The island of Antigua, in the Eastern Caribbean, hosts important populations of hawksbill, green, and leatherback turtles. The Antigua Sea Turtle Project (ASTP) monitors sea turtle populations there and collects data on nesting numbers. It also plays an important role in turtle conservation. Staff protect nesting turtles from artificial lighting, entrapment in building and swimming pools, poaching, and predation by the invasive mongoose. The team of eight volunteers also raises awareness with presentations in schools, communities and hotels, turtle-watching trips, and media publicity. The ASTP works with coastal properties to protect beachfront habitats from erosion caused by storms or construction, places signs at nesting sites, develops conservation guidelines for important habitats, and rescues stranded turtles.
Developing sustainable income sources is critical to the continuation of sea turtle conservation activities. Seacology is funding a women’s livelihood initiative in cooperation with the ASTP. The program will help local artisans produce and market jewelry from “bottle beads”— colorful glass beads made from bottles found on the beaches. The ASTP will supply materials for a line of jewelry with a sea turtle theme and upgrade the artisans’ workshop. It will buy the finished products directly from the artists and market them, with the proceeds supporting turtle conservation efforts.