This is your opportunity to support and work as part of a unique conservation project. The Oracabessa Bay Sea Turtle Project monitors and protects critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles on the Oracabessa Bay beach and in the area. Due to the huge success of the project, over 100 nests and 16,000 hatchlings are now recorded each year. Join this regionally important project to learn about these exceptional creatures and play your part in sea turtle conservation.
A visitor to the project will be trained to assist in:
Monitoring the nesting process, tagging and measuring the female turtles
This involves being on the beach at night and watching the sea turtles come ashore, dig their nest, lay their eggs, close up the nest and return to sea. At the point the sea turtles begin to lay their eggs we are able to tag the turtle and measure its overall size. The position of the nest is recorded ready for the cleaning process the next day.
Measuring and recording sea turtle tracks and nests
In the morning after the laying the tracks are measured and photographed. A diagram of the position on the beach is made and the exact location of the nest is recorded. The beach is then cleaned to hide the tracks and nest to prevent anyone tampering with the nest or removing the eggs. If the nest is laid in a position which could damage the eggs through water damage, or is a position in which the eggs will not develop, then it is moved to a safer location on the beach.
To maximize the percentage of eggs that hatch and reach the sea we release the turtles from the nest. If the turtles hatch naturally, as they cross the beach an average 30% of the nest will be lost to predators. In addition, a number of turtles may be trapped in the nest after hatching. By releasing the nest, the number of turtles hatching from any nest is maximized and predators are prevented from attacking the hatchlings. The timing of the nest release is about 90 minutes before sunset, because at this time the larger fish, that would attack and eat the hatchlings, are not in the bay.
We offer the opportunity to visit during June, July, August, and September. Your visit includes:
|On time airport pick-up and drop-off|
Visitors to the project will also have free time to relax on the beach or visit the many exciting attractions the area has to offer.
|7 days, 6 nights||US$1100 US$850*|
|5 Days, 4 Nights||US$850 US$600*|
|3 Days, 2 Nights (July and August only)||US$600 US$360*|
|* Reduced prices are for this summer only.
Stated prices are for 1 person; each additional person is US$30.
Group discounts are available.
We are situated on the main North Coast Highway 10 miles from Ocho Rios and 1 mile from the centre of Oracabessa. Our location overlooks Oracabessa bay with a private stairway to the beach. In Oracabessa you have a number of local restaurants/ take away cook shops.
The main town in the area is Ocho Rios which has a wide selection of shops, restaurants and nightclubs. Around Ocho Rios are world class tourist attractions such as Dunn River Falls, Dolphin Cove and Mystic Mountain. You will have no trouble getting taxis either day or night with the fare to Ocho Rios being J$140 (US$1.50) each way.
If you travel east, from Oracabessa you will be able to visit Port Maria and farther east Port Antonio and the Blue mountains.
On properties overlooking the beach, we have very comfortable apartments, each with a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, lounge and balcony. A complimentary breakfast is provided which will also be the planning meeting for the day.
Mel Tennant, a teacher for 25 years, now retired, has lived in Jamaica since 2003. His interest in sea turtles peaked in 2005, when he noticed their presence on the beach in front of his property in St. Mary. In an effort to protect these nesting turtles and hatchlings, he became active in monitoring the beach and started the Oracabessa Bay Turtle Project. Now with a complement of staff, an efficient turtle monitoring system and support from a variety of organizations, the Oracabessa Bay Turtle Project monitors the beaches in the Oracabessa Bay area year round and collects detailed and valuable data. All the information gathered from the work undertaken by the project is shared with the local Government agency responsible for bio-diversity and the University of the West Indies Marine Laboratory.
Sea turtles in the Oracabessa Bay area have been monitored and protected by this project since 2005. In 2012 alone, the project has helped the release of over 16,000 hatchlings from their nests. Mel, affectionately called "The Turtle man", is called on for his expertise throughout the country.
Mel is also actively involved in the introduction and development of the Oracabessa Bay Fish Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is a joint project between the Oracabessa Foundation and the St. Mary Fishermen's Cooperative which began in 2008.