There has been an outpouring of outrage on social media over the ‘cruel and heartless’ killing of a nesting turtle on Vigie Beach after a video of the dead animal went viral.
Individuals off camera could be heard expressing their disgust.
Fisheries Biologist Yvonne Edwin told St. Lucia Times that National Conservation Authority (NCA) employees cleaning the beach and other individuals called the Fisheries Department voicing concern on Monday morning.
Edwin said it appeared a piece of wood was used to smash the hawksbill turtle’s head.
“The turtle was left for dead while it was nesting,” the Fisheries Biologist explained.
“There was evidence that the turtle dug a hole and was in the process of nesting when it was attacked and killed,” Edwin stated.
She told St. Lucia Times that something may have interrupted the perpetrator or perpetrators, causing them not to make off with the creature.
Ironically, the incident occurred on World Biodiversity Day, while Tuesday is World Turtle Day.
The Fisheries Act outlines conditions for the turtle fishery, violations of which could attract a maximum $5,000 fine.
Edwin told St. Lucia Times there are also conditions ensuring the protection of nesting turtles, their eggs, and hatchlings year-round.
“That means that no one should interfere with a turtle that is nesting, take their eggs or the baby turtles,” she explained.
In addition, she said when the fishery is open between October and December, there is a weight limit for adult turtles.
However, local conservationists have urged the government to ban hunting turtles completely.
They note that among 195 countries, Saint Lucia is only one of forty-two allowing turtle hunting.
Hawksbill turtles appear on the critically endangered Red list of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Four of the seven species of the creature visit the waters of Saint Lucia and the Caribbean.
Last year the Department of Fisheries launched a turtle fishery survey soliciting input and observations on strengthening and protecting the resource.