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Sea Turtles and Bakers Bay Club

January 01, 2010 | whereabouts

Turtle Nesting Ground, to be
split up into 6 Lots AT BAKERS BAY

I was under the understanding that Discovery Land Company decided to build only one lot at Gumelemi Cay, which is crucial to preserve as a critical sea turtle nesting site for 3 species of sea turtles. Apparently, Kathleen Sullivan-Sealey, the paid environmental consultant for the developer, talked them into putting only one lot up on that site.

Sealey told residents of Great Guana Cay as much in late 2006, when she met with residents of the island. Additionally, Jeff Jones told the islanders the same. This likely happened because the world's most famous ocean conservationist, Jean-Michel Cousteau, chastised the development for its plan to put 4-5 mega-mansions on the tiny islet.

But a new Bakers Bay Club website reveals that the company is not splitting the mini-islet into 4 or 5 lots, as previously advertised, but now, in fact, into six lots.

Gumelemi Cay

Notes from the Road has interviewed several of the most respected Sea Turtle scientists and conservationists. They all agree that the plans to put homes over these nesting grounds is insane.

Bakers Bay Club uses the press to create a feel-good feeling about their development, specifically using the turtles. In 2006, for example, the Abaconian published a press release thinly veiled as an article, about Bakers Bay Club employees 'rescuing' turtles nests from locals, who, according to the article, dig up, poach and eat the turtle eggs any chance they get!

Turtles

This Bakers Bay Club press release was printed as fact in the Abaconian last year. It's contents have been completely fabricated. Bakers Bay is opposed by the world's most respected Sea Turtle experts, because the unwieldy size of their development adjacent to sea turtle nesting grounds poses a grave danger to at least 3 endangered species.

Bakers Bay Club's decision to increase the amount of units on Gumelemi Cay to 6 while lying to the public to say they had reduced the number to one is a dangerous move.

February 7, 2008 | Sea Turtles

The Tragedy of the Turtle

I just received this well written letter written by an observer of Guana Cay issues. Enjoy:

Turtles can't read. But they sure know then they are not wanted! The crackle and glow of continual fires, month after month as coppice and mangroves burn; the rumble of bulldozers and cranes reshaping the islands contours; the penetrating growl of chain saws and back-hoes removing Casuarinas along the dunes; the cloudy, sand filled waters choked from a year of dredging..these events speak to the turtles.

Proof that Guana's turtles have gotten the message is the dismal hatch for the 2007 nesting season. As recently as 2005 the NW end of Guana Cay boasted dozens of turtle nests with thousands of hatchlings. What happened?

Many factors are contributing to the plummeting populations of Bahamas turtles: illegal poaching of protected species, inability of Government to enforce the C.I.T.E.S. endangered species protection treaty, illegal construction of sea walls and bulkheads, encroachment of development, and habitat destruction or disturbance.

Where has Guana Cay gone wrong? The residents of Guana have lived in respectful harmony with the nesting turtles for centuries. In 2005, however, then Prime Minister Christie enticed a mega-developer to create a gated, golf and marina community on Guana Cay. This removed one third of the little islands area from local protection. The developers "experimental" approach put forth in, their own Environmental Impact Assessment, speaks for itself after three years. Their own report on the turtle hatch for the 2007 season confirms the locals' worst fears. (November 1, 2007 Abaconian, Turtle Hatch) Less than 5% of the projected number of baby turtles successfully entered the ocean. Considering only one per thousand reaches maturity, the failure on Guana Cay is attracting world-wide scientific attention.

Green Sea Turtle

Green turtles vanishing at Bakers Bay Site. Photo credit Dreamstime.

The developer, Discovery Land and Bakers Bay Golf and Ocean Club, must concede that their environmental "experiment" has been a failure where the turtles are concerned. The scientific community and native Bahamians alike, await the results of their experiment as far as reefs and mangroves are concerned. Meanwhile, the new Government, headed by Prime Minister Ingraham, appears helpless to enforce or even acknowledge independent scientists recommendations to curb some aspects of the development in order to ensure the survival of critical ecosystems.