankind and the natural world.