MSC Cruises Spots Loggerhead Turtle Hatchlings on Ocean Cay

MSC Cruises said that it has seen hundreds of tiny Loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings make their way to sea from numerous nests that have appeared on Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, the company’s private island in The Bahamas.

According to a press release, the sightings are a culmination of MSC Cruises’ successful project to return the island and its surrounding waters to its former status as a thriving environment for indigenous flora and fauna. More than six nests have been identified so far and are being monitored on the island, MSC said.

Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve is founded on a strong commitment to the conservation of marine life with 64 square miles of protected waters around the island. From its conception, MSC said that the goal was to return the former industrial sand excavation site to its pristine beauty and to attract local species of fauna and flora both on land and in the ocean. MSC said that since the island’s opening in late 2019, it has developed a “rich marine ecosystem and proof of the progress of the conservation program can be seen with the fact that Loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings have been observed making their way to sea from nests on the island.”

“We are all absolutely thrilled to see Loggerhead turtles come to Ocean Cay’s beaches to lay eggs so soon. This can take many years to happen with a newly restored ecosystem and we weren’t certain that they would come or when. We hope to see many more hatchlings in future nesting seasons and that these recent arrivals return to Ocean Cay when the time comes for them to nest,” said MSC Cruises’ Director of Sustainability, Linden Coppell.

MSC said that once evidence of nesting was identified this year on the Cay, all nesting sites were marked and monitored regularly to protect these vulnerable species and ensure their best chance of survival. Procedures are in place within the island-wide Biodiversity Management Plan to encourage turtles and assure their protection, particularly during the egg-laying season.

One of the priorities on Ocean Cay is the restoration of coral, according to the press release.

“(It is) an integral part of the marine ecosystem and needs to be protected to ensure biodiversity and protect coastlines. The marine life around the island is thriving and the waters have become popular with Green, Hawksbill and Loggerhead sea turtles, with frequent sightings in the waters around the island. Ocean Cay is an important foraging ground for young sea turtles and hatchlings when they frequent coastal habitats such as seagrass beds and coral reefs,” MSC wrote.

MSC said that during the restoration of the island, a freshwater wetland was identified as an “important ecological feature that supports the avian population.” This was safeguarded and as a result, a number of different bird species have been seen on the island, including breeding pairs, a resident burrowing owl, and an increase in migrating populations.

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