Planning your perfect vacation to that destination on your bucket list is exciting. It gives you a different purpose to go through your days as you begin to countdown the days like many of us do. Everyone vacations with a different purpose and reason. Some need to unwind and refuel. While others are creating memories with their loved ones. No matter the reason a vacation gives us a time to escape from the everyday hustle of life.
I had the opportunity to visit Ocho Rios, Jamaica over the summer with my family. What was supposed to be a balanced mixture of a family vacation and a travel writing opportunity. Turned into a life-altering moment that would change the way we would vacation. There is so much so do in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. The island is vibrant with culture, delicious food, unbelievable ocean views and the locals are welcoming. I can go on for days on why Jamaica has a special place in my heart. But I will save that for another post. My family and I were staying on the Beaches, Ocho Rios Jamaica property. Where we were invited to participate in a turtle release on a local beach nearby by the General Manager that would change everything about how we would vacation moving forward.
Near and behold, on an abandoned local beach 20 minutes away you can travel to Gibraltar Beach in St. Ann. Where you can experience a once in a lifetime event, a sea turtle releasing event with local expert Mr. Mel Tennant. The Hawksbill Turtles are an endangered species. This tour allows people to fully understand and learn how they can contribute to saving these turtles that need so much attention to this cause. This experience allows you to listen to Mr. Tennant’s explain the importance of an incubation program that he started in December 2015. “Nests that are laid in the colder months of the year September, October, and November take longer to hatch. This affects the size and strength of the hatchlings, which lowers their chances of survival in the wild. By incubating these nests they hatch in an average of 60 days, this increases the turtle’s chances of survival.” says Mr. Tennant.
These Hawksbill Turtle releases are critical to the endangered species. It allows people to understand the horrible circumstances that the turtle population is experiencing not just locally in Jamaica but regionally in the Carribean. Overfishing and the illegal harvesting of coral and turtle meat are problems that need to be identified. Programs such as the Sandals Foundation can educate guests and communities about the issues. What most of us do not realize is that Sea Turtles play a very big role in the health of our marine ecosystems. The key role they play is to help stabilize our beaches when they nest, they help maintain healthy and nutrient sea grass beds, balance the sponges on coral reefs, and carry barnacles and other organisms which are food for other marine life.
Traveling to the Caribbean, make sure to stay at Beaches Ocho Rios, Sandals Ochi Beach Resort or Sandals Royal Plantation where you can be invited to participate in this experience. This experience has opened our eyes on the way that my family sees a vacation can be. The possibility of going on a vacation and taking the experience up a level by adding a “paying it forward” moment is the icing on the cake for our family.
To learn about the Oracabessa Bay Sea Turtle Project you can contact Mr. Mel Tennant by emailing him directly Melvyn_Tennant@Yahoo.com