The St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network (SKSTMN) and Silver Reef St. Kitts teams up

Right to left: Dr. Kimberly Stewart (SKSTMN), Mr. Simon Hill (Silver Reef), Dr Jeremy Rogers (SKSTMN), Mr. Will Henry (Silver Reef)

St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network…28th March 2012 — The St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network (SKSTMN) and Silver Reef St. Kitts assembled a “Turtle Team” for this year’s 10th Annual Bente Weber Memorial Swim held on March 25th. Members of the team procured sponsorship to complete the swim and all funds raised will be used to assist in the development of a Sea Turtle Interpretive Center in St. Kitts.

A total of 34 hardy souls swam the 2.5 mile course across the narrows from Cockleshell Bay to Oualie Beach in support of the endeavor. The “Turtle Team” consisted of people from a variety of different vocations, but all members were passionate about one thing, saving sea turtles and the local marine ecosystem of St. Kitts.

“I was really pleased that so many people were prepared to give up their time and pit themselves against the elements for this cause” said Dr. Stewart, who heads up the Network. “The response has been great and there are even reports that a large hawksbill turtle accompanied some of the swimmers part of the way” she laughed.

The team’s passion paid off with a total of 208 donors contributing to over $10,000 USD.

The SKSTMN is working to build a Sea Turtle Interpretive Center at Keys Beach in St. Kitts which will serve as an orientation center for tours and field trips, a research station, an area to showcase their local craft and jewelry making, a gift shop, and an area for members and visitors to seek refuge from the elements during patrols.

This Center would allow the SKSTMN to reach sustainability by serving as a year round tourist venue and to expand their employee base from 9 sea turtle technicians to at least 15 plus all the ancillary support.

“It would also aid tremendously in educating visitors and residents about these critically endangered animals and about the irreplaceable marine resources of the island” Dr. Stewart continued “We really hope that the center will inspire people to become actively engaged in marine conservation as well as establishing St Kitts as an eco-tourist friendly venue.”

The SKSTMN is a community based non-profit organization founded in 2003 with 3 main goals: to implement a long standing sea turtle conservation management in conjunction with the St. Kitts Department of Marine Resources program; to promote community awareness of the plight of sea turtles; and to provide non consumable sources of income as an alternative to the sea turtle harvest in an effort to decrease pressure on the local turtle populations.

Over the past 9 years, the SKSTMN has developed a broad based program incorporating leatherback night patrols, morning beach monitoring, Sea Turtle Camp, school programs, leatherback ecotours, and alternative livelihoods. This development has prompted the need for a centralized base for its operations.

The SKSTMN and Silver Reef St. Kitts would like to extend a sincere thank you to all participants and sponsors for this event!

For more information on the SKSTMN visit their website at www.stkittsturtles.org. If you would like to donate to the effort please visit the FirstGiving site at <http://www.firstgiving.com/skstmn/swimtosaveseaturtles/fundraisers>.

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