Inquiry call after turtle nesting site damaged

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Trinidad and Tobago’s conservation group called for a prompt investigation into how government workers crushed leatherback turtle eggs and hatchlings on a remote beach that experts say is the globe’s densest nesting site for the endangered marine species.

Witnesses in the town of Grand Riviere said they saw thousands of leatherback eggs crushed by heavy machinery over the weekend as workers redirected a shifting river that was eroding the nesting sites and threatening a hotel where tourists stay to catch a glimpse of a tiny leatherback hatchling or a massive adult, which can reach nearly eight feet long and weigh more than a ton.

The Papa Bois Conservation group said the government allowed the crew to operate a bulldozer and an excavator “without any qualified supervision” on the Grand Riviere beach where female leatherbacks nest.

“It is important to investigate how this was allowed to happen, and to find a solution so this won’t reoccur,” the group said.

The narrow Grand Riviere beach in northern Trinidad is regarded as the densest nesting site for the turtle species on the planet and local residents depend on ecotourism for their livelihoods.

Experts say that Trinidad hosts what is likely the second largest leatherback nesting colony in the world, after the nesting beaches shared by Suriname and French Guiana to the south.

Marc de Verteuil, of the Papa Bois, said the Grande Riviere River had already eroded a lot of the nesting areas because of an unusually long rainy season.