Thoughts and Threats: Understanding the Current Sea Turtle Landscape in Southern Belize

Authors: Alysa M Delgado*, University of Alabama, Michael K. Steinberg, University of Alabama
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Coastal and Marine, Environmental Science
Keywords: sea turtles, Belize, conservation, threats, marine protected areas
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Belize has the potential to be a sea turtle refuge due to it's low population density and wealth of critical nesting and foraging habitat. The last known nationwide assessment was completed in 1992 as a part of the WIDECAST Sea Turtle Recovery and Action Plan (STRAP). Since, limited turtle nest monitoring and reporting has influenced a belief that Southern Belize may no longer be an active region for sea turtle species, including the critically endangered Hawksbill, Eretmochelys imbricata. This study uses an interdisciplinary approach to examine the current sea turtle landscape by conducting both ethnographic and threat surveys within three critical Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Southern Belize. While among stakeholders there appears to be clear misconceptions about sea turtle nesting activities and threats, sea turtles are generally viewed as valuable and positively influenced by the protective measures of the reserves. Belizean sea turtle nesting sites are currently facing both natural and anthropogenic threats at varying severities, however there are still several active sites that are relatively un-threatened. This research provides critical information regarding sea turtle nesting in Southern Belize at a time when management agencies have the opportunity to reduce threats and hopefully strengthen local nesting populations.

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