Workmen destroy more than 20,000 rare turtle eggs after bulldozers were driven on to beach


Rare occurrence: A leatherback sea turtle lays her eggs in daylight during 2011. The turtle can lay up to 85 eggs but only around one per cent survive to adulthood. The animals normally lay their eggs at night

A construction crew working on a Caribbean beach has inadvertently destroyed thousands of rare Leatherback turtle eggs and newly hatched turtles.
Bulldozers diverting a river that runs along a beach in Trinidad mistakenly exposed the eggs and newborn turtles by shifting too much sand.
As many as 20,000 eggs were crushed or eaten by vultures and stray dogs that descended on the area.
Tourists who had travelled to Trinidad to watch the sea turtles hatch could only look on helplessly as they were consumed.

Disaster: The leatherback turtle eggs can be seen lying on the sand next to the bulldozer than destroyed them in Trinidad

The thin strip of beach in Grand Riviere on the north coast of the island is widely regarded as the world’s densest nesting area for Leatherback turtles, the largest of the species which can grow to more than seven feet long, weigh over a ton and live up to 100 years.They are a globally protected species with females burying their eggs in sand.
While a female can lay up to 85 eggs only one per cent survive.Work crews using bulldozers and other heavy machinery had been asked to divert a river away from the hotel where tourists from all over the world had gathered to watch the turtle hatching.

Habitat: The beach is widely regarded as the world's densest nesting area for the biggest of all living sea turtles

The owner of the Mount Plaisir Estate Hotel said the Grand River needed to to be diverted as it was undermining the foundations of his building.
But hotelier Piero Guerrini said the workers turned up without the proper zoning maps and dug up thousands of the turtle eggs.
'For some reason they dug up the far end of the beach, absolutely encroaching into the good nesting areas. 'This could have been avoided with a much wiser approach. But it was done too late and it was done in the wrong way,' said Guerrini.
Mr Guerrini said his guests were horrified as the injured hatchlings died on the beach. Crushed eggs littered the beach while other baby turtles could be seen struggling to survive.
'This really put a lot of bad images in people’s minds,' Guerrini said.

A group of the turtles shortly after their birth. The largest of the species can grow up to be more than seven feet long, weigh over a ton and live for up to 100 years

Conservationist blamed the Trinidad Government for not coordinating the work and acting too slowly to divert the river.
Marc de Verteuil, of the Papa Bois Conservation organization, said: 'Their equipment was basically crushing a much, much larger part of the beach than made sense. It looked like a bit of a panic reaction and they didn’t follow procedure.
'It’s a failure of governance.'
A spokesman for the Trinidad Ministry of Works has refused to comment.

source: dailymail