The Saint Lucia Divers Association last week Tuesday (June 8, 2021) presented prizes to winning students in a competition hosted by the Association in observance of World Turtle Day.
The essay competition focused on the importance of sea turtles to the environment and also a painting competition for children from infant, primary and secondary schools across the island.
Twelve essays were submitted by three schools and one painting from another. Students from Dame Pearlette Louisy Primary School were awarded for their essays while a student from St. Joseph’s Convent was awarded for her painting. Another student, an eight-year-old, the youngest entrant, also received a prize.
The winners are as follows:
- Fabi Philip and Reuben Reynolds (first place in the essay competition)
- Vianni Plummer (second place in the essay competition)
- Melanie Alcee (third place in the essay competition)
- Desiree Francois (first place in the painting competition)
World Turtle Day, observed on May 23, helps create awareness of turtles and tortoises and the habitats. This year’s theme – “Turtles Rock!” – encouraged people across the globe to see turtles as more than just rocks with legs. This year, people were encouraged to take “shellfies” and “shellebrate” the reptiles.
Saint Lucia is home to the Leatherback, Hawksbill, Green and Loggerhead turtle species, with sightings of the latter extremely rare.
President of Saint Lucia Divers Association, Eget Martyr, said the competition sought to engage students in activities that help create awareness of the turtles found in Saint Lucia and the impact they have on our environment.
“Turtles have been around for as long as the dinosaurs were and we’ve recognized that some of the species are becoming extinct while others are on the endangered list,” Martyr said. “It was for these reasons that we decided to, as part of our celebrations for World Turtle Day, do something that would create awareness among our citizens. We thought that the better way to do so was by engaging our schoolchildren. It was evident in their essays that they did a lot of research which showed up in the essays.”
Martyr said the ultimate goal is to petition the government for the reinstitution of the moratorium on sea turtles. In that vein, she said her Association – also known as Anbaglo — will be engaging students, parents, teachers and others to achieve that objective.
The Divers Association recently commenced the North Project, a bold initiative aimed at redirecting some of the diving activities from the reefs in Soufriere to the north of the island. By doing so, the Divers Association hopes to show people that the north is equally beautiful and accommodating as the south of the island for diving activities.
Immediate Past President of Saint Lucia Divers Association, Donovan Brown, said four wrecks were sunk off the north coast to ultimately become artificial reefs. He noted that, in conjunction with the coral restoration programme, the goal is to improve the ecosystem and increase numbers of marine life.
“We have also trained six youngsters as coral gardeners for free, which is in keeping with involving the youth in what happens in the ocean,” Brown stated. “We have to start paying more attention to the ocean. Climate change has driven us to the point where we must do so, with support from the Saint Lucia Hospitality & Tourism Association (SLHTA) and the Saint Lucia National Conservation Fund (SLUNCF).”